Charles Eugene Williams

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Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
I was looking at the handful of male passengers who survived on port side lifeboats and one of them is Second Class passenger Charles Eugene Williams who survived on Lifeboat #14. In fact Williams and Masabumi Hosono (#10) were the only two male adult Second Class passengers who survived on port side lifeboats.

I am interested in finding out how Williams made it into Lifeboat #14 where no men passengers were allowed to enter even though there was room. In his testimony at he American Inquiry, Fifth Officer Lowe claimed that he took on Williams to help with the rowing. Lowe even mentioned the fact that Williams was a racquet player (which he was) and his Harrow address in England.


Senator SMITH.
Who had charge of the loading of lifeboat No. 14?

Mr. LOWE.
I had.

Senator SMITH.
And how many people did you put into it?

Mr. LOWE.
Fifty-eight.

Senator SMITH.
How many women; do you know?

Mr. LOWE.
They were all women and children, bar one passenger, who was an Italian, and he sneaked in, and he was dressed like a woman. [Possibly Edward Ryan]

Senator SMITH.
Had woman's clothing on?

Mr. LOWE.
He had a shawl over his head, and everything else; and I only found out at the last moment. And there was another passenger that I took for rowing.

Senator SMITH.
Who was that?

Mr. LOWE.
That was a chap by the name of C. Williams.


Senator SMITH.
Where did he live?

Mr. LOWE.
I do not know where he lived.

Senator SMITH.
Have you ever seen him since?

Mr. LOWE.
Yes; I saw him since, on board the Carpathia.

Senator SMITH.
Was he one of the men whose names you have on that paper?

Mr. LOWE.
I have his name; that is, his home address, but not his New York address.

Senator SMITH.
I would like his home address.

Mr. LOWE.
I can give you that. Will you have it now?

Senator SMITH.
Yes; also the name of any other man or woman in the boat that you know, and their address.

Mr. LOWE. (referring to book)
"C. Williams, racket champion of the world," he has here, "No. 2 Drury Road, Harrow-on-the-Hill, Middlesex, England."


Despite that testimony, the fact that Charles Williams was allowed to enter Lifeboat #14 by Lowe to help with the rowing is not mentioned in most leading Titanic works. In On A Sea Of Glass, he just is mentioned as one of that lifeboats occupants but not how he got on board. AFAIK, that part of Lowe's testimony is mentioned only in Paul Quinn's book Dusk to Dawn.

I wondered if this was because there was any doubt about the circumstances of Charles Williams' rescue. I ask because, he could have been confused with Charles Duane Williams (Richard Norris Williams' father) who died in the disaster, presumably one of those caught under Funnel No:1 when it toppled over late in the sinking. Or with another Second class male survivor Charles Whilems, also from the London area but rescued on Lifeboat #9.
 
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George Jacub

Member
Just by coincidence I was recently finishing a research project for my blog where I was confronted with the very question of how Charles Willaims got into Lifeboat No.14.

There are two options:

A, where Williams got off the Titanic in No. 14, then, when Lowe was transferring his passengers to other lifeboats before heading to find survivors, Williams offered to stay in the boat. Or...
B, where Williams got off the ship in one of the other lifeboats into which Lowe transferred his passengers---Collapsible D, LIfeboat No. 12, Lifeboat No. 4 and Lifeboat No. 10---and Williams volunteered to be one of the 7 or 8 men who went back with Lowe.

I believe that Option B is the correct one.

Lowe mentions Williams twice in his testimony. If you read it carefully, he seems to be making a point that Williams volunteered. He could have said he allowed Williams into No. 14 when it was still on the Titanic, and that Williams chose to stay with Lowe on his search and rescue mission.
He didn't. Lowe arrived at No. 14 when it was already almost fully loaded. According to witnesses, he was very aggressive in keeping men out of the boat, throwing them out physically if they snuck in and he saw them, and even convincing a desperate teenaged boy to get out of the boat on his own. That belies the idea that he would have put a passenger into the boat, even to help row. Of course it's vaguely possible that Chief Officer Wilde, who loaded No. 14, did just that before Lowe arrived. But I doubt it. When Lowe spoke of transferring his passengers, he said he was disgusted to find a man disguised as a woman and described how he roughly shoved the man into another lifeboat. He would have had the same visceral reaction to any male passenger he found trying to sneak off the sinking ship (if he didn't know the man had been authorized to go).

