Port side lifeboat policy: WHO enforced it?

Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
In support of No. 6 being lowered before No. 8 there is the very specific primary evidence account of Frederick Fleet that No. 6 was lowered before No. 8. Then there are the primary accounts of Ella White, and Marie Young that No. 8 was the second boat lowered.
Yes, Fleet's account does seem specific and has a 2-point reference but his fellow crew member in Lifeboat #6, QM Hichens, seemed less certain and as you know, was ambiguous. But even in being ambiguous, Hichens did not think that Lifeboat #6 was the first port side lifeboat launched. As for Ella White and Marie Young, they were only quoting from one reference point of a "second" lifeboat and so IMO less reliable.

In support of Lifeboat #8 being the first port boat to reach the water, there are very specific accounts from Major Peuchen, Fahim al_Zainni and Martha Stone all of whom saw a lifeboat lowered to the sea before their own Lifeboat #6. As I have said before, I am particularly impressed by the specific simplicity of Martha Stone's statement in which she said that just before she boarded her Lifeboat #6 she leaned across the ship's rail and saw a partially loaded lifeboat already on the water. That could only have been Lifeboat #8. Mrs Stone would have had no reason to make that up and with such a specific thing, there is hardly any room for an error.

As for secondary accounts in support of Lifeboat #8 being lowered before Lifeboat #6, there are a few. Mrs Stone's maid Rose Icard, also rescued on Lifeboat #6, said that their boat was the second one, as did Julia Cavendish. Ellen Bird, Mrs Staus' maid, saw her mistress get out of the "first lifeboat" in the last minute; this was from Lifeboat #8 of course. Then just today Craig Stringer posted the quote below in a private message.
Mrs J.J. Brown told the Newport News on May 28th that she turned away from seeing Mme de Villiers into a boat, only to find her friend, Mrs Bucknell, in a lowering boat. Mrs Brown was still on the Boat Deck at that point. Since Mrs Bucknell left in 8, and Mrs Brown in 6, it would indicate that boat 6 was still not lowered when Mrs Brown saw boat 8 being lowered.

I think that statement is more than a little suggestive and a better description of what Caroline Bonnell said. Berthe Mayne (Mme de Villiers) was on Lifeboat #6 as was Molly Brown but what the latter is saying here is that she saw Ms Mayne climb into Lifeboat #6 and even before she could follow the other woman into the same boat, she saw another friend, Emma Bucknell, in a lifeboat that was already being lowered. Mrs Bucknell was saved on Lifeboat #8.

I have already accepted that it is quite likely that Lifeboat #6 started loading before Lifeboat #8 and many people who were saved on one or the other of those boats might have been commenting from that point onwards. But the delays and difficulties associated with launching of Lifeboat #6 (Mary Douglas commented on that) could have caused it to reach the water several minutes after Lifeboat #8, which expereinced no issues in its launching.

So pick you favorites.
Sorry Sam, but in this case I have. For the time being at least.
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
Arun, for your collection, from another first-hand primary source account, for what its worth:
Senator SMITH. What did you do then?
Mr. WOOLNER. I then took Mrs. Candee up onto the boat deck, and there we saw preparations for lowering the boats going on. My great desire was to get her into the first boat, which I did, and we brought up a rug, which we threw in with her, and we waited to see that boat filled. It was not filled but a great many people got into it, and finally it was quietly and orderly lowered away.

I believe Woolner put Candee into No. 6.
 
Thomas Krom

Thomas Krom

Member
I believe Woolner put Candee into No. 6.
Although she never mentioned the lifeboat number herself, she was indeed in lifeboat number 6. She herself mentioned 25 occupant and mentioned a youngman who I believe to be Quigg Edmund Baxter:
And the young man in gay courage gave his mother and wife to the care of the swinging boat.
Only she misinterpreted his sister as his wife. Colonel Gracie also places Mrs, Candee in lifeboat number 6.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
I believe Woolner put Candee into No. 6
Of course he did, but that account sounds like it was still being loaded at the time; sounds like it was quite early during Lifeboat #6's loading. Woolner says that they waited for the "not filled" boat to fill and a 'great many people' then got on board. Of course, all that was before the delays and the Peuchen arrival.

