Men in Life Boats


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Nathan Heddle

Guest
I find it very interesting when you look at the survival rates, just how many men made it into the life boats.

If you look at the starboard side results, then half the people in boats were men. It is also interesting to see that a lot of them were the early boats that left. I wonder if it wasn't because at that stage women were still reluctant to leave the ship.

It seems strange, because a lot of men felt the stigma of being a survivor, the most famous being Bruce Ismay and to a lesser extent William Carter. These two men left in one of the last boats when no more women came forward. Ismay spent most of the night helping people into boats and helping the crew load boats. It was only when there was nothing more he could do, that he left. (I still don't think he should have, mind you), and William Carter was much the same. He helped his family to safety, and couldn't get into their boat, so he left them and went to help others and eventually managed to get into collapsible C.

It seems strange that these men, who actually helped got more hassle and stigma, than men like Elmer Taylor, William Sloper, or William Greenfield, men who left in Boat 7, the first boat lowered at 12.45, only one hour after the collision. As far as I know, the Hudson Allison's were still sleeping at this stage.

I just wonder if it wasn't the duty of the crew to force, and I mean really force women into the boats, especially the early ones.

At the same time, I wonder if the crew had been better trained, if they wouldn't have not let boats leave almost half full. I mean the last standard boat, No 4 left at 1.55, a full twenty minutes before the final plunge, and before that the last was at 1.40, which was Boats 13 and 15, so there was time for a little waiting for more people to arrive and actually fill up the boats.

Also at the same time, especially on the starboard side, if no more women would come forward, and a boat was only half full, why not fill it up with men, and even some crew members. Better to save more lives, than have a boat leave practically empty, just because it is women and children first.

It is all very puzzling.

nathan
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Dear Nathan,

I dare you to stand on a ship and force an hysterical woman who may beat you with a big stick to force her into a lifeboat, when she must help or at least cooperate to make it across the separation between the dangling lifeboat and the side of the Titanic.

Also, it seems from other threads I have read that there was the feeling that there was not a real threat of sinking for a great deal of the time. I think that in some that I have read on the Inquiries that testimony seems to bear that out.

And quite frankly woman (I believe) were afraid to cross into a small lifeboat hanging about 6-7 stories or so (at the beginning) out over a very cold sea without the security of their spouse or others they knew. How many of us would stand at the top of the US capitol and try to pass over open sea to reach for a dangling lifeboat at 1 or 2 am. I stood and watched as an orange colored helicopter picked up the top statue and brought it to the ground for cleaning a few years ago. I was there about 4am and stayed for the whole thing. Nope, you could not have paid me enough money to be the guy who connected up all those wires and have jump over from the helicopter. Nope.

Yes, I would be dead, but I'd have to give you such a slap if you pushed me into that little boat and better believe I would send your name to White Star Line and to my Congressman.

At least that would be my heart until I realized what had happened.

Ask Shelley if you don;lt believe me.
Maureen.
 
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Nathan Heddle

Guest
You've raised a very good point Maureen, that many of the women were afraid, but that really isn't a very good excuse. Fear is one thing, and believe me, I don't like open heights, and would have been afraid with the best of them, but I would have been more afraid of the below zero temp. water, and the whole drowning, crushing aspect of my death if I stayed aboard.

I think husbands reassured wives, we read many a tale of men saying, I'll see you in the morning, when they knew full well they wouldn't.

I also think that if Molly Brown can be picked up an dumped in a boat, then it could be done to any number of other women with much more ease.

As for the White Star line, poor Norris Williams, he really shouldn't have broken that door.
happy.gif


nathan
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Sorry Nathan,

I would be like velcro on a cashmere sweater and no matter what your weight....removing an unwilling particapnat is very hard. Ask any crowd control person from the 70's.

Let me share this and then I'll exit to allow the more serious to post here. When my son was about 22 months old, he made the very level headed decision that at his age he was not going to be placed in the grocery basket, but wished to walk along side it.

I placed his leg in the little compartment that is designed so carefully for the littel people to sit comfortably. And being a nice lady and wonderful mother, I placed my wonderful son in this cart.

