Stanley Lord guilty as charged


Tracy Smith58

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If there's anything I learnt from Titanic, is that nothing is ever as it seems. The Californian is a near-perfect example of that; on the surface, it would appear they were trying to mask their involvement and are guilty, but upon digging deeper, you reveal a terrible chain of mistakes that anyone could have made and a primitive urge to protect themselves from anguished blame.

Also if History has taught us anything, It's that when people feel powerless or afraid, they resort to desperate measures or the blame game (particularly during the Weimar Republic). Even before the Californian arrived in Boston, we were blaming Ismay, Smith and Thomas Andrews for the disaster, trying to find someone to blame.
Humans, for some reason, seem to need scapegoats in order to process senseless tragedies.
 
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Julian Atkins

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Hi Steven,

Thank you for your detailed reply.

It sounds like, to me anyway, that Captain Lord was wholly unprepared and probably did not expect the volume or indeed the ferocity of interest in his vessel's role in the Titanic tragedy, it's not unreasonable to assume he was saying those things in haste to placate the hungry press hordes, in advance of giving testimony to subsequent inquiries.
There are a lot more press reports of what Captain Lord said in Boston, over a number of days. All confirm the 'nothing seen' 'line'. The Californian had also received a number of wireless messages asking for information prior to getting to Boston. And to answer Tracy, one of these was from the Leyland Line giving him permission to allow The Press onboard before he docked. Captain Lord had also been asked by wireless to provide a report, which he delayed sending.

Captain Lord and the Californian might have slipped into Boston without attracting much attention had not Olympic sent a wireless message that the Californian had bodies onboard.

The quote about the wireless not working sounds like such a statement to me, trying to throw the press off rather than having to explain a highly complex and fluid situation that Lord himself was likely still trying to figure out in his mind and heart.
This was a clear lie by Captain Lord. It wasn't a 'white lie' or a 'fib'; it was totally untrue and dishonest.

What on earth was he trying to figure out in his mind and heart a week after Titanic sinking? Whether to lie, or tell the truth?

Gill's affidavit was absolute bosh... every word of it, so Lord is correct there.
Captain Lord certainly said it was "All bosh", but Gill's affidavit was not in isolation - we have the Clinton Daily Item report the day before of Ship's Carpenter McGregor to his cousin. Each were printed verbatim. No 'hype' or 'journalese'. And Mcgregor received no payment for his cousin's revelations to the Clinton Press, neither did his cousin. If you read carefully Evan's USA Inquiry testimony, there was clearly 'uproar' on the Californian on the morning of 15th April, and all the way to Boston. Groves even claimed to Walter Lord in the 1950s that documents he had working out of the Californian's position were stolen on the 15th April from his bureau in his cabin. If we discount certain bits of Gill's evidence, you are left with a hearsay account of something very disturbing having happened, corroborated by McGregor's account to his cousin, also corroborated by Evan's USA testimony, and those statements of 18th April by Stone and Gibson that Captain Lord kept secret at both Inquiries.

Lord was told by Stone on the morning of the 15th, and absolutely believed in his heart to the day he died, that no distress signals were seen
Captain Lord admitted at the British Inquiry that the one white rocket he claimed Stone told him of at 1.15 am "might have been" a distress rocket. It could have been nothing else, because Stone said he did not know if it was a 'company signal'. We know that no white rockets were registered company signals on the high seas. Gibson also told Captain Lord in his written statement of 18th April 1912 that the white rockets he saw exploded into stars, which Gibson confirmed in his testimony at the British Inquiry. What was reported to Captain Lord was one distress rocket (his version), or 2 white rockets (Gibson at 12.55), or 5 white rockets (Stone at 1.15 am), or 8 white rockets (Gibson in the chart room at 2.05 am). Exactly the same times that Titanic was firing white rockets exploding into stars.

To suggest that Captain Lord 'believed in his heart to the day he died, that no distress signals were seen' is open to debate. Both Gibson's and Stone's descriptions in their written statements of 18th April clearly suggest otherwise, especially Gibson's. I have already mentioned Captain Lord's admission that the one white rocket he claimed to have been reported to him "might have been " a distress rocket.

In Captain Lord's tape recorded interviews with Harrison in 1961, he describes meeting up with Stewart circa 1916:-

"What ship did you think the Titanic saw"? (Lord)

"I don't know. I don't think there's any question it wasn't us. But what the devil did Stone see? I've never been able to gather what he did see" (Stewart)

This conversation does not suggest to me that Captain Lord or Stewart were sure of what happened 2 years previously. There is an element of doubt - still. Both Captain Lord and Stewart had admitted at the British Inquiry the white rocket(s) seen might have been/were distress rockets.

