Port side lifeboat policy: WHO enforced it?

Thomas Krom

Thomas Krom

Member
You keep referring to that firearms meeting taking place after #1 was launched. How do you know that? More conjecture? If you go to the source of that story, you will find that it allegedly happened when Wilde came over from the starboard side to the port side. Could easily have taken place before #6 and #8 were launched.

It's a debatable subject from what i've seen. The evidence it happened prior to 1 o'clock is based on the testimony of first class passenger Charles Stengel, who described after "a certain physician in New York and his brother" jump into lifeboat number 5 the officer that was loading the lifeboat said:
"I will stop that. I will go down and get my gun."
Some believe this officer in question was first officer Murdoch while other's believe it was fifth officer Lowe. Personally, it's hard to say since both examples have evidence against it.

The evidence that the meeting happened after lifeboat number 6 and 8 were lowered comes from the sole survivor of the senior officer's present when the firearms were given, this of-course being second officer Lightoller. Lightoller described in his 1935 autobiography after lifeboat number 6 was lowered (with mentioning Major Peuchen being sent down as well) chief officer Wilde came to him:
"It was about this time that the Chief Officer came over from the starboard side and asked, did I know where the firearms were?"
Lightoller, as far as I am aware, only mentioned the meeting between the senior officers' in his book (at-least that where he mentioned when firearms were given out), however I could be wrong about that. In an interview in October 1912 he mentioned that at one point he and chief officer Wilde putted on their lifebelts, however he makes no mentioned of the Webley Revolvers.
 
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Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

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Lightoller described in his 1935 autobiography after lifeboat number 6 was lowered (with mentioning Major Peuchen being sent down as well) chief officer Wilde came to him
It was about this time that the Chief Officer came over from the starboard side and asked, did I know where the firearms were?"

I accept that there are some "irregularities" in Lightoller's 1935 book but the senior officers appear to have had guns in the latter part of the sinking. They must have got it from somewhere. Whichever way I look at it, this brief meeting appears to have taken place just after Lightoller lowered Lifeboat #6 at 01:10 am.
 
Thomas Krom

Thomas Krom

Member
Whichever way I look at it, this brief meeting appears to have taken place just after Lightoller lowered Lifeboat #6 at 01:10 am.
He mentioned just that my friend, below follows his book leading up to the earlier mentioned question of chief officer Wilde:
The order implicitly obeyed was, “Women and children only.” The very highest tribute that is was possible for a human being to pay would hardly do justice to or give the praise due to the sheer courage shown by most women and children amongst the passengers on that ship, individually and collectively. It made me unutterably proud of the English speaking race. The conditions were all strange; the ship was sinking and the boats were leaving, yet, neither man nor woman attempted to get into a boat without being ordered.

In the case of a Major Peuchen, a Canadian by birth, who sent away in one of the boats, unwarrantable blame was attached, at a later date.

I was reduced to sending one seaman away in a boat, and on an occasion, after ordering away a sailor to take charge, I turned round to find that there was only one left to attend the boat falls, for lowering away.


“Someone for that fall,” I called, and the next thing a man who had sailed with me for many years, Hemming by name, replied, “Aye, aye, sir! All ready.” Unknown to me he had stepped out of the boat, back on board, to carry out what he considered the more important duty. Bravery and self-sacrifice such as this was of common occurrence throughout the night.

The boat was half way down when someone hailed me, saying, “We’ve no seaman in this boat, “and at that moment I had no one available. I called to the people standing around, “Any seaman there:” No reply, and it was then that Major Peuchen, when he saw that there were none of the ship’s crew available, said, “I’m not a seaman, but I’m a yachtsman, if I can be of any use to you.”

The boat’s falls, or ropes, by which the boat is lowered, hang up and down from the davit head, about nine or ten feet from the ship’s side. I said to him, “If you’re seaman enough to get out on those falls, and get down into the boat, you may go ahead.” He did, and has been very unfairly criticised for carrying out what was a direct order.

It was about this time that the Chief Officer came over from the starboard side and asked, did I know where the firearms were?
 
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Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

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It was about this time that the Chief Officer came over from the starboard side and asked, did I know where the firearms were?