If Williams was in one of the other boats, which one? Ask youself, which boat needed a rower? The answer is No. 12. It left with two crewmen Poingdestre and Clench, one of whom, Poingdestre, would man the tiller, leaving only one seaman to row. No. 12 was loaded by Second Officer Lightoller who had next to nothing to say about his time at the rear port boats. I believe that Charles Williams was allowed to enter No. 12 to help row, then, when Lowe took crewmen out of the other lifeboats to go back and find survivors, Williams voluteered to go with them.
 
Seumas

Seumas

Member
Lowe arrived at No. 14 when it was already almost fully loaded.

There was still room for over twenty. Hardly "almost fully loaded".

Bill Wormstedt and Tad Fitch have proved that Boat No. 14 had forty occupants when it was lowered.


Your reasons for Williams being in Boat 12 are based more on wild opinion rather than facts. Opinions don't count for anything.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
It is a bit confusing but I did read Lowe's testimony at the American Inquiry carefully.

In copying and pasting that excerpt from Lowe's testimony, I did not edit anything out. If we read the sequence of Senator Smith's questioning, it takes Lowe from the time he loaded the lifeboat, finding of the "Italian" male passenger dressed like a woman etc and then says that he took on another male passenger - Charles Williams - to help with the rowing. To my mind, that sounds like that was just as Lifeboat #14 was being launched and not later.

There is a supporting statement to that conjecture.

Although On A Sea Of Glass does not say how Charles Williams got on board Lifeboat #14, it does say on p 244 (towards the bottom of the second column) that after Lowe transferred several passengers from #14 to other boats around 03:20 am, took on additional crew members like Buley, Evans, Scarrott etc and decided to go back to look for more survivors from the sea, Williams chose to remain on board Lifeboat #14 and help with the rowing. That would mean that Williams was already on #14 and chose to remain.

Therefore George, I believe your' Option A' is the right one. :)
 
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George Jacub

Member
It is a bit confusing but I did read Lowe's testimony at the American Inquiry carefully.

In copying and pasting that excerpt from Lowe's testimony, I did not edit anything out. If we read the sequence of Senator Smith's questioning, it takes Lowe from the time he loaded the lifeboat, finding of the "Italian" male passenger dressed like a woman etc and then says that he took on another male passenger - Charles Williams - to help with the rowing. To my mind, that sounds like that was just as Lifeboat #14 was being launched and not later.

There is a supporting statement to that conjecture.

Although On A Sea Of Glass does not say how Charles Williams got on board Lifeboat #14, it does say on p 244 (towards the bottom of the second column) that after Lowe transferred several passengers from #14 to other boats around 03:20 am, took on additional crew members like Buley, Evans, Scarrott etc and decided to go back to look for more survivors from the sea, Williams chose to remain on board Lifeboat #14 and help with the rowing. That would mean that Williams was already on #14 and chose to remain.

Therefore George, I believe your' Option A' is the right one. :)

Do I understand correctly? The authors of the book say Williams chose to remain in No. 14? Based on what evidence?
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
Do I understand correctly? The authors of the book say Williams chose to remain in No. 14? Based on what evidence?
In a situation like the Titanic disaster, we rely heavily on eyewitness accounts and to provide direct "evidence" would be impossible except in some cases. I accept that survivor accounts can be widely different in terms of reliability and so we have to use our own judgement. In this particular case, one assumes that Tad Fitch et al, authors of On A Sea Of Glass, checked their information sources as thoroughly as possible. They go to painstaking lengths to verify their information and provide source material wherever possible.