And while all that was happeneing with Lifeboat #6, Lifeboat #8 could have started loading, overtaken #6 and lowered away without incident with not many people noticing; several crew and passengers, busy with Lifeboat #6, might not have taken that on board at the time. Therefore, it is quite possible, even probable, that Lifeboat #6 appeared to be the "first boat" when Woolner got Helen Candee into it but not when it finally reached the water. :)
 
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Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
Since there is so much reliance by several people on secondary sources such as newspaper accounts with regard to the question of which boat was launched ahead of which, here is something that Randy Bryan Bingham sent me from a quoted account given by Major Peuchen to a reporter from the Daily Express that was printed in the April 20th ,1912 NY Herald European Edition. Peuchen says he got into the first boat that was lowered on the port side. He also admits that it was his only chance to get away. For what it's worth:
1666381653746
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
With respect Sam, that's a secondary account of a statement that Major Peuchen supposedly made to a reporter of the Daily Express, a tabloid newspaper. I am sure we both know how far such reports can be trusted, especially with Peuchen's supposed exclamation about how the 2 sailors could not manage by themselves. Even more bizarre is the report that Captain Smith then told Peuchen "you go", whereas every other account states that it was the occupants of Lifeboat #6 who asked for another sailor and it was Lightoller who then asked for a volunteer to which Peuchen reponded. Not only did both Lightoller and Peuchen survive, the latter testified first hand at the US Inquiry that he had seen a lifeboat lowered to the water on the port side before he offered his services to Lifeboat #6.
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
As I said Arun, "For what it's worth." I give much more weight to primary evidence sources such testimony transcripts and letters written by an eyewitness. That's why I find Fleet's account quite credible, and Ella White's testimony, also Woolner's, and also the letter from Marie Young written when she was on Carpathia.
Cheers.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
In relation to the "#8 vs #6" debate, I found a couple of related mentions in On A Sea Of Glass and chased them up in the Newspaper Archives.

Mary Eloise Smith, the surviving widow of victim Lucian Smith told the New York Tribune and The Cincinnati Enquirer on 20th April 1012 that when her husband asked her to get into Lifeboat #8, she declined. Later, her husband forced her into Lifeboat #6, on which the lady was rescued. That is yet another indicatio that Lifeboat #8 was lowered before Lifeboat #6.

The other mention is that Margaret Swift & Dr Alice Leader crossed over from the port to the starboard side to join the women around Lifeboat #8, on whch the pair were rescued. That would be understandable since their cabin, D-17, was on the starboard side and they would have come up to the boat deck on that side. Accoring to Michael Poirer, Mrs Swift told The Brooklyn Daily Eagle that she and Dr Leader had just crossed over to the port side when they joined the crowd around Lifeboat #8 and eventually got in. Since Margaret Swift also said that she and Dr Leader were in the second lifeboat to be lowered, it appears to give the impression that Lifeboat #6 was launched before #8, but a closer examination suggests otherwise, IMO.

Mrs Swift's statement is available on the Newspaper Archives on p5 of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle of 19th April 1912. She confirms that after intially considering remaining on board the ship itself, she and Dr Leader crossed over to the port side where they got into Lifeboat #8. Mrs Swift referred to her lifeboat as "the second to leave the ship" and not as the second to leave the port side. So, if Dr leader and she got into Lifeboat #8 soon after crossing from the starboard to the port side, the question arises which lifeboat Mrs Swift considered as the "first" one to leave the ship before her own Lifeboat #8, to which she referred to as the 'second boat'. An analysis of her statement IMO does not categorically suggest that it was Lifeboat #6; quite the contrary in fact.

Quite independent of the impression (or, one of the possibilities considered) by the authors of OASOG, I believe that Dr Leader and Margarte Swift came-up on the boat deck on the starboard side first and saw Lifeboat #7 launched. They then crossed to the port side (as Mrs Swift herself confirmed) and joined the crowd of women around Lifeboat #8 and were eventually allowed into it. So, when Lifeboat #8 started to lower, in Margaret Swift's mind it was the "second" lifeboat to leave the ship (even though it was the first on the port side) because she had seen Lifeboat #7 lowered earlier on the starboard side. She would not have known at that stage that while she and Dr Leader were waiting to get on board Lifeboat #8, one...possibly two more lifeboats (#5 and #3) had been launched on the starboard side, so that Lifeboat #8 was effectively the fourth lifeboat to leave the ship..
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
Mrs Swift's statement is available on the Newspaper Archives on p5 of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle of 19th April 1912. She confirms that after intially considering remaining on board the ship itself, she and Dr Leader crossed over to the port side where they got into Lifeboat #8. Mrs Swift referred to her lifeboat as "the second to leave the ship" and not as the second to leave the port side. So, if Dr leader and she got into Lifeboat #8 soon after crossing from the starboard to the port side, the question arises which lifeboat Mrs Swift considered as the "first" one to leave the ship before her own Lifeboat #8, to which she referred to as the 'second boat'. An analysis of her statement IMO does not categorically suggest that it was Lifeboat #6; quite the contrary in fact.

