El Capitain

T

Tom McLeod

Member
Which as Michael says somewhat taints the testimony of those called to the stand. There a lot of information on hand to study, but you really can't trust each word as it was absolute. Long of many stories short, If you are someone like Lightoller you can go against your company, tell it like it was and be the scapegoat pretty easy; and out of a job. Who in their right mind is going to do that, right or wrong?
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
>>The problem for Lord was that he was suspected without being told he was a suspect, indicted without being indicted, tried and convicted without being tried and convicted and had no recourse because legally nothing happened. <<

And Lord had only himself to blame for that. His poor attempted coverup of events during the middle watch had much to do with it. Even during the inquiries themselves he held back evidence. Conflicting and contradictory stories from his officer's didn't help with the perception that C saw T's rockets and did nothing about it. And that was the bottom line of it all.
 
Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

Member
>>And Lord had only himself to blame for that.<<

And I'm not quibbling with that in the least. What I have an issue with...academically...is the lack of due process. Everybody has a right to that much.

>>Who in their right mind is going to do that, right or wrong?<<

Not many. I doubt a lot of people resorted to a deliberate bald faced lie. That would have been too easy. The trick is to wrap a whopper of a lie in a sandgrain of truth. The Mersey Court succeeded brilliantly at that.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Hi Guys!

I've been re-reading the evidence given at both enquiries.

Michael, I agree there does not seem to be any downright lying however I don't entirely agree about Lord's attempt at cover-up. If he did so, it could not have been to protect himself but to protect his juniors who I do think engaged in a little bit of shall we say 'hankey-pankey'.
After all, before he presented himself at the first enquiry, he knew very well what all his officers were going to swear to - especially Stone and Gibson. He knew that their testimonies contradicted what he understood the situation to be.
Apart from his words being twisted in cross examination and substituted for more satisfactory ones (to the court) by some snappy cross examination - his evidence seemed pretty straight forward.

On the other hand, the evidence of Stone and Gibson raises a few questions. These might be:

Stone told Gibson he had reported the initial rocket sightings to Lord via the speaking tube.
Did Stone actually report having seen 5 rockets or of seeing 1 and a half rockets? If the latter, it would explain Lord's lack of immediate alarm but his instructions to keep a sharp watch on the vessel and report any further development.

Gibson saw the last three of the set of 8 at about 0110 hours but no report was made to Lord at that time.
Stone says he saw the last one at 0140 but chose not to make any further report until after 0200 when the mystery vessel sailed away.
To make this second report of this particular event and give a summary, he chose to send Gibson down rather than go himself or use the Tube. Why? if he waited so long to report,did he chose this method of advising the Master?
He he obviously did not think too much was amiss. Why did he even bother to report it? It could have waited till later in the morning.
After all,reporting that a vessel had sailed away apparently unharmed would have most certainly resulted in the wrath of a very tired Captain awakened from a much needed sleep.

Later we're told that Stone reports the spread of three white rockets allegedly fired by 'Carpathia' at 0340 - again by voice tube. Inconsistency seems to be the name of the game here.

In fact, it is not until Stone relates the rocket firing saga in conversation to Mr. Stewart when the latter relieves him at 0400 hrs that everyone is galvanised into action.

It has been suggested that any cover-up was a futile attempt to save individual employment on the part of subordinates. In reality; nothing could be further from the truth with one exception - Gibson. He did not have a 'ticket'.
The word ticket is short for Ticket to work'.
These Hearings had the ultimate power of having an individual's marine qualifications either suspended or worse still- cancelled. It was then as is now the protection of an individual officer's qualifications which was/is the prime motivator. Loss of job motivation among qualified seafarers is not quite the same as the land based version where it is used as a very effective weapon.

My own personal take of this is that what we see is a very sad attempt by Lord to protect his incompetent 2/O and Apprentice.
I think that after Stewart called him, Lord put two and two together. He realised that Stone had neglected to properly inform him of the situation.
He also mis-read the situation. It is possible, he thought that he would be the only one called to account on the US side and that his story would be accepted. He could easily have fobbed-off the Donkeyman's story. Unfortunately events overtook him. However. he fully knew from day one what might happen and was ready with the signed statements of Stone and Gibson if they were needed.

Cheers!

