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Fireman John Dilley testimony

Discussion in 'Stokers / Firemen' started by Cal Haines, Jan 22, 2001.

  1. Cal Haines

    Cal Haines Member

    A paper by The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers indicates that Fireman John Dilley testified at both inquiries:


    It does not appear that Dilley testified at either hearing. He is not on the list of witnesses for either inquiry:
    Witnesses Called to Testify Before the Wreck Commissioner's Court
    also Kuntz, "The Titanic Disaster Hearings: ...", Pocket Books, 1998, page 560 "List of Witnesses"

    Trimmer Thomas Dillon did testify at the Mersey hearing and helped fight the bunker fire, but he doesn't have much to say about it: British Inquiry, Day 5, Dillon

    If anyone has the Evertt book, perhaps they can help clear this one up.

  2. Earl Chapman

    Earl Chapman Member

    I have a copy of the Everett book. It doesn't mention that Dillon gave testimony at the US Inquiry. Here is a transcript from pages 100 to 102:

    The WS liner Titanic was on fire from the day she sailed from Southhampton. Her officers and crew knew it, for they had fought the fire for days.

    This story, told for the first time on the day of landing by the survivors of the crew who were sent back to England on board the Red Star liner Lapland, was only one of the many thrilling tales of the first---and last---voyage of the Titanic.

    "The Titanic sailed from Southhampton on Wednesday, April 10, at noon," said J. Dilley, fireman on the Titanic, who lives at 21 Milton road, Newington, London, North, and who sailed with 150 other members of the Titanic's crew on the Lapland.

    "I was assigned to the Titanic from the Oceanic, where I had served as a fireman. From the day we sailed the Titanic was on fire, and my sole duty, together with eleven other men, had been to fight that fire. We had made no headway against it.

    "Of course, sir," he went on, "the passengers knew nothing of the fire. Do you think, sir, we'd have let them know about it? No, sir.

    "The fire started in bunker No. 6. There were hundreds of tons of coal stored there. The coal on top of the bunker was wet, as all the coal should have been, but down at the bottom of the bunker the coal had been permitted to get dry.

    "The dry coal at the bottom of the pile took fire, sir, and smoldered for days. The wet coal on top kept the flames from coming through, but down in the bottom of the bunker, sir, the flames was a-raging.

    "Two men from each watch of stokers were told off, sir, to fight that fire. The stokers, you know, sir, work four hours at a time, so twelve of us was fighting flames from the day we put out of Southampton until we hit the iceberg.

    "No, sir, we didn't get that fire out, and among the stokers there was talk, sir, that we'd have to empty the big coal bunkers after we'd put our passengers off in New York and then call on the fireboats there to help us put out the fire.

    "But we didn't need such help. It was right under bunker No. 6 that the iceberg tore the biggest hole in the Titanic, and the flood of water that came through, sir, put out the fire that our tons and tons of water had not been able to get rid of.

    "The stokers were beginning to get alarmed over it, but the officers told us to keep our mouths shut---they didn't want to alarm the passengers.

    Perhaps because he used the term "sir" so often, someone assumed that his statements were given to Sen. Smith. But it would appear that Dillon used the term "sir" while talking to the reporter (Everett?).

    Earl Chapman
    Montreal, Canada
  3. Cal Haines

    Cal Haines Member

    Hi Earl,

    Thanks for posting that! In the mean time I have acquired a copy of a 1998 reprint of the Everett book, by Castle Books (Edison, NJ). I haven't spent much time with the book, but the overall tone strikes me as quite sensationalistic. I would like to know more about Everett and some of the other things he has written.

    I see several problems with the Dilley statement: First, the PARTICULARS OF ENGAGEMENT sheet (engine crew 1), entry #49, lists Dilley's home address as "44 Threefield Lane", not "21 Milton road, Newington, London" and lists his last ship as Olympic, not Oceanic. Second, referring to "bunker No. 6" does not sound right. The testimony is pretty clear on the fire being in the forward bunker in boiler room #5, which was referred to as "section 5" and "stokehold 9" (in the case of the forward half). I haven't seen anything in the testimony where "bunker number such-and-such" is referred to. Thomas Andrew's builders notebook for Olympic labels the lateral bunkers on either side of bulkhead "E" (between BR#5 and BR#6) as "W" and "Y". Also, inquiry testimony states that the fire was out by the time of the collision and the number of men used to fight the fire does not seem to correlate.

    An article in The New York Herald, does support the part about the Lapland:

    Hichens testimony, American Inquiry, Day 5, Hichens, confirms that he is the Quartermaster taken off of the Lapland. This seems to make sense as the Red Star Line was allied with White Star. The Lapland actually spent some time in service with the White Star Line. Does anyone know if Red Star was owned by IMM, or just how that worked? Hichens says that he had been staying aboard the Celtic since the previous Saturday, but apparently could get home sooner aboard Lapland.

    The business about wetting down coal to keep it from burning is false. The best ways to prevent spontaneous combustion of coal is to keep it dry, cool and to minimize small particles and coal dust. According to Parr and Kressmann, "Any coal with conditions favorable to oxidation will be facilitated in that action by moisture. ... Without exception, in all the series of tests, the wetting of the coal increased the activity as shown by the ultimate temperature." (Parr, S.W. & Kressmann, F.W., "The Spontaneous Combustion of Coal", The Engineering Magazine, Vol. 43, No. 5, August, 1912, page 836)

    Warm Regards,

  4. Mark Baber

    Mark Baber Moderator Member

    See below.

  5. Mark Baber

    Mark Baber Moderator Member

    >Does anyone know if Red Star was owned by IMM, or just how that worked?

    Sure was; in fact, Red Star's corporate owner, International Navigation Co., which also operated the American Line, was one of the first shipping outfits to be brought into the Morgan combine.

    Quite a few Red Star ships were used by White Star for varying periods of time and vice versa. For some examples, take a look at the following:

    In addition to White Star, Red Star and American, IMM owned the Leyland, Dominion and Atlantic Transport Lines; held a minority interest in Holland American; and had profit-sharing agreements with Hapag and NDL.

    Sources: Bonsor's North Atlantic Seaway; Haws' Merchant Fleets; Flayhart's The American Line.

  6. Cal Haines

    Cal Haines Member

    Thanks, Mark! You're the man. happy.gif