New Information on Titanic: What's there left to say?


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SmileyGirl

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Hi. What is the general consensus on here regarding the possibility of there being a boat/ship between Titanic and Californian?
 

Mila

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Well let's get real specific here. Besides Boxhall, of course, who exactly said that and when? Do these observations correlate with each other as to direction and time? Boat No. 8 was rowing toward the steamer at the same time that the steamer was showing both red and green. Boxhall said the steamer was approaching. Yet, to those in the boat it seemed they were not not getting any closer. Boat 8 was one of the boats that went about 3 to 4 miles toward the lights before turning around. Rostron confirmed that the boats were scattered over an area of about 4 to 5 miles when the sun came up. What you have here is case of subject opinions as to what was going on relative to vessel movements. There was no way to take a range on the lights because there was no reference point to use such as measuring the angular height of the mast lights relative to the waterline. Also, ask yourself, what was the meteorological visibility condition that night, and was slowly changing causing the luminous range of a light to change as well as one's ability to resolve two closely spaced lights such as the masthead lights of a steamer when the steamer has an angle on the bow of about 1 compass point?
Let’s be realistic. Boat 8 was launched at 1:10. At that time they could have seen both sidelights of the approaching Californian, and of course if she started drifting away at around 1:30 or so they were not able to reach her. Not to say that the boat 8 could have been affected by its own currents. There are many contradictions in the testimonies of witnesses, and nobody could address all of them, but Boxhall was a Mariner, and he watched the approaching Californian continuously for more than an hour. Therefore, I believe his testimony should be given more weight than to testimonies of others. And once again I do not say the Californian was drifting in an eddy, but there is a good possibility she was.
Here's is one more testimony that confirms Boxhall observations given by Able Seaman Edward J Buley
EJB142. When did you first see that boat on the bow? How long was it before you launched?
- When we started turning the boats out. That was about 10 minutes after she struck.
EJB143. Did that boat seem to be getting farther away from you?
- No; it seemed to be coming nearer.
EJB144. You are possessed of pretty good eyes?
- I can see a distance of 21 miles, sir.
And here's a testimony of Steward Alfred Crawford from boat # 8.
18052. You have not told us what distance you rowed in the direction of these lights?
- I should say between 3 and 4 miles; by the time the morning came we were furthest away from the
"Carpathia."
18053. Did they ever appear to get any nearer?
- No.
18054. Do you think the other boat was moving?
- I thought probably she might have been drifting.
18055. You thought they were drifting?
- The other ship was drifting.
18056. In the same direction as yourselves?
- No, it seemed as if she was drifting away from us.
Thistestimony is also consistent wth Californian drifting in an eddy.
 
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Mila

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Sam, here I've have made an illustration (the proportions are absolutely inaccurate) to demonstrate what lights eyewitnesses could have seen (masthead lights and the stern light are not shown). IMO the chart clearly demonstrates how Californian first appeared to be approaching (as she really was) and then leaving (as she really was) . BTW, Sam, do you have any explanation why it appears that only Boxhall (using binoculars) saw the green sidelight by itself. Some witnesses saw both lights, some saw only red one, but not the green one by itself (not to say some reported seeing the stern light). If the Californian was swinging in place, they should have seen the green light by itself, haven’t they, and they should not have seen the stern light, or they should have? However, if Californian was moving in an eddy, her green light was turned towards Titanic and the boats on her farthest retreat, and it explains why most saw only red light on her closest approach.

eddy illustration.jpg
 
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and he watched the approaching Californian continuously for more than an hour.
Not continuously. By his own admission, he was also helping around the deck after he worked out the distress position in addition to sending up distress signals and Morsing. Anyway, you need to quantify the movement of your eddy so it matches whatever observations you list.
There were many observations that were made that night, and it ranges all over the place, from seeing just 1 white light to seeing two, to seeing a single white and red light to seeing a light that looked like it came from a lifeboat of a sailing ship. You quoted Buley, OK, so how do you explain all this?

