Could all the women and children have been saved?

N Alison

N Alison

Member
I agree with a lot of what Arun has to say. While I do think that loading lifeboats more fully and allowing men in when there was space could have helped with women reluctant to leave husbands or in situations like Edith Evans it would not have helped in all situations. If passengers did not want to come on deck or got lost making their way there then there was little that could be done. Could a greater number have been saved? Possibly. But too many factors existed to keep all from being able to make it outside of the most perfect of circumstances.
 
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Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

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As soon as Thomas Andrews made it clear that the ship would sink Captain Smith should have made getting the people below up on deck priority over everything else
Making a policy is far easier than enforcing it. It might appear that such a policy would have worked if the Third Class stewards were trained to round-up all the women and children and hurry them up to the boat deck asap after the order went out. But in practice, getting the women to leave their husbands, late teenage sons, brothers or just male friends fould have taken time and effort. The crew would not be able to make any allowances as far as older boys and men were concerned; the moment a 17-year old was allowed to go with his mother and siblings, the situation would change dramatically and the men would start to protest. If they tried adding husbands/fathers to the mix, IMO the situation would quickly have gotten out of control.

Also, "getting the people from below" on the Titanic was a far more onerous task that those words suggest. As I have said before, there is a very telling picture on p119 of Titanic: An Illustrated History which shows the long and convoluted route from most Third Class areas to the boat deck that people had to take. If the crew wanted to make any success of taking the women and children along those routes to the boat deck, they would have to have all the access points open. And if they did that, what was to stop the men following the women, if necessary pretending that they were joining their families already ahead? Then you'd have to post more crew along the routes to ensure that men were not comong through - a task easier said than done.
 
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N Alison

N Alison

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I think in regards to saving more from below decks a good deal would still have been lost for many reasons that have been said. The best I can think in terms of saving more women and children would be simply to fill the boats on deck more fully and to let men in on the occasion there was room, which might save some women who refused a boat when their loved ones were kept out. In cases involving woman like Edith Evans, Martta Hiltunen or the Asplund children more organization and fuller boats might have helped while women like Bess Allison, Ida Strauss or Sarah Chapman might have been saved if men were let in given that there was usually room. For those who did not get on deck until after Collapsible D had left there was little to do though.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
Posting a related response in another thread reminded me of aother factor to be considered for this thread.

While we have a reasonable idea why the 4 first class adult women (and a girl child) and 12 second class ones died, very little is known about the circumstances of deaths of the 91 adult women and 55 children from third class. We are talking of 146 out of 166 (164 passengers and 2 female crew) deaths among women and children in the disaster and so "saving them all" would have included the mammoth task of rounding them all up, persuading them to leave their husbands, fathers etc and leading them to the boat deck amidst language barriers, family arguements, opportunistic interlopers etc. Many women might not have agreed to go without their husbands or grown sons and any attempt to include "family men" at the expense of single ones would have resulted in a riot.
 
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Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

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Put simply, when you know you can't save everyone, decisions become very difficult, including that of who gets informed as to the true fate of the ship.
 
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Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

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It would be a long but interesting exercise to go though the list of the 88 or so Third Class adult women saved and check how many of them had to leave behind male family members and compare the result with the situation of the 91 Third Class women who died. That would give us an idea of the scale of the task the stewards and other crew would have had in an attempt to save all women and children.

Latifa al-Baqluini for example had 3 small daughters and a 15-year old girl co-traveller to cope with but no man in her group. Despite the language barrier and other issues, the entourage managed to find their way to the upper decks and were all saved.
 
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N Alison

N Alison

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Of the children under the age of 12 and under who were saved 20 out of 30 did not have a father on board. Of the remaining ten three had their fathers survive. It is interesting and helps show that families staying together likely played its role in the death toll. I still think ultimately these people could not fully be saved, cynical though it may be. I wonder more how those already on deck might have been saved if the launching of boats had been different.
 
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Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

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I still think ultimately these people could not fully be saved, cynical though it may be
It is not cynicism but a sad reality of the way things were in those days. While the story that most people considered the Titanic as 'unsinkable' was a myth, there was a certain amount of complacency or overconfidence about the entire set-up. I do not believe that IMM or White Star had allowed for the possibility that something like what happened to the Titanic could actually occur to an ultra-modern ship; Captain Smith himself is supposed to have made those comments about his confidence that modern shipbuilding had 'gone beyond' any eventuality that could cause one of them to founder. That kind of attitude must have been all-pervasive and explains the lack of sufficient lifeboats, lackadaisical crew training with the new davits and so on. Therefore, when the accident did happen and subsequent damage assement showed that the Titanic was sinking, it would have been a body blow to Captain Smith and it would not have been easy for him or his crew to quickly come to terms with it and do the best they could for the passengers. Under those circumstances the fact that they managed to get over 700 people off the sinking ship with almost all of them being eventually rescued has to be seen in the right perspective. Apart from the obvious fact that some more people already on the deck could have been let into the lifeboats during loading, they could not have done much more within the timeframe available and people numbers involved.

