Collapsible A


Magda Natalia Piotrowska

Hi everyone!
I've few questions about Collapsible A :
1. When first people went to the collapsible A(time)?
2. When last people swam to this boat?
3. Was collapsible A closer stern than bow?
4. Who was lowered this boat?
5. How many places were in collapsible A?
Does anyone have any info about this collapsible?
And when Officer Lowe (lifeboat 14) took collapsible A's survivors?
These links should help you:

Titanic Collapsible Lifeboat A | Encyclopedia Titanica

It was the last two lifeboat concurrently with portside Collapsilbe B. It was stored over the Officer's Quarters on the starboard side by the front funnel, forward. Collapsible A was the scene of much drama and confusion. This is where Murdoch may, or may not, have committed suicide. It finally floated free after some lines were cut possibly leading to the falling of the forward funnel.

While it could hypothetically hold 47 (see site above) there were probably no more than 20 or so. This site shows 12 "made it" (did the Lindell's make it to C-A or just the wedding ring???)but three of them died before dawn. Mr Thomson Beattie and two crew members were found deceased by the Oceanic a month later adrift in Collapsible A.

According to testimony Lowe said he took about 20 people from A, leaving the three bodies. This occurred some time after Lowe went back to recover 5 survivors, sometime around dawn.
There is a further explaination of how and why the Lindell's ring remained in C-A if you read both biographies it will paint a fuller picture.

In another Collapsible A matter, it's been reported that three bodies were found by the Oceanic a month later: Beattie, a sailor and a fireman. But in our own ET bios it appears that Mr. Keefe (a farmer) was one of the men still in C-A when it was discovered.

My questions: were there more than three? Who was the other one (or two)?

Also, Mrs. O'Brien (Mr. Keefe's sister) "spent several days in Halifax in a vain attempt to locate Mr. Keefe's body among those recovered by the Mackay-Bennett." Was she ever informed that it was her brother???? She returned two days before his (?) body was found May 13.

I've found that C-A is IMHO the most interesting lifeboat! There's enough life, death, coincidence and struggle to do a movie on it specifically.
Unfortunately, the ET biography really gives *no* details about why Keefe is thought to have been one of the bodies in Collapsible A.

Anyone have any details on this identification?
It would seem that 3rd class passenger Olaus Abelseth positively ID'd Mr. Keefe (from ET bio):

"As they rowed through the night the survivors in Collapsible A prayed, and, although nearly waist deep in water Olaus tried to revive a fellow passenger who lay freezing in the bottom of the boat, he lifted him up and discovered that it was a man from New Jersey with whom Olaus had shared a carriage on the boat train to Southampton.(1)[Notes 1. This may have been Arthur Keefe.] When the Carpathia was sighted he urged the man to look up, but as dawn broke the man slipped away. Another man put his arms around Abelseth to relieve cramps caused by the cold but eventually he too died and Olaus had to prise (sp?) the man's arm off him."

Being after dawn it would also appear to be after the Lowe transfer, so Keefe should have been one of the remaining C-A bodies.
"May have been" is the key word here. Also, even if Abelseth did correctly identify Keefe, there is no evidence that I am aware of to show it was Keefe's body still in the lifeboat one month later.

I would think the crew of the Oceanic would be easily able to tell the difference between a sailor, a fireman, and a 3rd class passenger.

Tim - I have never heard of more than 3 bodies being recovered from Collapsible A.
My personal take on this is that a possible erroneous identification was made on the part of the Oceanic's crew, and that the body of Arthur Keefe was mistaken for that of a sailor or a fireman (most probably the latter).

If you look at the descriptions of several fireman (and a few sailors) whose bodies were recovered from the wreck, you'll notice that while some have distinctive badges, keys, notebooks and other items which establish beyond doubt that they belonged to the ship's crew, others could just as easily be third class passengers, were it not for names found on clothing and effects (in most cases).

If you look at the entry for F. Saunders (#184), for example, he was recorded as having worn a blue suit and a black shirt. Luckily, he also had a discharge book which provided crucial details which established his identity, but were it not for that document, it would be extremely difficult to discern whether he was passenger or crew member. Perhaps Keefe's clothing or even a tatoo may have lead the crew of the Oceanic to believe he was a fireman?

As Tim points out, there is no evidence to suggest that the New Jerseyman as described by Abelseth was among those lowered over the side of 'A' by the surviving occupants, and in all likelihood, he was one of the three bodies left on board by Lowe.

The more I dig the more I find! ET is so addictive.

"It was reported in this city yesterday that one of the survivors of the disaster, who was treated in St. Vincent's hospital, New York, stated that he knew Arthur Keefe and made his acquaintance while in the steerage of the vessel. This person, whose name has not been ascertained, described Mr. Keefe fully, and stated that they were together in one of the lifeboats after the wreck.

