Interloper in Lifeboat #6

Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
Lifeboat #6 was the second lifeboat launched on the port side and the sixth overall, after #7, #5' #3, #8 and #1 in that order. Lightoller was in charge and strictly enforced his "women and children only" policy with the exception of handling crew and of course, Major Peuchen whom he allowed as an additional oarsman.

The following is an excerpt from ET about Lifeboat #6
One young man was found in the boat and some believed him to be a stowaway, others claimed the Captain had ordered him in.

As far as is known, Captain Smith did not order any young man into Lifeboat #6. Peuchen was allowed in by Lightoller right in front of both boat occupants and onlookers and at 52 could hardly be described as a "young man". Therefore, the interloper mentioned above must have been Fahim al-Zainni (later Philip Zenni), who is even (correctly) listed as one of the survivors on Lifeboat #6.

What I find amazing is how al-Zainni managed to get on board Lifeboat #6. Lightoller never said anything about allowing another man in. AFAIK, the occupants of #6, which included characters like QM Hichens and Molly Brown, did not say anything about a man jumping in from a lower deck or picking-up someone from the sea. Therefore, al-Zainni must have somehow snuck in behind Lightoller's back and unnoticed by the crew at the davits during loading of Lifeboat #6. He was the very first Third Class passenger to be rescued when #6 was lowered at 01:10 am.
 
Michael Hinz

Michael Hinz

Member
Robert Hichens mentionend an „italian“ boy in boat 6 at the american inquiry. This boy was most likely Fahim al-Zainni.

Senator SMITH.
You had 38 women in your boat?

Mr. HICHENS.
Yes, sir; I counted them, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And how many men?

Mr. HICHENS.
I had Fleet, myself -

Senator SMITH.
Fleet, the major, and yourself?

Mr. HICHENS.
And an Italian boy, sir.

Senator SMITH.
That is four men?

Mr. HICHENS.
Four, sir. But the Italian boy had a broken arm, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Was he the one who was hid away?

Mr. HICHENS.
I do not know how he managed to get on the boat at all sir; I do not know.

Senator SMITH.
Was he dressed in woman's clothing?

Mr. HICHENS.
No; I do not think so, sir.


If he really had a broken arm, I think it is possible that a crew member (maybe Captain Smith himself) allowed him to get into the boat.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
Robert Hichens mentionend an „italian“ boy in boat 6 at the american inquiry. This boy was most likely Fahim al-Zainni.
I don't think so. Fahim al-Zainni was 25+ years old at the time and judging by his ET photograph, could not have been mistaken for a "boy". I know that one cannot generalize, but Levantine men are often slightly coarse featured, making them look a bit older than their actual age, seldom the other way round. There is no report in his bio or anywhere else that Fahim al-Zainni had an injured - let alone broken - arm; furthermore, I have seen reports that after being found he was handed an oar made to row, which he did rather well.

Not sure which 'boy' Hichens was talking about, unless it was his terminology to describe a young man; I would have thought that unlikely since Hichens himself was only 29 years old at the time. There is the remote possibility that there was an unidentified child on board Lifeboat #6 but I thought all surviving children were accounted for.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
Whoever the "Italian" child in Lifeboat #6 was, it was not Fahim al-Zainni, who took a hand at rowing after he was discovered. I wonder if Hichens and (later) Lightoller decided to be quiet or be deliberately vague about the additional man who had somehow snuck into Lifeboat #6 behind their backs?

As we will see, Fleet's testimony casts a rather different light on the person with the apparent injured arm.

Hichens insisted that there were 42 people on board Lifeboat #6 at both inquiries, 38 women and 4 men, the latter including Fleet, Peuchen, himself and the "Italian boy". I am not sure how close that figure was to the actual occupancy but it is a lot more than the 22 listed here on ET. Therefore, it seems likely that several occupants of Lifeboat #6 have not been positively identified and this Italian looking child could have been one of them. That could mean that Hichens deliberately chose not to mention al-Zainni.

Some of Hichens' statements are rather odd. The following is an excerpt from his testimony at the British Inquiry:

1129. Do you know how you came to have the one man passenger and a boy in the boat?
- I do not know how the man passenger got in the boat at all, Sir - nor the boy.


1130. You do not know how they got in?
- No, Sir.

1131. You did not see them get in?
- No, Sir.

1132. Did you see they were in when the boat was lowered?
- Just after we got away from the ship I did.


1133. But not till then?
- No
.

In 1130, Hichens claims that he did not know how either of the two male passengers on board Lifeboat #6 got in. But he was already inside the boat and in charge when the call for an additional oarsman was made. It was when Lightoller supposedly asked for a seaman that Major Peuchen volunteered and was then allowed to slide down the falls into the boat. I cannot believe that Hichens had missed or forgotten that incident in less than a month.

Fleet's testimony differs from that of Hichens in a number of important ways. He clearly recalled Lightoller recruiting Peuchen and the latter sliding down the ropes into the boat. He also insisted that there were only 24 women in Lifeboat #6 and strongly disagreed with Hichens' figure of 38.