One does not have to be a rocket scientist to know that with the people berthed deep down in the lower decks of such a huge ship, rounding-up the women and children, separating them from the men and dircting them to the upper decks in time would have been a mammoth task given all the inherent problems that went with it. They did improve some things for subsequent crossings - enough lifeboats for all, improved design (like the extension of the Olympic's double bottom etc) but what I want to know is whether the crew received more appropriate training about efficient evacuation of people in an emergency, particularly those deep below.
 
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Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

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One does not have to be a rocket scientist to know that with the people berthed deep down in the lower decks of such a huge ship, rounding-up the women and children, separating them from the men and dircting them to the upper decks in time would have been a mammoth task given all the inherent problems that went with it.
Absolutely. Here is what Steward Hart had to say about separating women and children from the men, and get women to boats in general:

9924. “Pass the women and children up to the boat deck”? - {Hart] Yes, those that were willing to go to the boat deck were shown the way. Some were not willing to go to the boat deck, and stayed behind. Some of them went to the boat deck, and found it rather cold, and saw the boats being lowered away, and thought themselves more secure on the ship, and consequently returned to their cabin.
 
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Steven Christian

Steven Christian

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Well we'll never know because they didn't really try. At least until it was a mute point.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
There is a related thread called "Survival of Third Class Women" in which a number of points relevant to this thread have already been discussed, including Steward John Hart's role. I believe Hart's testimony is important but it also raises several questions about the low survival rate among third class women and children, including many who might actually have arrived on the boat deck in time to board a lifeboat. It would be quite narrow-minded to blame the Third Class stewards without looking at the situation realistically.

Hart testified at the British Inquiry:

9845. Very well, that is your room. Were you awakened by the collision?
- No.


9846. Did somebody else come and wake you up?
- Yes, somebody came along and woke me.

9847. You heard there had been an accident?
- Yes, they said there had been an accident.


9848. I think at first you did not think it was serious, and did not take much notice of it?
- Yes, and went to sleep.


I believe the accommodation for 38 Third Class stewards including Hart was on F-deck; some other 3rd Class stewards were billeted elsewhere, it would seem. Hart's answers above suggest that although many of them were woken by the impact, most did not think that it was serious and went back to sleep...including Hart. It was only after Chief Third Class Steward Kieran came around and ordered them to go and muster their charges that there was some realization that all was not well with the ship.

Hart's own passengers were on E-deck, one level above his quarters.

9865. How many third class passengers had you in your sections altogether?
- Somewhere about 58.


9866. (The Commissioner.) Altogether?
- Altogether.

9867. Men and women?
- All told.

9877. (The Commissioner.) Of the 58, nine were men?
- Nine were men.


9878. All the others were women or children?
- Yes.


Well we'll never know because they didn't really try.
With all due respect, I think that is an irresponsible statement. I am sure many of Hart's colleagues also tried their best, except that they did not survive themselves to tell their tales. I did a survery of Third Class stewards on the Titanic and allowing for a couple of misses, found that 34 of them were lost including Cheif Third Class Steward Kieran and his assistant Sedunary. Only 9 Third Class Stewards survived, including John Hart. Interestingly, one other survivor from that group was Sidney Daniels, whose son Albert went to school with a boy named Alan Sheppherd. Young Alan often listened to Sidney's Titanic stories and apparently the former steward was very critical of scenes depicting Third Class passengers being kept behind locked barriers as depicted in the 1958 film A Night To Remember, insisting that it never happened. I know this because I befriended Alan Sheppherd in 1985-6 while living in Burton-on-Trent and he was the one who rekindled my interest in the Titanic big time.

Getting back to Steward John Hart, he immediately went to carry out his orders but discovered that it was not quite as simple or straightforward as it seemed.

9879. (The Solicitor-General.) When you got those instructions just tell us what you did?
- The chief third class steward was there, and he said "Get your people roused up and get lifebelts placed upon them; see that they have lifebelts on them." I did so.


9885. And what did you do about the lifebelts?
- I saw the lifebelts placed on them that were willing to have them put on them.

9886. (The Commissioner.) Some would not put them on?
- Some refused to put them on.


9887. (The Solicitor-General.) Did they say why?
- Yes, they said they saw no occasion for putting them on; they did not believe the ship was hurt in any way
.

Also, with all the activity above, the Third Class stewards did not receive any specific orders. Since they were ordered to see to their charges, it is likely that none of them had actually been to the boat deck as yet and so had no real idea themselves of what was happeneing above and outside.

