Befor we make the mistake of second guessing any of the principles involved regarding wireless, keep in mind that it was not widespread and not entirely trusted. IOW, Beware anachronism!
In any event, suppose they turn on the wireless. There would be no problem picking up the Titanic's calls. The question that goes begging though is what do they do about it? They would have two options;
1)Go towards the rockets that they see. (They know something is going on here} or,
2)Go for the position given by the Titanic which is 14 miles in error.
A lot of lives hang in the balance, so what gamble would you take knowing only what they knew then? Yes, they could ask if the Titanic is firing rockets and they would certainly get an answer. But how much time is lost getting the information and making the decision, and what is the price paid in lives lost that might otherwise have been saved?
Time is the enemy here and it stopped for nobody.
We know now that option (1) would be the correct one, but how do they know then? What questions do they ask?
So sorry, but no, I can't agree with the proposition that getting on the wireless is the magic solution that everybody thinks it may be. We can't know the confusion it might have caused, how long it would have taken to resolve it (Remember, this is Morse code were using here, not voice coms! It's rather more time and labour intensive, and minutes matter!)
Yes Michael, I did not address your two options of heading towards the position Phillips indicated or going by sight alone. It was a novelty at the time, wireless, and in its infancy. There is one thing that rolls around in my head that I have been wanting to state. The signal strength from Titanics' wireless would have blown the phones off Californians'Evans. Would he have associated the siganl strength with the close proximity of the ship firing rockets the bridge could see? Would he relay this information to the bridge? It is all conjecture, and of course we will never know. I am neither pro or con on Cptn. Lord. I feel, as others have said, that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time for one of maritimes worst disasters to happen. Getting on the wireless really is inconsequential. One fact remains, they saw the rockets and did nothing. And whether the ship firing the rockets was Titanic or not, simply does not matter. No action at all is the problem. All respect, Don
"One fact remains, they saw the rockets and did nothing."
"And whether the ship firing the rockets was Titanic or not, simply does not matter. No action at all is the problem."
And this is the one I can't quite buy into in toto. Yes, the lack of action was a problem, but the question that goes begging is "why?" Stone didn't even bother telling Captain Lord about it for close to half an hour. This tells me he wasn't immidiately impressed by what he saw, that or something tossed some confusion into the mix at a time when clearity was most needed.
I have little concern with fighting the pro vs. anti-Lord battle. Seems there are enough flames over that already, and I'll cheerfully leave the flamewarriors to their amusement. My focus is in trying to understand the "why" and the realities of what was and what realistically was not possible that night.
Well, I'm a dyed in the wool anti-Lordite. Lord was receiving regular reports of a ship firing rockets and chose not to act on it. He never even ventured out to the bridge himself during the night to see what his men were talking about. I find his lack of interest on a potential ship in distress appalling and all he could think of to ask Stone was: Were they company signals?
Here's an interesting footnote--at the British Inquiry, Sylvia Lightoller really let Stanley Lord have it royally. It was all Lights could do to pull his wife away from him, telling her not to kick a man when he's down.
Captain Lord said he never met Sylvia Lightoller, though he did have a cordial correspondence with Lights after the disaster. It would seem if Lord had met her, the contact was so unremarkable that he did not remember it.
The other story I heard is that Sylvia merely refused to shake hands with Captain Lord and Lights reproved her, telling her not to kick a man while he was down.
I don't know much about Captain Lord, but I know one thing, and that is that Tracy Smith knows what shes talking about and I pretty take her word for this because it looks like shes researched this. Adam
I think I saw that in Stenson's biography about Lightoller, but I have to get back to you on that. (Not in those exact words of course). However, in his memoirs Lightoller was very harsh on Captain Lord himself. During the sinking Lightoller wished he had a gun and a couple of shells to wake up the ship he saw in the distance.Lightoller said that a man had to be willing to hazard his ship to come to the aid of another vessel (not exactly those words, but the sentiment is very close). Lord failed Lightoller's test miserably.