To me, Lowe's testimony strongly suggests that Charles Williams was taken on to help with the rowing (yes, he might have volunteered) Lifeboat #14 before its launch. Later, when Lowe transferred the passengers to other lifeboats and took on crewmen like Evans, Buley, Scarrott etc, Willaims asked to remain on Lifeboat #14 to help with rowing as they went in search of more survivors. Once again, one assumes that Lowe himself and those other seamen mentioned Williams privately thereafter. For Lowe to note down the man's name, profession, home address etc, Williams must have made quite an impression.

There is another consideration. Lowe was a Welshman and Charles Williams, although born and living in the London suburbs, had strong Welsh roots. If Lowe had been familiar with Williams' Welsh connections, it might have played a part in the latter being picked out to help with the rowing just before #14 was launched.
 
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Seumas

Seumas

Member
In a situation like the Titanic disaster, we rely heavily on eyewitness accounts and to provide direct "evidence" would be impossible except in some cases. I accept that survivor accounts can be widely different in terms of reliability and so we have to use our own judgement. In this particular case, one assumes that Tad Fitch et al, authors of On A Sea Of Glass, checked their information sources as thoroughly as possible. They go to painstaking lengths to verify their information and provide source material wherever possible.

To me, Lowe's testimony strongly suggests that Charles Williams was taken on to help with the rowing (yes, he might have volunteered) Lifeboat #14 before its launch. Later, when Lowe transferred the passengers to other lifeboats and took on crewmen like Evans, Buley, Scarrott etc, Willaims asked to remain on Lifeboat #14 to help with rowing as they went in search of more survivors. Once again, one assumes that Lowe himself and those other seamen mentioned Williams privately thereafter. For Lowe to note down the man's name, profession, home address etc, Williams must have made quite an impression.

There is another consideration. Lowe was a Welshman and Charles Williams, although born and living in the London suburbs, had strong Welsh roots. If Lowe had been familiar with Williams' Welsh connections, it might have played a part in the latter being picked out to help with the rowing just before #14 was launched.
I fully agree with you on Williams. The man was in Boat No. 14 as an oarsman.

Just one wee thing though.

Although Harold Lowe was born and raised in Wales, he did not regard himself as a Welshman.

According to Inger Sheil (who knows everything there is to know about Lowe's life) Lowe's parents were English and he was brought up strongly identifying as English rather than Welsh, he also spoke with an English accent.
 
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George Jacub

Member
In a situation like the Titanic disaster, we rely heavily on eyewitness accounts and to provide direct "evidence" would be impossible except in some cases. I accept that survivor accounts can be widely different in terms of reliability and so we have to use our own judgement. In this particular case, one assumes that Tad Fitch et al, authors of On A Sea Of Glass, checked their information sources as thoroughly as possible. They go to painstaking lengths to verify their information and provide source material wherever possible.

To me, Lowe's testimony strongly suggests that Charles Williams was taken on to help with the rowing (yes, he might have volunteered) Lifeboat #14 before its launch. Later, when Lowe transferred the passengers to other lifeboats and took on crewmen like Evans, Buley, Scarrott etc, Willaims asked to remain on Lifeboat #14 to help with rowing as they went in search of more survivors. Once again, one assumes that Lowe himself and those other seamen mentioned Williams privately thereafter. For Lowe to note down the man's name, profession, home address etc, Williams must have made quite an impression.
.
In other words, Arun, the authors have exactly zero evidence to support their contention that Charles Williams left the Titanic in No. 14. They took a statement by Fourth Officer Lowe, invented their own sequence of events based on their interpretation of what he said, and then published their invented "reality" as if it was a known fact.
What's worse, they knew Charles Williams contradicted their conclusion. One day after the Carpathia reached New York, a friend of Williams spoke to reporters to tell them Williams' account of how he was saved. Williams said he jumped off the ship and was saved on a "small boat." He told the friend he had seen Capt. Smith swim to a boat with a child in his arms, rebuff attempts to pull him to safety, and swim back go down with his ship. This account was published in the New York Times and New York World on April 20, 1912, I believe.
They wrote in A Sea of Glass that "Williams was not in contact with the water and would not have been in a position to see the events his friend described." Their proof? None, because none exists. They took their opinion and turned it into a flat statement of "fact."
I had forgotten that Williams gave his own account and only spotted it when I reviewed the evidence regarding Charles Williams last night. With that new evidence it appears he was saved on a boat close to Collapsible A, the one that the Capt. swam to. Collapsible D is the most likely.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
They took a statement by Fourth Officer Lowe, invented their own sequence of events based on their interpretation of what he said, and then published their invented "reality" as if it was a known fact.
I am sorry but I don't buy that at all. I have great respect for contributors of On A Sea Of Glass and believe that they went further than anyone else to gather as much information as possible and presented it very well. The did not invent their own events at any stage.

