Lifeboats #4 and Collapsible D


Arun Vajpey

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I have a slightly off beat question to which I want to form a mental picture of the answer. Would appreciate any help, thanks.

Between 01:40 am and about 01:50 am when Lifeboat #4 was finally lowered from A-deck, there would have been several people around the boat who were hoping for but failed to get places on board. During those 10 minutes, Emergency boat #2 was lowered at around 01:45 am and work towards fitting Collapsible D to the former's davits hurriedly started.

My question is, how much of this activity related to Collapsible D could the people around Lifeboat #4 see and hear? Although the two davits were adjacent, Lifeboat #4 had been lowered to A-deck and since its loading was taking place through those windows, would the uninformed passengers in the crowd have realized that there was another lifeboat nearby to be launched soon afterwards?
 

Gaston Sam

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I don't think that any survivor went into detail about what was going on in the vicinity of lifeboat 4 and at rest of the enclosed promenade during the lowering of No.4 and inmediatley after it.

Unless they heard any comment from Lightoller or any of the crew regarding the next boat to be launched, I don't really think any suspicion would take place of the existence of Collapsible D.

If there were any women left behind they were likely guided to the boat deck, although I'm not sure by which way; 1st class male passengers wouldn't mean any risk and probably any 2nd and 3rd class men, whether single or whose wife and children had been placed in No.4, would have been ordered out as soon as the boat was lowered, or most likely not even allowed to get to the promenade in the first place.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Thanks, but I asked that question in a semi-hypothetical manner. I think it is safe to presume that in the last 10 minutes leading up to the launch of Lifeboat #4, there was a small crowd of people in its vicinity and at least some of them would have hoped to find a place in it. Obviously, many did not, especially the men. I was trying to look at the mindset and senses of those who knew that it was very unlikely that they would find places on #4, combined with the anatomy of the ship itself.

What I am asking is, could those who were gathering just inside the windows of A-deck through which Lightoller was allowing women and children to board Lifeboat #4 see and/or hear the activity around Collapsible D as it was being fitted to the davits of Lifeboat #2 after the latter was launched? I presume that most of them could see through the windows #2 being lowered at about 01:45 am and wonder if there was another boat to follow.
 

Gaston Sam

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I see, well I think they could have partly heard the men working on it and the orders shouted guiding the work. But I'm not sure what they'd have make of it, and if they were eager to find another boat they would have left the area as soon as they saw no chance to enter No.4.
 

Gaston Sam

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And I'm sure some guards were placed at the windows to prevent anyone from jumping into lifeboat 4, so that might reduce the chances of hearing anything of Collapsible D.
 
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What I am asking is, could those who were gathering just inside the windows of A-deck through which Lightoller was allowing women and children to board Lifeboat #4 see and/or hear the activity around Collapsible D as it was being fitted to the davits of Lifeboat #2 after the latter was launched? I presume that most of them could see through the windows #2 being lowered at about 01:45 am and wonder if there was another boat to follow.

I doubt anyone was able to see it. Lightoller for example did not mentioned to have seen No. 2 lowered.
Most likely people followed the crew as Gracie did who then helped to get collapsible D over the bulkhead. It was Lightoller together with other crew members (like Hemming) who hang it at the davits and put it over the bulkhead.
 

Arun Vajpey

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I doubt anyone was able to see it.

Hmm. Was it because the davits of Lifeboat #2 were a deck higher than the A-deck windows through which Lifeboat #4 was being loaded? Even so, the passengers and crew getting into and already in Lifeboat #4 must have been able to see Lifeboat #2 lowered as it went past A-deck level. Also, as Collapsible D was being fitted onto the davits of #2, wouldn't those already in #4 be able to see that activity in front of and only one deck level above them just before they started lowering #4?

Also, as soon as he gave the order for Lifeboat #4 to be lowered, Lightoller and perhaps a few of the assisting crew made their way over to where Collapsible D was being fitted to the now empty davits of Lifeboat #2. In which case, many of those who failed to find a place on Lifeboat #4 - like Martta Hiltunen and Edith Evans for example - might have followed Lightoller and the others. That could explain how Able Seaman William Lucas saw them (most likely the two young women he referred to in his testimony) as Collapsible D was being loaded.
 

Gaston Sam

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Although it was dark, Boxhall recalled seeing No.4 being loaded as he was being lowered in No.2. Personally, I believe that all the women and children that had entered No.4 by that point would have been able to see the descent of No.2, but I don't think they'd have give it any importance. John Foley, helping to pass women and children from inside No.4, would have also been able to see it, but as well, it would not be important to him. It was just another boat being lowered.