That is the part that I am finding difficult to understand. AFAIK, Wilde was not involved with launching for any of the first 4 starboard lifeboats #7, #5, #3 or #1 and so what was he doing on the starboard side? If anything, he was with Lightoller on the port side, around Lifeboat #8. Still goig by BW's Launching Sequence, Wilde lowered Lifeboat #8 at around 01:00 am and if he had gone to Lightoller then to ask the question about firearms, he would have come from behind and not the starboard side. Lightoller would have been ready to lower Lifeboat #6 by then but due to the Peuchen situation it probably took a wee bit longer than expected for the Second Officer to lower #6 and go to the meeting. By then Murdoch would have been there after lowering Lifeboat #1, thus covering all concerned.
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
appears to have taken place just after Lightoller lowered Lifeboat #6 at 01:10 am.
And that's the problem Arun. The 1:10 is a time that was assigned to #6 by the authors. Nowhere will you find that time mentioned in the evidence. In fact, as I think I mention before, if we accept what Hichens said he did (taking the cover and grips off D) after leaving the wheel at 12:23 (his stated time), and accept that he was sent away 15 to 20 minutes after working at #6 (his estimate), then that puts a launch time for #6 between 12:55 and 1:00, not a half hour after going to #6 which you get if you accept the time put down in the article.

Now to Lightoller's firearms meeting. I forgot some of the details Lightoller wrote, and would like to thank Thomas Krom for posting that quote out of Lightoller's book. Yes, Lightoller wrote "It was about this time that the Chief Officer came over from the starboard side and asked, did I know where the firearms were?" Lightoller then went on to explain why Wilde approached him, and about how the four of them (Lightoller, Wilde, Murdoch and Smith) went and got the firearms, and that the entire thing took less than 3 minutes, and then told a little story about seeing the Straus couple leaning against the deck house and how he asked Mrs. Straus if he could take her to the boats, to which she replied "I think I'll stay here for the present," to which Mr Straus called her by her given name (Lightoller called it her Christian name) and said to her (according to Lightoller), "Why don't you go along with him, dear?" to which she replied, "No, not yet," and then Lightoller left them.

An interesting tidbit if true, and it would fit in with the well known account of what happened at #8 later on where Ida almost got in, only to get out and decided not to go at all and stay with Isidor. They were last seen (I think it was Gracie) seated on a pair of boat chairs.
Having Wilde come over from the starboard side after Lightoller launched #6 does fit in with #6 being launched before #8. My guess is that he first went to ask Murdoch if he knew where the arms were since Murdoch was the 1/O at that time. Murdoch didn't know, and so Wilde would have gone over to the port side to ask Lightoller who used to be the 1/O before the officer shakeup.

By the way, Lightoller was also seen around boat #8 by AB Jones who said the 1/O was running around there. (Jones didn't know Lightoller by name, but did know Wilde, the C/O, and Smith.) As Lightoller himself said, he left the launching of #8 to Wilde. And by the way, there was still a lack of deck hands when #8 was launched since Smith himself was seen handling the falls at #8, and Joneswas the only deck hand to go in the boat.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
I think I mention before, if we accept what Hichens said he did (taking the cover and grips off D) after leaving the wheel at 12:23 (his stated time), and accept that he was sent away 15 to 20 minutes after working at #6 (his estimate), then that puts a launch time for #6 between 12:55 and 1:00, not a half hour after going to #6 which you get if you accept the time put down in the article.
Yes, Sam you did. Then again, in accepting Hichens' statement verbatim, we are ignoring some others. I am not claiming that Hichens was not telling the truth but just that it has to be seen in the right perspective.

Hichens said that he left the wheel at 12:23 am, which might be accurate because he likely checked the chronometer out of habit, if for no other reason. But then, this business of "working for 15 to 20 minutes" at Lifeboat #6 is subject to operator error; it could be anything between 14 minutes to 22 minutes and that difference could be significant for this debate. Also, what apsect of the time spent did Hichens consider as "work"? No doubt it involved getting the lifeboat ready for loading, the actual loading itself etc, but then did he take into account other delays like Bess and Loraine Allison getting out of the boat? Both Gracie and Peuchen alluded to that happeneing around Lifeboat #6 independently and if it did, it almost certainly would have involve minor altercations before and after. Then there was the hold-up caused by the need for an additional 'seaman' and Peuchen's offer, acceptance and getting on board Lifeboat #6. All that would have taken additional minutes and so, even if Lifeboat #6 was ready for lowering by 01:00 am, it is quite possible, even probable, that it did not reach the water before 01:10 am or very close to it.

So, Caroline Bonnell's statement could well be right. Lifeboat #6 was probably swung out a few minutes before Lifeboat #8 and the former could have started loading first. But as I mentioned elsewhere, loading and launching of Lifeboat #8 was relatively uneventful except for the quick last minute exit by Ida Straus. Therefore, if the two lifeboats were being loaded almost simultaneously by Wilde and Lightoller (and it looks like that was how it was), Lifeboat #8 could well have started its descent and reached the water well before #6, thus becoming the first port lifeboat launched. If, as it seems, Wilde was in charge of that actual lowering of Lifeboat #8, he afterwards simply had to go forward a few steps to ask Lightoller, who at the time was getting ready to lower Lifeboat #6 and asking for that additional seaman, about the guns.