Jim
 
Kyrila Scully

Kyrila Scully

Member
I've got nothing to add here, except that this has been a very interesting dialog and I appreciate your posts.
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
My own personal take of this is that what we see is a very sad attempt by Lord to protect his incompetent 2/O and Apprentice.
I think that after Stewart called him, Lord put two and two together. He realised that Stone had neglected to properly inform him of the situation.
He also mis-read the situation. It is possible, he thought that he would be the only one called to account on the US side and that his story would be accepted. He could easily have fobbed-off the Donkeyman's story. Unfortunately events overtook him. However. he fully knew from day one what might happen and was ready with the signed statements of Stone and Gibson if they were needed.

Hi Jim. I tend agree with your overall assessment summary except I'd include a sad attempt to protect himself as well. My reference to coverup had more to do with how he handled the press upon reaching Boston, more than anything else. Also keep in mind he chose to withhold those signed statements that he had at the time, and his official logbook which he brought with him had no mention of the events during the middle watch.

You also asked a few good questions. Sending Gibson down when the ship's lights disappeared at 2:05 may have been because of Lord's previous instructions to him when Stone reported the first time by speaking tube. If I recall, Lord told him to send Gibson down if he got a reply to the Morse signaling. In his letter to Lord, Stone wrote that the ship "had gone out of sight" when he sent Gibson down, which agrees with Gibson saying that it had disappeared. At the inquiry Stone changed this to "disappearing". Why he called lord on speaker tube at 2:45 is a good question because he gave him no new information. Maybe he was unsure that Lord understood what Gibson had told him, and Stone wanted to make sure Lord heard it directly from him. But as you say, it could have waited till morning. Unless of course Stone was worried about something else here like seeking assurance that he had taken the proper actions. Why he didn't report seeing those other lights at 3:20 is another good question as you asked. I'm afraid we can only speculate about this.
 
Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

Member
>>How about Senator Alden Smith's treatment, any different?<<

Senator Smith had a very definate agenda of his own which in some respects was exactly the opposite of what the Mersey Court had in mind. The Mersey courts objective was to

a) find the problem and
b) fix the problem without being so rash as to
c) admit that there was any sort of problem which could bring down the shipping line which they knew would be a valuable wartime asset as well as
d) bring discredit on the Board of Trade which wrote the rules.

Senator Smith wasn't interested in whitewashing anything since he was gunning for the Morgan Trust. An objective which caused him to do nearly the exact opposite which was to dig a lot deeper and expose problems which interested parties were trying to draw attention away from.

You can see a very marked difference in the way he questions witnesses. Far from letting things drop, he went after witnesses relentlessly and tended to latch onto points like a bull mastiff until he either got answers or was forced to give up because he knew he wasn't going to get any.

>>My reference to coverup had more to do with how he handled the press upon reaching Boston, more than anything else.<<

And there's nothing a sharp newshawk hungry for a scoop won't go after faster then somebody who even so much as looks like he has something to hide.
 
Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

Member
>>Thanks Michael I've understood it as such.<<

You have a lot of company there.

The really curious part is that you have to read the inquiries with a skeptical eye because you had
a) witnesses with a vested interest in being less then candid,
b) interested parties with something to hide, and
c) investigators who were a little too eager to expose things whether there was anything to expose or not, and
e) investigators who were all too happy to help those with something to hide because
f) exposing the realities would shine an unwelcome spotlight on how they did business.

For all of that, these are still essential primary sources. The information may be suspect, but it's what the people involved actually said.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Hi Sam!

The reason why there was no mention in the Official Log Book of the goings-on in the middle watch is very simple.

Stone would write-up his scrap log before Stewart came on the bridge around 0400. He obviously did not include them in his scrap log notes.

It would seem that Stewart found out about the rockets during the chin-wag hand-over of the watch shortly after 0400hrs.
I can well imagine Stone remarking something like: " had a bit of excitement earlier on. A ship came alongside us and fired off some white rockets". Stewart would ask if he, Stone, had advised the 'old man'. Stone would reply that he had but there couldn't have been much wrong as the vessel steamed off. However, Stone probably further remarked he had seen another rocket just half an hour previously. Stewart would ask Stone if he had reported that one and receive a negative answer. Alarm bells would ring for Stewart the "oh s~~~" signals would go up. The rest is as they say, history.
As for Official Log Book entries being corrected or added to after the event to include the middle watch happenings - that would be Taboo. To make it acceptable, Stone would have had to write and sign a statement retrospectively. Having done so the fact could be recorded in the Log and a the original statement annexed thereto.
After breakfast at the earliest on the morning of the 15th., Stewart would sit down at his desk with the Scrap log notes from the previous 24 hours and copy the relevant entries into his Official Log. He would not include trivialities. This operation was called 'doing the abstracts'.
In later years, this chore was relegated to the 2/O. Additionally, Scrap Logs became the prime evidence in court hearings and it became an offence to destroy or alter any entries.

