The Average Lifeboat


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Dave Webster

Guest
> [Yes, I accept it's easy to be a critic with hindsight. I still can't > understand why all but one child who died came from steerage and the > average lifeboat article seems to imply this to be outrageous.

I don't know where the film makers got the locked gate idea. I was only making the point that surely it wouldn't take 2 hours to get steerage passengers up on deck. A locked gate would partly explain this. If not, and crew members did go into the steerage compartments to hand out lifejackets, why no attempt to rescue the children at least.

I accept the point made that most on this site accept that the crew and officers behaved well. That's their opinions and as a new member I respect them for that. But I'm allowed my own point of view and I find that something stinks in this area. Perhaps we'll never know what really happened and why the steerage children had to die. But it's perhaps the most sad and pathetic part, in my opinion, of the entire disaster. ]
 

Senan Molony

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Jun 28, 1998
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Paul,

You say:

>>Murdoch, Lightoller et al didn't have time to search for passengers to put into the lifeboats;<<

We are talking about the entire senior command of the Titanic, which doesn't amount to two officers.

No effort at all was made to ensure that "Women and children first" indeed transcended all other considerations.

All women and all children were not put first.
That is the simple truth of the matter, demonstrated by the statistics.

They (the senior command) had a lot of time.
They therefore fell far short of what was the supposed standard of the day.

You seem to be suggesting, Paul, that laissez-faire is acceptable. Laissez-faire may not be actively discriminatory but its effect is passively catastrophic to third class, which had the most children on board.

Laissez-faire in the case of the Irish famine saw 1.5 million people die. No British agency actively killed them. But British policy had created the conditions for a whole people to be in the position whereby they depended on a single high-yield crop.

And no help was forthcoming from the British Government in order to prevent that loss of life.
Does no blame at all attach?

The British Report said the following:

"It is no doubt true that the proportion of third-class passengers saved falls far short of the proportion of the first and second class, but this is accounted for by the greater reluctance of the third-class passengers to leave the ship, by their unwillingness to part with their baggage, by the difficulty in getting them up
from their quarters, which were at the extreme ends of the ship, and by other similar causes."

Each of these statements is untrue. Each betrays class-ridden prejudice.

Note in particular: The difficulty in getting them up from their quarters...

The fact is that NO organised effort whatsoever was made to get them up from their quarters (although Mersey implies that it WAS) - much less that the Third Class sabotaged such attempts through their own shortcomings.

Your questions:

"Who was actually going to muster the 3rd Class women and children? How would they have overcome the frequent language barrier? How long would it have taken to convince the 3rd Class women and children to leave their menfolk without creating panic? Once convinced, how long would it have taken to move them to the Boat Deck?"

While interesting in themselves, distract from what Lord Mersey says elsewhere in the report, in other circumstances with which you are familiar, that "the attempt should have been made."

Here was a case, unlike that other, where there was a perfect knowledge of what was likely to unfold.

Should the attempt have been made? You appear to think, on balance, not - because it would have been tricky with all these panicable people.

Would anyone have asked the same questions of first class;

"Who was actually going to muster the 1st Class women and children? How would they have overcome the frequent language barrier? How long would it have taken to convince the 1st Class women and children to leave their menfolk without creating panic?"

It doesn't sound well on the converse, does it?

The evidence is that the steerage were all too ready to embark on early boats - because they had actually seen the water pouring into their quarters from the first! Not like the first class, inured from the impact, who we know were reluctant.

I will give you just one example, form Poingdexter (precis):

2874. "I was going up on to the boat deck boat, and I heard the Captain pass the remark, “Start putting the women and children in the boats.” 2875. Could third-class passengers could get out from their quarters up to the deck? – Yes they were already out. 2876. I passed them on the fore well deck on the port side.
2880. I saw them with my own eyes, with their own baggage on the deck.
2887. There may have been 50 or there may have been 100, I could not say."
While these were men, they were not allowed up. They had to pass aft.
Poingdexter, only six months in the employ of White Star, says at 3212 that "all barriers were
not down."
"I never saw any (that were down)," he adds in response to the next question.
Then:
3214. If they were not how did the third class passengers get to the boat deck? – Up the
ladder leading from the after well deck.
3215. And how then? – Up through the second class companion way.
3216. Would there be no barriers there, keeping them from getting through the second class? – The doors were locked at the time; the second cabin doors, where they had entrance to go on to the boat deck, were locked.

