Charles Emil Henry Stengel and Lifeboat # 1

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George Behe

Member
Hi, Bob!

>I'm glad to know I'm not the only member of the >Perkis fan club!

You're not alone, old chap. According to John Foley, he and Perkis (some newspapers altered Perkis's name to "Sam Parks") deliberately chose to pull swimmers into boat #4 despite most of the passengers urging them not to do so. Mrs. Astor was one of the few people in #4 who supported the actions of Foley and Perkis, and she later thanked them for saving the lives that they did.

Hi, Randy!

> There were many heroes that night.

Absolutely! Walter Perkis and John Foley were two such men.

All my best,

George
 
Inger Sheil

Inger Sheil

Member
I'd certainly be interested in seeing these accounts, George! It would be very interesting to compare Mrs Astor's exact recollections against those of Mrs Thayer, with which they seem to sharply contrast. Just goes to show what different perspectives there can be on the one man. I had a quick shoofty around for Foley material, and primarily came up with stuff from The Irish Aboard Titanic and Lord. Interesting that Macarthy has been neglected in this, as he is the other man a pro-active role in #4 has been claimed for. The evidence does range across an awful lot of ground (did they pull back, did the swimmers go to them, was it a bit of both, was there leadership, was there confusion...). I'd like to see #4 have the same sort of critical appraisal that boats like #1 and 14 have had - it might help us to arrive at a more balanced idea of what happened that night!
 
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Timothy Brandsoy

Guest
No I don't have any evidence. It's merely a hypothesis....a lot of "maybes"

But as said:
"In the following pages you can see not only the questions and answers that were given, but you can speculate on the questions that were ‘not asked’ and obviously not answered. Why were these questions not asked? Why were passengers from the lower decks not called upon to give evidence?, etc., etc. Brian J. Ticehurst,
Newsletter Editor of the British Titanic Society "

Few 3rd class women were asked anything.

As Mrs. Brown supposedly said "It's your husbands and men out there!" Yet few returned. They were seen collectively as a dangerous mob. Finding their specific husbands would have been an immense foolish and impossible task.


"When sources say that the women protested at the idea of going back, they don't offer a breakdown by class." I couldn't find any questions or answers to why they didn't go back. I did find Daisy's comments about Lowe, but she didn't seem to object to him going back, more against his behavior and tone than anything.

So no I can't prove my tentative theory. Lester Mitcham pointed out that more 3rd class men were saved than 1st class (although the % was less) it doesn't do much for my theory I'll admit.
https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/discus/messages/5811/33520.html

Still bias and prejudice in this scenario are hard to qualify or prove.
 
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Randy Bryan Bigham

Member
Bob, George, Inger and Ben have brought up Perkis, and though there are differing perspectives here, it's obvious this is an area requiring more attention. It would appear that George has some accounts at his disposal that are not generally known (a really big shock!) so all I can say to that is 'hurry up with that book!'
Happy


George also brings up Foley, another of the apparently unsung. I look forward to learning more about these men's efforts.

Inger makes a point that Boat 4 has not had the critical attention shown it that others have had. This is a surprising fact considering the prominence of the women who escaped in that boat. A study of #4 would be of great help, which goes to show that there is still scholarship needed in some important areas.

I also would like to say that I also don't think there is any indication that class had anything to do with women's objections to saving swimmers. In my opinion, it was fear, not indifference, apathy or discrimination that prompted objections.

Two things I want to say on this subject.

Firstly, Molly Brown was by NO means the only woman in Boat 6 who was in favor of returning to aid the drowning. There is so much romantic legend and myth about her that the general impression is that she was the only woman with a mind of her own in that boat. Helen Churchill Candee was no shrinking violet and neither was Leila Meyer, the Newell sisters or Eloise Smith. And let's not forget that two well-known British feminists were in this boat, as well - Elsie Bowerman and Edith Chibnall. Indeed, almost any one of the women in #6 could have been a "poster child" for the suffrage movement of the day. So Molly had very good "back up." (Poor Hichens - he really chose the wrong boat to take charge of!)

Secondly, another woman who stands out as a heroine is Ruth Dodge who found herself boiling mad that most other women in Boat 5 didn't want to go back to help people in the water. I have always thought it was a magnificent show of spirit and conviction that when Boat 7 tied up with #5 she just grabbed little Washington, hiked her skirt up and switched boats to get away from her opponents!
 
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George Behe

Member
Hi, Ben!

I almost overlooked something you wrote. :)

>here is what Mrs. Thayer said about boat #4's >commander, QM Perkis:

>There were two seamen at the oars of our boat, >and one steering. There was also a man in the bow >of our boat who said he was a Quartermaster. He >was absolutely inefficient, and could give us no
>directions of aid whatever, and besides this was >most disagreeable. I do not think he was a Quartermaster.