Cheers,

Julian
 
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Harland Duzen

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Various Papers also mention Californian staying after Carpathia left to search the wreckage for more survivors so that didn't help them as that proved they were in the area (at least close enough to meet up with other rescue ships at the scene of where the lifeboats were picked up.

One thing I find odd is that Lord and Co. appeared to take no action to prevent their crew from complaining to the press or anyone else about their lack to respond to distress rockets, other than Lord saying: "Sailors will say anything when they are ashore" and possibly debunking their stories by showing reporters their "adjusted" account of their position during April 14 - 15th.

Did they really think that none of the crew would be able to find a reporter or did they just think if they did, they just show them their account and prey no one looked at it too closely or questioned it?

While we can't agree whether Gill intended to benefit from his account to the Enquires, He and the rest of the crew had woken up to hear that:
A) Titanic had sunk nearby.
B) Distress rockets were seen but not reacted to.
C) seen Lord and Co. attempt damage control during the voyage to Boston.

They knew they were trying to cover themselves and they must have been furious at their apparent misconduct.
 
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Julian Atkins

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Hi Martin,

An excellent reply!

You have only to read Evan's USA testimony to appreciate that he discussed what had been going on with Gill, and Gibson on the morning of the 15th.

Gill must have been quite an interesting personality, because he had a private interview with Senator Smith before he gave his evidence, and Gill apparently charmed Smith. Gill also toned down significantly his evidence at the British Inquiry and left out certain contentious bits such as seeing a big 'German' looking passenger liner. Imagine the Californian's 'donkeyman' in his greasy overalls, being on speaking terms with Evans in his smart Marconi uniform and visiting him in his wireless room. And Groves popping in too as was his habit, and Gibson. Evan's USA testimony on all of this is highly significant in my view. He stated the Captain had been called on 3 occasions that night of the 15th.

I can quote it all, but you can all read it for yourselves and form your own opinions. It is not very long. Evans knew all that had happened that night on the 15th April via Gibson, and probably Groves too on some details.

Some time ago Jim rubbished Gill hearing what the second and fourth engineers J.C. Evans and Hooton said, as per Gill's affidavit, due to the engine noise. The timing of this conversation is imprecise, and it is not inconceivable that it occurred when the Californian was not steaming 'full ahead', but I have been down in The Waverley's engine rooms when The Waverley has been going 'full ahead' and her triple expansion engines were not loud enough to prevent conversation. And that was before The Waverley had a major refit and overhaul.

Cheers,

Julian
 
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Rob Lawes

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I have to say, the more I think about it, the more I'm having trouble with the "swinging" of the Californian's hull.

I can't get my head around what sustained that circular motion.

If Californian went from her normal cruising speed and stopped her engines, without backing them, then she would eventually drift to a halt until she would move in what ever direction the prevailing current took her.

We know from testimony that, at around 22:30 Californian time, Lord backed the engines and put the helm hard over. The ship turned and eventually came to a stop. At this point I understand she began to swing around on her axis at a rate of a degree a minute, which would complete a 360' turn in 6 hours.

I accept that there would be some momentum carried in the hull from the turn that would cause the ship carry on turning for a while however, any current acting on the hull would do so uniformly which would eventually null the swing in exactly the same way it would null the forward motion of a ship drifting to a stop.

Considering the laws of motion, conservation of energy and friction, I find the concept of the hull of the Californian swinging at a uniform rate for at least 4 hours from 22:30, quite difficult to accept and understand.
 
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Once again, "I am interpreting from my own personal experience,"
"Upon further reflection" I would have to back off on my observations of a "ship swinging."
I'm not certain about the "swinging" of the ship on which I was stationed.

At that time, the purpose of a Seaplane Tender was to control seaplane operations as sort of a Seaplane Control Tower, repair and maintenance base and quarters for the air crew and aircraft repair and maintenance crew in addition to the regular actions of the ship's crew.

The ship would sail from San Diego, arrive on station in Iwakuni in March, drop the anchor, and remain in the same position until September, when they pulled up the anchor and sailed back to San Diego.

So I don't know if the ship was continually "swinging" during those six months or not or if it was anchored in such a manner as to always be ponted in the same direction ?

Maybe some "real sailor" can be of enlightenment ? LOL.
 
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Jon Blackwell

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Hello Julian

Thank you for your reply!