Cheers!


Jim.
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
In other words Jim, it would not have been in Californian's interest to have anything written in the scrap log or anywhere else about the events during the middle watch. If Stone had wrote something in the scrap log, then or later in the morning, we have no way of knowing it because Stewart testified that it was Leyland Line's policy that the scrap log be destroyed, which it was.

Your take on the conversation between Stewart and Stone is probably spot on. It's too bad that Stone was OOW during the middle watch. I think Stewart would have handled things very differently from the start.

As far Californian being able to make a difference assuming more proactive actions were taken, I agree that no more lives would have been saved as she would have arrived too late. But Lord with have been viewed as one of the heroes of the night instead of the other way around.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Hi Sam!

As you point out: Stewart would have handled things differently. That's one of the main reasons I suggested there would have been an entry in the Official Log Book concerning the middle watch goings-on if Stone had noted it in his scrap log notes. It was probably part of the reason that Lord had the 'terrible two' write and sign statements. Perhaps, apart from standard practice following an incident; he expected (correctly)that the Enquiry people would zero-in on this?

As for not being in Californian's interest - I wonder?
It all depends on what was normal log-book entry practice of the day. If it was not the practice to write 'normal' happenings then an entry would suggest the abnormal. The only way scrap log notes concerning an abnormal happening would escape inclusion in the Official Log Book would be if all persons involved agreed to have it excluded. However Lord's insistence on individual statements suggests otherwise.

At the end of the day, it might have been better for all concerned if Stone had made an official note for inclusion in the Official Log Book.

On the other hand, perhaps the person responsible for noting it (Stone)did not think it warranted noting or for that matter; required the master to be urgently advised?
Lord's subsequent grilling of him and Gibson as well as the Lookout and the QM. point directly to this.

To know what he had to defend himself against; Lord would need to know what to expect. He would therefore know the full extent of what Stone and Gibson were prepared to state under examination -there was no escape from it.
The crucial evidence is that of Gibson's alleged verbal report - the only part of the evidence that could not be corroborated.

I think what sticks in most Lord defenders throats is the fact that the summing-up and final verdict of the BOT Enquiry relative to 'Californian' has subsequently been proved to be fatally flawed. Unfortunately that summing-up branded a man as a coward in the eyes of many. Even to this day, we have people using emotive and irrational adjectives to describe Lord.

As for the man himself: despite all that was directed at him; Lord put his career first and did not wallow in sef-pity. He got on with his life, all the while protesting his innocence up until the day he died. These were not the actions of a remote, unapproachable person. Rather, I suggest. he was a man who, if he knew he was guilty, would have got his 'head down' and avoided all situations which would bring his alleged 'guilt' back into the lime-light. Quite the opposite happened.
Other 'players' such as Rostron and Bisset and all the others who made money out of the parts they played were the opposite to Lord - the very people who would have taken the easy way out.

Perhaps I'm way-off in my estimates. Are there any interested 'shrinks' out there? A mental profile of the players might prove interesting.

Cheers!

Jim.
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
>>At the end of the day, it might have been better for all concerned if Stone had made an official note for inclusion in the Official Log Book.<<

I tend to agree Jim. The issue of the scrap log and missing pages were raised during the questioning of Groves and Stewart. I wonder what Lord really remembered about what Stone and Gibson told him during the night? He apparently didn't remember much of what Gibson came down to tell him. I think that is why he asked for written statements from those two.

>>I think what sticks in most Lord defenders throats is the fact that the summing-up and final verdict of the BOT Enquiry relative to 'Californian' has subsequently been proved to be fatally flawed. <<

Yes, there were fatal flaws, but the bottom line conclusion was that those on Californian saw Titanic's rockets, and the ship stood still. And that part of it still stands today.

>>Rather, I suggest. he was a man who, if he knew he was guilty, would have got his 'head down' and avoided all situations which would bring his alleged 'guilt' back into the lime-light. <<

I think if he was informed about what was really going on, multiple rockets at short intervals, he would have taken appropriate action. He certainly showed his willingness to take risks once he got word over the wireless in the morning.
 
Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

Member
>>He certainly showed his willingness to take risks once he got word over the wireless in the morning.<<

He did indeed, as not one but two risky transits of that icefield shows.

For whatever it may be worth, that Captain Lord was poorly served and poorly informed by his watch team is one of the few points both sides agree on in this thorny debate.
 
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