Mr. BULEY. I saw two masthead lights.
Senator FLETCHER. No stern lights?
Mr. BULEY. You could not see the stern lights. You could not see her bow lights. We were in the boat at the time.
Senator FLETCHER. Did you see that ship before you were in the water?
Mr. BULEY. Yes, sir; I saw it from the ship. That is what we told the passengers. We said, "There is a steamer coming to our assistance." That is what kept them quiet, I think.
Senator FLETCHER. Did she come toward you bow on?
Mr. BULEY. Yes, sir; bow on toward us; and then she stopped, and the lights seemed to go right by us.
Senator FLETCHER. If she had gone by you, she would have been to your stern?
Mr. BULEY. She was stationary there for about three hours, I think, off our port, there, and when we were in the boat we all made for her, and she went by us. The northern lights are just like a searchlight, but she disappeared. That was astern of where the ship went down.

...
Senator FLETCHER. You are quite positive there was no illusion about that boat ahead?
Mr. BULEY. It must have been a boat, sir. It was too low down in the sea for a star. Then we were quite convinced afterwards, because we saw it go right by us when we were in the lifeboats. We thought she was coming toward us to pick us up.
Senator FLETCHER. How far away was she?
Mr. BULEY. Three miles, sir, I should judge.

By the way, Boxhall said that when he left the ship, he saw what he took to be a stern light on the vessel. Yet, we have AB Lucas who said:
1566. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Did you see any light? - Well, I did see a light, a faint sidelight of another ship.
1567. Where away? In what direction? - On my port hand it was then.
1568. You saw a light? - Yes.
The Commissioner: A faint sidelight as I understand.
1569. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Where was it? - Off my port hand as I was in the boat.
1570. Do you mean it was a port light? - Was it a red or a green light? - A red light - a sidelight.
...
1580. Did you see any other light beside the red light? - Yes, the steaming light.
1581. You did? - Yes, I saw the sidelights and the steaming light.
1582. You said the sidelight was faint? - Yes, certainly.
1583. Was the other light faint or clear? - You can only see one side.
1584. I know that, but I mean the masthead light? - Yes, clear.
1585. Could you judge at all how far off it was? - It was about eight or nine miles; it was right on the horizon.
1586. Are you speaking of it being on the horizon when you were in the boat? - Yes.

Lucas went away in boat D, the boat that used the same davits that Boxhall's boat was sent away from earlier. So what was Lucas looking at?

Then there is the night watchman James Johnstone:
3481. You said something about seeing a light? - Yes.
3482. Did you see that light from the deck of the “Titanic”? - I should think we saw it for about twenty minutes on the port bow.
...
3504. What coloured light was it? - I think it was red. I think there were two lights, in fact, a red and a white light.
3507. What are you certain about? - I am certain there was a light. The Captain told the officer to pull for that light.
3508. Are you sure there were two lights? - I am certain there were two lights. The Captain told the officer to pull for that light and come back again.

He was in the same boat as Boxhall. Boxhall said that he saw only one white light which he took for a stern light when he went away in the boat.
QM's Rowe and Bright were assisting with the firing of distress signals. Both of them saw only one white light from the bridge. Yet Boxhall claimed he was able to see two mastlights and a red sidelight with the naked eye at some point. Lowe said he saw two mast lights and red sidelight, yet he also said that the vessel, which he said was to the northward, had later turned to open her green. Just the opposite of what Boxhall said. As I said, the observations range all over the place.

If you believe everything everyone said, then there had to be many mystery vessels about that came and went from many different directions.
 

Julian Atkins

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Hi Mila,

I would like to support Sam's post from a slightly different perspective.

When I was a Solicitor I had in my office a book by Professor Eric Shepherd 'Police Station Skills for Legal Advisers', and attended numerous courses in London of the Legal Action Group ('LAG').

As a Solicitor, I was trained to be aware that witnesses of the same event and set of circumstances will always give differing accounts!

As for the Titanic witnesses, they exhibit all the foibles to be expected of any witness in a pub brawl/assault, theft in a shop, or disturbance in a town centre.