Quite independent of the impression (or, one of the possibilities considered) by the authors of OASOG, I believe that Dr Leader and Margarte Swift came-up on the boat deck on the starboard side first and saw Lifeboat #7 launched. They then crossed to the port side (as Mrs Swift herself confirmed) and joined the crowd of women around Lifeboat #8 and were eventually allowed into it. So, when Lifeboat #8 started to lower, in Margaret Swift's mind it was the "second" lifeboat to leave the ship (even though it was the first on the port side) because she had seen Lifeboat #7 lowered earlier on the starboard side. She would not have known at that stage that while she and Dr Leader were waiting to get on board Lifeboat #8, one...possibly two more lifeboats (#5 and #3) had been launched on the starboard side, so that Lifeboat #8 was effectively the fourth lifeboat to leave the ship..
This is what happens when one tries to justify a belief rather than trying to take an objective view. This is the account from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle article:
1666809799133

The entire context of this took place starting in the passageway by their cabin D-17. The officer, probably a steward, told then to go on deck and get to one of the boats. After having second thoughts, Swift and Leader went to the port side relative to where their cabin was, where they saw some people getting ready (probably based on how they were dressed) to leave the ship when Swift decided to do the same. This is the likely path that they took after leaving their stateroom. From their they would go up to the boat deck and either go out onto the boat deck to the starboard or port.
1666811182179

Coming out on the port side they would be just opposite boat #8 and see two boats being loaded.
1666811458477

There is nothing in the article saying, or even hinting, that came out on the starboard side and then crossed over to the port side of the boat deck.
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
Forget about newspaper accounts. There is a first-hand written account by Marie Young that she wrote while on board Carpathia. In that account, dated April 18th 1912, she wrote: “One boat had already been lowered from the port side when we were lifted into Boat No. 8.”[1] This primary source also agrees with what Ella White, Margaret Swift, Alice Leader, and Emma Bucknell all had to say.


[1] George Behe, On Board RMS Titanic, Lulu.com, p. 183.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
This is what happens when one tries to justify a belief rather than trying to take an objective view.

Forget about newspaper accounts. There is a first-hand written account by Marie Young that she wrote while on board Carpathia.
With respect Sam, I am also basing my opinion not just on a 'belief' but on first and 'second' hand accounts of Major Peuchen, Martha Stone, Mrs Stone's maid Rose Icard, Julia Cavendish, Fahim-al-Zainni and Eloise Smith. Of those, Peuchen testified to that effect twice in the US Inquiry and we cannot simply dismiss that. Admittedly, the rest are based on newspaper accounts, but then with very few exceptions like Marie Young, even your other passenger sources are from paper accounts. It depends on whose account one chooses to accept.

As we both agreed a few weeks before, for the moment we will have to agree to disagree on this point. However, please note that this does not change i the slightest the great respect that I have for your Titanic related work overall (as I am sure you know). Compared to that bigger picture, whether Lifeboat #8 or #6 lauched first is a triviality, but nevertheless remains an interesting point to discuss.
 
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Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
Admittedly, the rest are based on newspaper accounts, but then with very few exceptions like Marie Young, even your other passenger sources are from paper accounts. It depends on whose account one chooses to accept.
Yes Arun, we happen to disagree, and there is nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, many of the accounts are not very specific and can be interpreted in more than one way. What seems very clear to me, however, is that both of these two boats were launched within a few minutes of each other around 1 o'clock ATS, and there were a shortage of trained seamen available to man or lower these two boats. There are a few other aspects of the published launch sequence that I'm finding more than a few problems with, but I don't want to get into a public debate. The only thing I would suggest is that people should not treat anyone's work as the last word on any topic.
 
