New Details of Disaster - Lightoller Letter


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Aaron_2016

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A letter from 2nd officer Lightoller written soon after the disaster has recently been auctioned for £15,000. The letter which contains several pages describes the disaster in detail. In the below link I can see part of the text e.g. ".....The wireless operator knew that the Captain was asleep in the chartroom, and this crash brought him out with a jump." There could be details in this letter that are important. Does anyone know if the letter can be read in full?


‘Goodbye old man’: Harrowing Titanic survivor’s letter from second officer to sell for £15,000


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Nov 14, 2015
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The letter is more proof that the Californian and Captain Lord were just a few miles away and NOT 30 miles away like they claimed. Those poor people didn't have to die a horrible death as the ship sank.
 
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Dave Gittins

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There's some confusion in this story. The letter about the death of Dr Simpson is a typewritten two page document on White Star stationery. It's dated the day before Lightoller sailed for England on Adriatic, after the US inquiry. It's online in full if you look. The letter says nothing about Captain Smith turning out.

The illustration accompanying the online articles is a multi-page, typewritten document that could be from any date. It may be an early attempt at Lightoller's book and the bit about Californian is word for word in his book. If we could see the whole document it may be possible to date it and see if more ended up in the book. As to the Californian business, it proves nothing.
 
Nov 14, 2015
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Eva hart recommended 2 books. The first was "Maiden Voyage" about the Titanic, and the second is "The ship that stood still" about the Californian lies. These make for good reference.
 

Jim Currie

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Michael,

The are two stories concerning the Californian. The first is that the ship seen from Titanic was Californian. We now know that was pure nonsense.
The second is that Captain Lord was told about the sighting of 5 rockets... all white and that although these indicated distress, he turned on his side and went back to sleep. Again pure nonsense. Captain Lord would have been very much aware of the then BoT Rules concerning distress signals.

The Rules about distress rockets in 1912 were confusing in that they stated that distress rockets were to be of 'ANY' colour fired at regular intervals. However they also stated that another signal of distress was the sound of a gun fired at intervals of one minute.
Titanic did not have a 'gun' or cannon but she did carry 12 standard distress rockets. However she relied on socket signals that made a loud report that could be heard 12+ miles away and showed a shower of white stars that could be seen 30+ miles away.
The Rule concerning these socket signals was as noted in the UK Inquiry Final report: "Distress signals. - These were supplied of number and pattern approved by Board of Trade - i.e., 36 socket signals in lieu of guns. Note carefully the expression "in lieu of".

It follows that the correct interpretation of a signal of distress was a very loud report accompanied by a shower of stars of any colour at intervals of about one minute. Titanic was firing hers at 5 or 6 minutes.
Knowing the following, apply yourself to the question:
How should a ship's captain react to a report that a single, silent rocket showering white stars has been seen low down on the horizon and in the direction of a ship 5 miles away?
How should that same captain react when he is told that a further 7 identical signals were seen in the direction of a ship which subsequently moved off?

Eva Hart was 7 years old when the Titanic went down. A seven year old's memories of violent happenings and her interpretation of events are confined to the knowledge of a seven year old.
Eva had no knowledge of the Californian when she was on the Titanic. In her 1987 BBC interview, she relates things that she could not possibly have known at the the time. For instance, the name of the young officer who commanded the little flotilla of life boats her boat was part of.
When that interview was given, Titanic's wreck had been found and there were numerous books and films available concerning the disaster.

Those who wrote the books you mention were, like yourself and so many others, already convinced of Captain Lord's guilt, selectively chose the evidence concerning the Californian which confirmed their beliefs.

 
Nov 14, 2015
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I have read all this before. The crew of the Californian reported 8 WHITE ROCKETS and the Titanic sent off 8 WHITE ROCKETS. There is no use discussing this further. You have made up your mind and I have made up mine.
 
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Jim Currie

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Michael, I'm sure you have read all 'this' before. There is no dispute concerning what was sent up and what was seen by the officers of Californian. However when you accuse someone of lying, you should be ready to back-up your accusations with hard evidence.

I have not 'made my mind up' as you suggest. I have come to my conclusions after reading all the available evidence over and over again.
I am a fully qualified Marine Accident Investigator with over 55 years experience in the Marine world. Believe me, if I thought for a single moment that Captain Lord or any of his officers had been guilty of what they are accused of, then I would be the first person to pursue the truth relentlessly.
Let me illustrate a little of the nonsense that was written by Lord Mersey regarding his conclusion concerning the sighting of rockets:

"The evidence from the "Californian" speaks of eight rockets having been seen between 12.30 and 1.40. (Gill, 18156-61) (Stone, 7830 et seq.) "

That Stone saw 8 rockets is not in dispute. However, here is the relevant evidence from Gill upon which the good Commissioner also based his findings:

"I had been on deck about 10 minutes [Between half-past 12 and 1.] when I saw a white rocket about 10 miles away on the starboard side. I thought it must be a shooting star. In seven or eight minutes I saw distinctly a second rocket in the same place, and I said to myself, "That must be a vessel in distress."