Once No.4 was filled to Lightoller's or Wilde's conformity and its launch being ordered, probably the preparation of Collapsible D would have gone as far as the rounding up of the tackles and the swinging in of the davits, but again it was dark, and certainly the attention of everyone on board No.4 must have been kept on the boat they were in.

As far as I remember, Col. Gracie found Edith Evans on the starboard boat deck, I don't really think she was present when No.4 was being loaded. I cannot say for Miss Hiltunen; I'm no expert but I believe Mrs. Hämäläinen and son could have boarded No.10 or Collapsible C as well.

Now, Lucas mention of the two young women was by the time of D's depart. If I'm not wrong Gracie took Evans to boat D once they had already started loading it. But it'd be difficult to trace the path of Hiltunen to this boat, especially if no women were left when No.4 was launched.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Once No.4 was filled to Lightoller's or Wilde's conformity and its launch being ordered, probably the preparation of Collapsible D would have gone as far as the rounding up of the tackles and the swinging in of the davits, but again it was dark, and certainly the attention of everyone on board No.4 must have been kept on the boat they were in.

As far as I remember, Col. Gracie found Edith Evans on the starboard boat deck, I don't really think she was present when No.4 was being loaded. I cannot say for Miss Hiltunen; I'm no expert but I believe Mrs. Hämäläinen and son could have boarded No.10 or Collapsible C as well.

Now, Lucas mention of the two young women was by the time of D's depart. If I'm not wrong Gracie took Evans to boat D once they had already started loading it. But it'd be difficult to trace the path of Hiltunen to this boat, especially if no women were left when No.4 was launched.

Once Lifeboat #4 was lowered, those who were near the A-Deck windows might just have been able to see/hear the activity above them and towards the bow. But as you say, it was dark.

Martta Hiltunen definitely was in the vicinity of #4 and just missed a place whereas her co-passengers Anna Hamalainen and her baby Wiljo got in. I don't think there has been much doubt about their connection with Lifeboat #4; Anna was interviewed in America.

I am not certain either of Edith Evans' whereabouts when #4 was being loaded but as she was a First Class lady passenger, there is a chance that she was there. One reason for that conjecture is that one of Evans' close friends, Mrs Cornell, was rescued on Lifeboat #2 and the three of them had stuck together. But either way, Gracie assisted her and Mrs Brown towards Collapsible D but for some reason Edith Evans did not enter the boat whereas Mrs Brown did. I wonder if she was put off by the 3-foot gap between the sides of the ship and lifeboat that the Titanic's post list was causing at this stage. It was to Edith Evans that William Lucas called out that there was another boat for her (he might have meant Collapsible B). Later during the hearings, Lucas reported that he had two leave "two young girls" behind when Collapsible D was lowered. Edith Evans (though she was 36 at the time) was one and there is a likelihood that the 18 year old Martta Hiltunen was the other.
 

Gaston Sam

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Once Lifeboat #4 was lowered, those who were near the A-Deck windows might just have been able to see/hear the activity above them and towards the bow. But as you say, it was dark.
Not only it was dark, but there was the rail as well. So looking from A-Deck windows I think hardly anyone would be able to know about the collapsible boat until it was swung out. People might have been able to hear something though, but I'm not sure what they could have made of it.

Edith Evans (though she was 36 at the time) was one and there is a likelihood that the 18 year old Martta Hiltunen was the other.
I totally agree. I find it hard to belive why they didn't make an extra effort to get them both in the boat; three men got in it after being lowered. Maybe the crew thought they would be able to launch in time the other two boats.
 

Arun Vajpey

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I find it hard to belive why they didn't make an extra effort to get them both in the boat; three men got in it after being lowered.

From what I have gathered, several men were trying to rush past the barrier that Lightoller and the other crew were making around Collapsible D and the order to lower the boat with only around 20 people in it was probably a hurried one. If Martta Hiltunen and followed Lightoller from A-deck to the boat deck and Collapsible D, the barrier might already have been in place by the time she got there. It was certainly in place when Gracie brought Edith Evans and Mrs Brown; he had to stop outside the barrier and let the women through. Mrs Brown went past but Edith Evans stayed behind, probably put off by the 3-foot gap that she had to negotiate to get into the boat; that might be the reason that Martta Hiltunen was also unable to find a place.

The three men that you allude to almost certainly got into the boat by jumping in after it started lowering.
 

Gaston Sam

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I've read a couple accounts by Mrs Brown, in one she said that crewmen first seized Miss Evans and she stopped them cryng that they had better put Mrs Brown as she had children; other account states that there was only room for one more passenger and when they decided who was to go, Miss Evans stepped back for the well known reason.