9888. Up to this time were any instructions given for your people to go to any other part of the ship?
- Not to my knowledge.


9921. Now just tell us about the next thing?
- I was standing by waiting for further instructions. After some little while the word came down, "Pass your women up on the boat deck." This was done.

9922. That means the third class?
- Yes, the third class.

9923. Anything about children?
- Yes. "Pass the women and children."

9924. "Pass the women and children up to the boat deck"?
- Yes, those that were willing to go to the boat deck were shown the way. Some were not willing to go to the boat deck, and stayed behind. Some of them went to the boat deck, and found it rather cold, and saw the boats being lowered away, and thought themselves more secure on the ship, and consequently returned to their cabin.


9925. You say they thought themselves more secure on the ship? Did you hear any of them say so?
- Yes, I heard two or three say they preferred to remain on the ship than be tossed about on the water like a cockle shell
.

As I have mentioned before, the route from most Third Class accommodation to the boat deck was long and tortuous and it woud have been very difficult for stewards to lead large groups up through narrow corridors with many turns within a huge new liner with which they probably had not fully familiarized themselves. John Hart was in a better position than most of his colleages because he told the Inquiry that knew the layout (I found that statement a bit surprising since AFAIK Hart had not served on board the Olympic like some of his colleagues)

9934. Did you take them by the third class stairway up to C deck?
- I took them up into the after-well deck, that would be the third class deck up one companion to C deck.

9945. That would bring them up then, as I follow you, to the C deck, to the after-well deck; and how would you get them from there to the boat deck?
- I took them along to the first class main companion from there.

9949. (The Solicitor-General.) And goes still forward until he comes to the first class stairs, which is next to what is marked "Barber's shop," a big stairway. (To the witness.) Then did you guide them up that first class stairway to the boat deck?
- Right to the boat deck.

9950. At that time, when you took up your people by that route, was there any barrier that had to be opened, or was it open to pass?
- There were barriers that at ordinary times are closed, but they were open
.

The above excerpt illustrates the complicated route that Hart took with his charges to get to the boat deck. But more importantly, it dismisses all those tales about how Third Class passengers were "locked below" and left to die like rats. The conspiracy theorists hinge on the fact that under normal sailing conditions the access points from Third Class to higher decks were kept locked but while some were left locked after the accident simply because there were other issues to attend, others were opened. If not, no Third Class passenger would have survived.

It is beyond this point that there appear to be loose ends with Hart's testimony. When I was looking into this a few months earlier, I thought that it was simply a bit of embellishment by Steward Hart himself, but now think differently.

9954. And having got them to the boat deck, do you remember whereabouts on the boat deck you took them to?
- Yes. I took them to boat No. 8, which was at that time being lowered.

9955. That is the fourth boat on the port side?
- Yes.

9956. Practically opposite the second funnel, or a little more forward than the second funnel?
- Yes.

9957. Did you leave them there?
- I left them there and went back again
.

What happened to the group of passengers that Hart left on the boat deck in the vicinity of Lifeboat #8 before going back down? Hart did not say that his passengers were loaded into Lifeboat #8 and so they must have just been milling around uncertainly among the First Class passengers. As far as I know, there were no Third Class passengers on board Lifeboat #8 and so we have to assume (like Hart said above) that they found the deck too cold and either went elsewhere or returned to their cabins and the imagined security of the ship itself.

There are also question marks about Hart's second group which he said he took to Lifeboat #15 on the starboard side.

9965. Did you bring up any more?
- Yes, about 25. I had some little trouble in getting back owing to the males wanting to get to the boat deck.


9966. The men?
- Yes. After the word was passed round for women and children, I was delayed a little time in getting a little band together that were willing to go to the boats.

9967. A band of women and children?
- Yes.

9968. How many did you gather?
- Somewhere about 25.

9969. Were those all people from the rooms you were responsible for?
- No, also from other sections.

9970. Were they all third class passengers?
- Yes.

9971. Did you guide them by the same route?
- Yes.


9972. Where did you take them to?
- I took them to the only boat that was left then, boat No. 15
.

I might have missed it but I was unable to find out whether Hart took his group of about 25 women and children to Lifeboat #15 on the boat deck or after it was lowered to the A-deck. Either way it is difficult to determine where they went; Hart specifically said that Lifeboat #15 was the only one left on the starboard side aft when he arrived with his group, which means they must have arrived on the boat deck after Lifeboat #13 had been lowered to the A-deck or to the A-deck after #13 started loweing to the sea and #15 was lowered to the A-deck. But th big issue either way is that there do not appear to have been 25 women and chidren survivors on Lifeboat #15, which was probably the only properly launched boat where there were more men on board than women and children.
 
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