Port side lifeboat policy: WHO enforced it?

Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
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.
That appears to be correct. Wilde was in charge in a supervisory capacity with Lifeboats #16 and #14 while Moody and Lowe were loading them. Lowe of course, also left on Lifeboat #14.

As far as can be gathered, Lightoller had at least part responsibility for the following lifeboats:
  1. Lifeboat #8 (Mainly Wilde but Lightoller might have been briefly involved)
  2. Lifeboat #6
  3. Lifeboat #12 (with Wilde supervising overall)
  4. Lifeboat #4
  5. Collapsible D (shared with Wilde)
  6. Collapsible B
Therefore, he was involved at most with 6 lifeboats and not 7, although he might have been present when there was trouble just as Lifeboat #14 was about to be lowered. Lightoller said something about brandishing an empty gun.

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
Lightoller testified that Lifeboat #4 was the first one he "lowered" even though it only went as far as the A-deck initially.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Because the boats were there. I might say that previous to putting this Berthon boat out we had lowered a boat from A deck one deck down below. That was through my fault. It was the first boat I had lowered. I was intending to put the passengers in from A deck. On lowering it down I found the windows were closed. So I sent some one down to open the windows and carried on with the other boats, but decided it was not worth while lowering them down, that I could manage just as well from the boat deck. When I came forward from the other boats I loaded that boat from A deck by getting the women out through the windows. My idea in filling the boats there was because there was a wire hawser running along the side of the ship for coaling purposes, and it was handy to tie the boat in to, to hold it so that nobody could drop between the side of the boat and the ship.


Senator SMITH.
Which one was that?


Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
That is No. 4; No. 4 boat.


So, Lightoller seems to have considered Lifeboat #4 as his "first" boat. Although he appeared to be saying that Lifeboat #6 was his 4th boat, I believe he made a mistake; I think he meant to say that #6 was his 3rd Lifeboat, after his slight involvement with Lifeboat #8, which was mainly handled by Wilde. You saw the list of options above; there was no other lifeboat that Lightoller was involved within the #4, #8 and #6 timeframe.
 
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Thomas Krom

Thomas Krom

Member
Therefore, he was involved at most with 6 lifeboats and not 7, although he might have been present when there was trouble just as Lifeboat #14 was about to be lowered. Lightoller said something about brandishing an empty gun.
That didn't happen at lifeboat number 14, but at Collapsible Engelhardt lifeboat D. Unlike what the 1997 movie showed the officer who brandished his gun in real life at lifeboat number 14 was fifth officer Harold Godfrey Lowe.

Colonel Archibald Gracie IV (1859-1912) mentioned that Lightoller fired his revolver (a statement he would later change) just prior to when he brought Mrs. Caroline Lane Brown (1852-1928) and Miss Edith Corse Evans (1875-1912) to collapsible Engelhardt lifeboat D (which we, along with a few others, agreed on is a more likely possibility then lifeboat number 4):
Senator SMITH.
On which side did you say, Colonel?

Mr. GRACIE.
This was the port side.

The only incident I remember in particular at this point is when Mrs. Astor was put in the boat. She was lifted up through the window, and her husband helped her on the other side, and when she got in, her husband was on one side of this window and I was on the other side, at the next window. I heard Mr. Astor ask the second officer whether he would not be allowed to go aboard this boat to protect his wife. He said, "No, sir; no man is allowed on this boat or any of the boats until the ladies are off." Mr. Astor then said, "Well, tell me what is the number of this boat so I may find her afterwards," or words to that effect.

The answer came back, "No. 4."

The next scene was on the deck above.

Senator SMITH.
Was there a special reason why Mr. Astor asked to get into that boat with his wife?

Mr. GRACIE.
Yes; I think it was on account of the condition of his wife. If that had been explained to the second officer, possibly he might have been allowed to get in that boat.

Senator SMITH.
But that was the reason he gave?

Mr. GRACIE.
The second officer did not know that it was Mr. Astor at all. He did not know. I believe he told me that he testified before this committee to the effect that he did not know Mr. Astor, and when I recalled the circumstance to him and the conversation that passed between them he said, "Oh, is that the man?" He said, "Was that Mr. Astor." That was the conversation that took place.

Then we went to the boat deck, which was the deck above. There were no men allowed in the boats that were loaded below, not one, except the crews necessary to man the boats. On the deck above we loaded about two boats, at least two boats. That deck was above deck A, at the bow on the port side. When we were loading the last boat, just a short time before it was fully loaded, a palpable list toward the port side began, and the officer called out, "All passengers to the starboard side," and Smith and myself went to the starboard side, still at the bow of the ship. Prior to our going to the starboard side we had rushed up and down in the vicinity of the bow, calling out, "Any more ladies? Any more ladies?" Then we went to the starboard side. On the starboard side, to my surprise, I found there were ladies still there, and Mrs. Browne and Miss Evans particularly, the ones whom I supposed had been loaded into a boat from A deck, below, about three-quarters of an hour before. There I saw also Mr. George Widener and Mr. John B. Thayer. I speak of them particularly, because I knew them, and of course, Mr. Clint Smith was there with me, too.