I don't believe that Charles Williams told any reporter that he jumped into the sea and was pulled into a boat; if anyone was doing any inventing, it would have been those reporters themselves who embellished, misinterpreted, exaggerated and lied outright to print what they thought their readers would buy.

By the way, Lowe was the Fifth Officer of the Titanic. :)
 
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Tad G. Fitch

Member
Interesting that the testimony of Lowe is being downplayed, and my co-authors and I are being accused of making things up. If you believe a press article that claims Captain Smith rescued a baby, and then pushed away from the lifeboat, essentially giving up on surviving after being told that Murdoch shot himself, preferring that version to actual inquiry testimony, then there truly is no point to this discussion. Another quote attributed to Williams has him claiming that he spent the night in a lifeboat with water up to his knees, which fits only Collapsible A. Again, not credible given what Lowe testified to. There is zero evidence connecting Williams with #12 or Collapsible D, no matter what mental gymnastics you go through.

For those interested, here is what Lowe actually says about Williams, and clearly indicates that he let him aboard #14 to help row:

Senator SMITH.
Who had charge of the loading of lifeboat No. 14?

Mr. LOWE.
I had.

Senator SMITH.
And how many people did you put into it?

Mr. LOWE.
Fifty-eight.

Senator SMITH.
How many women; do you know?

Mr. LOWE.
They were all women and children, bar one passenger, who was an Italian, and he sneaked in, and he was dressed like a woman.

Senator SMITH.
Had woman's clothing on?

Mr. LOWE.
He had a shawl over his head, and everything else; and I only found out at the last moment. And there was another passenger that I took for rowing.

Senator SMITH.
Who was that?

Mr. LOWE.
That was a chap by the name of C. Williams.

Senator SMITH.
Where did he live?

Mr. LOWE.
I do not know where he lived.

Senator SMITH.
Have you ever seen him since?

Mr. LOWE.
Yes; I saw him since, on board the Carpathia.

Senator SMITH.
Was he one of the men whose names you have on that paper?

Mr. LOWE.
I have his name; that is, his home address, but not his New York address.

Senator SMITH.
I would like his home address.

Mr. LOWE.
I can give you that. Will you have it now?

Senator SMITH.
Yes; also the name of any other man or woman in the boat that you know, and their address.

Mr. LOWE. (referring to book)
"C. Williams, racket champion of the world," he has here, "No. 2 Drury Road, Harrow-on-the-Hill, Middlesex, England."

Senator SMITH.
Give all the others?

Mr. LOWE.
You want them in my own boat, sir?

Senator SMITH.
Yes; you said you had the names of all in the boat.

Mr. LOWE.
You see, I was in charge of five boats.

Senator SMITH.
But this in of the boat you were in yourself, No. 14?

Mr. LOWE.
Yes. I will give them to you.

Senator SMITH.
This is the one you loaded?

Mr. LOWE.
You want those in the boat from the davits, not what I picked up?

Senator SMITH.
No, I am going to ask you that later.