Well, he did not wish to be placed in this thing and placed his other foot on top of the cart handle and forcing his back into an arch. I lifted one leg and then a hand and then the other leg....finally, I looked up and about 50 people were just staring at me as I quitely without a word, gently placed my hands on his little hands or feet and tried to get hinm to sit in this nice seat.

Well, I began to laugh at the thought of this sight. He looking rather like a spider on a mirror and me, just a ragged worn mother, but by that time there was no way I could get him into it. So we left the store. I was unwilling for him to get one by me and he was just as stubborn as his mother.

I think that the fear of heights coupled with the fact that they truly did not think that there was such a critical emergency...made it such that they really did not feel it necessary to jeopardize their very lives for this stupid idea of leaving a perfectly good ship.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but they had their logic, just as my son did his. Never did figure out his, but I think I can understand theirs.

happy.gif
But you are a great sport for allowing an old woman her humor for the day Nathan. Thanks.
Maureen.
 

Pat Cook

Member
Apr 27, 2000
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Hi Nathan,

You wrote > it seems strange that these men, who actually helped got more hassle and stigma, than men like Elmer Taylor, William Sloper, or William Greenfield <

William Sloper got quite a major hassel when he refused to grant a reporter an interview. Said reporter, to get even, then made up a story that Sloper got off Titanic dressed as a woman. Sloper was going to sue the newspaper but his family talked him out of it. Subsequently, the story was revealed as a hoax but not before it had attached itself to several other men passengers who had survived that night.

Best regards,
Cook
 
Dec 2, 2000
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G'Day Nathan, Mo is right on target when she mentions the attitude of disbeleif. It was ingrained on the popular mindset that the Titanic was unsinkable, and some people clung to that notion despite all the visual evidence to the conterary which was manifesting itself right in front of them.

To the passangers, the ship seemed warm and safe. Why give that up for a perilous decent into an inky black sea on a bitterly cold night from sixty feet above the water? By the time some people began to realise that the boats were the better bet for a long life, it was too late.

One should also bear in mind that Hollywood depictions to the conterary, no alarm was sounded. Passangers were told to put their lifebelts on, then they were told nothing. The reason for this was to avoid a panic and attempts to rush the lifeboats. Smith and company knew that they only had boats for half of the people on board. Their restraint seems jusified in light of later events. When it became all too obvious that the ship was sinking, panic did start to set in and some attempts to rush the boats had to be stopped at gunpoint.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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James Eldridge

Guest
My wife's a former flight attendant and when we travel we always make sure that any drills for evacuation are taken seriously.

You might want to read Dr Dodge and wife's story about how they managed to get into their boats and what it was like in the boats once launched.

Remember too that women as a rule in 1912 weren't as athletic as they are today and the female attire didn't permit freedom of movement so its easy to see why they would have been afraid to take that step across the void to get into the boat. I'm a guy and I still don't like taking that step from the dock into a row boat and its only about 3 feet to the water not the height Titanic was so I can empathise with the ladies.

James
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Pretend for a moment you are Captain E.J. Smith. It is 12:45 am and you know for sure your vessel will sink. You have lifeboat capacity for half of the souls on board.

Now, Captain Smith, how do you choose who lives and who dies?

As I say in my book, The Last Log Of The Titanic, Smith and his officers did their best to avoid panic during the launching of the lifeboats. One way to do that was NOT to tell people to go to the boats. At first, only those people lucky enough...or smart enough...were loaded into the boats. The rest...well, Titanic's muscians were well talented. At least there was music in the First Class anteroom to eternity.

--David G. Brown
 
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Nathan Heddle

Guest
David,

I would have to say that if my relation died on the Titanic because she/he didn't know to go to a boat, I would be pretty peeved to find out it was because the captain decided not to tell people to go to the boats.

The launching of lifeboats in the situation of a sinking ship, is never the luck of the draw. The Captain and his crew have an obligation, no, more a duty to get as many passengers off as possible. The idea you are proposing, that only the lucky or smart made it off is ridiculous. It is not the lucky or the smart who deserve a place in a lifeboats, but every single passenger that was on that ship.

