My greatgrandfather was Charles Emil Henry Stengel. I am looking for descendants of the other occupants of Lifeboat #1. Were the people in Lifeboat #1 cowards? Should they have gone back? This question haunts me.
The order was given to pull away, then they rowed off - the sailors, the women, anyone - but made little progress; there was a confusion of orders; we rowed toward the stern, some one shouted something about a gangway, and no one seemed to know what to do.
Then we turned to pick up some of those in the water. Some of the women protested, but others persisted, and we dragged in six or seven men.
I went to the bridge and looked over and saw the water climbing upon the bridge. I went and looked over the starboard side, and everything was black. I went over to the port side and saw a boat off the port quarter, and I went along the port side and got up the after boat davits and slid down the fall and swam to the boat and got it.
Hemming described them going back for survivors after she sank, and according to him it was a process of both the men swimming to #4 and the survivors swimming for the boat:quote:
Mr. HEMMING. I tried to get hold of the grab line on the bows, and it was too high for me, so I swam along and got hold of one of the grab lines amidships.
Senator SMITH. What did you do then?
Mr. HEMMING. I pulled my head above the gunwale, and I said, "Give us a hand in, Jack." Foley was in the boat. I saw him standing up in the boat. He said, "Is that you, Sam?" I said, "Yes;" and him and the women and children pulled me in the boat.
Cunningham testified that:quote:
Senator SMITH. You picked these seven men out of the water?
Mr. HEMMING. Yes, sir.
Senator SMITH. Did they swim to the boat, or did the boat go to the men?
Mr. HEMMING. Both. They swam toward the boat, and we went back toward them.
Senator SMITH. After you got these seven men in, what did you do then?
Mr. HEMMING. We hung around for a bit.
Senator SMITH. Did you see any more men?
Mr. HEMMING. No, sir.
Senator SMITH. Did you hear any more crying?
Mr. HEMMING. We heard the cries; yes, sir.
Senator SMITH. Where? In what direction? Toward the Titanic?
Mr. HEMMING. We were moving around, constantly, sir. Sometimes the stern of the boat would be toward the Titanic, and sometimes the bow of the boat would be toward the Titanic. One moment we would be facing one way, and a few moments later we would be facing another way; first the bow, and then the stern toward the ship.
Senator SMITH. What did you hang around for?
Mr. HEMMING. We did not know what to do.
Senator SMITH. Did you pick up any more people in the water?
Mr. HEMMING. Not from the water; no, sir.
He also said that only one man (Prentice) was picked up after he was rescued. Cunningham expressed the following opinion as to how #4 came to pick up men from the water:quote:
Senator SMITH. You swam around in the water until you saw the ship go down?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM: Until I saw the ship go down.
Senator SMITH. Then you turned to look for a lifeboat?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM: Then I turned to look for a lifeboat; yes.
Senator SMITH. Did you see one?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM: No. I heard one, and I called to it.
Senator SMITH. Did that lifeboat come toward you, or did you go toward it?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM: I went toward it.
Senator SMITH. It did not come toward you?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM: I do not think so.
Having pulled in men, in at least some instances because they were close enough to reach the boat under their own steam, the men in #4 were in a better position than those further away to understand the risks involved. Her situation was not strictly speaking unique either — Hoyt was able to swim after D, and was hauled aboard that boat. However, after pulling out a couple more people once the ship sank (most notably Prentice — he gave some vivid accounts of his rescue, and I may upload a couple to ET), even #4 eventually retired from the scene without a full load, and while there were still people alive in the wreckage.quote:
‘Senator SMITH. Did the officer in charge of lifeboat No. 4 attempt to go to any persons in the water?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM. I think his was the nearest boat to the scene of the accident, because he picked up most of the lot, I think.
Interesting point, Randy. Regarding Lowe, I don’t think it is perhaps quite fair to use him as a benchmark against which to assess the inactivity or actions/inactions of others. Lowe was an exception rather than the rule, and had been noted since early childhood for physical courage that could at times tip over into foolhardiness. I have newspaper accounts from his youth, prior to running away to sea, where his fearlessness/recklessness in boats was already drawing attention. His personal proactiveness was also a childhood trait - in one early episode, he risked his own life to save that of a friend. This was repeated many years later when, while on the ship’s sick list, he jumped overboard from a ship that was underway to rescue a man who had fallen. I've been collating accounts from survivors under his charge for years now, and it's remarkable how many of these are not more widely known. I was vastly amused to learn that one Titanic researcher even suggested that assertions of Lowe's 'heroism' were a modern concept, and not one dating to 1912. There's a vast bulk of accounts to contradict that notion! And when criticisms of Lowe were published, he had quite a few people ready to rise to his defense...some of them from quite surprising individuals. I'm looking forward to publishing these stories, as I think they deserve a wider audience.quote:
Heroism is unnatural; that is why, when it happens, as in the case of Harold Lowe, it is so remarkable. All action by comparison, however noble-intentioned, pales.