Charles Emil Henry Stengel and Lifeboat # 1

T

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

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
34
208
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?
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,045
51
208
UK
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

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
34
208
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').
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,045
51
208
UK
>>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! :)
 

Ben Holme

Member
Feb 11, 2001
714
2
148
Hi Tim,

Thanks for your message. However, it appears my comments regarding the attitude of first class could easily be misconstrued. I referred to that group in particular, not because of their supposed stance as to whether or not to return to the swimmers, rather the manner in which they in particular, reacted to the crew members, as outlined above by Dawn. It is possible, because of their familiarity with gentlemanly ettiquette, that they took particular exception to the language and methods of the crew of boat #4, simply because it was alien to them.

Hi George, and thankyou for sharing your info on Foley's letter. In which case, if our 'disagreeable' stranger is neither Perkis or Foley, he had a good deal of cheek posing as a Quartermaster :)

And Randy, the story of Stengel and "the belts" is very interesting and a new one to me! Also, you're right to say that Molly Brown was not the only 'Hitchens combatent' in boat #6. In fact, Leila Meyer was the only lady reffered to by name in Hitchens' US testimony.

Best Regards,
Ben
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
34
208
Looking at it, Bob, there must have been at least five men in it when she left Titanic, and possibly six:

Perkis
Foley
McCarthy
'A fireman' (an erroneously identified greaser i.e Scott or Ranger?)
Scott (technically not in the boat when she was launched, but in it soon after)
Ranger

There's always a possibility Mrs Thayer was mistaken, and there was more than one man working the oars on each side...or, as I said, perhaps they moved around. I wouldn't want to hang any one man's reputation on a one or two witnesses, however (be it Foley or Perkis!).

The confusion continues with who was pulled from the water - Ben had what struck me as some very sound ideas on the identity of at least one of these people that doesn't necessarily accord with the theories of others, but that's a whole other unrelated controversy and I don't know if he wants to go into it.
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,045
51
208
UK
Ing, in your last paragraph are we here talking about the man who, according to Hemming, was a Third Class passenger who spoke very good English with a foreign accent? It was, I believe, Paul Quinn (in Dusk to Dawn) who went beyond speculation and claimed this man to be Second Class passenger Emilio Portalupi.
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
34
208
Interesting point, Bob - but no, that wasn't whom we were discussing (Portalupi does seem like a good candidate for #4, although often ascribed to #14 - the reference in one article about him to three men dying of exposure in the boat etc). There's another theory re. one of the men picked up by #4. But it's not my research, so not mine to discuss. #4 and those associated with it could probably fill a good sized article, if not a book...plenty of stories, theories and speculation.
 
D

David Haisman

Guest
Hi Inger,
I mentioned the rowlocks (British Merchant Navy terminology or sometimes known as ''crutches''but never oarlocks) mainly to determine the rowing capability of the lifeboat. (Usually one set of oars and two spare along with a steering oar.) This would be important regarding the manning of the lifeboat when sending the boat away as regards to obtaining distance from the stricken vessel. I would assume that at least four oarsmen were deployed at some stage of the immediate evacuation and would pour cold water on some passengers testimony which would naturally come from the inexperienced, and from time to time on these threads.
Two men on the oars wouldn't be enough to obtain that objective with a fair number in the boat and the coxswain would have realised that. Quartermasters have no more importance or qualification other than that of an Able Seaman and shouldn't be referred to as their seniors. All Able Seamen can box the compass,do wheelhouse duties and are trained to do that job but choose not to, usually because they don't like working for ''ringers'' or ''Top Brass''
When it comes to ''heroics''and going back to rescue people in those frozen waters, it should be remembered that a ship of that size sinking, was a ''first'' for everyone.
I can honestly say with hand on my heart that if I were cox on a lifeboat that night, I too would have kept the boat and it's occupants at a safe distance from that vessel until she had gone.
I have had the absolute terror and horror of that night relayed to me many times in the past by some that were there and I stand by that decision as an ex Able Seaman and lifeboat cox.
Lets never forget that passengers as well as crew members tell ''porkies'' which makes the Titanic a never ending ''who did what saga''

All the best,

David
 

George Behe

Member
Dec 11, 1999
1,265
0
0
Hi, all!