For what it's worth, Mrs. Thayer might have been justified in suspecting that the inefficient crewman in the bow was not a QM. According to John Foley's letter, Quartermaster Perkis was not sitting idly in the bow of #4 but was instead sitting right behind Foley and -- like Foley -- was pulling an oar. (This seems to fit in with Mrs. Thayer's observation that there were "two seamen at the oars.")

Hi, Randy!

>... 'hurry up with that book!'

I'm doing my very best, old chap. :) However, the difficulty of obtaining the necessary permissions means that I'll probably be able to publish only about one-third of theTitanic letters, postcards, diary entries and personal memoirs whose texts I've gathered together over the years. (It's very frustrating -- but what a spectacular Viking funeral I'm going to have with all that extra kindling at Pat's disposal.) :)

All my best,

George
 
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Randy Bryan Bigham

Member
I thought I would try to bring in a bit about Henry Stengel, who is ostensibly the subject of this thread.

No offense to the lady who says she is a relation of his but the information I have on Stengel, though slim, indicates that he tried to profit from his association with the Duff Gordons, not only by constantly referring to them in a schmoozing way in his interviews and other public statements just after the disaster but later attempting to sell a line of belts and other accessories to the New York branch of Lucile, Ltd., Lucy Duff Gordon's company. It is a matter of public record that Cosmo Duff Gordon and Stengel did not get along well at all that night in the boat, which made his blandishments all the more galling.
 
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Dawn Connor

Member
I just have an observation to make, in that I am wondering if the reason for Mrs. Thayer's comment regarding the actions of the "supposed" quartermaster might be skewed due to the fact that the crewmen, at that point, knowing the seriousness of the situation at hand, might not have had "time" to cater to the needs of the women who were used to crewmembers treating them with "kid gloves". I feel in this situation that most of the crewmen would have been short tempered and in a state of turmoil themselves, causing the lack of genial behavior. Also, on another note, I always have considered that there may have been more 3rd class male survivors because of the fact that most of them would have been a little hardier, due to their less than pampered lifestyles, allowing them to physically handle the sinking better than the upper two classes. This is just on opinion on my part and I wondered if anyone else considers this a possibility.
 
Inger Sheil

Inger Sheil

Member
Hallo Dawn -

Quite possibly you're right - and not just in the case of the Quartermaster, but also in the case of other crewmen that night, in various boats. Maxton-Graham had some interesting observations as to what a volatile mix it could be, throwing passengers and crew together under stressful circumstances. I'm sure that the recipient of Mrs Thayer's remarks, had he had a chance to comment, would have done so!

I still believe that the 'QM' referred to was most probably Perkis. After all, would Perkis - if he was the figure in command of the boat - have permitted another seaman to have made that claim? He was the only QM in the boat, and therefore - in my opinion at least - the most likely candidate. There aren't too many others...there's Hemming, picked up out of the water before the boat sank, Perkis, McCarthy and Foley. Hemming mentions four men in the boat - says one was a fireman. Then there were the others they picked out of the water. So who - if not Perkis - was 'claiming' to be a QM, and if it was one of the others, why wasn't he 'called' on it? From Thayer's account, it was this QM to whom they were looking for direction, but his orders weren't of much use.

As I said suggested earlier, #4's efforts seem to have been a joint effort. George mentions Foley, others suggested McCarthy as well. Re-reading Perkis's account, he doesn't claim to have been issuing the orders - he suggests 'we' pulled people out of the water (as I said, one couldn't accuse him of being self-aggrandising).

In addition to positive accounts, of course, one should take into account those that point towards a lack of direction. I've been accused in the past of not paying due attention to a 'negative' account regarding Harold Lowe - a charge I reject, as I've utilised this account in my own work - but I wouldn't want to see more critical comments about the leadership situation in #4 glossed over because they don't fit the heroic mould Perkis has been cast in - Ryerson's observations on the 'confusion of orders' and 'no one seemed to know what to do'. Mrs Thayer's account about the man they were evidently looking to for leadership who 'was absolutely inefficient, and could give us no directions of aid whatever, and besides this was most disagreeable' shouldn't be ignored either. Then there are accounts that suggest that people swam to the boat because it was there. That doesn't mean, of course, that the pendulum of interpretation re #4 should swing the other way and we should rewrite history to have Perkis a disagreeable bungler and a lack of direction the prevailing theme - absolutely not! These may reflect a brief confusion, or the personal prejudices of the speaker (Perkis might have been able to give another opinion on who was 'disagreeable'!). And while some accounts speak of swimmers having to make their way to #4, I've found a few vivid accounts from Prentice about how they sought him out and found him on wreckage (so it really does seem to have been, as one witnesses testified, a bit of a case of both people swimming to the boat and them pulling others out).

What I think should be acknowledged is that the evidence concerning #4 and her crew, Perkis included, is not unambiguous. But then, as I finished my first post - their rescue work deserves to be acknowledged. Whether it was because they were the closest boat, the collaborative leadership effort on the part of her crew, or some combination of the two, they managed to rescue lives.
 
