Peuchen is this true

Paul Lee

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From Charles Pellegrino's website:

In his 1962 account, R.N.Williams described a man who threw his wallet overboard, after the first lifeboats were launched but before the water reached C deck. Though Williams did not identify the wallet-thrower, his tale appears to cross over to Walter Lord's recollection that Major Arthur Peuchen became so distressed, at a point mid-way through the sinking, that he began tossing personal belongings overboard, before eventually climbing down a rope into a descending lifeboat.  The major was a believer in the then widely embraced myth that objects and even ships might never actually reach the deepest ocean; but rater, gloated forever in a nether zone, where all decay was indefinitely forestalled. The wallet thrower's desire  -"might as well save at least his wallet" - is telling, in more ways that the wallet-thrower could have guessed.

Cheers

Paul
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Jason D. Tiller

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Hi Paul,

I haven't seen that anywhere during the course of my research on Major Peuchen, so I'll take it with a grain of salt. From what I know, Peuchen's wallet fell out of his pocket while he was descending the rope to the lifeboat. I don't believe he would have thrown it or any other personal items overboard, as he would nothing to gain from it. The only other personal objects that he had on him were three oranges and a pearl pin, which he grabbed before leaving his cabin for the last time. Supposedly when he went to pay for something in New York, he couldn't find his wallet.

The biography which I'm currently writing on his life will offer new and exciting information, which I hope to submit soon.

I hope this helps.

Best regards,

Jason
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Paul Lee

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Hi Jason,
Many thanks for your reply! The reason why I am delving so deeply into this is because Adolphe Saalfeld's perfume samples were found on the ocean floor - and his cabin was adjacent to Peuchen's. Saalfeld definitely left his perfumes on the ship - so how did they end up on the ocean floor?

My theory is that something catastrophic happened in the vicinity of these two cabins on the way down, that resulted in interior stuff being blasted out of the hull. If Peuchen left his wallet on board ship, this would corroborate this theory. It seems that this area of the ship wasn't explored for the "Ghosts of the Abyss" film, so we don't know in what state the C deck landing is in - yet!

With best wishes

Paul
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Dec 2, 2000
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Paul, I suspect you're theory is correct. I would think that the case with the perfume samples would have been a bit heavy, so it wouldn't be much of a surprise that the case wouldn't float back up. Mr. Saalfeld's cabin was supposed to be C-106 so my bet is that it rode the ship down and was ejected by hydrodynamic forces once the bow section hit bottom. If it was in the cabin, I would further bet that this particular area is fairly well trashed.
 

Paul Lee

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Hi Michael,
Actually, you have raised a very valid point. When Saalfeld's perfumes were recovered (and I think Ken Marshall can verify this, as he was there!), they were only wrapped in a leather "wallet". Makes you wonder how they survived if his cabin was smashed to pieces!

Cheers

Paul
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Mar 28, 2002
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Why did Peuchen have three oranges in his pocket? Was it a conscious decision or was it a case of grabbing anything in sight?

At BTS 2003 I sat next to a Canadian couple - the wife was the daughter of Saafeld's adoptive daughter (or niece) in Canada after he survived the Titanic. She spoke very fondly of her great-uncle Adolph.

Cheers,

Boz
 

Jason D. Tiller

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Hi Paul,

You're very welcome. I agree with Michael, your theory may just be bang on. I'd love to see this area explored, but as I mentioned in the other thread, it may be too risky for them to go that far in.

If Saalfeld's cabin was in fact damaged, then it's a miracle that anything survived. Maybe Ken will pop in here and comment on this.

Hi Boz,

That's something I've pondered about for a while. In my opinion, Peuchen took the three oranges just to grab whatever he could in a hurry. Although, it wasn't until he reached the grand staircase landing and seeing the looks on the faces of some of the women did he realize the situation was very grave. For reasons only known to himself, he did not go back to his cabin for a third time to retrieve his other personal belongings.

It's possible that he still thought the ship wouldn't sink, or he just didn't bother to return. We'll never know for sure.

I didn't know Saalfeld had relatives living here, how interesting to have met one of them!

Best regards,

Jason
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Dec 2, 2000
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>>Makes you wonder how they survived if his cabin was smashed to pieces! <<

Strange things happen during sinkings. The same event which gave us a broken hull littering the bottom of the North Atlantic also gave us an unbroken teacup resting serenely on top of a boiler sitting in the debris field. I think in the case of the perfume samples, they survived because the leather wallet they were in gave them some measure of protection by acting as a shock absorber.
 
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Hi Jason,

Regarding the oranges, I think that Major Peuchen suspected that something was amiss when the ship stopped. Perhaps he also heard someone shouting that the ship had scraped against an iceberg.

Peuchen was a yachtsman and a militia officer. (I believe he was one of the officers responsible for getting the Queen's Own Rifles to make a good show before King Edward VII at a military review in England in 1910) He also travelled across the ocean on business before. I'm sure he knew about squalls at sea (or on the Great Lakes)

Anyway, his training would make him appreciate 'Be prepared'. The ship stopped. That meant trouble. He was one of the earliest passengers on deck, to help prepare Boat 4 and to leave in Boat 6. If he had to exert himself or abandon ship, he knew he would need food to keep up stamina. He had the oranges. Why leave them behind?

Marilyn P.
 

Jason D. Tiller

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Hi Marilyn,

You are correct about the military review in 1910. Peuchen was the commanding officer, in place of Henry Pellatt.

I agree, it is my feeling as well that Peuchen realized something wasn't right with the ship. He did see Steward James Johnson who informed him about the collision, but he didn't think the ship would sink. As you mentioned, he certainly knew more than the average person did when it came to understanding how serious of a situation that would be, being that he was a very skilled yachtsman.

Not only did he assist in helping with Boat 4, but he also did the same with Boat 2 previously.
After writing my last post, I was actually thinking the same thing with the oranges, he may very well have taken them to keep up his energy. If he did, it was a very wise thing to do on his part.

Best regards,

Jason
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Jason D. Tiller

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"Peuchen was the commanding officer, in place of Henry Pellatt."

Actually, that's not correct, as I was thinking of a later event. Peuchen was selected as a marshal for the coronation parade of King George V. It was probably earned in Aldershot, England where he put the Queen's Own Rifles through it's paces, which is the event I was originally referring to.

Forgot to mention, that crossing on the Titanic was to be his fortieth voyage, so he would have been with very experienced with the sea.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I was actually thinking the same thing with the oranges, he may very well have taken them to keep up his energy. If he did, it was a very wise thing to do on his part.<<

That's something that military people are trained to do: Think ahead and be prepared. I certainly would have pinched an orange or two. Not only would it keep up energy, it would be a stopgap against dehydration. Oh...I'd also make sure I had a very good knife with me. In a survival situation, if you have a knife, you have everything.

I plan on being the guy with the knife!
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>You make a good point about the oranges being able to stop possible dehydration.<<

Especially in an open lifeboat where the provisions for fresh water were limited and the means to distill more was non-existant. If you didn't have a nice rain squall to supplement what you had, you could find yourself in the hurt locker in very short order. I don't know when solar stills came into use. They're a standard feature in the inflatable liferafts used by the Navy. You can be sure they weren't widely available in 1912.
 
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Oy! I can only imagine what a time Peuchen had with Hitchens! And to think that his (Peuchen's) reputation and career suffered because he was more or less ordered into the boat by Lightoller (and he had the order in writing)!