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Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

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I was reading Lightoller's testimony on Day 1 of the US Inquiry this morning and came across a section which I had not correlated to this thread/debate previously. As might be expected, the session was very long and detailed and so it is impractical to quote everything that was said in one post. But reading his Day 1 testimony, we can see that Lightoller confirmed the following:
  • He was only involved with loading and launching some port side lifeboats and knew nothing of what was happening on the starboard side.
  • Lifeboat #4 was the first boat that he "lowered" albeit only as far as the A-deck. He accepted that it was an error of judgement.
  • He admitted that "before he realized that the ship was in danger" he ordered Boatswain Nichols to take an unspecified number of men and go down to open a port side gangway door in order to load people from there into partially filled lifeboats.
  • Lightoller admitted that order and other issues took away a number of seamen from the port side, thus enforcing him to restrict his port side lifeboats to only 2 crew per lifeboat.
He then said this:

Senator SMITH.
As to the fourth boat, you followed the same course?


Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
The same order; the same conditions.

Senator SMITH.
You put two men in each?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I think I was getting short of men, if I remember rightly. I started to putting one seaman and a steward in.

Senator SMITH.
One seaman and a steward?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes. That was the boat I had to put a man passenger in. I could only find one seaman. I had started to lower the boat. I had put two seamen in and then I wanted two for lowering. It is absolutely necessary to have a seaman on each fall. No one else can lower a boat. I was calling for seamen, and one of the seamen jumped out of the boat and started to lowering away. The boat was half way down when the women called out and said that there was only one man in the boat. I had only two seamen and could not part with them, and was in rather a fix to know what to do, when a passenger called out and said, "If you like, I will go."

Senator SMITH.
Did you know him?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I did not.

Senator SMITH.
Was he an officer of the ship?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir; a first class passenger.

Senator SMITH.
You don't know who he was?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I have found out who he was since.

Senator SMITH.
Who was he?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Maj. Peuchen.

Senator SMITH.
Of Toronto?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Of Toronto. That is the name, yes.

Senator SMITH.
When you called Maj. Peuchen, you had no seamen?


Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Not that I could see, and I couldn't waste time looking for them.

Whichever way one looks at it, Lightoller is not only talking about Lifeboat #6 here (Peuchen's boat) but for some reason referring to it as the "fourth boat" (and this was on Day 1 of the entire investigation). It could not have been the fourth lifeboat of course, unless he was counting the starboard lifeboats too; but he had already admitted that he did not know what was happening there. But in his mind it could have been the third lifeboat on the port side; he had already said that he considered Lifeboat #4 to have been the "first lifeboat" that he lowered, even though it was only as far as the Promenade Deck. It follows therefore that at least one other port lifeboat had been lowered with crew for Lightoller to say what he did. This opinion is further strengthened by his "same order, same conditions" for Lifeboat #6 as well as his admission that he was getting short of seamen by the time he came to launching Lifeboat #6. His statements do not suggest that the crewmen that he had ordered Nichols to take down with him were the only reason for that shortage, although it was certainly contributory. Therefore IMO, Lifeboat #6 cannot have been the very first lifeboat that Lightoller had seen lowered to the sea on the port side with crewmen on board since he was already short of them when it was launched.
 
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Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
So, the obvious question here which other lifeboat had Lightoller helped to lower that caused him to be short of crew when it came to Lifeboat #6?
  • It could not have been Lifeboat #4 because it was sitting on A-deck at the time and was not lowered till much later.
  • It could not have been any starboard lifeboat because Lightoller had already admitted that he did not know what was happening on the other side except that Murdoch was in charge.
  • It could not have been any of the aft port boats because at that time none of them had been launched; the first of that group was very likely Lifeboat #16 at 01:20am.
  • Obviously, it could not have been either Lifeboat #2 or Collapsible D.
That leaves us with only one candidate, Lifeboat #8; therefore it must have reached the sea ahead of Lifeboat #6 for Lightoller to have made those statements.
 
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G

George Jacub

Member
Lightoller claimed credit for lowering 7 boats.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
... I am under the impression that the chief officer put out a couple of the after ones on my deck, as well as supervising. He evidently found that he had the time, and put out a couple of these boats, and he also lowered the emergency boat; so I, think it is 3 he put out, out of 10 on that side. That left me 7. I think that is about what I put out; 7.

He identified Number 7 as Collapsible B, number 6 as Collapsible D, number 5 as lifeboat No. 4, number 4 as lifeboat No. 6 (with Peuchen). That leaves 3 boats. If one was No. 8 (before No. 6) what do you say were the other two lifeboats that Lightoller put out before No. 8? Not No. 4, that's accounted for. And not No. 2, Lightoller says Chief Officer Wilde had charge of that one.
 
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