And that's the problem Arun. The 1:10 is a time that was assigned to #6 by the authors. Nowhere will you find that time mentioned in the evidence.
True, but many of those authors are your friends and I am sure that you'll agree that they also undertook painstaking and detailed research just like the other source with whom you have been liaising for a long time about this subject. As for "evidence", with very few exceptions none of us are going to be able to provide concrete evidence about most events that occurred durng the sinking; lifeboat launch times and sequence are more likely than most to be affected by subjective and perceptive errors. What we are both doing - as with many others on both sides of this divided opinion - is choosing those statements that appear to support the views that we currently believe in. For my part, I find it very difficult to dismiss what Peuchen said twice in his testimony - that he saw a lifeboat safely lowered to the water before the 'next one' which turned out to be Lifeboat #6 in which he was saved. Likewise, Martha Stone's statement that she saw a partially filled lifeboat on the water when she leaned across the railing just before entering her own Lifeboat #6. To me, such 'direct' statements seem more convincing than slightly indirect ones like Fleet believing that there was no other lifeboat launched before his own #6; as one of the only 2 crewmen on board, Fleet would have been busy and distracted during the latter stages of loading and actual lowering of Lifeboat #6, especially due to the Peuchen angle. Similary, why should Margaret Swift's statement be more reliable than that of Martha Stone? They cannot both have been right or both mistaken.

I think we are at an impasse here for the moment. But as you suggsted, I am willing to wait and see the outcome of further debate on Lifeboat Launching times and see how everything pans out.
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
All that would have taken additional minutes and so, even if Lifeboat #6 was ready for lowering by 01:00 am, it is quite possible, even probable, that it did not reach the water before 01:10 am or very close to it.
The launch time is defined as the time that they first started to lower a boat with its occupants, not the time it reached the water. That's the way its been defined in all the lifeboat articles that were written. A boat can be launched ahead of another but reach the water later than the other. The lowering of #6 was stopped for a while to wait for someone to get in by climbing out on a lifeline, plus they had to push the boat off at times while being lowered. It certainly would have taken more than the 6 minutes or so need to lower a boat 60 ft without any hindrance or interruptions.

Look, if the table of times in some article makes you happy, then go with it. I was quite happy with it for several years until I started reading IG's comprehensive work, and a number of questions started to arise which led me to dig a little deeper into the launch times issue. At the moment, I find a number of faults with parts the W-F-B timeline as well as with the more recent IG timeline, based on looking at all the references they cited, a few of my own, and reading and trying to understand the arguments they used in trying to justify their timeline picks. It is still work in progress, but I'm trying to go about it with a very open mind. And despite having contributed myself to the W-F-B timeline, I think a revisiting of several, what I call hinge points, is warranted.
 
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Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

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I was quite happy with it for several years until I started reading IG's comprehensive work, and a number of questions started to arise which led me to dig a little deeper into the launch times issue
Understood. I was trying to keep the identity of the other list anonymous as promised but it is out now. There is a reason that I (politely, I hope) declined your offer of sending me a copy because from past posts on ET on this subject, I have an idea that the author of the other list leans too heavily on the ship's list as perceived by witnesses (Double pun intended? ;)). I have never been comfortable with it because from my medical training and 23 diving yacht trips lasting a week or longer each, know that there are significant differences in the way people perceive (including the feel) a mild list. On the Titanic that night there were factors other than those individual perceptions affecting what survivors said about the list...or lack of it. For example, a 3-foot gap between Lifeboat #10 and the Titanic could easily have been more terrifying to the same witness than an almost 4-foot gap between Collapsible D and the ship more than 10 minutes later if that person had a fear of heights.

Yes, I can imagine that the other comprehensive work must include valid points besides the list but as I said, as things stand I don't want to change the way my thinking process works with such things. That is not to say that I believe the W-F-B Timeline is set in stone but........
And despite having contributed myself to the W-F-B timeline, I think a revisiting of several, what I call hinge points, is warranted.
.........I'd rather wait for the outcome of such revisiting and rethinking involvng them & you and hope that it will take place at some stage. Until then, I prefer to use the BW timeline as my yardstick if that's OK with you.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
I found these excerpts from the on-line archives of the former New York Tribune.

