Number of people around Collapsibles C and D, Wilde's order, and Ismay's escape


Sep 10, 2012
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I know that there probably is a more specific section to put this thread in, but given the different questions I am asking in it, I thought it better to leave it in a general section, just in case.

I recently happened to read a fairly new book about the sinking of the Titanic which states that near the end, after the regular lifeboats were lowered, and Collapsibles C and D started to be loaded, Chief Officer Wilde ordered everyone to the starboard side, and as a result of that not only Lightoller found himself with a lack of women big enough to allow men to temporarily climb aboard, but the fact most people went over to the starboard side caused people to pile around Collapsible C so much that it turned into a mutiny-like scene which caused guns to be fired in order to try to settle things down.

From what I understand, all three of those events took place - Wilde's order is reported in Walter Lord's A Night To Remember, Lightoller temporarily allowing men into Collapsible D is described in Archibald Gracie's The Truth About The Titanic, and the number of people around Collapsible C, as well as the gunfire, is prominently described here, and probably in other books, newspaper articles, and webpages - but was the correlation between all three events as specific as the book I read states?

Also, the same book states that Ismay managed to get into the boat because the officers knew him and so would not be able to stop him from saving himself. Is there any specific information as to whether Wilde or Murdoch knew who Ismay was to the point of not being able to stop him from boarding a boat at his discretion? I do know that Lightoller reported in the American Inquiry that Wilde bundled Ismay into a boat, and that Weikman said that Ismay was ordered into the boat by 'the officer in charge'... but still... is there any more concrete information? Were the White Star Line's senior officers somehow expected to know who Ismay and other important people were?

I know books are said to be reliable information, but given the number of repeated myths and stretched or distorted truths that books about the Titanic have been repeating, I thought it might be worth to ask about it rather than just taking it - partly because it is a correlation of facts I'm not used to seeing in accounts about the disaster.
 
Mar 18, 2008
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Wilde and Murdoch would most likely knew who Ismay was (as did Lightoller). However, I would go with what Ismay himself said, that he and Mr. Carter jumped into the boat in the last moment.

Lightoller did not place men into No. D. The gunfire at boat C was most likely before people were send to starboard. Hugh Woolner noticed the shots fired by Murdoch and went to starboard and helped at No. C.
 
Sep 10, 2012
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Well, if Lightoller did know who Ismay was before the disaster, it would make sense that Wilde and Murdoch also did, although knowing someone's identity has nothing to do with rank. If they did know, though, it does make me wonder how they felt upon seeing Ismay aboard Collapsible C, considering the fact Ismay supposedly played a role both in the lack of lifeboats on the ship and in the pushing of its engines (and before anyone asks, I am not basing the second part of my statement on James Cameron's movie but on Elizabeth Lines' memory of the conversation between Ismay and Smith).

About Lightoller letting men into Collapsible D, I checked, and Gracie's book, now available on Encyclopedia Titanica, does mention Lightoller testifying in the British Inquiry that at one point men got into Collapsible D. And in the transcript of the British Inquiry itself, I found this tidbit in Lightoller's testimony:

13996. Was she filled? What happened? - We had very great difficulty in filling her with women. As far as I remember she was eventually filled, but we experienced considerable difficulty. Two or three times we had to wait, and call out for women - in fact, I think on one - perhaps two - occasions, someone standing close to the boat said, “Oh, there are no more women,”￾ and with that several men commenced to climb in. Just then, or a moment afterwards, whilst they were still climbing in, someone sang out on the deck, “Here are a couple more.”￾ Naturally, I judged they were women.
With that said, I do know the fact that crewmen linked arms around Collapsible D so that only women and children would get through to it, and I wonder how that ties in to the fact that at one point men were allowed into Collapsible D - if it does tie in, and the fact men were allowed into Collapsible D at any point is not a fabrication.
 