Inger Sheil

Inger Sheil

Member
You raise a good point, Randy, about Margaret Brown and our perceptions of her tending to overshadow the role of other women in her lifeboat.

Timothy, Third class women were not asked to testify but they, like their second class female counterparts, were able to speak to the media and to others. And I haven't seen any evidence in the accounts of those that did testify or speak to the media suggesting that the response to the people in the water could be broken down along class lines. As you recognise, there's no evidence supporting that concept.

My observation on first class women having, like the other classes, male relatives in the water was directed at how you were constructing their possible motive for not going back - i.e. that it was because they were of the 'lower orders'. And yet among those dying of hypothermia was their own flesh and blood. They might have feared them all collectively, but I don't think it's based along class lines.

I think the reluctance to return was universal, and crossed boundaries not only of class, but also of gender. Second class passenger Walcroft, for example, freely admitted that she was one of those who pleaded not to go back. There were exceptions, of course. Most of those we know about tend to be of more prominent classes, or of crewmen (Jones, for example, wanting to return), but no doubt there were also some 2nd and 3rd class men and women who aren't as prominant who also wished to return. There's a dearth of evidence on that point.
 
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David Haisman

Guest
Hi Everyone,

Some interesting points here on the crewing up of lifeboat #4
Would someone like to elaborate on how many oars, steering oars and rowlocks were in position in lifeboat#4 and the number of qualified seamen?

Secondly, if only two men are rowing and one is sitting behind the other, this could only happen in a canoe or a craft with only enough beam for one ''b***''.
The outcome would be to go around in never ending circles unless the tiller was hard over to answer that course of action.
Totally unecessary and totally unseamanlike!

All the best,
David
 
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Timothy Brandsoy

Guest
Inger,

It certainly could be collective fear and shock. And with good reason. They had just witnessed one of greatest of modern tragedies. But it strikes me as odd that the question of why more lifeboats didn't turn back was never asked at the Inquiries. If you know of any good passages I'd appreciate it.

Another semi-related thought: Hichens didn't seem to know about the Carpathia's ETA, he seemed to think they could be out there for days. Did Lowe or others know? Did this impact on their incentive to rescue more people?

Cheers!
Tim
 
Inger Sheil

Inger Sheil

Member
I think that many crewmen were prepared for a worst-case scenario - one reason Lowe was gathering up as many boats as possible was to make them a more visible object to any ships.

Interesting point there, David! As I understand it, there were at least four crewmen aboard when the ship left the Titanic, of which three were deck and one was a fireman. They were joined by Hemming, also deck, who swam from the Titanic. More were picked up from the water. Be interesting to establish if there were more than these four when she left the ship. Hemming doesn't seem to have noticed Scott and Ranger, who were also aboard!

This conversation has reminded me of something I meant to raise on the board yonks ago, but had forgotten about re the crew of #4. The ET list of suggested occupants for #4 has no firemen listed, although it does have trimmers and greasers. Hemming states that there were four men aboard when he reached the boat:

Perkins
Foley
McCarthy
and 'a fireman', whose name he does not know.

Thomas Ranger, Greaser, states that he slid down the falls to #4. Intriguingly, could there have been another?Fireman Narbean/Nutbean gave an account that goes into some vivid detail about #4 - need to dig it up and look at it again in light of this thread. Or was he perhaps pulled from the water?
 
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Bob Godfrey

Member
According to Senan Molony, 'Jack Foley held the rank of Quartermaster on the Titanic, but actually served as its storekeeper'. And according to his biography here at ET, Foley even signed on as QM for the initial run from Belfast to Southampton. Since Perkis was seated behind him, Foley was closer to the bow where, according to Mrs Thayer, was located a man who claimed to be a QM but gave no impression of being in command. Foley is surely the lead suspect?
 
Inger Sheil

Inger Sheil

Member
I suppose that's a possibility, Bob! Although I'd question where everyone was supposed to be seated, as there's quite a difference between being at an oarlock rowing and being at the bow. Mrs Thayer is quite clear about the distribution of crew as far as I can see. As David points out, if there were four men dispersed through the boat as Mrs Thayer suggests (bow, stern, 2 at oars), then why were two men rowing on one side? Perhaps the accounts don't refer to exactly the same time period, and there was some movement around the boat? Particularly after they picked up Hemming and others, and there was more than the original four.

I'm still going with Perkis as being the prime candidate, though, as the impression given by Mrs Thayer's account is that the 'disagreeable' QM was supposed to be in command. It's not definitive, of course, that she only mentions one 'QM'. If there had been one undisputed QM and one claiming to be a QM, I would have thought she'd have noted it (e.g. 'There was a QM steering and another bloke at the bow who said he was a QM but wasn't').
 
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Bob Godfrey

Member
>>Since Perkis was seated behind him, Foley was closer to the bow<<

D'oh! - shows how long it is since I did any rowing! So on second thoughts, I'll go along with you and question where everyone was supposed to be seated, Ing! :)
 
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