I don't quite know where the idea came from that Foley and Perkis were pulling oars on the same side of the boat (although I suspect it stems from David's misinterpretation of my statement that Perkis was seated "right behind" Foley.) Suffice it to say that Perkis was seated on the transverse 'bench' (or whatever our nautical friends wish to call it) situated right behind Foley and that the two men were pulling oars on opposite sides of the boat.

IMO Mrs. Thayer's statement that 'her' crewman was not an oarsman and that he might not really have been a QM certainly creates a bit of latitude regarding the true identity of the crewman in the bow. (Other researchers are of course free to attach a name to the man if they wish to do so, but -- speaking strictly for myself -- I prefer to err on the side of caution.)

All my best,

George
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
34
208
IMO Mrs. Thayer's statement that 'her' crewman was not an oarsman and that he might not really have been a QM certainly creates a bit of latitude regarding the true identity of the crewman in the bow. (Other researchers are of course free to attach a name to the man if they wish to do so, but -- speaking strictly for myself -- I prefer to err on the side of caution.)

True - as I said above, I wouldn't want to hang the reputation of Foley, Perkis or anyone else on the testimony of one witness! Although there are only so many options and the account does tend towards either Perkis or Foley. After all, she doesn't seem to have anyone else in command other than this 'QM' - so if not Perkis (or perhaps Foley), then who was it? I think the greasers can be eliminated (although it would have been interesting to see one of them try to pass himself off as a QM!), so that leaves those two men and McCarthy. We certainly can't pin the i.d. on one man definitively, but I feel it tends strongly in a certain direction :) But Dave raises a good point about the 'who did what' saga...was there really the lack of leadership that Thayer and Ryerson saw? Or was there perhaps a friction between passengers and crew? A genuine misunderstanding? I wouldn't pretend to have the answers, but I'm very interested in posing the questions. A critical appraisal of the sources relating to #4 (and not just in terms of leadership questions, but also of just who was pulled out of the water etc) is overdue.

To that end, now to see if I dare burrow through all those stacks of papers to find the Nutbeam/Narbeam account (on second thoughts, they look much too daunting at the moment...)
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
4,923
181
193
David H, the boats were intended to be rowed as follows.

The main lifeboats---8 oars.
The emergency boats---4 oars.
The Englehardts----6 oars.

This required rowers to sit 2 to each thwart but this was hard to do if the boat was well-filled.

Each boat was equipped with 2 spare oars. Only the Englehardts used rowlocks. The others used thole pins.

It appears that few, if any, boats were rowed as intended. Photos taken from Carpathia show boats using very few oars, except for boat 14, where Lowe had 6 in use.

In the case of boat 4, we know that Perkis and Foley had 2 oars in use and several women are reported as rowing. They probably had 4 oars in use, or perhaps one or two more.

There were four (living) seamen on board; Perkis, McCarthy, Foley and Hemming. I'm assuming Foley was a seaman. He was part of the deck crew and was paid the same as the ABs. Some witnesses called him a sailor.

Hemming, by the way, clearly said in the US inquiry that the swimmers made for the boat and the boat made for them, so it was a two-way affair.
 
D

David Haisman

Guest
Hi David G,

You're quite right of course regarding the thole pins as these were more in use those days than were rowlocks or crutches. It's common knowledge that in a lifeboat, two rowers sit together on cross benches, although this can be staggered in case one rower has a habit of ''catching a crab''
My point of course was the manning capability of that particular boat which is always determined by the number of oarsmen.
When I mentioned qualified seamen I refer not so much to people able to row but moreso to those that can make proper seamanlike decisions in a crisis such as abandoning ship. The common sense seamanship action is to get away from the sinking vessel as quickly as possible and tether together with a painter, the boats bow to stern when at a safe distance. This is not only for asisstance to each other but also for easy location purposes among other things.
Spare oars are for obvious reasons and steering oars are very often used for sculling if as you say, the boat was too crowded to do much rowing. Those photo's you talk about from Carpathia may well indeed have been sculled at some time, if crowded.
Picking up survivors would have been as mentioned, at a safe distance, bearing in mind that more people were in the water closer to the sinking ship than further out. At one stage the funnel had fallen over, imagine what would have happened if too many boats were close enough to the ship had the main mast had fallen over.
As the ship rose ever higher, who knows what could have come crashing down on boats too close for comfort.

david