Maybe this is all laissez-faire. Samuel Rule tells a similar story:
6539. Can you give us any idea of how many of the 68 who went into this boat (No. 15) were women, and how many were men? – Four or five women and three children.
6540. And all the rest men? – Yes.
6541. That is about 61 men? – Yes.
Rule was browbeaten over this and duly changed his evidence the next day.

But the statistics do not lie. We know how many men, women and children lived, and how many men, women and children died.
Nobody has ever bothered doing an average lifeboat model up until now, and certainly not the British Inquiry. But the occupants cannot be gainsaid.

Therefore I am not sure what you mean when you say you disagree with my conclusions, for I simply put forward the facts.

My contention is that the senior command of the Titanic might have done better and that the claim of "women and children first" was not, in fact, implemented by the command.

As to whether this was laissez-faire, some form of "oversight" (What was Captain Smith doing? Chief Officer Wilde? The Master-at-Arms? Hundreds and hundreds of of stewards??) is a matter of interpretation, just as it might be asked whether it was the product of disinterest, a quick Cost/Benefit Analysis, determined prejudice, or a calculated attempt to seal the superstructure proper for supposedly the greater good. But whose good?
These questions have not, in the main, been asked. The statistics are trying to tell us something.
I do not know what the proximate cause was, but I know that "women and children first" is an absolute myth and that the Third Class were discriminated against by all circumstances (including some we do wish to examine) on the night of April 14/15, 1912.
 

Ernie Luck

Member
Nov 24, 2004
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Well, they did'nt have ninety years to debate it that's for sure. (I am not suggesting your that old Senan)

I think we must remember the attitudes at the time - wealth and class was everything. I am sure the third class expected first class to get priority.

We must not judge things by todays standards. Even as recent as WW2, you did not get medical attention unless you could afford to pay.
 

Ben Holme

Member
Feb 11, 2001
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Hi Mark,

You wrote: "Were they held back until the very end? Yes!"

I'd be interested to know your source for this one.

Best Regards,
Ben
 

Paul Rogers

Member
Jun 1, 2000
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Evening Senan.
I do not know what the proximate cause was, but I know that "women and children first" is an absolute myth...
On that, we can agree. There were many other myths created that night as well; for example, the 'cowardly Italians' (changed later, I believe, to 'people of the latin races' - as if that made a difference), the nobility of the 1st Class men who all, with the exception of J. 'Brute' Ismay, awaited death stoically in their evening wear, even the myth of the ship sinking intact. It is those myths, and their uncovering, which makes Titanic's story so fascinating to me.

Back to the plot: I believe that Captain Smith and his Officers performed as well as they could have that night. The question I would ask is: if they had brought all the women and children from all Classes onto the Boat Deck (even if this had been possible, which is not a given) what impact would that have had on the evacuation? Putting it another way, was it better to save 712 of those passengers who ended up closest to the boats; or was it worth taking the risk of even more people losing their lives through mass panic? I don't see that as laissez-faire.

I also find myself reluctant to criticise the crew of Titanic, especially the Officers and seamen. They must have known the seriousness of their situation, and that the chance of their survival was small. Yet those Officers, who had found themselves in a nightmare scenario, worked tirelessly to save others and, simply, did their duty to the best of their ability (which is not to say perfectly). I cannot imagine how I would have acted in their stead, and I have nothing but admiration for their efforts.

It is possible, I confess, that my admiration for those men causes me sometimes to leap to their defence prematurely, and blinds me to their faults. I am equally sure that we all have our biases, recognised or not, which cause us to adopt certain views instinctively.

For example, I am terribly happy that Arsenal won today.
 
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There are a number of accounts which make it clear that early on men were barred from the port-side A-deck promenade. So there was an initial attempt to muster the 1st Class women.
But with the failure to load boat 4, the ladies were left to wander off or were shunted back up to the boat deck and then rather than being put into another boat the remainder were sent back down again.

I read that Lightoller was having trouble finding ladies for boat 8 because the chief officer had just sent a group of about 20 women aft to boat 10. If as now seems likely boat 8 was the 1st to be launched on the port-side, why send ladies aft away from 5 empty boats?