As my previous post should indicate, I'm open to the possibility of there having been a cover-up over the relevant period.

However, the problem I've always had with the idea is it seems strange to me that nobody involved with this bit of nautical chicanery came forward in later years to "blow the lid" on the whole affair. I can understand level of "we're in this together" -type loyalty in the immediate aftermath of that night's events that ran through the inquiries. But after years had gone by and they were reaching the end of their lives, I'd expect that any semblance of loyalty would have long since passed and the full details of the "uproar" you mentioned to have bloomed forth.

On a totally unrelated note...

Something I've recently pondering is what did Lord ever tell his wife Mabel about what happened that night?

In "Titanic: The Legend Lives On", Lord's son, Stanley Tutton Lord, states that when he was a young boy, his mother told him "Now, don't bother Father. He's very worried." It is interesting to wonder what exactly the elder Lord divulged to his wife about his role in the disaster. Granted, we know very little about the dynamic between the two, so it is hard to say what Lord would've seen as the best course of action with respect to what to tell his wife. Perhaps he figured the whole business would make her head spin and did not go into detail. Perhaps he spilled his guts to her about some wrongdoing and she kept that knowledge with her to her grave. It is also possible he gave her a simplified version of what he would later tell Leslie Harrison. We don't know and we'll most likely never know.

But given that they were married for 45 more years, I would find it hard to imagine that it never once came up in conversation!

Not that this adds anything to this discussion, I just found it to be an interesting question.


Best Regards,


Jon Blackwell
 
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Tracy Smith58

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Hello Julian

Thank you for your reply!

As my previous post should indicate, I'm open to the possibility of there having been a cover-up over the relevant period.

However, the problem I've always had with the idea is it seems strange to me that nobody involved with this bit of nautical chicanery came forward in later years to "blow the lid" on the whole affair. I can understand level of "we're in this together" -type loyalty in the immediate aftermath of that night's events that ran through the inquiries. But after years had gone by and they were reaching the end of their lives, I'd expect that any semblance of loyalty would have long since passed and the full details of the "uproar" you mentioned to have bloomed forth.

On a totally unrelated note...

Something I've recently pondering is what did Lord ever tell his wife Mabel about what happened that night?

In "Titanic: The Legend Lives On", Lord's son, Stanley Tutton Lord, states that when he was a young boy, his mother told him "Now, don't bother Father. He's very worried." It is interesting to wonder what exactly the elder Lord divulged to his wife about his role in the disaster. Granted, we know very little about the dynamic between the two, so it is hard to say what Lord would've seen as the best course of action with respect to what to tell his wife. Perhaps he figured the whole business would make her head spin and did not go into detail. Perhaps he spilled his guts to her about some wrongdoing and she kept that knowledge with her to her grave. It is also possible he gave her a simplified version of what he would later tell Leslie Harrison. We don't know and we'll most likely never know.

But given that they were married for 45 more years, I would find it hard to imagine that it never once came up in conversation!

Not that this adds anything to this discussion, I just found it to be an interesting question.


Best Regards,


Jon Blackwell
There's no way to be sure, but I'm thinking that if Lord ever spilled his guts completely to anyone, it was to Mabel, the person he trusted most.

From what I've read about the couple, both had reserved, introverted personalities and valued their privacy. He'd met her when he'd gone ashore to attend navigation school to get his Master's and Extra Master's certificates in 1901, as her family lived near where he was lodging. Mabel's father, William Tutton, was a retired ship's captain, so she knew what she was getting into when she married him - having a husband who would be away a good deal of the time.

I don't see her as one who would put up with nonsense - an anecdote Lord told Leslie Harrison seems to indicate that: One day in 1917, when he'd been ashore for awhile waiting for his newest ship, the Anglo Chilean to be ready for its maiden voyage, he'd gone into Liverpool one day and ran into Stewart, his former Chief Officer from the Californian, whom he'd presumably not seen since leaving the Californian. The two men went into a cafe to catch up and ended up talking for hours. Lord was late getting back home for dinner and his wife was not at all shy about expressing what she thought about that! ;)

One thing I've always found interesting about the Lords is that they had a long courtship, going together six years before getting married in 1907, the year both of them turned 30. I'm thinking they waited to get married until he'd attained command rank, which he did in 1906. I'm guessing they waited until Lord felt he could adequately support a wife and family, which wasn't an uncommon attitude at the time. I read that Harry Truman didn't marry Bess until they were 35 and 34 respectively for that very same reason and, like the Lords, the Trumans had only one child, likely because of being relatively older when they married.
 
