How would you escape and survive the Lusitania


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May 27, 2007
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Myself since I'm a guy back then I wouldn't feel right about getting in a life boat so I'd probably end up jumping and hoping that someone in a boat would rescue me. I'd look for deck chairs or other junk to keep me afloat. In all I'd probably do no better then the people who where on the boat. What would you do If you were a passenger or better yet if you worked on the Lusitania as a Steward or Stewardess. What would you do to Save yourself or others.
 
May 25, 2007
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Hmmm... I think I would help shepherd women and children into the boats. Then, I would probably wait on one of the last lifeboats, and when it's being lowered, I would take a chance and jump into it. I mean, that's what Lt. Bjornstrom-Steffansson and Hugh Woolner did on the Titanic. It was quite an ironic thing: They helped prevent a rush on Collapsible D, and pulled the men who attempted the rush out of the boat, then when the boat was being lowered, they jumped into it!
 
May 27, 2007
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Thats the sprit. Myself knowing my luck I'd miss the boat and end up in the water. The tragedy is that a lot of the boats ended up in the water any way because of the list. But I hope you would make a boat that didn't capsize.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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The point about the sinking of the Lusitania was that the conventional lifeboats could not easily be launched because the ship was listing severely and still making way. There was no time for an orderly evacuation, and that is why so few of the children and babies survived.

If people jumped too soon they would hit the water from a great height and possibly be chopped up by the propellers (if they were still turning). As I understand it, the collapsible boats really came into their own in this situation, because many of them simply floated away when the ship went under the water.
 
May 3, 2002
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I don't think I would trust a lifeboat [Bernard Oliver didn't]. Certainly not on the Port side. I would take my chances on a collapsable or something else that will float and wait for the last possible moment being jumping ship.

Toward the end children and women were literally being picked up throwen into the boats. I think I would rather not have the experience. I magine it would fearful for an adult never mind what a child would make of it.

Martin
 
May 27, 2007
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Hopefully I'd notice the ship was still moving and time my exodus more appropriately. I'd still end up in the water though. Just one more struggling passenger or steward.

I know the rates were lower and that a lot of families up graded to Second class from steerage but it would still be too expensive for me so I probably would have ended up working as a Steward which means I probably would have stayed on the ship looking after passengers just wouldn't feel right about leaving them. God forbid I'd probably get trapped in the mail hold or somewhere else in the ship.

George
 

Jim Kalafus

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>The point about the sinking of the Lusitania was that the conventional lifeboats could not easily be launched because the ship was listing severely and still making way. There was no time for an orderly evacuation, and that is why so few of the children and babies survived.

The ship listed severely at the outset, and then recovered. The port lifeboats were loaded and then unloaded again at the orders of an officer. There was actually a relatively long window of opportunity in which those boats could have been lowered. The progression of the sinking was a dramatic heel to starboard, a recovery, a second heel to starboard and a final recovery.

Thing is, there really WAS no way that a person could evacuate from the Lusitania with 100% assurance that he or she would survive. You could not, in this case, time travel back and formulate a foolproof escape plan.

>They helped prevent a rush on Collapsible D, and pulled the men who attempted the rush out of the boat, then when the boat was being lowered, they jumped into it!

When someone else does it, it is cowardice. When you do it, it is survival instinct kicking in.
happy.gif
 
May 27, 2007
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I know that Captain Turner ordered the life boats unloaded at the beginning but I always thought was because the ship was still moving and that he didn't want to endanger the passengers.

>>Thing is, there really WAS no way that a person could evacuate from the Lusitania with 100% assurance that he or she would survive. You could not, in this case, time travel back and formulate a foolproof escape plan.<<

True it's a pretty hairy situation going down but I always wondered what people would think of doing in a situation like this so that's why I started this thread. Who knows some body's plan just might end up working.

I used to love these adventure books where as you read you have options of picking a different path by turning to say p.180. I know we have tons of threads like what would you do on Titanic "how would you get off Titanic." I figured it would be fun to try that same thread on the Lusitania and see what people came up with is all.