Smith is said to have told those in boat 8 to row to the light out there land your passengers and come back for another load, yet he would not let the husbands get in to help with the rowing. So over an hour after the collision boat 8 capacity 65 was sent away with about 28 in it.

With boat 4. - No men allowed even although the water was then only a few feet below the boat. I understand the boat was told to take on more people from a gangway door. Which door and Who?

On the starboard-side early on couples like the Smiths and the Astors either walked away from the lifeboats or made no effort to approach them. - Did any of the crew tell them to get into a boat?

So if even the1st Class passengers were largely left to their own devises should we be surprised that 3rd Class was ignored. - Hart's so-called trip to boat 8 seems not to have taken place. If it did no 3rd class women left in the boat.

The idea seems to have been to put boats in the water and hope they would save people.

My two cents on some of the issues.
 

Senan Molony

Member
Jun 28, 1998
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Hi Ernie

>>I am sure the third class expected first class to get priority.<<

Yes, you are right, and I make this same point in the article. A lot of it is in the subconscious.
Doesn't stop us now stripping away the window-dressing that was put up by officialdom.

Hi Paul,

>>Was it better to save 712 of those passengers who ended up closest to the boats; or was it worth taking the risk of even more people losing their lives through mass panic?<<

I don't necessarily believe in the "mass panic" notion, as if the Third Class were contaminants carrying a contagion of hysteria...
Let us suspend assumptions (although obviously people made assumptions, then as now, whether they realised it or not).
The evidence from Poingdexter (Poingdestre} shows 100 people, who happened to be third class, assembled in the forward well deck while Captain Smith was giving orders for the boats to be filled.
Those people were quietly assembled, "talking" to crew, and they were not "panicking."
(We seem to be still, in the 21st Century, attributing greater propensity to panic to persons in Third Class... we would not dream of this idea today in the case of an emergency on an aircraft.
We would, very properly, think that people in economy class are just as likely, and no more, to panic as people in business class. And they are just as likely to be calm and collected - as Poingdexter's evidence indicates.)

The 100 people Poingdexter saw were not let up to the boat deck at this early stage.
If there had been early first class reluctance, and we know there was, it might have been a good idea pour encourager les autres to fill a few boats with willing steerage.
This course was not taken.
Third Class had to effectively "wait their turn," which turned out to be practically never.

I am not into the blame game, because ideas of blame get in the way of developing our understanding of what happened that night.
People did not tell the whole truth at the Inquiries because of attendant "blame game" considerations.
Therefore anyone who expects the Inquiry transcripts to tell the full truth is living in a paradise that might not altogether be populated by wise men.
I have seen this effect time and time again.

Going back to the mass panic a moment, why are we worried about steerage panic? You give them a chance to send up their children and their women.
If they choose to panic, it is largely their own business. In any event, they would be stupidly panicking below deck and no threat to anyone.
Firearms can, and would be used.

Meanwhile any women and children who gain the boat deck from third class in an organised evacuation will be happy and relieved. They cannot possibly introduce the virus of "panic."

(as to Hart, whose missions to steerage seem to good to be true, it is noticeable that he was introduced in evidence straight after Samuel Rule - as if to counter the effect that Rule, and Poingdexter earlier, had produced. Odd?)

But you know what? We are nudging towards some indicated truth...
No-one is talking about "opening the floodgates" (another perjorative phrase) to the immigrants who made up third class.
But that is what the "panic" argument implies - that they would flood up in their crazed hundreds. Lots of unwashed men in there!
But no, we are talking about women and children first.
Women and children first is an egalitarian and indivisible concept.
Given the chance to provide their women and children, I personally have no doubt that the steerage would have suprised a few people with their discipline.

The evidence in fact shows that the perception of discrimination is more likely to prompt feelings of desperation in individuals, which is not a pre-existing disposal towards panic but the natural and probable result of unequal treatment.
There is no evidence that the Third Class panicked as a body. Many of the men of steerage who were saved instead showed the type of resourcefulness and daring to get to the boat deck which is in fact incompatible with panic.
My own studies of the saved Irish passengers show that they entered only the very last and aftermost boats.
This would indicate, contrary to stereotype, that the system of control was breaking down - not their control, but the control of the ship's command!