Cheers,

Julian
 
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Mila

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Not continuously. By his own admission, he was also helping around the deck after he worked out the distress position in addition to sending up distress signals and Morsing. Anyway, you need to quantify the movement of your eddy so it matches whatever observations you list.
Come on, Sam, of course I did not mean the only thing he was doing was watching the lights, but I meant he watched every few minutes, which BTW is a better way to notice something is moving.
He was in the same boat as Boxhall. Boxhall said that he saw only one white light which he took for a stern light when he went away in the boat.
Boxhall saw the stern light not from the boat, but from the Deck of the Titanic.
By the way, Boxhall said that when he left the ship, he saw what he took to be a stern light on the vessel. Yet, we have AB Lucas who said:
Sam, Lucas described what he saw from the D who knows on what time not what he saw from the Titanic. I am not sure how you could compare two observations made from different heights at different times.
QM's Rowe and Bright were assisting with the firing of distress signals. Both of them saw only one white light from the bridge. Yet Boxhall claimed he was able to see two mastlights and a red sidelight with the naked eye at some point.
it is my understanding Rowe saw the Stern light only from the lifeboat and one masthead light from the Titanic.Maybe he was to busy on the ship to watch the lights.
If you believe everything everyone said, then there had to be many mystery vessels about that came and went from many different directions.
Of course I do not believe what everyone said, but maybe we should believe what no one said. In particular it does not appear that there is a more or less reliabale testimony of seeing green light by itself with no red light. Only Boxhall said he saw it. Drifting in an eddy could account for this. Could you, Sam?
 
After a year of researching and drafting my (hopefully good) book on Titanic, I begun to realise that we after 50+ years of books and research by numerous historians and writers (from Walter Lord to our very own members here), we have found out about practically everything to know about Titanic.

With a few exceptions, we know everything about the lives of the passengers and society, to the ship's interior design and edwardian mechanics, not to mention seafaring law and opinion at the time, we literally know every minute of the Ship's existence now which begs the question, Where do we go from here?

Many books, research papers and scientific tests have been done and written up about, but for Titanic writers and researchers of the future, except for new photos, the occasional survivors account or even new Californian or mystery ship data, They might end up just repeating what's known.

What are other's thoughts on this? Is it good we found out everything, is there still a huge mountain of missing evidence out there somewhere in a attic or library somewhere?

Hi I dont think it is the case that we know everything. Ive just joined and not sure this will work but the real untold story for me is its connection with Ireland and Irish history; after all she was built at Harland and Wolff shipyard, a protestant shipyard in Belfast City, a city torn apart by the divide between nationalism and unionism and still is - why was she built there ? Secondly, there is an untold story of the protestant-catholic tensions amongst its crew; thirdly, the Addergoole 14 are the absolute epitomy and archetypal case of Ireland's diaspora, forced to leave home because of poverty, with incredibly, the Irish suffering probably amongst the highest fatality rates due to being crew and in steerage and I dont think Ive ever seen any stats on that (but as a statistician I will produce them), while the aristocratic first class got into the lifeboats first because they were on the first class deck; the Addergoole 14 singing their countries song of nationalism and patriotism just before 11 of the 14 perished, the list goes on and on. Then there is Captain Smith with no experience of captaining a vessel of the size of Titanic making gigantic errors of judgement. Why were there no binoculars on the ship. Why did the Californian's captain ignore repeated warnings from this crew that a ship was floundering and sending of flares and force the Californian through the ice-field to rescue her. Eyewitness accounts from survivors in the lifeboats are of a ship not more than 10 miles distant. I dont have words to describe this idiot but hopefully when I do more research on him will be able to reveal more of this despicable man. Lets see, Ive got more ! On a personal note, I lived as a child not more than a 10 minute walk from Captain Smith's house in Waterloo Liverpool but never knew it. Also Liverpool is inextricably linked with the Titanic with 90 of its crew from my home city, suffering a mortality rate second only to Southampton. So there there's heaps unknowns and I intend to reveal all of them - deep diving (excuse the term we use it in data mining) into the real stats behind the tragedy of the 'Ship of Dreams', its links to Irish history and my home city of Liverpool. I havent even started yet. Is that enough for a first post ? Glad to get that off my chest !! PS Ive read Walter Lord's excellent works but I dont think he tackled some of the stuff Ive included above. Even if it has been tackled before I doubt its accurate. I have a deep passion for Ireland and its history and emigration, and Im from the home city of the Titanic, Im a statistician also so maybe I'll be able to start providing some more unknown revelations. Im off to Belfast and New York and Liverpool later this year and cant wait to see Belfast and NY - I want to go where the Californian berthed and find out more about her. Yes youve guessed it she sailed from Liverpool to New York !
 

Rob Lawes

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Hi Stephen.

You've raised lots of points in your post and you will find many of the answers to the questions you've raised above in the pages of this forum.

A few quick and easy ones to answer from the off are:

Why was Titanic built in Belfast? H and W had a long association with the White Star line and were the preferred builder for the companies ships.

Captain Smith had years of experience skippering large ships and had only recently handed over command of Titanic's older and near identically sized sister ship, the Olympic.