They need to come out with an interactive Lusitania game like Lusitania Adventure Out Of Time. That would be cool.

>>When someone else does it, it is cowardice. When you do it, it is survival instinct kicking in.<<

You nailed that right on.

Cordially George L. Lorton
 
May 25, 2007
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A little off topic I know, but were Hugh Woolner and Lt. Bjornstrom-Steffansson considered cowards for jumping into the boat?
 
T

Timothy Trower

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Not to me -- by not getting into a lifeboat, they would have simply added two more names to the list of those who died.

But frankly, most of those men on the Titanic who survived spent a lot of time living it down.

With the Lusitania, I don't remember reading that that was the case.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>I know that Captain Turner ordered the life boats unloaded at the beginning but I always thought was because the ship was still moving and that he didn't want to endanger the passengers.

The order was called down after one, and perhaps two, of the port boats threw out its passengers while launching. The mechanics of the first "upset" can give a pretty good time frame of how long the severe initial list lasted. Ogden Hammond and his wife, who were in the first class lounge, had time to gather themselves, exit the lounge and walk aft on the port side to either the last or second-to-last lifeboat in the first class area of the boat deck. The boat had been swung out, successfully, and lowered to an extent that the passengers could enter. Ogden and Mary Hammond entered it. When the lowering began, the boat had only gone down a few feet when Ogden apparently saw the crew at the davits having difficulty. As the lifeboat fell out from under him, he was able to momentarily grab one of the ropes and so was not dropped the 80 or so feet into the water with the mass of other people who had been seated around him. When he fell, seconds later, he was spared the sort of incapacitating or fatal injuries that 60 or so people simultaneously falling into a very small area inflict on one another, but still broke several ribs and I think his shoulder. After this, the order was called down, and the people who were in already loaded boats compelled to get out.

So, you see, there are elements of both self protection and denial in the stories the crew later told about the severe list. The ship recovered from it in the time it took a man and a woman to walk from the lounge to the far reaches of the main boat deck. The Hammond's boat did not dump because of the list, but because of an apparent equipment malfunction. The order to empty the loaded boats was understandable, but at the same time disastrous. Particularly in later years, this order disappeared from the narrative in favor of tales of boats careening down the deck crushing all before them (which, BTW, do not appear in any of the first person accounts left by port side survivors written while the memory was still fresh and the anger still palpable in May 1915) and men heroically struggling to push boats "uphill" and over the side of the ship. What actually happened was that the passengers got out of the boats and stood there angry and confused (excruciatingly detailed in 1915 letters and 1917 testimony) as the ship heeled and recovered a second time. There was a last minute effort made to lower one of the boats, but it was capsized- apparently as the Lusitania sank a few yards away from it. When the ship sank, many people climbed in to the boats, and to judge from the severe injuries inflicted on Mr. Myers who sank with the Lusitania in one of her port side boats, did not fare too well. (He broke limbs and, from a vaguely worded line in one of his letters seems to have had an abdominal rupture as well.)

>What would you do to Save yourself or others

Get out of the water as quickly as possible. Those who did not drown in the first few minutes died a protracted death from hypothermia, and had the misfortune to feel themselves growing progressively weaker and more confused and groggy over a period that lasted for hours. Unless you could get yourself entirely on to a piece of debris, you would have the horrible experience of finding it increasingly harder to maintain your grip on whatever you were holding. Until you either let go and sank, or let go and drifted away in your life jacket, sinking deeper and deeper into a stupor.

So, I guess if I HAD to effect an escape plan from the ship, it would involve a course of action that did not leave me dead or incapacitated by the mechanics of the sinking; did not leave me strangled or carried under by a drowning victim trying to climb atop me; and gave me the ability to have ALL of my limbs out of the water within the first 45 minutes to an hour before the onset of progressive shock.