Nor was it for Captain Smith to decide who lived and who died. People should have been informed, not by loud noises and screaming sirens that would scare people and create a panic, but by quiet means, that would keep people calm, and allow them to get to the lifeboats.

How unfortunate for Lorraine Allison. She wasn't smart enough or lucky enough to get into a lifeboat. She is dead now, but then I suppose that is easier because the dead can't defend themselves, can they?. Take heart though, I'm sure she is enjoying the music in heaven. I wonder if the band knows twinkle twinkle little star, most 3 year olds like it.

Nathan
 

Pat Cook

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Apr 27, 2000
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Hope I'm not repeating something somebody else has said here.

I know I've said this before so some of you may be tired of hearing it. I firmly believe that some of the earlier boats were launched only half full because the officers were afraid of losing those that had gotten in them. People kept getting back out of the lifeboats. This ties in to the plan of getting the boats in the water and rowing around to the gangways to pick up others (orders given to #4, etc.) Also, the unbelievability factor was, well, unbelievable. Even the officers didn't believe the ship was sinking. Pitman, after being in his lifeboat for over an hour still believed they would be rowing back to the ship. Lightoller, as he uncovered the boats, not believing it was that serious. Even Boxhall, as he launched the socket rockets, (according to Lord) asking Captain Smith, "Is it serious?"

Then you also have the idea of them getting the people, such as they had, into the boats and into the water to row to another ship and row back for more, as they did 3 years earlier with the Republic/Florida wrec. In this case, the crew were able to save all those savable from the Republic. This event MUST'VE been in the minds of some of Titanc's crew that night.

Just a few thoughts here. Again, hope I'm not covering old ground here.

Best regards,
Cook
 
Dec 4, 2000
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A romatic view of how to save people...or a noble notion that everyone sould have been given some sort of "fair" access to the boats...may give you the "warm and fuzzies," but good intentions would have resulted in fewer people in the lifeboats, not more.

Panic is an ugly thing. Once started, it cannot be stopped and must run its course. Example--the people injured stampeding the box office when a rock 'n roll concert is cancelled.

It takes skill to lower a lifeboat some 60 feet to the water without dumping its passengers into the drink. Skill and panic are at somewhat the opposite ends of the scale. Titanic's officers needed to prevent panic at all costs if they were going to save anyone.

In the end, there was some panic and and a few gunshots. How many bullets would it have taken to prevent a continuous mad rush for the boats starting at 12:45 am?

Remember, the goal was to save as many people as possible. That meant finding a way to NOT save a large number of innocent people like little girls with big eyes and old men with fading eyes.

Look at it this way--if everyone had been called to the boat deck, how then would passengers for the lifeboats have been chosen? Would it have been realistic to ask for volunteers to die? volunteers to live?

Titanic's lifeboats were not trolley cars. There wasn't going to be another one coming along in five minutes. Ask yourself, would you have stood quietly in line once you realized that you would be the first person NOT to get into a lifeboat? Or, might you have tried to push ahead one person to save yourself? Worse, what if there was room for just one of your children--which one would you choose?

The romantic and politically correct notion of "fairness" is pure bovine feces in a situation like the one faced by Captain Smith and his officers. They couldn't be fair, the time for fairness had passed an hour earlier. Now, lot of people were going to die in an hour or so...and there was nothing to be done about it.

This situation on Titanic's boat deck was much like that faced by doctors in a mass casualty situation. Doctors are forced to perform triage, sorting patients into groups:

1. Those who will live anyway get no
treatment because resources are
scarce.

2. Those who will live, but only with
medical care, receive treatment using
the scarce resources.

3. Those who will die even with treatment
are given no attention in order to
preserve the scarce resources for
those who will live. These people
are allowed to die.

Captain Smith and his officers found a simple way to perform "lifeboat triage" by letting the people themselves choose who would live and who would die. It wasn't "fair," but it was expedient and in the end it probably did result in the saving of the maximum number of people possible under the circumstances.