As to what happened on the other side during our departure, the information I was given by the second officer was that some of the steerage passengers tried to rush the boat, and he fired off a pistol to make them get out, and they did get out.

Senator SMITH.
Who fired that pistol?

Mr. GRACIE.
Lightoller. That is what he told me. He is the second officer.

Senator SMITH.
Are you sure it was not Murdoch?

Mr. GRACIE.
I am sure it was not Murdoch.

Senator SMITH.
Or Lowe?

Mr. GRACIE.
I am sure it was not. That is what Mr. Lightoller himself told me. I did not hear the pistol. That is what I was told by Lightoller himself. That is all hearsay, Senator.

I want to say that there was nothing but the most heroic conduct on the part of all men and women at that time, where I was at the bow on the port side. There was no man who asked to get in a boat, with the single exception that I have already mentioned. No woman even sobbed or wrung her hands, and everything appeared perfectly orderly. Lightoller was splendid in his conduct with the crew, and the crew did their duty. It seemed to me it was rather a little bit more difficult than it should have been to launch the boats alongside the ship. I do not know the cause of that. I do not know whether it was on account of the newness of it all, the painting, or something of that sort. I know I had to use my muscle as best I could in trying to push those boats so as to get them over the gunwale.
In Gracie his book: "The Truth about the Titanic" he stated the following:
Meantime, I will describe what was going on at the quarter where I left Lightoller loading the last boat on the port side. The information was obtained personally from him, in answer to my careful questioning during the next few days on board the Carpathia, when I made notes thereof, which were confirmed again the next week in Washington, where we were both summoned before the Senate Investigating Committee. “Men from the steerage,” he said, “rushed the boat.” “Rush” is the word he used, meaning they got in without his permission. He drew his pistol and ordered them out, threatening to shoot if they attempted to enter the boat again. I presume it was in consequence of this incident that the crew established the line which I encountered, presently referred to, which blocked the men passengers from approaching the last boat loaded on the port side forward, where we had been, and the last one that was safely loaded from the ship.

During this very short interval I was on the starboard side, as described, next to the rail, with Mrs. Brown and Miss Evans, when I heard a member of the crew, coming from the quarter where the last boat was loaded, say that there was room for more ladies in it. I immediately seized [38]each lady by the arm, and, with Miss Evans on my right and Mrs. Brown on my left, hurried, with three other ladies following us, toward the port side; but I had not proceeded half-way, and near amidship, when I was stopped by the aforesaid line of the crew barring my progress, and one of the officers told me that only the women could pass.




Lightoller, who misidentified collapsible Engelhardt lifeboat D as Emergency lifeboat number 2 in his memoir, recalled:
Arriving alongside the emergency boat, someone spoke out of the darkness, and said, “There are men in that boat.” I jumped in, and regret to say that there actually were—but they weren’t British, nor of the English speaking race. I won’t even attribute any nationality to them, beyond saying that they come under the broad category known to sailors as “Dagoes.” They hopped out mighty quickly, and I encouraged them verbally, also by vigorously flourishing my revolver. They certainly thought they were between the devil and the deep sea in more senses than one, and I had the satisfaction of seeing them tumbling head over heels on to the deck, preferring the uncertain safety of the deck, to the cold lead, which I suppose they fully imagined would follow their disobedience—so much for imagination—the revolver was not even loaded!
At the time emergency lifeboat number 2 was loaded and lowered Lightoller was down below on A-deck, filling lifeboat number 4. He recalled at the British inquiry:
13988. Had you had nothing to do with that No. 2 boat going? - Nothing.
13989. And you know nothing about that boat? - I know nothing about that boat.
It is however recalled that at emergency lifeboat number 2 a handful of men, believed to be of the ship's engine crew (firemen, trimmers and greasers) who made their way in and were ordered out after captain Smith shouted in his megaphone
“How many of the crew are in that boat? Get out of there, every man of you!”
An officer spotted them and shouted at them:
“Get out, you dammed cowards! I’d like to see to see everyone of you overboard!”
I personally believe this officer was chief officer Wilde.
 
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Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
Thanks for that Thomas. I know that it was Lowe actually fired his gun twice down the side of the ship to deter the rushers. But I have read a few accounts that during the disturbance around Lifeboat #14 (which I personally believe was exacerbated by Lowe allowing Charles Williams, a Second class passenger, on board), Lightoller also waved his gun (which he later claimed was empty) around. Perhaps that was not the case and it was actually later near Collapsible D.