Mr. LOWE.
The next were Mrs. A.T. Compton, and Miss S.H. Compton, Laurel House, Lakewood, N. J.

Senator SMITH.
Go ahead a little faster, if you can.

Mr. LOWE.
That is all.

Senator SMITH.
Those are the only names you took down?

Mr. LOWE.
Out of my own particular boat.

Lowe was listing the names of those who were in #14, not other boats. And we're to disregard him clearly stating that he took Williams aboard 14, in the context of a discussion about who loaded the boat and who was aboard it?

In any event, I would refrain from falsely accusing others of making things up to try to bolster an argument. It's intellectually dishonest.
 
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Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
Basically, a lot of things with the Titanic have to be considered based only on collective analysis of various survivor accounts and drawing the most likely conclusion. There is simply no other way.

That is precisely what writers of On A Sea Of Glass have done, going to painstaking lengths to consider every point, getting all possibilities together and then try to analyse the most likely outcome. The best example for this is the so-called "Officer Shooting Incident" where survivor accounts are divided according to whether they are primary or secondary and them each one analyzed depending upon where that witness could have been when the alleged incident took place. Despite all that, there is no definitive answer to the puzzle and the authors honestly admitted that. Certain things simply cannot be proven either way.

With the Titanic, only very few things can there be concrete evidence. For example, there is definite evidence about the site of the wreck and the fact that the ship broke-up before sinking. Only such things can be proven and many others have to remain as educated conjecture.

As far as Charles Eugene Williams is concerned, I would any day believe what Fifth Officer Lowe testified under oath in an official inquiry a few days after the disaster than what some reporter claimed that a survivor told him.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
One day after the Carpathia reached New York, a friend of Williams spoke to reporters to tell them Williams' account of how he was saved. Williams said he jumped off the ship and was saved on a "small boat." He told the friend he had seen Capt. Smith swim to a boat with a child in his arms, rebuff attempts to pull him to safety, and swim back go down with his ship. This account was published in the New York Times and New York World on April 20, 1912, I believe.
If THAT above is supposed to be the truth as opposed to what Fifth officer Lowe said under oath to an official Inquiry, I am lost for words. Nevertheless, I'll try to explain my thinking.
  • A 'friend' of Charles Williams allegedly spoke to reporters telling them how the latter escaped from the Titanic. Since you are so keen on 'hard evidence' did Williams himself ever name this 'friend' or at least corroborate his statement?
  • The same 'friend' told the reporters about the old story of Captain Smith swimming to a boat with a child in his arms etc. Sounds heroic, but that has already been discredited as somebody's fertile imagination, just like the story where Captain Smith's last words were supposed to be "Be British!" (If that were true, an American passenger struggling in the water in his life-vest might be excused for asking 'How?')
  • Several papers, the prestigious New York Times, included, published their own versions of the disaster in the immediate aftermath of Carpathia's arrival, depending on which survivor they spoke to or the best story they could sensationalize. More often than not, the stories did not tally.

Now looking at what Lowe testified:

Senator SMITH.
Who had charge of the loading of lifeboat No. 14?

Mr. LOWE.
I had.

Senator SMITH.
And how many people did you put into it?

Mr. LOWE.
Fifty-eight.

Senator SMITH.
How many women; do you know?

Mr. LOWE.
They were all women and children, bar one passenger, who was an Italian, and he sneaked in, and he was dressed like a woman. [Possibly Edward Ryan]

Senator SMITH.
Had woman's clothing on?

Mr. LOWE.
He had a shawl over his head, and everything else; and I only found out at the last moment. And there was another passenger that I took for rowing.

Senator SMITH.
Who was that?

Mr. LOWE.

That was a chap by the name of C. Williams.

That indicates as clearly as anything that Senator Smith was asking about the loading of Lifeboat #14 while it was still on board the Titanic and Lowe was answering likewise. In other words, Lowe testified that he instructed Williams to get into the lifeboat before it was launched to help the crew to row.
 
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