These two accounts can be reconciled, in a scenario where Miss Evans and Mrs Brown got to the boat in the final two or thre minutes the crew was going to wait, they were told only one could go, directly seizing Miss Evans and stopping just as they were lifting her up the rail as she was fighting against it claiming Mrs Brown should go instead.
It is quite possible Miss Evans' crying was also influenced by the 3-foot gap, as you mentioned.

The three men that you allude to almost certainly got into the boat by jumping in after it started lowering.
Exactly. Woolner and Steffansson jumped from A-deck as the boat reached the water, and Frederick Hoyt placed his wife in Collapsible D, waited for the boat to be lowered, then jumped from the ship and swam towards it. All this proving there was enough room.
 

Arun Vajpey

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I've read a couple accounts by Mrs Brown, in one she said that crewmen first seized Miss Evans and she stopped them cryng that they had better put Mrs Brown as she had children; other account states that there was only room for one more passenger and when they decided who was to go, Miss Evans stepped back for the well known reason.

These two accounts can be reconciled, in a scenario where Miss Evans and Mrs Brown got to the boat in the final two or thre minutes the crew was going to wait, they were told only one could go, directly seizing Miss Evans and stopping just as they were lifting her up the rail as she was fighting against it claiming Mrs Brown should go instead.
It is quite possible Miss Evans' crying was also influenced by the 3-foot gap, as you mentioned.


Exactly. Woolner and Steffansson jumped from A-deck as the boat reached the water, and Frederick Hoyt placed his wife in Collapsible D, waited for the boat to be lowered, then jumped from the ship and swam towards it. All this proving there was enough room.

From what I have read, Edith Evans indeed pulled back when crewmen tried to usher her into Collapsible D and herself urged Mrs Brown to go ahead because the latter had children. But I think (as you do) that the 3-foot gap between the sides of the lifeboat and ship frightened Miss Evans and that was the reason she did not try to get in.

But there was certainly no shortage of room in Collapsible D. When it touched the water, there were reported to be around 20 people on board, less than half its total capacity. Lightoller might have been forced to release the boat to avoid the surrounding men from rushing it, this forcing the two young women to be left out, as mentioned my Lucas in his testimony. Methinks they were Edith Evans (as above) and Martta Hiltunen.
 

Arun Vajpey

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A few further questions regarding these two lifeboats:

- Lightoller and probably Wilde were involved in launching of both Lifeboat #4 at 01:50 am and Collapsible D at 02:05 am. Is there any evidence to show if any other crew member was involved in launching both those boats?

- Once #4 was lowered from A-deck, what was the quickest/shortest route by which Lightoller and the others could have made their way to where Collapsible D was being attached to the then empty davits of Lifeboat #2? On BB's deck plans, I noted that there is a small staircase at the forward end of the First Class Promenade Deck; could they have used that?
 

Gaston Sam

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One of the men who lowered No.4 was QM Walter Perkis, later ordered into it as it had not sufficient men. I personally believe AB William McCarthy was the same case, i.e. he first lowered No.4 and then was ordered down to man it.

It is curious to note something:

Senator PERKINS.
Who gave you orders to take to her, Mr. Murdoch?

Mr. PERKIS.
No, sir; there was nobody. The boat was lowered.


It's not like they would lower the boat without being directed, so that's strange I think.


The way the crew and other people present at A-deck at that moment would go up to the boat deck would be that forward gangway ladder you mentioned. It's a rather short way up, and you get straight to the collapsible boat.


There are a couple curious things as well regarding No.2, and it's from Johnstone's testimony:

3463. Did anybody get in at A deck?
- No, there was nobody to get in.

3464. Then what happened?
- We got lowered, and then we cut her adrift. The razor came in handy.

It calls my attention the mention of no one being at A-deck, when Boxhall stated No.4 was being loaded at that moment. The possible answer to that is that the people were strictly confined to the vicinity of No.4 and not allowed further, or Johnstone simply didn't want to take any blame for not having filled the boat with more people.

The other fact is the use of a razor he earlier asked to one fireman on deck. Does it mean they cut the falls instead of using the releasing trigger? How could the men on deck solve that issue if they had to use the blocks for Collapsible D?
 
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Arun Vajpey

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It is curious to note something:

Senator PERKINS.
Who gave you orders to take to her, Mr. Murdoch?

Mr. PERKIS.
No, sir; there was nobody. The boat was lowered.

It's not like they would lower the boat without being directed, so that's strange I think.


The way the crew and other people present at A-deck at that moment would go up to the boat deck would be that forward gangway ladder you mentioned. It's a rather short way up, and you get straight to the collapsible boat.