Binoculars were available on board but it was not common practice at the time to issue them to lookouts. Newspapers recently have run stories relating to the auction of a key that was supposed to be for a binoculars box and the reason why they were not issued to the lookouts. That story is false and the key in question was a spare for the crows nest phone box.

Finally, on the night in question the Californian was bound for Boston having sailed from the port of London. Her normal operational route was Liverpool to the Gulf of Mexico / New Orleans.
 

Harland Duzen

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Welcome to ET Stephen! :)

Good luck with researching, but be warned in that a lot of what is often said or known about the Titanic in general documentaries or basic books often repeats myths or incorrect facts that have been debunked several times (eg. Coal Fire being fatal, Titanic speeding to beat records or the Crow's Nest Key being misplace which Rob mentioned above to name a few).

Back to Topic and like what Rob has also said, The White Star Line made an agreement with Harland & Wolff around 1869 that they would order all their ships from them on the condition that they never built any ships for any major competitors (eg. Cunard). This agreement was kept until the line's closure in 1935.

"With the nucleus of the White Star Line a new atlantic company would be set up. [Thomas] Ismay would would have all his ships built by Harland & Wolff in Belfast and [Gustav] Schwabe would provide guarantee the finance. The agreement with the yard was that ships were to be built with the best materials, no fixed price being quoted, White Star would pay the cost, plus an agreed margin for profit, provided that Harland & Wolff did not build ships for potential competitors on the same route. This proposal fitted with Ismay's vision and the deal was struck."
(Taken from "Ships of the White Star Line" by Richard De Kerbrech,Page 9)

Hope this helps.

PS: Also be prepared about the Californian, there are a lot of misconceptions, overlooked facts and can be very confusing... :confused:
 
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Dave Gittins

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Stephen, most of what you mention has already been done. For instance, there is a massive history of Harland and Wolff up to 1986. It's called Shipbuilders to the World and it costs a bomb. There are many statistics of passengers and crew, many of them on this site. There are biographies of many major people, such as Lord Pirrie, some of them rather rare, because they are quite old. There are histories of the White Star Line.

If you want to contribute something new, I have two suggestions, though I fear they will be hard to do.

I've never seen records of what was done with the many thousands of dollars raised in New York, for the benefit of survivors. There's quite a lot about the equivalent British fund and how it was used for things like helping orphans get apprenticeships.

The second area is the claims made against White Star in Britain. We have great details about the four initial cases brought to court in 1912. White Star was found liable for damages and lost on appeal. We know that other people then made claims out of court, but who they were and what they received are mysteries. Records may have been destroyed when White Star joined Cunard.

Before rushing off in all directions, familiarise yourself with the existing literature. There's a stack out there!
 
Hi everyone thanks for your replies. I must admit Ive only read Walter Lord's accounts. Dave you have me intrigued now. Anywhere in New York I can go to check out what happened to the thousand of dollars raised for survivors. I'll be visiting in October. I could go and dig around some 1912 newspaper clippings in a dusty archive of one of their libraries, as its obviously not on the web anywhere otherwise you would have found it by now.

Not sure where I read about where the Californian sailed from - maybe in 'the night lives on' which ive just read.

Claims made against the White Star Line in the UK ? I'll go and ask in the Merseyside Maritime Museum - they may know Liverpool is my home town and I'll be going there too.

Im doing my huge trip in September and October. Please forgive my ill informed rant yesterday - I was excited to have found this site !
 

Harland Duzen

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Sorry if my reply was a bit harsh, Stephen. I mean well.

If you do decide to visit any archives in Liverpool, White Star records for claims and other things (tied together with Cunard files when they merged ) can be found somewhere at the University of Liverpool.

Also as mentioned above, Personal and career Papers of Captain Lord and his family, Research Papers of Lesile Reade and a ton of other things (telegrams, newspaper cuttings, taped conservations and photographs etc) can be accessed by appointment from the Merseyside Maritime Museum collection.

Good luck preparing and I hope the trip (when it happens) go well.
 
Thank you Harland. Im very good at research and assimilation of huge amounts of information rapidly as its my professional job to do so so Im relishing the prospects of getting stuck into some research. Yes I'll go to the University of Liverpool when I am back home to check out and see what I can find on the following. I'll write to them in advance so I am well prepared for what to do when I get there. I'd still love to go and park myself in a New York library for an afternoon, just for the experience reading through newspaper clippings from the time and taking heaps of sneaky photos on my Android so I can post them later !