The band is playing and it is warm inside. Rescue those you can and try not to think about the rest.

-- David G. Brown
 
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Susan Markowitz

Guest
Ack!!! Here I go again, getting drawn into fascinating discussions instead of doing my office-work. I'll probably get keelhauled for this...

David, your book has arrived! I carried it with me on my errands yesterday, but hadn't time to read more than the first few (terrific) pages. Will try again today...

As for this difficult subject, I find David's reasoning persuasive; the "hard truth", so to speak, from the perspective of an officer/captain in charge of "human cargo" -- for that, I understand, is how ship's officers and crew often view passengers. Not necessarily with disdain, mind you, but with the view that passengers generally are unfamiliar with the workings of ships and are there merely to be entertained and transported. (In that vein, Captain Rostron, in his autobiography, notes that when he receives Titanic's CQD/SOS, he immediately orders all passengers confined to their cabins, to keep them out of the crew's way -- and to keep them from observing something they might misunderstand?)

Having experienced a panic on board a sinking vessel -- real, out-of-control, yelling, stampeding people, nearly 40 of them, rushing towards my precarious perch on the bow of a sightseeing ferry on a small, manmade lake -- I shudder to imagine how disastrous a panic on board a sinking liner, in a genuinely life-threatening situation on the icy North Atlantic, would be.

From what I've read, Murdoch seemed more willing than Lightoller to "bend the law of the sea" and permit men to enter the boats. I've often tried to imagine the two of them in that dark, icy-cold night, continually surveying the situation and dealing with it to the best of their professional ability. Both Lightoller and Murdoch sent away boats that were not fully loaded. I gather that older-model lifeboats could not be lowered at full capacity, but had to be filled in the water; Lights claimed he didn't know that these could. (But in another forum, I was told that he should have known.) In any case, he (and no doubt Murdoch) instructed the boats to stay close by to pick up additional passengers; but they rowed away instead.

Lights and Murdoch were seasoned sailors who began their careers on sailing ships; neither was the sort to panic. David's triage-analogy makes sense: even if those officers did not consciously decide such tactics were required, they could have responded that way through instinct and training, i.e., avoid panic, keep the people moving (even if it meant sending away half-full boats), and get those boats off the ship.

Just MHO.
Regards to all -- Susan

P.S. As for the conditions that night -- we sailed on a 525-foot RORO ferry from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland and back, and came within a few hundred miles of the wrecksite (by coincidence, at the very time RMST was retrieving the "Big Piece"). I can attest to the fact that it is both SCARY and COLD out there on deck at night, even without seeing any ice! :-0
 
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James Eldridge

Guest
Wow, that's the most elitest sounding rot I ever heard David! I don't think I'll buy your book and I assure you "I'll try not to think about it."

James
 

Mike Herbold

Member
Feb 13, 2001
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David:
Finished your book, except for the nautical terms and notes. It is an excellent book -- just look on how many different threads we are already discussing it already !!

Now, regarding this particular thread. Your point of not urging more passengers to the boat deck to avoid panic makes sense. I have been in one panic situation in my life. It was in Old Town Sacramento and a screaming mob of hundreds came running down a narrow street toward me and two friends. We had to quickly get to the side of the street and to hang on to lightpoles to keep from being stampeded. The panic had started in an instant, and many people who fell down were hurt when others ran over them.

So, I understand and sympathize with your point about not actively ushering more people on deck. But I think you give Captain Smith and his officers too much credit for trying to avoid panic. Compare the instantaneous and decisive orders that Captain Rostron announced aboard Carpathia to the vague orders that Captain Smith made. In the end, it seems to me that rather than a concerted effort by the officers to avoid panic, there was instead a lack of leadership and organization. Things just happened.

But let's assume they didn't urge more people to the boat deck to avoid a panic. What about the people who were already there and were refused entry to a lifeboat? A few more husbands and fathers could have been allowed aboard without leading to panic. Perhaps this would have also encouraged more of the women not to be so reluctant to step into a lifeboat. Women and Children First was a noble thought, but at times in the early going we know there were few women around. Why not just put more men aboard that one and get on to the next lifeboat?
 

