Samuel James Rule


Arun Vajpey

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Rule testified at the British Inquiry and there is one part of his testimony that I found a bit odd. It relates to the fact that after Lifeboat #15 was partially loaded on the boat deck, Moody ordered it to be lowered to the A-deck to take on more passengers from there, particularly any women and children. Rule himself, who had arrived early and helped to load Lifeboat #15, went down the stairs to A-deck and joined the lowered boat.

Here is the relevant excerpt of his testimony.


6487. You got eventually to your boat, the aftermost boat on the starboard side?
- Yes.


6488. That is No. 15?
- Yes.

6489. Was she uncovered when you got to her?
- Yes.

6490. What did you do?
- The time I got there Mr. Murdoch had given orders to see the plug and rudder shipped and the tiller shipped, and everything ready, and then to call the men together into the boat.

6491. Mr. Murdoch was in charge then?
- Yes.

6492. He was the Officer superintending?
- Yes.

6493. You say he called to the men to get into the boat. Will you tell us as nearly as you can what it was he said?
- He said: "Some of you get into the boat." About six went in and he said: " That will do; no more; lower away to A deck and receive any women and children there are."

6494. "Lower away to A deck"?
- Yes.

6495. Did you then go down to A deck?
- I went along down the stairs to the boat and met her at A deck.

6496. Before she was lowered to A deck had she taken any passengers at all?
- No, there were no passengers there.


6497. When you got to A deck was there an Officer there?
- There was someone in charge; I do not know who it was.


Sam Rule had worked as a First Class Bathroom Steward on board the Olympic before transferring to the Titanic in the same capacity. Therefore, one assumes that he would have been familiar with the likes of Murdoch, Moody, McElroy and Nichols, all of whom had also served on the sister ship. Indeed, Rule's answers to 6487 to 6489 suggest that he arrived in the vicinity of lifeboats #13 and #15 whilst both were still on the boat deck ready to be loaded; Rule clearly said that Murdoch, whom he appeared to recognize, was in charge at the time.

Then he goes off the rail in his statements 6491 to 6496. He said that it was Murdoch who gave the order to lower Lifeboat #15 to A-deck for further loading; but AFAIK, Murdoch gave that order with reference to Lifeboat #13 a few minutes earlier and went down to the A-deck himself while Lifeboat #15, the one on which Rule was rescued, was still on the boat deck. Also, someone appears to have relieved Murdoch at Lifeboat #13 on A-deck so that the First officer could go across and sort out Lifeboat #10 on the port side. If Leading Fireman's statement to the Ulster Echo soon after the disaster is to be believed, that 'someone' was Boatswain Alfred Nichols. Also, Barrett had testified earlier that when he arrived at the spot where Lifeboat #13 was on A-deck, there was no officer present but he could hear one issuing orders above on the A-deck. That fits in with Lifeboat #15 still being on the boat deck at the time and Moody as the officer whom Barrett could hear but not see; also, since Nichols was not an officer, it ties in with Barrett's statement to the Ulster Echo as well.

Finally, in 6497 Rule says that when he got down to the A-deck to meet the lowered Lifeboat #15, there was "someone" in charge but he did not know who it was. It could not have been Murdoch because Rule's earlier testimony suggests that he was familiar with the First Officer, who in any case had crossed to the port side by then; it could not have been Moody because the Sixth Officer remained on the boat deck when #15 was lowered to the A-deck. It could have been Nichols, but as Brad Payne points out in his article about the fate of the boatswain, Rule should have recognized Nichols as they were both on the Olympic before transferring to the Titanic.

Can anyone throw some light om this? Methinks that the 4 weeks between the disaster and Rule's first testimony resulted in a few memory lapses with the 58-year-old Bathroom Steward.
 

Thomas Krom

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Sam Rule had worked as a First Class Bathroom Steward on board the Olympic before transferring to the Titanic in the same capacity. Therefore, one assumes that he would have been familiar with the likes of Murdoch, Moody, McElroy and Nichols, all of whom had also served on the sister ship.
Sixth officer James Paul Moody (1887-1912) never served on-board the Olympic in his short career in service of the White Star Line. He joined the White Star Line in mid-August 1911 and served only on-board the RMS Oceanic (1899) before with the rank of sixth and later a fifth officer.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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Oops, sorry my bad. Honestly, that was a typo; I knew about Moody. I meant one of the other three.

AFAIK, Moody remained on the boat deck after Lifeboat #15 was lowered to the A-deck and so, he could not have been the "someone" in charge that Rule saw when he went down to the A-deck to meet the lowered boat. It could not have been Murdoch because Rule knew the First Officer going by the former's earlier statements and in any case, Murdoch had crossed to the port side by then. If we tie Rule's statement with that of Barrett, the man in charge could have been Nichols. Barrett said that Nichols was there (Ulster Echo) and ordered the Leading Fireman into Lifeboat #13 and 'pull an oar'; after Lifeboat #13 was launched, Nichols could have remained there just as #15 was lowered to the A-deck.

Unless of course, it was McElroy. I am still unable to figure out the Chief Purser's whereabouts during the activity around Lifeboats #13 and #15. But to complicate matters further both McElroy and Nichols were on the Olympic, as was Samuel Rule.
 
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