You say the intent is to save as many lives as possible. The point is that the lives will be first and second class lives if access is restricted.
The evidence is that, yes, it was first and second class lives that were saved. Not "women and children."
Therefore - was access restricted?

The statistical evidence (quite apart from the British Inquiry's control of what evidence was called in the first place!!) indicates to us that there was control of access to the boat deck.

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence (ie non-Inquiry) to this point. One could read Paul Mauge in relation to the restaurant staff, who were kept down and who all died.
But an argument can now be made, on foot of the statistical evidence alone, that the Titanic command decided to isolate the "island" of the superstructure, thus saving only certain strata of individuals.

Again, I am not in the blame game, but the evidence is nudging us towards that impression.
You will not find it expressly stated at any Inquiry, however. I wonder why ever not??

Incidentally, I share your happiness at Arsenal's triumph at Cardiff. That happiness is sharpened by the fact that Man Utd have nothing to show for having comprehensively outplayed us.
Too bad, losers!
 
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>>You're Damn right I would, if by so doing I also believed I'd be saving a greater overall total.<<

Oh, but the greater all total wasn't saved - most died anyway! An anticlimax? It appears that way. Although I realize that such an outcome wasn't known to them at the time, the fact that Captain Smith, Andrews, Wilde, and Boxhall knew early on that many were going to die put the officers in the controlling seat.

As Senon has said, there were more than two officers, and there were certainly plenty of stewards, some of whom were ordered to pass out lifebelts among the third-class. If the order had gone down to bring children to the boat deck early on, it's likely more would have survived. Panic below decks? Perhaps, to some degree, but THAT was for a greater good. As it turned out, and as I said before, there was panic below decks anyway, and that could have been because they were held back.

Deliberately leaving those people in the stern when you know they're going to die isn't convenience - it's murder, pure and simple!

By the way, Paul, what if your great grandparents and little sister Sally were among them?


>>Fair enough, but if you don't want to answer for your views, then I'd suggest you don't post them on the Board. Otherwise, expect them to be challenged.<<

No problem with a challenge, Paul. It's just senseless arguments I try to avoid, because many adamant debates tend to go in that direction. I like discussions, but I absolutely hate arguments, especially if there is nothing to come out of them.


>>What other situations required splitting up a family and taking the women and children away from their husbands and fathers, in the middle of the night, on a ship that had stopped and was beginning to list?<<

You're trying to wedge me into a corner by inferring that only emergency situations required communication with those of other countries or those who couldn't speak your language. There were a variety of situations which required this, such as cabin allotment and dining. Let's not forget that single men were appointed in the bow, where women and families were allotted in the stern. There's a pretty good chance that some families were broken up this way, much to some family members' dismay, as they, perhaps, weren't aware of WSL policy regarding cabin allotment. How would you explain it to them?


>>Personally, I'm happy to give them the benefit of the doubt because (1) I wasn't there, (2) I have minimal knowledge of seamanship and (3) They did manage to save over 700 people after all. <<

Fair enough on the first two, but the third actually makes my point and coincides with a main point made by Senon: That there was room for more in each life boat, so it is feasible that many more could have been rescued.

True, we're looking back through the benefit of hindsight, but the officers had enough experience in emergency situations to have a clue as to what to do. One case would be Lightoller. How many wrecks and emergency situations had he been in prior to Titanic? Too many for me to count at this time, but the information is available. It is also true that their manpower and equipment was limited that night. Still, no dispute. What I am suggesting is that it doesn't require more than some experienced officers with conscious awareness in dangers at see to have enough forethought regarding the safety of everyone on board. For them, that was necessary, as they issued the orders.

Do I blame the officers and crew? Do I think they did and admirable job? No to the first, and yes to the second. As contradictory as it may seem, I don't necessarily question the noble characters of the officers. I am merely questioning the overall behavior (or lack thereof) as well as the events as they transpired. The third-class were held back and many died below decks as a result (because they either were lead to believe help was coming or because they couldn't get out on their own or whatever possible scenario is realistically applicable).


>>Mark, could you perhaps provide a link to where somebody said that the officers were "unbiased" or that the third class "weren't mistreated?" I don't recall seeing such and don't recall ever saying that myself. I don't recall either ever being an issue. However, the treacherous realities of dealing with crowds in shipboard evacuations were.<<

Michael,

Sorry, I don't remember where they are. That was a while ago. I would presume you'd have a better memory of that than I because you're moderator.