1
TITANIC Mary Smith




2.
TITANIC Martha Stone 1



3.
TITANIC Martha Stone 2


I am the first to admit my skepticism about newspaper clips from those days since they were given to embellishments and sensationalism. But the statements in question relate to then innocuous comments about whether a particular lifeboat was launched before or after another. Neither the interviewer not the interviewee would have known about the significance at the time and never have thought in their wildest dreams that those points would be subjects of debate over 100 years later.

The first part of Excerpt #1 is from Marie Young, who was saved on Lifeboat #8. Note how she remarks about 24 women and 4 sailors and the lifeboat as "one of the first boats". Then there is the statement from Mary Smith, a survivor on Lifeboat #6, believing that her lifeboat was the third one to be lowered on that side. It was not but the nervous 18 year-old bride leaving her young husband behind could easily have thought that Lifeboat #4, which was lowered by Lightoller to the A-deck earlier, was the first lifeboat. What is important here IMO is that she did not think that her Lifeboat #6 was the first or even second, which suggests that there was another lifeboat lowered between #4 (just to the A-deck) and #6 (all the way to the sea) on the port side and it could only have been Lifeboat #8.

Excerpt #2 refers to the aforementioned comment by Martha Stone that just before getting into Lifeboat #6 in which she was saved, she leaned across the railing and saw another partially filled lifeboat already on the water. That cannot be any other than the just lowered Lifeboat #8. Neither Mrs Stone nor her interviewer would have had any reason whatsoever to make up something innocuous like that especially as there were many other events related to the disaster which the media could sensationalize if they felt like doing so.

In Excerpt #3 above, there are two statements that give further clues to this subject. Martha Stone describes the scene of Peuchen sliding down the rope into her Lifeboat #6 and then refers to it again as the "second boat"; then her maid Amelie Icard, also rescued on Lifeboat #6, describes how she wished some men standing in the vicinity had been allowed into their "second boat" and confirms that there were no other women or children around at the time. That second part points to the already known and illogical "women and children only at all costs" policy on the port side lifeboats.

It should be noted that in presenting these points and excerpts, I am merely putting forth arguments from my side of the fence (and in support of BW's RE lifboat launching sequence) in this "#8 or #6 first?" debate. As Sam pointed out, nothing is set in stone and if and when circumstantial evidence to the contrary comes up, I would be happy to reconsider my position. But from what I have seen so far, IMO the evidence in support of Lifeboat #8 being the first port side lifeboat to be lowered seems more convincing.
 
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Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

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Yes, I can imagine that the other comprehensive work must include valid points besides the list but as I said, as things stand I don't want to change the way my thinking process works with such things.
:rolleyes: In other words, your mind is made up and you really don't want to seriously consider someone else's work because it might change your thing process? OK, I understand. To each is own. As I said previously, if the table of times in some article makes you happy, then go with it. As for me, I looked at additional arguments and additional evidence presented elsewhere, and now call into question some of the conclusions drawn in the original work of my good friends.
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
I was trying to keep the identity of the other list anonymous
That was really unnecessary since Ioannis had posted in this thread several times (#s108, 113, 115) and mentioned his series of lifeboat articles.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
In other words, your mind is made up and you really don't want to seriously consider someone else's work because it might change your thing process?
No Sam, it is not like that at all. The last paragraph of my post #204 above makes my feeling very clear.

With regard to the other work that you are alluding to, you are putting me in an awkward position here. I thought that I explained my position in our private discussions. It is not so much the content but the manner in which I fear it might be presented is holding me back. That feeling comes from reading certain posts over the years; I believe I am not alone in that feeling. But while some of the others might be happy to look at that other presentation if only to disagree with the conclusions, I would struggle because of the mild Asperger's Syndrome that I suffer from. This affects my concentration if I try to look at something from certain forced perspectives and I'm afraid the other is one of them. 'Hammering down' something doesn't work with me and that's one of the reasons that I was so often at odds with a senior former member.

Any further explanation would be inappropriate in these open forums but I am available privately any time you wish to discuss it. That is the reason I want to wait for the outcome of W-F-B / H-L rethink and take it from there.

While we are on the subject, I wanted to put forward a couple more of related points to this "#8 or #6 first?" debate. Following is what QM Hichens, who as we all know was incharge of Lifeboat #6, said at the British Investigation:

1185. Could you tell us how many boats had got away before you?
- I think there were two on the port side, but how many on the starboard side I could not tell you.