17340. Twenty-four women. Were there any men passengers?
- Two - one first and one-third, and two crew.


17341. And that was the whole boatload?
- Yes.


The Attorney-General:
That does not quite agree with the evidence of Hichens, the Quartermaster. That you will find at page 43.


The Commissioner:
Will you tell me the effect?

The Attorney-General:
He says this at Question 1106: "How many people did you take on board? - (A.) 42, all told." He said there was one seaman besides himself, and 40 passengers, and of that 40 all were women except one man and one boy. That is his evidence, and he went through it in some detail. The passenger was Major Peuchen, your Lordship will remember.

The Commissioner:
Yes; if that witness is right, this Witness is probably making a mistake about the number of women.

The Attorney-General:
I think so.

The Witness:
I am not making any mistake at all.

17342. You are not?
- I am not.

17343. Did you count them?
- I did.


17344. Very well. How many were there?
- I said 24 women. I know what I am talking about.

Fleet also mentioned the interloper in Lifeboat #6.

In America he said:

Senator SMITH.
How many men were in that boat?


Mr. FLEET.
Five.

Senator SMITH.
Who were they?

Mr. FLEET.
Three men passengers and two of the crew.

Senator SMITH.
Who were the passengers?

Mr. FLEET.
I do not know. There was one steerage and two first.

Senator SMITH.
You do not know who they were?

Mr. FLEET.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
What other men were in the boat?

Mr. FLEET.
We had a stowaway. Where he came from I do not know.

Senator SMITH.
When did you first see him?

Mr. FLEET.
He was underneath the seat. We saw him as soon as we got clear He showed himself then.

Senator SMITH.
You say this stowaway came out when you were clear and resting?

Mr. FLEET.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
When your oars were idle?

Mr. FLEET.
No, sir; he showed himself as soon as ever we get clear of the Titanic.

Senator SMITH.
Did he take an oar?

Mr. FLEET.
He managed to; but he could not use it on account of his bad arm. He had a bad arm.

Senator SMITH.
A broken arm?

Mr. FLEET.
He had a bandage around it, and he said he could not put his oar in.

Senator SMITH.
Do you know who that man was?


Mr. FLEET.
He was an Italian.


As can be seen, Fleet clearly mentioned FIVE men, including 3 passengers, one of whom was from steerage. Also, alludes to a "stowaway" from Third Class whom they found later; yes, he mentioned that he was an "Italian" with a bandaged arm but one who did row with some reluctance. Nothing about him being a 'boy'.

In his testimony in Britain, Fleet confirmed that no one got into Lifeboat #6 after it started to lower and they did not pick up anyone from the sea.

All that points to the strong probability that the interloper on Lifeboat #6 was indeed Fahim al-Zainni, a 25 year old Syrian man from Third Class. He somehow managed to sneak on board the lifeboat behind the back of Lightoller and the crew. I wonder if he really had a bad arm or just put a "bandage" around it so that he would not face too much wrath when he was discovered later.

Another surprising part with Fleet's testimony about Lifeboat #6 is that he mentions 5 men in the boat, including Hichens and himself; he said that there were 3 male passengers, two from First Class and one from steerage. Peuchen was obviously one of the First Class passengers and Fahim al-Zainni the one from Third Class. This gives rise to speculation that either Fleet was mistaken or there was another interloper on board Lifeboat #6.

That seems unlikely IMO and so Fleet was probably mistaken but if he was not, who was the third male passenger on Lifeboat #6?
 
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Michael Hinz

Michael Hinz

Member
I don't think so. Fahim al-Zainni was 25+ years old at the time and judging by his ET photograph, could not have been mistaken for a "boy". I know that one cannot generalize, but Levantine men are often slightly coarse featured, making them look a bit older than their actual age, seldom the other way round.

In my opinion, the age of the passenger is not really relevant in this testimony. In the dark it was easy to mistake a physically small and young man for a "boy". Much more interesting, however, is the fact that Hichens described the passenger as an "Italian", which speaks for Fahim al-Zainni, since the Arab passengers were perceived by almost all passengers as Italians. Many survivors later spoke about "wild and angry Italians" from steerage who tried to rush the boats- a very common stereotype of the time (just remember Harold Lowes testimony at the american inquiry). In fact, there were only four Italiens in third class and on the whole ship a total of about 44 Italien people.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
In the dark it was easy to mistake a physically small and young man for a "boy". Much more interesting, however, is the fact that Hichens described the passenger as an "Italian", which speaks for Fahim al-Zainni, since the Arab passengers were perceived by almost all passengers as Italians
Yes, you could be right. Fleet also described the stowaway as an "Italian". It could have been a sign of the times where northern Europeans, particularly the English (not so much the Scots) perceived Mediterranean folk as excitable, irrational and cunning irrespective of the actual country of origin.
 
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