Hmmmm...to save others. An "iffy" proposition in time travel. Scan down to Mrs. Logan's account:


Surely following her into the water and preventing her little boy from being torn away from her and drowned would be both humane and commendable, but on the other hand one would be setting a chain of events in to effect that would carry through Robert's entire natural lifespan. That is why time travel discussions are so frustrating- if you went back and did NOT alter the pattern you'd be scarred by the memory of watching people whom you could have saved die, and if you DID alter the pattern you could, theoretically, be unleashing a new Stalin or Jack the Ripper or Paris Hilton upon the world.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>A little off topic I know, but were Hugh Woolner and Lt. Bjornstrom-Steffansson considered cowards for jumping into the boat?

No, but one can have fun discussing the morality of two men who denied others the chance to live, doing exactly the same thing they successfully thwarted the others from doing a few minutes later to save their own lives. I think "justifiably hypocritical" says it better than "cowardly." Under the circumstances, anyone would have done the same thing. But, all the same, one wonders what Rene Harris, who had been separated from her husband, or Mrs. Brown whose friend Edith Evans had just been left behind, felt when they saw two men climb into empty places at the front of the boat from A Deck. One also wonders how Woolner and Steffansson felt about making eye contact with the other occupants of the boat they entered a few minutes later. As I said, regarding self preservation, when other people do it, it is cowardly behavior. When YOU do it, it is survival instinct.
 

Mike Poirier

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Just a quick thought to what Jim said. Crewmen and at least one officer were still saying not to get into the boats, just as the water was washing over the boat deck. Dorothy Conner said a crewman came by yelling, 'The gates are closed. There is no danger... and with that the ship sank!"
 
May 27, 2007
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Good points Jim. I didn't know that two of the Port side Boats had already tipped and buckled when Captain Turner gave the order to stop lowering them and for everyone to vacate them.

As for being in the water I'd hope to make it to the life boat as soon as possible.

When I started this thread I really meant it to be if you were a passenger or worked on The Lusitania what would you do. I really didn't have time travel in my mind. Although that works fine and its my fault for not stating so at the time I started it.
 

Brian Ahern

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oh - I clicked on the link provided by Jim and started to scroll down until I thought back and remembered how utterly wrenching Mrs. Logan's account is.

I remember the first time I read Jim and Michael's excellent article. I'd been reading about shipwrecks for close to 20 years, and so had a stronger stomach for this stuff than many probably would, but the Logan account really got to me. I know the story is no more tragic than those of the other 1,200 casualties and every person deserves to be more than a name, but - maybe because I've frequently cared for toddler nephews - I selfishly wish I'd skipped this one.

Having said that, Jim raised a point in bringing up the Logans that I've always agreed with. I've never read about the Titanic or Lusitania and felt the wish to have changed the outcomes that others seem to feel. When I was very young, I had a friend who wouldn't have been born if the Titanic hadn't sank, because his grandmother wouldn't have lost her first husband in it and married his grandfather. There must be thousands of people who wouldn't exist today if these horrible tragedies hadn't occurred (and George, this isn't a direct response to you, since I you meant something different).

It's also so true that survival on the Lusitania had as much to do with luck than anything else. Some boats made it away; most didn't. Some swimmers made it; most didn't.

To address George's original point (which is an interesting one, IMO), if I found myself on a crowded deck on a sinking ship with lifeboats that didn't seem to be launching safely, I would (if I had my wits about me - a very big if) TRY to find a life preserver, TRY to find a spot where the sea was less crowded with debris and panicking people, TRY to make it into the water without injuring myself, TRY to swim away before the ship went under, and TRY to find a way to stave off hypothermia. This is assuming it would be possible to make it into the water after the ship stopped moving and before it sank. There are so very many ifs.
 
May 27, 2007
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Brian

Re: There are so very many ifs.<<

Tell me about it. Thats why I started this thread to give people a chance in their heads to walk in another person's shoes. I was telling my Brother about the 90th anniversary to the Lusitania disaster in 2005 and he stated that "it was different, because those people were warned and they should have known what was going to happen when compared with September 11th." I said to him " Now Jeff you don't know what went though those people's reasons for going on the ship at the time." He agreed or looked to agree with me. I know my brother and his quirks. Well it got me thinking so I decided to start this thread about what you would do during the sinking if you were a passenger or worked on the ship.