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Rob Lawes

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I don't know if the ship was continually "swinging" during those six months or not or if it was anchored in such a manner as to always be pointed in the same direction ?

Maybe some "real sailor" can be of enlightenment ? LOL.
Hi Robert.

Providing you were in tidal waters a ship at anchor will always point in the direction the tide is flowing.

A high sided ship such as your sea plane tender will also be affected by a strong wind especially at slack tides.

You would have definitely spent those long months going around in circles.

Regards

Rob.
 
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Hi Robert.

Providing you were in tidal waters a ship at anchor will always point in the direction the tide is flowing.

A high sided ship such as your sea plane tender will also be affected by a strong wind especially at slack tides.

You would have definitely spent those long months going around in circles.

Regards

Rob.
Thanks, Rob -
To tell the truth, I was more occuppied with the radar than to take notice of which direction the ship was pointed.
And the last six months of my service as Senior Petty Officer it was paper work , lots of it.
I'm sure in any line of work, sometimes you think you're going around in circles. :)
But all in all, those "cruises" were pleasant.
One of them included a visit to Hong Kong and a sight seeing tour with a Native Tour Guide on a red London Double Deck Bus.
At San Diego the ship was docked at North Island Naval Air Ststion most of time (September to March) so it was always pointed in the same direction. :)
Meanwhile, Back To Topic.
The plot has certainly got thicker during these 124 Pages and 2470 replies !
 
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Considering the laws of motion, conservation of energy and friction, I find the concept of the hull of the Californian swinging at a uniform rate for at least 4 hours from 22:30, quite difficult to accept and understand.
You are correct Rob. There was no reason for a stopped ship to swing round at a uniform rate for hours and hours. It is only those who wish to try and 'prove' something like the timing of rockets being fired who will use such a fallacious argument.
 
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Julian Atkins

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Hi Jon,

it seems strange to me that nobody involved with this bit of nautical chicanery came forward in later years to "blow the lid" on the whole affair
Gill and McGregor 'blew the lid' in April 1912. Groves did the same - when the Californian docked at Liverpool and Captain Lord and the officers went to Marine Superintendant Fry's office, and Groves declared in front of Captain Lord to Fry that it was Titanic they had seen (you have to read the Lord/Harrison 1961 tape recorded interview transcripts for this).

Groves had a long correspondence with Walter Lord in the 1950s, and an interview took place between them. Groves' 'Middle Watch' essay formed part of this correspondence. Groves would not discuss his evidence given at the British Inquiry, neither would he add anything particularly significant as to what happened that night of 14th/15th April, other than his declaration that Captain Lord was not drunk that night, and did not drink alcohol. He was highly critical of Stone, and as to why Captain Lord remained in the chart room, but no further explanation is provided. All the other details he provided are pretty much peripheral.

According to Paul Lee's book (which I can recommend) there is various apocryphal evidence that Stone did talk about what happened in later years. It is all hearsay, but all of it is to the effect that Stone said he saw distress rockets.

Lee p.138

A. Brian Mainwaring (who met Stone in WW1) wrote to Walter Lord:-

"It was a well-known fact and quoted by him [Stone] to his friends that Captain Lord of the Californian was an insufferable SOB. That after Stone had tried to get him to come up to the bridge, he turned to the Apprentice and said, "Well let the bastard sleep".

Sir Ivan Thompson heard pretty much the same story from others.

Stone's son, John, eventually agreed to meet with Leslie Reade, and wrote a letter stating his father never discussed his part in the Titanic with him or his brother and sister, but that so far as his mother was concerned all she would say was that his father "was sure that distress rockets were being fired". (Letter 31st August 1965)

Gibson's widow told Leslie Reade that Gibson was always of the opinion that the ship he saw was not the Titanic.

One must bear in mind that until the film 'A Night to Remember' first played in UK cinemas in the summer of 1958, the details of the Titanic tragedy had pretty much been forgotten since the outbreak of WW1 (and much of what went on in WW1 was never discussed by those who took part in it).

Stewart was tragically killed at sea in WW2 29th March 1940 aged 62.

Evans died suddenly in July 1959.

Stone died suddenly in September 1959.

Groves died 4th September 1961.

Captain Lord died 24th January 1962 aged 84.

Gibson died in 1963.

Only Groves and Captain Lord 'went on the record' and discussed in later life the events of 14th/15th April, and in Grove's case only superficially.