There are a couple curious things as well regarding No.2, and it's from Johnstone's testimony:

3463. Did anybody get in at A deck?
- No, there was nobody to get in.

3464. Then what happened?
- We got lowered, and then we cut her adrift. The razor came in handy.

It calls my attention the mention of no one being at A-deck, when Boxhall stated No.4 was being loaded at that moment. The possible answer to that is that the people were strictly confined to the vicinity of No.4 and not allowed further, or Johnstone simply didn't want to take any blame for not having filled the boat with more people.

Thanks for the helpful post.

Can it be that QM Perkis misunderstood the question and the Senator simply decided not to pursue it further?

With regard to no one trying to get on board Lifeboat #2 as it was lowered past the A-deck, I assume that it was out of reach. The Promenade Deck extension of the A-deck was enclosed on the Titanic and women and children were being loaded into Lifeboat #4 through the windows. Therefore, those who were waiting to get into #4 would have been behind those windows, with the men being forced back by the crew to allow women through. With that scenario, anyone wanting to reach Lifeboat #2 as it was lowered past the A-deck might have found it impossible.

With regard to that forward gangway ladder, I presume that Lightoller and Wilde, along with a few crew present after #4 was lowered, went to the ladder and up it to the boat deck where Collapsible D was being fitted into the now empty davits of #2. But would the crowd pf passengers still behind the windows of the promenade deck found it easy to follow the crew? Those in the front might have done but I understand that there was a sizable crowd there and those hemmed in at the back might have used another route to get to the boat deck.

The tragedy of that is that someone timid, frightened and unable to speak English like Martta Hiltunen would almost certainly be left behind in the rush to get to the vicinity of bat deck and Collapsible D. She did not have someone like Gracie to escort her through and got left behind a second time in 15 minutes.
 
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Kas01

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Thanks for the helpful post.

Can it be that QM Perkis misunderstood the question and the Senator simply decided not to pursue it further?

With regard to no one trying to get on board Lifeboat #2 as it was lowered past the A-deck, I assume that it was out of reach. The Promenade Deck extension of the A-deck was enclosed on the Titanic and women and children were being loaded into Lifeboat #4 through the windows. Therefore, those who were waiting to get into #4 would have been behind those windows, with the men being forced back by the crew to allow women through. With that scenario, anyone wanting to reach Lifeboat #2 as it was lowered past the A-deck might have found it impossible.

With regard to that forward gangway ladder, I presume that Lightoller and Wilde, along with a few crew present after #4 was lowered, went to the ladder and up it to the boat deck where Collapsible D was being fitted into the now empty davits of #2. But would the crowd pf passengers still behind the windows of the promenade deck found it easy to follow the crew? Those in the front might have done but I understand that there was a sizable crowd there and those hemmed in at the back might have used another route to get to the boat deck.

The tragedy of that is that someone timid, frightened and unable to speak English like Martta Hiltunen would almost certainly be left behind in the rush to get to the vicinity of bat deck and Collapsible D. She did not have someone like Gracie to escort her through and got left behind a second time in 15 minutes.

The gap in between the boat gunwales and the deck enclosure would also have made it difficult for people to get in. If I'm remembering correctly, when filming No. 4 Boat's loading during Ghosts of the Abyss they had to nail deckchairs to the boat so that there was enough stability while replicating that scenario.

What was the width and height of those windows, anyway?
 

Bob_Read

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The gap in between the boat gunwales and the deck enclosure would also have made it difficult for people to get in. If I'm remembering correctly, when filming No. 4 Boat's loading during Ghosts of the Abyss they had to nail deckchairs to the boat so that there was enough stability while replicating that scenario.

What was the width and height of those windows, anyway?
They were 37 inches high by 31 inches wide.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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That means while they were large enough for an average person to go through, loading would have been a slow process since most of the passengers who eventually got on board #4 were Edwardian women. I can imagine a crowd gathering in the area and after #4 was finally lowered, those in the front might have followed Lightoller and Wilde up the forward gangway ladder towards davits of #2 where they were now attaching Collapsible D. The rest, particularly those at the back, might have found it quicker to get to the boat deck the longer way around.
 

Bob_Read

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That means while they were large enough for an average person to go through, loading would have been a slow process since most of the passengers who eventually got on board #4 were Edwardian women. I can imagine a crowd gathering in the area and after #4 was finally lowered, those in the front might have followed Lightoller and Wilde up the forward gangway ladder towards davits of #2 where they were now attaching Collapsible D. The rest, particularly those at the back, might have found it quicker to get to the boat deck the longer way around.
At this late stage, is the crew stairway from A deck to the boat deck still accessible on A deck or would it be flooded? The next aft access would have been the first class entrance on A deck up the grand staircase to the boat deck. I just don’t know the flooding timeline.
 

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