1186. On the port side you think there were two before you?
- Yes, Sir.


Of course, there were not two boats lowered before Lifeboat #6 on the port side, but a month after the disaster Hichens might have retained a mental picture of Lifeboat #4 descending before either #8 or #6 but momentarily forgotten that it was only as far as the A-deck. Considering all that happened in the interim, such momentary lapses could occur with anyone but it does suggest that Lifboat #8 was lowered before #6.

Here is what one of you from the WFBHL group opined in the original article about the reason for Fleet's contradictory (to Hichens) statement; whoever thought so, IMO his conjecture is quite valid.
Fleet was in the bow of boat #6, and Hichens was in the stern closest to #8, we feel that Hichens was in a better place to actually see what was happening with regard to the launching of boat #8. (Fleet's view could have been obscured by the people in #6 and on the deck, and he very probably was occupied with his boat tipping up, and having Peuchen climb down.)

Another passenger who was saved on Lifeboat #6, Julia Cavendish, said that her Lifeboat was the second one on that side and goes on to mention the 'Canadian' who slid down into the boat (Peuchen). It says so in her ET biography as well as in the WFBHL article. Although the refence section of the article (Footnote #30) says the original source was an 'unknown' newspaper, by a process of elimination I strongly suspect it was the 19th April 1912 issue of the Toronto Daily Star. Unfortunately, their archival section has no on-line editions available from that period and so I cannot confirm it.

The reason that I attach more weight to Peuchen's testimony and Martha Stone's statement is because they both have two reference points. Peuchen clearly testified that he saw a lifeboat lowered to the sea before he entered his Lifeboat #6. Likewise, Mrs Stone said that just before she entered Lifeboat #6 she leaned over the railing and saw a partially filled lifeboat already on the water; that could only have been Lifeboat #8. Both these people specifically referred to both Lifeboat #8 and lifeboat #6 and to my mind that is more conclusive than single reference statements like "our lifeboat was the first/second to be lowered" or "there was no other lifeboat launched before ours" etc.

The one exception on the contradictory side is what Margaret Swift said - that Dr Alice Leader and she 'waited till the first lifeboat had been let down into the water' - and a bit further down she said that "when the second boat was being filled, Captain Smith insisted that we get into it". Mrs Swift and Dr Leader were certainly rescued on Lifeboat #8, which appears to imply that the 'first' boat that the former alluded to earlier was Lifeboat #6. It could have been, in which case her statement would be a direct contradiction to that of Martha Stone. But is there a possibility that the 'first boat' mentioned by Mrs Swift might not have been Lifeboat #6 at all? I have a rather wild theory (and that only) about it.

Margaret Swift and Dr Alice Leader shared First Class cabin D-17 and that and D-21 occupied by their friends Mr & Mrs Kenyon (Mrs Kenyon was also rescued on Lifeboat #8) were on the starboard side. So I just wondered if they first got to the boat deck on the starboard side and saw Lifeboat #7 lowered and whether that could have been the 'first boat' that Mrs Swift alluded to. If then for some reason they had crossed over to the port side before seeing Lifeboat #5 being launched - perhaps on learning that Captain Smith was there - and eventually boarded Lifeboat #8, that would effectively be a 'second boat' for Margaret Swift.

As I said, it is just a wild theory.
 
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Julian Atkins

Julian Atkins

Member
I am a bit bemused by these later exchanges between Arun and Sam. Arun has repeatedly stated on here that he has not been able to access various books he has on other threads, and he dislikes Lightoller's testimony as to my way of thinking it is self serving (which those of us with a legal bent will understand), yet Peuchen's testimony which is clearly self serving (and mutually self serving with that of Lightoller as I have already pointed out) is considered acceptable to Arun.

It matters to me not a jot whether lifeboat 6 was lowered/launched/got to the sea before lifeboat 8, or whether Wilde or Lightoller ordered certain things. My interest is elsewhere as it always has been.

But I am very interested in how the veracity of evidence is assessed.

I do hope that everyone is looking at all the evidence on various levels and from different sources objectively.

Cheers,
Julian
 
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Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

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He [Peuchen] volunteered to climb down the ropes to the boat to help row and he was in the boat going down (not when it "started to lower") when the first rockets were fired. He most certainly was in a position to know that the rocket he saw was the first one.
Problem George is that not only did Hichens say they were firing rockets after he was sent to work at #6 (not after it was being lowered) but I found this from Fleet:
Senator SMITH. Did you see any rockets fired from the deck of the Titanic?
Mr. FLEET. Yes, sir; when we were in the boat and when we were on the deck before I went in the boat.
Again this proves that #6 did not go down at the same time that #5 was being lowered, but sometime after.
I hope this puts that little issue to bed once and for all.
 
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