Cheers,

Julian
 
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Rob Lawes

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And the last six months of my service as Senior Petty Officer it was paper work , lots of it.
I'm sure in any line of work, sometimes you think you're going around in circles
I know what you mean mate. With every promotion I seemed to get further from the screwdrivers and closer to the pens.

Rob.
 
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Tracy Smith58

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The thing is about Stone being sure that he'd seen distress rockets - was he sure of that when he was seeing them, or only later in retrospect after he'd had time to go over the events in his head when he'd had more time to think about it? It seems to me that if Stone was sure of what he'd seen when he was seeing it, he was remiss in what he communicated to Lord and was neither sufficiently explicit in explaining the situation, nor assertive enough in requesting Lord's presence on deck.

So far as Lord being a bastard, that is, of course a subjective matter of opinion. I can well imagine Stone experienced the sharp edge of Lord's temper the next morning when more information and Lord put the pieces together and had his "Aww SHIT" moment. Lord's son in a letter to Ed Kamuda had said, "My father could, when he felt like it, be very severe and intimidating."

Looking at a crew manifest from that voyage that lists each crew member's last ship, however, showed that 25 members of the crew had sailed with Captain Lord before, which was nearly half the crew. If he was universally such an SOB, I don't think that number would have been that high. Stone's comments here have the whiff of disgruntled employee attitude to me.
 
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Julian Atkins

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Hi Tracy,

Lord's son in a letter to Ed Kamuda had said, "My father could, when he felt like it, be very severe and intimidating."
I was not aware of that, and it may be highly significant. Do you have the whole letter or more in order for us to judge the context etc ?

A lot has been made of the ship's crew repeatedly signing on with Captain Lord. When you know a bit about UK labour law circa 1912 and how crews were engaged/employed for a ship, I don't think too much should be made of this. Harrison overplayed this, as it suited his case.

3 people went on the record saying that Stone saw distress rockets; his son John, A.Brian Mainwaring, and Sir Ivan Thompson.

When you link this with what Stone told Captain Lord at 1.15 am as per his statement of 18th April ie 1 flash then 4 white rockets seen then 5 white rockets in summary, and in answer to Captain Lord's question were they 'company rockets' Stone said he did not know, then you are, I suggest, ultimately left with no other conclusion than what Stone reported to Captain Lord was that Stone was seeing distress rockets to his Captain.

Also factor in that no white rockets were 'registered company signals'.

Note we have only Captain Lord's word that on the morning of the 15th Stone told him he had not seen distress rockets. No where in the testimony does Stone confirm Lord's claimed account of this detail (and I will need to check if it was mentioned by Captain Lord at all during his testimony) - which Captain Lord then went on to make much of in his later correspondence with the Board of Trade etc.

Cheers,

Julian
 
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Tracy Smith58

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It's from the THS Titanic Commutator, Volume 19, Number 1, May-July 1995. It was in an article in memory of Stanley Tutton Lord and included several letters he'd exchanged over the years with Kamuda. This passage was from a letter from 13 June 1964.

A longer passage that puts it into context is:

"He told me that the Titanic in incident was mentioned only once afterwards during his life at sea and that was by a drunken fireman. It is rather funny, so I will tell you.

My father could, when he felt like it, be very severe and intimidating and I can well visualize his demeanour on an occasion such as this.

They had been having some trouble with drunken firemen, which is not at all unusual and one was brought before Father. After some mention of the Titanic, the drunk said to Father, 'Anyway, you are too bloody haughty. You should be in the P and H'O!' The P and O Line was in those days and, I suppose still is considered most exclusive and had the cream of the traffic running out east. My father liked a joke and always remembered this old boy and his remark".

You mean 3 people went on the record saying Stone told them he saw distress rockets, but it's not clear whether Stone realized this at the time, or later came to this conclusion after gaining more information and some reflection.
 

Julian Atkins

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Hi Tracy,

Many thanks for the above.

I would very much like to see all the letters if it is not too much trouble. They would be very interesting.

I quite take your point that what Stone may have said after the event which others quoted as hearsay may have been in 'hindsight', but I think you may have missed my point that what he may have said after the event is entirely consistent with his statement to Captain Lord of 18th April 1912 which is the earliest primary source document we have of Stone's account.

Cheers,

Julian
 
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Tracy Smith58

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I'm typing on a phone and there are several letters, so it would be quite a chore to type them all out, plus the remarks Kamuda made in the article. Perhaps you might be able to obtain a copy of the Titanic Commutator in question?
 

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