He told that Mr. Keefe succumbed after being taken aboard the lifeboat and that probably his body was left, with those of hundreds of others, when the survivors were taken aboard the Carpathia."
This may have been Mr. Abelseth again as he was also at St. Vincent's. Mr. Abelseth was one of the few 3rd class at the American Inquiry.
"There was also a fireman named Thompson on the same raft. He had burned one of his hands. Also there was a young boy, with a name that sounded like Volunteer. He was at St. Vincent's Hospital afterwards. Thompson was there, too."

Mr. Thompson should be added to the C-A list.
John William Thompson : Titanic Survivor

From Mr. Abelseth's testimony it appears that "Volunteer" could be "Vartanian" BTW the only surviving "V" of any passenger class.
David Vartanian : Titanic Survivor
although at age 20 or 22 is he hardly a "boy" compared to the then 25 year old Abelseth, then again some people look remarkably younger or older than than their age. But it's not clear if "Volunteer" was on C-A and/or at St. Vincent's.
Some comments on these people in Collapsible A - and just my opinion:

Fireman Thompson - unlikely to know and identify a 3rd class passenger.

Vartanian - claimed to be on A, but is thought more likely to have been in 13 or 15. The only details I could find on this were at:
Plucked from the Sea?
Bill, that's not much different from what I found out regarding Vartanian here on ET. But there appears to be a positive ID from Abelseth. I think it may be time to revisit the Collapsible A list.

Lowe said he transfered 20 or so people from A. ET shows 12, of which neither Lindell would have been present by the time of transfer as only the wedding ring remained in the lifeboat. That leaves 10, and more than 10 unaccounted for.

Abelseth recognized Fireman Thompson from C-A and the hospital. It's equally likely that Fireman Thompson recognized 3rd class passenger Abelseth. I don't understand why "Fireman Thompson - unlikely to know and identify a 3rd class passenger." if they spent hours in a Collapsible boat and days in a hospital together?

BTW I don't think there were more than three bodies left in C-A. I was raising what I thought was an obvious error in the Oceanic's observation regarding the "sailor/fireman" description. Three were left behind and three were found. To my mind at least it's Beattie, Keefe and an unknown person who may have been a fireman or a sailor...or not.
Tim - my comment about "unlikely to recognize a 3rd class passenger" was relating to Thompson and Keefe - someone he would not have been likely to have known on the ship. I don't argue the point that Thompson would recognize Abelseth. Very likely they would have known each other - after the rescue.

In general - 12 is the most common number I've heard in a number of places re: Collapsible A. However, I haven't dug into an exact number on my own.

Just my opinion - but I am still not convinced that one of the unknown bodies was Keefe. Even if he was seen on A, doesn't mean he was one of the bodies. Possible, yes. For sure? I'm doubtful. I need more hard evidence.
Ah.... I think I see your point if it's from the St. Vincent's unattributed quote regarding Thompson and Keefe. But I wasn't saying that Thompson ID'd Keefe anyway. I'm saying it was Ableseth identifying Keefe, Thompson and "Volunteer".

Even the ET Bio says it's Keefe body: Keefe died in the sinking. His body was recovered by the Oceanic (No. 332) and was buried at Sea.
Arthur O'Keefe : Titanic Victim
Sorry if I made it seem like I was reporting anything "new" I was just starting from square one in IDing the 3rd unknown.

As for the 20, in Lowe's ET Bio the new article says, in part: The collapsible boat is the one mentioned by Mr. Lowe in his testimony at Washington as that from which he took twenty men and three women, leaving three bodies.

Plucked from the Sea?
mentions the following:
Daly, Mr Peter Denis
Brown, Mr Edward
Thompson, Mr John
Weikman, Mr Augustus H.
The same article said Vartanian wasn't in A but I'm not sure exactly why.

"Collapsible A probably contained between 11 and 14 survivors but estimates vary so much that it is impossible to determine the exact number. R.N. Williams said 11, Scarrot and Lowe testified to 20 or so men and one lady, Carl Olof Jansson stated there was 12, Rheims said that there was 12 in the letter to his wife, and then said 14 in his 1913 testimony, Steward Brown said 14, then 12, Peter Daly said 13, Wennerstrom said 11, etc., etc."

None of the above has gotten me closer to my questions of who was the 3rd body, or how many were really in Collapsible A. We'll probably never know.
If you go in one page deeper in ET to the one you posted, Tim, you will see the word 'probably'.

With the exception of #1, most lifeboat lists are 'best guesses' of who was in them - including the ones here at ET. Certain people are fairly easy to nail down, others not.

The lifeboat article you point to does mention Vartanian - I'm guessing either Peter or Tad wrote the mention that Vartanian was probably in 13 or 15. Peter or Tad, any info you can share on this?

The point of the article, is not everyone who *said* they were in the water, and on A or B, could possibly have been. Too many people for only two boats.

What I need to be convinced, is some hard evidence that it was Keefe body found in A. A primary source - which, as good as it it, ET is not.