Pitman at Lifeboat #5


Nov 13, 2014
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I may have found some conflicting evidence regarding the lowering of lifeboat #5. It starts when Pitman recalled the boat was still unprepared at ca. 12:20 A.M.:

14990. When you got to No. 5, in what state was No. 5?
- Well, the cover was still on.

14991. How long do you think had elapsed from the time of striking the berg up to the time you got to No. 5? It is difficult, I know, to be certain about time. Was it half-an-hour or 45 minutes? Let me help you. You gave me one space of time - about 20 minutes?
- Yes, I remember that.

14992. Will that help you to approximate what you think was the time between the striking of the iceberg and your getting to boat No. 5? Was it an hour, do you think?
- No, I should think it would be about 12.20.

14993. You say the cover was still on. Was the cover being stripped at the time you got there?
- It was being uncovered then - Yes.

(BI day 13)
Ioannis Georgiou explained why Boat #5 was still unprepared at the time:

Ein Grund, warum Nr. 5 vermutlich nicht bereitstand, waren die doppelarbeitenden Welin-Davits, an denen nur ein Arm pro Davit zur gleichen Zeit ausgeschwenkt werden konnte. Als die Boote Nr. 3 (welches sich vor Nr. 5 befand) und Nr. 7 (hinter Nr. 5) ausgeschwungen waren, war es nicht möglich, auch noch die Nr. 5 auszuschwingen. Es musste gewartet werden, bis die anderen beiden Boote bereits ausgeschwungen waren.

(TiPo 85)
Due to the design of the new davits, boat #5 had to wait until boats #7 and #3 were ready.

Apparently, #5 was still being uncovered when #7 was lowered away:

I looked at No. 5, and they were taking the covers off and preparing her, and I assisted to launch No. 7 boat. There was Mr. Murdoch, Mr. Ismay, Mr. Pitman, and a quartermaster [Oliver], two stewards, and myself there.

(Henry Etches, USInq day 9 page 815)
Based on that, one would think the filling of boat #5 with women and children still had to start when #7 left at 12:40 A.M., but Pitman also said this:

Mr. PITMAN. There was no officer in that boat [#7], because I had it made fast to mine for some time after we got away from the ship.
Senator SMITH. Was it lowered at the same time yours was lowered?
Mr. PITMAN. Two or three minutes previously.

(USInq day 4 page 289)
Excuse me? Did Pitman just say boat #5 was lowered only minutes after #7, like at 12:43 A.M. instead of the 12:55 A.M. given by Lord Mersey or the 12:50 A.M. by Georgiou? Either boat #5 was filled REALLY fast or the filling started much earlier and occurred almost simultaneously with the filling of #7.
 
Mar 18, 2008
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The 12:50 a.m. I have is an estimated time. I think you are putting a little to much into the "exact" time which will be not known as no one looked at his watch and took the time.

As Murdoch, Lowe and Ismay helped to load boat No. 5 I can not see how Pitman's 2 or 3 minutes later fit into it. Most people did not want to leave, others only went into the boat when their loved ones were allowed too to go.
No. 5 was lowered by Murdoch and Lowe who stopped for a moment when Ismay interfered.
 
Nov 13, 2014
337
20
48
Belgium
I think you are putting a little to much into the "exact" time which will be not known as no one looked at his watch and took the time.
Maybe I do, but there is a significant difference between the 12:43 A.M. of Wormstedt and the estimated 12:50 you have.

It seems hard to believe as many as five experienced Titanic researchers all missed the three testimonies you pointed in TiPo 85 page 12, the ones of Pitman, Etches and Rule. Those testimonies all indicate a significant amount of time passed between the launchings of boats #7 and #5. Still, that 12:43 A.M. is solely based on Pitman's "two or three minutes".
 
Mar 18, 2008
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Maybe I do, but there is a significant difference between the 12:43 A.M. of Wormstedt and the estimated 12:50 you have.

It seems hard to believe as many as five experienced Titanic researchers all missed the three testimonies you pointed in TiPo 85 page 12, the ones of Pitman, Etches and Rule.
I think you will discover some more differences with the other boats too.

Regarding boats No. 7 and 5 I think Pitman started to load his boat while Murdoch and Lowe were working at No. 7. When they lowered No. 7 they turned to No. 5 and helped to fill it up and finally lowered it too. As one has to take a time I chose a launch time of about 10 minutes after No. 7 but it might have been less, for example 7 or 8 minutes....
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
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At the UK Inquiry in particular the examiners were frequently pushing witnesses to guestimate times and durations, and the impression one gets from the transcripts is that often the crewmen concerned had no real idea and simply agreed with what was suggested to them. In such cases a response of "yes" could well translate as "Well, if you say so."
 

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