Thanks for the input Brian.
smile.gif
 

Jim Kalafus

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>"it was different, because those people were warned and they should have known what was going to happen when compared with September 11th."

Mike and I talked with Barbara McDermott about this line of reasoning last time we visited with her. Barbara is one of the most cheerful persons you will ever meet, but that day she was slightly pensive and wondered, aloud, if her mother, Emily, knew of the warning and if so why she remained aboard the ship. What we told Barbara is something that people who say "why didn't they just sail on a neutral ship?" need to remember, which is that the warning came out early on sailing day and most of the passengers did not know of it until they were already aboard the ship. Theoretically, they could have walked off, but it was more complex an issue than that. There were some passengers aboard to whom the term "traveler" could be applied but, for the most part, those on the final voyage were making either their first or second crossing and did not know the ways of shipping lines.

Now, Emily Anderson might have known of the warning, but chances are good that she did NOT know if by walking off the ship she would be forfeiting her fare; if there would be any way of getting her checked luggage back; if the American ships would have accepted her Cunard ticket as a 'courtesy' or if she would have had to pay yet another second class passage; or if she would have been stuck on the pier in NYC as her clothing and personal effects departed for Liverpool. Knowing what WE know, the choice she should have made is obvious, but before the disaster it wasn't quite as clear cut. One does wonder about some of those who COULD afford to disembark and did not. William Sterling Hodges, for instance, and his wife Sarah were so apprehensive of the coming voyage that they changed their respective wills (on their last day in NYC) to cover the possibility of their entire family dying simultaneously. They were well off, obviously quite aware of what COULD occur, and yet did not leave the ship and sail on one of the American liners. (All 4 Hodges died)

From personal experience. When Mike and I did the QM2 Maiden Voyage, we were VERY aware of the threats that had been alluded to in the days leading up to the sailing, but we boarded anyway figuring that chances were good nothing would happen. As it turned out, nothing DID happen
happy.gif
but if it HAD, we'd have become the too-cute-to-be-true anecdote about "Lusitania researchers who ignored the same sort of warning and died." Those who boarded on May 1, 1915 made the same sort of judgment call, but in their case drew a bad hand.
 
May 27, 2007
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Absolutely true. I've come across stories of people who only knew of the warning as the ship was steaming out of port. Many British passengers felt they should take the ship regardless of the warning as a form of duty to their country. Then you had the Passengers who felt that the Germans might stop the boat and search her and allow passenger to evacuate not just torpedo The Lusitania with out warning.
Many thought the Germans wouldn't even catch The Lusitania with the technology they, the Germans had at the time.
 
May 3, 2002
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"When Mike and I did the QM2 Maiden Voyage, we were VERY aware of the threats that had been alluded to in the days leading up to the sailing, but we boarded anyway figuring that chances were good nothing would happen. As it turned out, nothing DID happen"

How did that feel? I would love to have gotten onboard her in Auckland but the security wouldn't even let you on the wharf. We went out on the Waitemata on an old restored steam tug. It was an amzing trip and we got in close to QM2 as we went up harbour. She was enormous and I now have asense of what New Yorkers may have felt when the Lusi first came up harbour. It was an awesome experience and the ship was huge to say the least.
Your words on people's reasons for not walking off the Lusi in NYC is illuminating.
I keep wondering how a good scriptwriter would approach that. As for the Hodges family, that is tragic. what happened to them and the Cromptons after the Torpedo? Did anyone see thaem after wards?


"...to give people a chance in their heads to walk in another person's shoes."

is something to encourage. This thread is one of the best. As to getting of the ship , havng read your ideas and thoughts I stand by my original plan and hope like hell I make it.

best regards

Martin
 
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