Mar 18, 2008
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Well, if Lightoller did know who Ismay was before the disaster, it would make sense that Wilde and Murdoch also did, although knowing someone's identity has nothing to do with rank. If they did know, though, it does make me wonder how they felt upon seeing Ismay aboard Collapsible C, considering the fact Ismay supposedly played a role both in the lack of lifeboats on the ship and in the pushing of its engines (and before anyone asks, I am not basing the second part of my statement on James Cameron's movie but on Elizabeth Lines' memory of the conversation between Ismay and Smith).
Others of the crew (even stewards) know who Ismay was. I don't think that Murdoch or anyone else had any feeling about Ismay in the boat. There was no pause or anything else during the lowering when Ismay jumped in. [The "lack" of lifeboats was the fault of the Board of Trade and not Ismay. Titanic even had more boats as required by law and more boats would have not helped! From the 20 she had only 18 had been loaded and lowered. No real pushing of the engines by Ismay. Titanic was making good speed. Ismay was no factor.]



About Lightoller letting men into Collapsible D, I checked, and Gracie's book, now available on Encyclopedia Titanica, does mention Lightoller testifying in the British Inquiry that at one point men got into Collapsible D. And in the transcript of the British Inquiry itself, I found this tidbit in Lightoller's testimony:



With that said, I do know the fact that crewmen linked arms around Collapsible D so that only women and children would get through to it, and I wonder how that ties in to the fact that at one point men were allowed into Collapsible D - if it does tie in, and the fact men were allowed into Collapsible D at any point is not a fabrication.
I know well the testimony of Lightoller. The problem regarding D is that others who had been there gave partly a different story.
 
Sep 10, 2012
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Well, I may be wrong, but I think I read somewhere that the Titanic was originally intended to have 68 lifeboats, but that number was gradually cut down until it arrived to the final 16 (plus the four collapsibles), and Ismay was one of those against the original figure of 68 lifeboats. If this is wrong, then I stand corrected.

Also, I did not mean to imply that you do not know Lightoller's testimony. If anyone here doesn't, it's me, as I haven't yet had the bravery or the time to properly tackle those hundreds of pages of the transcripts of both inquiries. Then again, even without that, I shouldn't have relied so blindly on Lightoller's testimony - the general public trusted both it and that of others who were viewed as authority, and as a result of that the belief that the Titanic sank in one piece prevailed for 73 years.
 
Mar 18, 2008
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Well, I may be wrong, but I think I read somewhere that the Titanic was originally intended to have 68 lifeboats, but that number was gradually cut down until it arrived to the final 16 (plus the four collapsibles), and Ismay was one of those against the original figure of 68 lifeboats. If this is wrong, then I stand corrected.
Not really. There was no real plan with that number of boats. There was only the idea of a davit set which would handle 4 boats each, meaning 64 boats in total for the case that the BOT would change the rules and called for more boats. It was Carlisle who asked the Welin Company for such a davit set. (Carlisle himself believed 48 boats would be enough.) The "decision" was made to put 32 boats but as the BOT did not change the rules and as the law did not called for more then 16 boats, it was decided to keep the 16 plus the 4 collapsible, which was more then required by law. (By the way Lusitania and Mauritania had less space in the boats then Olympic and Titanic!) And it was not Ismay alone who decide. The ships were constructed to be their own lifeboat and it was thought that the boats would be needed only to rescue others or to evacuate the ship in case of grounding or fire. No one expected such a damage which sunk the ship.

More boats would also not had helped. The crew was able to load and lower 18 of the 20 boats as there was no time left.

Ismay was not the "bad" guy as often shown and there was also no fight between Carlisle, Pirrie and Ismay regarding the boats. It was the failure of the BOT. And if they had followed the advise from 2 other BOT members, the ships should have carry less boats.

Regarding Lightoller, I was only going to say that I knew what he said. No attack against you.
 
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Well, it seems that for yet another time, I stand corrected. Thank you once more for taking the time to enlighten me. :)

And don't worry, Ioannis, I took nothing of what you said as an attack against me. :) Again, if anything I said seemed like an attack against you, my apologies. It was not my intention at all.
 
Mar 18, 2008
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No problem! :) I only wanted to make it clear as in the past I had a few misunderstandings with a few others. Because I often forget to write "Hello" or any other thing of contact I had been called rude or to be an "bad person" when pointing out mistakes...

Regarding the boats, there had been many myths made over the years. One which was created in the 1980s was this "conflict" between Carlisle, Ismay and Pirrie regarding the boat number the ship should carry which end that Carlisle left H&W. A nice story but totally made up!
 

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