Now compare what Gill said with the following fact : The regulation distress signal, is a rocket throwing stars.

If as Gill claimed, he saw Titanic's rockets then he would have seen exactly the same as did Californian's 2nd Officer Stone:

" They had the appearance of white rockets bursting in the sky...At intervals of about three or four minutes."

Not only would Gill have seen bright, white showers of stars, but if the ship firing these rockets had been 10 or less miles away, it is likely that the entire crew of the Californian would have been aware of them since each signal was accompanied by an ear shattering detonation which could have been heard as much as 13 miles away. Gill had a vivid imagination and it got him a healthy bank balance.

The foregoing are hard facts, Michael. Upon what 'hard facts' have you based your conclusions?

Here's another fact. Captain Lord consistently offered to stand trial in a court of law. His offer was never taken up. Why?
 

Ryan Burns

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Sep 23, 2016
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Jim, I'll defer to your experience and research here, but shouldn't Stone, after seeing EIGHT rockets at sea, at the very least gone and awaken Evans to find out what the hell was going on? Wouldn't that have been the prudent thing to do, just to be sure?
 
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Ajmal Dar

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Michael,
the Californian would not have had much time to save the titanic passengers. it would have had to navigate through ice after it had got steam up which would have taken some time to get the boilers up to full steaming. if the Californian had been able to get through the ice, it may have got to the titanic by 2 am. Then the calif would have to lower its 4 lifeboats and they would have to row to titanic and they would have to be winched up, loaded and lowered back dow. very little of this could be done in the twenty minutes and also the ship would be seriously bows down by then making lifeboat minipulation very difficult if not impossible. i doubt that the calif would havr been able to transfer people off the ship but would have been able to pick some people out of the water. i think lord was unfairly blamed for not saving passengers but he was certainly in error for notawakening the radio operator cyril evans.
 

Ajmal Dar

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i definitely agree with you jim that the recollectiins of eva should be taken with a pinch of salt. she was far too young to remember in an adult fashion and over the years she would have heards stories that her brain would have embraced and then recited as if she remembered the events herself.
regards,
Ajmal
 

Ajmal Dar

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Michael,
I read somewhere that there were more than 8 rockets fired from titanic. do you have any infirmation about this claim. i read that boxhall thinks he fired off between 8 and 12 rockets, then quartermaster lowe is suposed to have sent some off and that there was a third person who sent some rockets off. but this is only what i have reac and not from wnyones testimony so it may be wrong.
regards,
Aj
 

Jim Currie

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Michael,
I read somewhere that there were more than 8 rockets fired from titanic. do you have any infirmation about this claim. i read that boxhall thinks he fired off between 8 and 12 rockets, then quartermaster lowe is suposed to have sent some off and that there was a third person who sent some rockets off. but this is only what i have reac and not from wnyones testimony so it may be wrong.
regards,
Aj
Hi Ajmal,

The best way to look at this is to determine the interval between signals fired then establish start and finish times. I like to use an interval of 5 minutes.
Thus, if the last rocket was fired by quartermaster Rowe, as he said at just before 1-25 am and he was called by the bridge to bring detonators at 12-25 am, then we have a one hour period to play with.
Obviously, it would take time to get to the bridge and start firing. If the first signal was fired at say 12-35 am by Rowe's watch and the last one was fired at say 1-15 am by the same watch, then we have a duration of firing equal to 40 minutes ...enough proximity to confirm a total of 8 signals fired?
 
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Ajmal Dar

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Jan 5, 2018
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Dear Jim,
Thanks for your clarifying comments here. I,m afraid i got confused about who fired the rockets and did not look at their testimonies to determine who fired the rockets. So in future, i will assume that eight rockets were fired and not any more than that.
Once again, many thanks,
Ajmal
 

Jay Roches

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Apr 14, 2012
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There was another article about a letter written by Lightoller: Titanic surviving senior officer details crew's bravery on eventful night | Daily Mail Online

The text of the letter is substantially the same as that described in the article posted here (the Yahoo article), but the picture in the Yahoo article clearly shows a letter of multiple pages, while the Daily Mail article shows a two-page letter in its entirety.

The document shown in the Yahoo article is actually a manuscript of Lightoller's Titanic and Other Ships. I searched for several strings of text seen in the article (e.g. "passengers naturally kept coming up to me") and found the same text in Lightoller's book. So, it would seem that the full letter is available at the Daily Mail article.

Add: Sotheby's sold the manuscript for 4,800 pounds in 2003. The photo for the sale of the manuscript matches the one used in the article. It seems like Yahoo just used a picture of Lightoller stuff, not the actual letter in the sale.

Another add: Just noticed Dave Gittins made this same observation two years ago. :)
 

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