Yes, Lightoller was not involved in any capacity with Lifeboat #2. I believe it was Captain Smith and Wilde who cleared out the crew interlopers who had sneaked into the boat when it was unsupervised for a few minutes. Of course, being an Emergency Cutter, it was already swung out and ready. The people who got in were crew members according to most accounts and Lightoller was making up all that nonsense about them "not being British or any English speaking race". I am sorry but that sort of attitude sounds very Colonial to me.
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
He then said this:

Senator SMITH.
As to the fourth boat, you followed the same course?
You really can't go by this line of questioning to determine what boats he was talking about, or for that matter, how many boats he filled and lowered. There were a bunch of leading questions from Smith, who was trying to keep some sort of count, but the two of them got confused as the topic jumped around from one line of questioning to another. For example,

Mr. LIGHTOLLER. In the first boat I put about 20 or 25. Twenty, sir.
Senator SMITH. How many men?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. No men.
Senator SMITH. How many seamen?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. Two.
Senator SMITH. In the first boat?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH. How many did the second boat contain?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. About 30.

Senator SMITH. How many did the third boat contain?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. By the time I came to the third boat I was aware that it was getting serious, and then I started to take chances. ...
Senator SMITH. How many passengers did the third boat contain?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. I can only guess. I filled her up as full as I could, and lowered her as full as I dared. ...
Senator SMITT. How many did you have?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. Thirty-five, I should say, sir.

Senator SMITH. Then the fourth boat. Was there any fourth boat on that side?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. There were eight boats to a side
Senator SMITH. As to the fourth boat, you followed the same course?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. The same order; the same conditions. ...
Senator SMITH. How many did you say you had in this boat?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. Thirty-five; about the same, as far as I remember.
Senator SMITH. That is the fourth one. How about the fifth?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. As far as I know, the conditions were the same. ...
Senator SMITH. How many people did you put into it?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. I might have put a good deal more; I filled her up as much as I could. When I got down to the fifth boat, that was aft....
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. I should say 35 or 40.
Senator SMITH. Was the sixth one loaded in the same manner?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. I think the sixth one put down was this one from A deck that I spoke of - no, the fifth one would be from A deck. I think the chief officer, under his direct supervision, lowered a boat from the after end. Of course I can not be absolutely certain. But when I came forward, as I say, I put the one down from A deck which I told you about. Then we went to the Berthon boat, which is the last boat on the port side, the collapsible boat.
Senator SMITH. The fifth boat was lowered in the same manner?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. Yes, sir. I think it was the fifth from the A deck.

Senator SMITH. How many people were put into this sixth boat?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. Fifteen or perhaps 20. Between 15 and 20.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER. The seventh boat was the one on top of the quarters.
Senator SMITH. That was the last boat that was lowered by your orders?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. It was the last. It was not lowered.


So if we were to believe all of this, the First boat he filled with 20; the Second boat he filled with 30; the Third boat he filled with 35; then the Fourth boat he also filled with 35; then the Fifth boat, which was filled from A deck, he filled with 35 or 40; then the Sixth boat, a collapsible, he said he filled with 15 to 20. His Seventh boat was not filled.

Later Lightoller said: I had not thought that I put out half [the entire complement of boats on the port side] because 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.

So by a simple process of elimination, according to Lightoller that is, Wilde put out 2 of the after boats plus the emergency boat, leaving him (Lightoller) to put the two remaining boats aft out, plus all 3 large boats forward, plus the 2 collapsible boats.

From what we know, on the port side, Wilde put out #8, worked on #16 and #14 but it was Moody and Lowe who lowered them, and Wilde put out #2. Also we know it was Murdoch who put out #10. What can be attributed to Lightoller were #6, #12, #4, D and B; just five boats. Not a very impressive performance IMO.
 
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Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
Another one of Lightollers tall tails from his 1935 book:

>>>>
“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.
<<<<

Hemming never said anything about being in that boat (#6) or helping to lower it after it was filled. In fact:
Senator SMITH. Mr. Hemming, you did not have any part, yourself, in either loading or lowering the lifeboats on either side of the ship?
Mr. HEMMING. No, sir.

Hemming went to falls of #4 when Lightoller wanted it lowered to A dcek, but was called away by Capt. Smith to get lamps for the boats. He got lamps for #6 and #8 before they were lowered.
 
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Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
What can be attributed to Lightoller were #6, #12, #4, D and B; just five boats. Not a very impressive performance IMO.
Agreed. I was just giving him the benefit of doubt that he might have had slight involvement with Lifeboat #8 on grounds that six boats are closer to his claim of seven than five.

Another one of Lightollers tall tails from his 1935 book:
Someone once wrote that the contents of Lightoller's 1935 book Titanic and Other Ships should be considered with the latitude 'normally' accorded to an old sea dog reminiscing. IMO, that's putting it mildly.
The book is full of tall tales, inaccuracies and inconsistencies. Mind you, Lightoller was only 61 years old when he wrote that book - not exactly 'old' even by standards of those days (and a bit younger than Captain Smith had been when in charge of the Titanic)

Getting back to his testimony, Lightoller said:

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

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.

The same order; the same conditions.


The fact that he used the phrase "same order, same conditions" with reference to Lifeboat #6 raises the question of "Same as what?" That's why I deduced that irrespective of what order of lowering he attributed to Peuchen's Lifeboat #6, he must have seen and/or be involved with a lifeboat with crew and passengers on board that was lowered to the water before it on the port side. It could only have been Lifeboat #8.
 
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