Mrs Lightoller had some vivid memories of the Californian witnesses, but, having just had her husband restored to her after a greater danger than even that adventurous man had ever surmounted, she was, like others in the hall, burning with indignation at the Californian's original neglect of the rockets; and by the evident cool reaction produced by them on at least two of the witnesses from that ship. It was in fact only Lightoller's own discreet reminder: "You can't kick a man when he's down, my dear," that induced her to shake hands with Captain Lord. [Reade, P. 307)
While there is little doubt what Sylvia Lightoller's view of Lord was (and later her husband's, formed after the inquiry and his polite response to Lord's letters), this is not exactly giving it to him with both barrels - indeed, with a little prodding from her husband, she shook hands with Lord.
First of all, yes, you did see a reference to Sylvia Lightoller in Stenson' bio of Lights. The passage reads:
Sylvia Lightoller made a point of spending a great deal of time talking with the officers of the Californian during the inquiry and reported back to her husband how they had openly admitted to her that several attempts had been made to rouse Captain Lord and tell him of the rockets but that he seemed unconcerned. She also got the impression that his officers were nervous of him and dared not do anything that might incur his annoyance. She would later recall an incident when her husband endeavored to introduce her to Captain Lord during an interval at the inquiry, and she indignantly refused to shake his hand. 'Come on now, Sylvia,' Lightoller said earnestly, putting his arm round her. 'Don't kick a man when he's down." Strangely, Captain Lord would claim never to have met Lightoller or his wife. However, he would write to Lightoller seeking support to clear his name after the British Inquiry severely censure him for ignoring rockets which were concluded to have been those from the Titanic. Lightoller was sympathetic in his letters back to Lord but there was little he could say or really do to help. He had seen merely the light of a ship 5 or 6 miles off that night. There was nothing else in the way of concrete evidence he could offer to assist Captain Lord's case.
This is quite a bit different from what you said: "Sylvia Lightoller really let Stanley Lord have it royally. It was all Lights could do to pull his wife away from him, telling her not to kick a man when he's down." I see no indication whatsoever that Sylvia personally attacked Captain Lord in any way, her reaction when meeting him being limited to a reluctance to shake hands with him.
It is also interesting to note that none of the Californian's officers mentioned above corroborate any conversations with Mrs Lightoller, nor the context of any such conversations.
And, though you are correct that in his book written more than 20 years after the disaster, Lightoller faults the Californian for not coming to the rescue, his views in 1912 during the aftermath of the disaster were rather different, if his letters to Captain Lord are any indication. We can only speculate why he changed his tune when he wrote his book. Here are the two letters he wrote to Captain Lord:
October 12, 1912
Dear Captain Lord
I can truly assure you that you have my sincerest sympathy and I would have written you before to that effect had I known your address. I sincerely hope that your efforts may be successful in clearing up the mystery of which you speak. That another ship or ships might have been in the vicinity is quite possible and it seems a strange attitude for the B of T to take. I quite see how horribly hard it is for you and it must be doubly so with this other ship in your mind. I certainly wish you every success in clearing the matter up.
Believe me, Yours very sincerely, CH Lightoller.
The second letter reads:
December 15, 1912
Dear Capt. Lord,
We have so little time at home that my letters have to wait till I get to sea. I have read your enclosure with great interest, it certainly does seem extraordinary. All the same, those Mount Temple chaps might have volunteered the information when it would have been some use to you. I am awfully sorry but I have not the faintest idea how her head was.
You see, I just turned out and went straight to the boats and beyond what came out in the evidence I know absolutely nothing about it or I would gladly let you know.
With regard to the steamer seen -- I saw a light about two points on the port bow and could not say whether it was one or two masthead lights or stern light -- but it seemed there about 5 or 6 miles away. I did not pay much attention to it beyond calling the passengers attention to it -- for their assurance.
I really do hope you will be able to clear the matter up. As to the B of T their attitude towards you is as inexplicable as in many other things -- I don’t hold any breif (sic) for them.
Wishing you success Believe me Sincerely yours CH Lightoller
Again, these letters suggest something quite different from what you said: "During the sinking Lightoller wished he had a gun and a couple of shells to wake up the ship he saw in the distance."