Well done Richard, I really enjoyed it. Thanks for the credit!
Kamuda has been ridiculously pro-Lordite for four decades, and his very close friendship with Leslie Harrison has significantly reduced his impartiality. A very anti-Lordite essay was vetoed for inclusion in the THS commutator in the early 1990s, and the reasons given are suspicious. Karen Kamuda refused to allow a review of my own ebook on the Commutator because "we would not be selling it." The true reason is because she seeks to protect Captain Lords - and Leslie Harrison's - reputation.
The moral? Don't go to the THS if you want an impartial treatment of the facts. They have also unilaterally embargoed other topics they don't like - such as RMS Titanic, Inc. and salvage
I too enjoyed your article but forgive me for saying: I think the reason why Gill was branded a charlatan was because his story had too many holes in it. I'm absolutely sure Paul will not be the least surprised at me of all people saying that!
To illustrate, I make a few basic points:
It is patently obvious that Gill's story was a mixture of hearsay and Bravado. here we have the man - Gill dodging in and out of lit engine rooms and accommodation onto a pitch black deck being able to see the pack ice at 5 miles when those on the bridge with night vision adjusted nearly ran into it. (Gill had super vision - he had perfect night vision after 5 minutes on deck while puffing away at a fag!)
All his observations are on the starboard side yet he knows the ice is 'all round'.
He states that his'compass' was a steam valve and suggests he is not a deck-hand yet pontificates about distances (about 10 miles) and directions etc. Just like and old sea dog.
In his signed statement, Gill says his mystery ship was charging along at midnight. Yet later cannot be sure if it was moving or not. He must have known that if it was moving it could not have been Titanic because he also knew the accident happened 20 minutes earlier. It could not even have been Lord's mystery ship because his had been stopped abeam, about 4 miles away since 1130 p.m. He even made a stab at identifying the vessel's nationality - a 'big german'!-had he heard something in connection with 'Frankfurt'? I suggest such a man would have been a god-send on the bridge of a ship. Just think what he could have done with a bit of training?
You mention McGregor the Carpenter. His printed story was at least third hand so surely has no value except that it does prove all hands were discussing what had transpired during the night.
Equally, the Radio Operator Evans got his information in the same way. I suggest that because he could reliably place himself on the deck at midnight, Gill's story was the only one that might be credible. Hence, the Lordites would target it.
As to who the 'ship's officer' was - perhaps Evans might just fit the bill?
Perhaps he was the 'officer' who was part of the fouresome?
I have a mind myself to write a book about this some day. I even have a working title - how about "The Donkeyman & The Carpenter"?
Don't pay any mind to my ravings - keep up the good work. Dig - dig- dig.
Thanks Paul and Jim for your feedback.
Only problem about the THS, Paul, is that they've got so many darn good hard-to-find books for sale. Like Jack Thayer's account, say, or Shan Bullock's book on Thomas Andrews.
Maybe, due to my politcally incorrect stance on the Californian, I should used a pen name when ordering books from them? (Said only partly with tounge in cheek). I imagine the Kamuda's blood pressure might skyrocket whenever they might read my article in which I rebut Mr. K. on Mr. G.
A man who could see lines of portholes in a ship ten miles off would be a valuable lookout indeed. I'll let Dr Paul calculate the resolving power necessary. Personally, I discount Gill altogether. His tale has more holes than Titanic.
I think Richard's best point is that there seems to be little solid evidence for the $500 payment.
I did note a point in Gill's story. In one place, he said he was losing a good berth through telling his tale. Elsewhere, in England, he said he still belonged to Californian.
Something to keep in mind as well, THS just recently ran Sam Halpern's excellent series of articles on the Californian/Titanic issue in The Commutator, so they may not be as adverse to the subject as is perceived by some.
Sam stayed as objective as is possible (the approach that should be taken, but often isn't with this subject), and his conclusions certainly aren't favorable to the Californian or Captain Lord's case, and were still published by THS.
Richard, congrats on the article, it is always good to go back and look at the evidence from another angle. I do not think that Gill made up his story out of whole cloth, but as some have pointed out here, he is difficult to rely upon given a number of seeming contradictions in his statements, and perhaps a little too-detailed a version of events. Sadly, we can't pick these out of his accounts to see what truth is there, if any, which is why we must examine the body of evidence relating to the Californian as a whole, rather than rely on any one individual.
I now leave this conversation to those of you who have done far more work in this area than I have, including Sam, Dave and Paul. I think we share somewhat similar views about Gill, at least as far as the difficulty in being able to rely upon him.
