Leslie Reade and his faults


Wayne Bartlett

Hi all, this is my first time on the message board, this website is amazing. I've just read Reade's book for the first time, I thought it was well researched though like all Californian books there was something of an agenda there. That is the trouble; the evidence from the Inquiries, which I've just trawled through, is full of contradictions from both sides of the argument. Unfortunately having read a lot of Californian books you can only really arrive at a conclusion by ignoring some evidence that doesn't fit. And there lies the problem....
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Hello Wayne,

I find the best way to approach the subject is to start with the fact that the only people who really knew what, where and when concerning Californian were the people actually on board the vessel during the period in question.
I do not think that any living person can actually disprove any of the evidence given by the master officers and crew of Californian.
Sure, some of that evidence was contradictory.
However I'm equally sure; had the powers that be of the day decided on full criminal proceedings, we would be very much less in doubt as to what really happened concerning the part Californian played in the 'mystery' vessel(s) conundrum.

Many of today's researchers assume that somehow they know more than the experts at the time of the Titanic hearings and therefore are able to 'sort things out'. What rubbish! All the evidence available today was available back in 1912 - even the fact that Titanic never got as far as 50-14'West.
The only 'new' evidence is the exact location of the wreck on the sea-bed.
I have heard of evidence given by individuals many years after the event. However, we all know how memory can play tricks - even the memory of a traumatic event.

Simply put: the existing evidence and experts able to sift through it carefully was available shortly after the sinking - the will to get to the truth concerning the part Californian played was not.

As far as the subsequent efforts of those consumed with interest in the subject are concerned; I believe you have 'hit the nail on the head' so to speak.

The really big problem is when historians try to make things fit. Few I have read approached the subject with an open mind. All too many start out to prove a pre-conceived outcome (the proverbial 'bee in the bonnet').
Far too many were and still are influenced by the personal agendas of officials, politicians, press reporters and editors as well as not a few greedy individuals back in 1912.

Paul Lee

It is very difficult to say for sure if Reade's agenda was fair to Captain Lord and/or Leslie Harrison. Certainly, the TV teleplay that Reade wrote in 1955, and the newspaper article that his wife wrote for a London paper at about that time do not show Lord as a strict disciplinarian, or "austere autocrat" as was later said. I suggest that most of Reade's hostility to Lord was prompted by his encounter with Leslie Harrison, including the four hour long dinner date between the two adversaries, and the constant badgering by Harrison for Reade to change his mind about Lord's "guilt."

The problem here is that, while Harrison's archive of material, including a lot of stuff that paints him in a VERY bad light, is available for all to see in Liverpool, there is no central repository of Reade's research. This was a great stumbling block when I was researching my own book as I could neither confirm nor verify some of Reade's comments (e.g. Lawyer Burlingham knowing of the tension between Captain Lord and Stone during the 1915 Limitation of Liability hearings). After Reade died in 1989, his Titanic collection was put up for auction, so some of his research may be gone for good. All I could find were his letters to Walter Lord, and de Groot's material that he sent to Haynes in 1993/4 when Harrison sued over "The Ship That Stood Still."
I could thus only partially replicate Reade's work.

I spent a great deal of time trying to trace Reade's material; writing to his brother in law, and even Edward de Groot, who tried to help at my request, got no response, even from Reade's relatives in America. I suppose they were sick of the fiasco that "The Ship..." had become. But I can say one thing with almost 100% certainty; his assertion that Harrison had pestered Lawrence Beesley to change the contents of his affidavit is unfair and quite simply wrong. Laurien Wade had her own agenda to making Beesley seem callous, and it all boils down to her state of mind, and the fact that she had a minimal mention in Beesley's will.

In summary, both Harrison and Reade had their faults, but I find the former to have been more liberal with the use of "facts" to make his case. I knew Harrison on and off for a number of years and felt betrayed when I found out how he had distorted Captain Lord's case.


My book on the Californian is now available in softcover. See http://www.paullee.com/book_details.php

Will Geisler

So I am re-reading this book and I have always loved it. I can't seem to find any other writings of Leslie Reade. Anyone know if there are any or why he only wrote the one book?