Pat Cook

Member
Apr 27, 2000
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Not to get too far afield here but somewhere along the way there was a rumor going around that the men were to be taken off on one side of the ship and the women off the other. Beesley states he heard the men were to be taken off on the port side, while Mrs. Washington Dodge stated she heard this rumor as well but in reverse - the women would be taken off on the port side. How this started I have no idea but this, too, must've played a part.

Just a thought.

Best regards,
Cook
 
May 12, 2005
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I must say the line of conversation here is ghoulish. There's no reason to be insensitive and I think David Brown was just that in his post which I think is "pure bovine feces."

I think it was a mistake for Captain Smith not to alert ALL the passengers to the danger and had this been accomplished I still think panic could have been well avoided. Telling people the ship was sinking wouldn't in itself have caused a huge panic though telling them their weren't enough lifeboats would have. The latter didn't have to be said for that very reason. Still telling them for certain the ship was in danger would have prompted everyone into action and the boats would have at least left full.

The lifeboat triage notion is the most ignorant line of thought to date on ET and though I imagine Brown thinks he's being real brave and imaginative coming up with something outrageous like that, all he's succeeded in doing is alienating people, including myself. He can dismiss us as foolishly overly-sensitive if he wants to but I'd rather be that than heartless and idiotic.

Randy
 
Dec 2, 2000
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With all due respect to all with differing points of veiw, I'm not one of those alienated by David's remarks. I've been involved in two major shipboard fires and a collision at sea, and when the crunch is on, I know for an absolute fact that you do what you have to, and you don't worry about being nice about it. Not if you want to save as many lives as possible.

It's all too easy for us to be judgemental in our warm rooms and solid homes 88 years after the fact. We can throw about charges of "elitest", and "unfair" without fear of any consequences. Nobody is going to drown or freeze to death on account of our own opinions or mistakes.

Smith and company didn't have that luxury.

They were caught between the Devil and a very deep blue sea with the certain knowladge that no matter what they did, at least half of the people in their charge were going to die. Would anyone here volunteer to die when they could save themselves? I don't know that I could and I was a trained professional who knew that sort of risk came with the job.

Could any of us...any of us at all...make the sort of hard choices that Smith and his officers had to make? We might want to think about that befor we get to steamed up about this. This is an area where the idea of trying to walk a mile in the other guy's shoes is a good one.

Cordially to all,
Michael H. Standart
 
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James Eldridge

Guest
Hello again,

Perhaps when someone has written a book about a disaster from the snug comfort of 88 years after the events they can see things as clearly as if they walked the decks that night. I agree with Randy and Nathan's statements that David's remarks have a callousness that leave me cold. While I can agree that the choices made that night were immensely difficult for those in charge they nevertheless made bad choices that caused more loss then the disaster alone would have. Any attempt to make Captain Smith look like a calculating and thoughtful supreme being judging what level of information to impart to his officers and through them the passengers is foolish indeed no matter how far they think they walked in their shoes through archives, forums and snug coteries of Titanic enthusiasts.

It is objectionable to read posts that define the victims of this corporate mismanagement called Titanic as 'triage' cases. Implying that children drowned because some overly egotistical record breakers misjudged how fast it was safe to steam that night and then decide not to alert their paying charges to the dangers while calling those who did escape 'lucky or smart,' is an outrage to decency. The image of the band playing warmly for eternity to comfort the stupid, old, weak, and young who couldn't/shouldn't have been given a chance to live because someone with gold braid made a decision is an anathama to any of the memorial ideas that the wreck should be terra sanctum and hands off to salvagers. Why have so many posts by some of the same people who seem to support this trash castigating wreck salvagers when the images Brown conjures up of who should live and die are more vulgar than any looted artifact is to their memory.

But as the old navy saying goes:"opinions are like a@#$^&&s everyone has one and they all stink," would seem to apply to some of those posted here today.

James