"The second area is the claims made against White Star in Britain. We have great details about the four initial cases brought to court in 1912. White Star was found liable for damages and lost on appeal. We know that other people then made claims out of court, but who they were and what they received are mysteries. Records may have been destroyed when White Star joined Cunard."

Its my birthday today 27 February and I awoke to a Titanic documentary on Youtube !

PS do you a book available on your research on the Titanic. I'd love to read it if so.
 
Thank you Harland. Im very good at research and assimilation of huge amounts of information rapidly as its my professional job to do so so Im relishing the prospects of getting stuck into some research. Yes I'll go to the University of Liverpool when I am back home to check out and see what I can find on the following. I'll write to them in advance so I am well prepared for what to do when I get there. I'd still love to go and park myself in a New York library for an afternoon, just for the experience reading through newspaper clippings from the time and taking heaps of sneaky photos on my Android so I can post them later !

"The second area is the claims made against White Star in Britain. We have great details about the four initial cases brought to court in 1912. White Star was found liable for damages and lost on appeal. We know that other people then made claims out of court, but who they were and what they received are mysteries. Records may have been destroyed when White Star joined Cunard."

Its my birthday today 27 February and I awoke to a Titanic documentary on Youtube !

PS do you a book available on your research on the Titanic. I'd love to read it if so.
PPS forgot to mention there are other connections to Liverpool I forgot to mention which you may have researched. The two bands on the Titanic, their agents were Blacks of Liverpool, who didnt pay very well and took over from White Star employing them directly, they had to travel as second class passengers and werent official crew members. Something also - related to the compensation issue in general but specifically for the musicians on the Titanic - about this leading to disputes about who should pay compensation for the surviving spouses and family of the band: White Star Line, Blacks or the insurance company with all passing the buck one to the other - trying to recall its in 'the Night Lives on' by Walter Lord which Ive send to Rebecca my daughter PPS I dont research my replies here - all of the top of my head !
 
Well, Sam, this is not a theory IMO. It is the fact that was discussed back in 1912.
Hi its not a theory it is fact well according to Walter Lord and he really is the only person I rely on for facts about the Titanic. She saw the flares for absolute sure but, here's the thing, various members of her crew saw them throughout the night including her officers on the bridge and - trying to remember here - one of the engine room staff maybe on a night shift who went on to the decks for a smoke - but the captain of the Californian - cant remember his name but I dont like him anyway ! - who had retired to sleep but couldnt sleep, ignored the warnings not just once but repeatedly. The crew thought variously the ship was sailing away as she sank because the lights appeared to be indicating - not sure of the term here - receding maybe - an optical illusion - dont forget Californian was 10 miles distant - so nothing to worry about; wondered why she was setting off flares, entertainment for her passengers perhaps, although it is maritime international practice at the time that flares set off indicate a ship in distress; they saw the flares from Carpathia but remember that was after Titanic had sunk. This is what I cant understand, Californian had come to a complete stop as was stuck in the ice field, but could have come to Titanics rescue by forcing her way slowly through the ice field - she was only some 10 miles distant. Cant remember it - its all in 'the night lives on' : something along those lines anyway. Somewhere in this is attempts to contact the Titanic using morse code - cant remember does anyone know about this ?
 

Harland Duzen

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Happy Birthday Stephen! :)

To answer some questions, personally my book's currently still in progress but should be finished in the near-future and hopefully provide a new perspective on everything. Back to Topic!

In regards to the Californian, While there's a lot more to this than meets the eye, it should be noted that:

A) Ernest Gill (a engineer) who is commonly believed to have seen Titanic and distress rockets while out on deck, might have been lying. His bunkmate William Thomas later said to the Boston Newspapers that when Gill went to his bunk and talked to him, he never mentioned seeing any ship whilst on deck.

B) Since Walter Lord wrote* "A Night To Remember" a lot of new testimony and evidence about the Californian has been found out and published by various authors (with varying degrees of bias for or against Captain Lord). I would recommend reading "Titanic and the Indifferent Stranger" by Paul Lee for a informative and unbiased account.

Hope this helps (and makes logical sense!)

*Walter Lord in writing his book never contacted Captain Lord for his account or opinion and instead based the book's part on the Californian from the account of her former 3rd Officer Charles Groves who is believed to have written a dramatised / inaccurate account.
 
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