Sorry, Phil, for the digression.
Back on track:
I read, reread, then read Gills accounts over and over, seeking a discrepancy, but found none.
If his tale had changed subtly while on the stand, I would have found reason to doubt.
Yet, apart from the moment he wavered before Robertson Dunlop, I found nothing.
Nothing at all.
Thanks for the compliments.
Tad, Hi, how are you? when is your wedding set for
Re: THS. I think the attitude towards the Californian wavers very slightly. I was a member of the THS from 1987 till about 1993/4, and only 4 or so anti-Lord letters were ever published. A promised article was vetoed. I've read quite a lot of the commutators and supplements since then and the mood is remarkly pro-Lord. Sam's work was great, but we need to differentiate between blaming the Californian, blaming Stone, or blaming Lord. It seems that now, the first two of these are OK, but the last is a definite no.
Another thing to bear in mind: the A&E documentary perpetuated the myth of the Samson. This has been debunked by Walter Lord 8 years previously, and the previous year (1993) by Leslie Reade. Still, you wouldn't know this being a member of the THS. They refused to run a review of "The Ship That Stood Still," for fear of upsetting Harrison.
It has been suggested that Gill used his $500 to buy a small shop, but one of his crewmates said that Gill was engaged. The inference is that he used the money to pay for a wedding. Indeed, he did get married soon after arriving back in England.
But Gill's mysteries don't end there. I have four addresses for him between 1911 and 1914, and NONE of them existed, either now or then. Who was he hiding from, and why?
Could he have been hiding from the Leyland Line for some reason? If it were not for him, the whole Californian incident would have slipped quietly out the back door. But then again, why would Leyland bother with a vendetta against a sailor once employed by them?
Curioiser and curioser ...
>>Could he have been hiding from the Leyland Line for some reason?<<
Not likely. Even if Leyland wanted to do him dirty for exposing the Californian affair, that wouldn't explain bogus addresses going back to 1911. Some people who took to the sea in that day and age had some "interesting" pasts to put a very mild skid on it. You never knew if or from whom or what somebody was running, but at sea, you would at least be in the company of people who weren't inclined to ask too many questions about where you came from. So long as you did an adaquate job, few would have even cared.
First off, I believe that the only problem was that the CALIFORNIAN never made an attempt to steer towards the TITANIC site, during the night, even after noticing the rockets, nor was any suggestion made to have Ernest Gill check the wireless transmissions.
If such a situation had occured, and CALIFORNIAN headed to TITANIC, much of the controversy would have abated, especially if CALIFORNIAN arrived after TITANIC went under the waves.
Yes, I know that the wireless was not deemed an essential communications device (my term), but a luxury item for paying passengers on most liners.
My other thought: both Stanley Lord's son, Stanley Tutton Lord and Leslie Harrison have since passed away, Lord in 1994 and Harrison in 1997. Thus, I know that any further inquiries as to Stanley Lord's actions on April 14-15, 1912, are not likely.
However, I think that overwhelmingly negative replies to further inquiries may also become equally unlikely.
"Time will tell", as regards the last point.
Ernest Gill was a member of the Engine Room staff. As such, he had nothing to do with the R/O
As far as everyone before 1985 was concerned, the 'Titanic' site was to the SW not the SE.
Apart from that, if indeed 'Californian' did steam in the direction of the 'rockets', she would, as you point-out have arrived too late.
On the other hand, if, as others believe, the vessels were in sight of each other - then surely Boxhalls green flares would have been seen by Stone and Stewart?. When Boxhall was letting them-off, 'Carpathia' could not have been more than 6 or 7 miles away. If 'Californian' was just an hour's steaming away. she would have been on top of the site around 3-30pm. If 16 miles away she would still have sen them. However she did see 'Carpathia's rockets!
Another point about our 'Ernie' - he did not want to loose a 'good berth'. How did he know it was a 'good one'? As far as I can determine, this was his first trip on 'Californian'. Normally, it takes at least two such trips to find out if a berth is 'good' or otherwise.
Yep! it would be funny if the results of his downright lies and prevarications hadn't been so serious. But what about 'Wee McGreegor's' auntie?
What about the other guy's nerve - you know the one- The Attorney General, who on day 16 of the BOT remarked to the Commissioner during the opening of the questioning of Gill:
(after referring to Gills evidence in the US )- "The suggestion at one time was that he made a statement(Gill)" etc.. "it is no longer necessary to clear that up because Mr. Gill's story, as told in America, has - I do not want to say more than this - been very much confirmed by the evidence..."