I do remember that you and I discussed the motivations of the officers and crew regarding 1st-class accommodations in emergency situations compared to that of the 3rd-class. I remember that one point you made was that there was no proof to substantiate any biasness officers'/crew's part. Another point I remember your asserting was that simply because there were no gates (if there were, and the PowerPoint seems to assure us of that, although I haven't been able to see it due to technical problems with my old computer), no favoritism occurred. I was basically saying that whether gates existed or not was irrelevant, as no one really helped them until later on in the evening. In any case, I don't remember the details of our discussion, as it was so long ago, so please excuse me for some vagueness in the matter.


>>I come back to the basic fact that there was not enough lifeboat space for all.<<

Perhaps not, Samuel, but as Senon pointed out, and as we all know, there was plenty of room for many more. He even estimates that three children could have been added to every boat, and all the children would have been saved. We cannot say, then, that "not enough room" in the lifeboats (for all, maybe not, but for all of the women and children, yes) is a viable excuse when you consider how many more people could have been saved in the lifeboats. As inferred, and pointed out through the numbers, there was enough room to save every woman and child aboard.

Lack of knowledge, manpower, and equipment, as said, is not disputed. These three certainly affected and limited the jobs of the officers and crew. Still, of the first two - knowledge and manpower - does reflect negligence somewhere, and, as I've said, if not all then some of the officers have had experience in emergency situations, so I would have figured that certain knowledge, such as lifeboat weight capacity, would have been a given, from previous experience. Is that too unreasonable?


>>I accept the point made that most on this site accept that the crew and officers behaved well. That's their opinions and as a new member I respect them for that. But I'm allowed my own point of view and I find that something stinks in this area.<<

I agree, Dave. I have nothing against the officers and crew, but I do question how certain things were carried out that night. If everything had been conducted clearly acceptable, chances are we wouldn't be having this debate right now. No one's perfect, and s*** happens, but that is no reason to shed responsibility when the situation looms against you and you know that you have the capacity to effectively do more.

Whatever reasons there are, that's up for dispute, but it's agreed that more could have been done, and that steerage caught the brunt of it.

The stats show an imbalance between the classes. That was a point made and a point confirmed. For whatever reason(s), 3rd-class had the disadvantage to 1st-class, and most lost their lives because of it.


>>All women and all children were not put first.
That is the simple truth of the matter, demonstrated by the statistics.<<

And this was one point I made - and drew from the stats provided by the article. The turnout of events shows even more that the intention, for whatever reason, was not "women and children first" but "first- and second-class women and children first." The article and stats even point out that, despite the deaths of many prominent first-class men, the safety favored men and crew as well.

Take for example, life boat 1: Capacity of 47, 12 on board. Of those, two or three were passengers, the rest crew.

Not only was there enough room for another 35 people, but the few people who were there reflected an imbalance favoring, on the one hand, crew, and on the other, first-class.

"If they're sending the boats away," Walter Hurst said as he came up on the forward well deck just in time to see life boat #1 being lowered, "they might just as well put some people in them."


The actions and occurrences onboard Titanic that night serve as evidence that "women and children first" was not the order issued (or at least had not been employed with complete strictness), otherwise the death toll for all women and children aboard Titanic would have read: 0.

The point is that the suggested order "Women and children first" was not consistent with the actions and occurrences which transpired:

>>My contention is that the senior command of the Titanic might have done better and that the claim of "women and children first" was not, in fact, implemented by the command... do not know what the proximate cause was, but I know that "women and children first" is an absolute myth and that the Third Class were discriminated against by all circumstances (including some we do wish to examine) on the night of April 14/15, 1912.<<

...
 
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>>We must not judge things by todays standards. Even as recent as WW2, you did not get medical attention unless you could afford to pay.<<

Maybe not, Ernie, bt it's still a travesty in any era when people have to die due to a disadvantage to people with more money and power (I'm not saying that's the reason, but the truth is , at least as far as Titanic was concerned, that those with less money was disadvantaged to those who had it.


Ben,

My source involves the actual events. Third-class weren't tended to until Steward Hart was ordered late on to go bring up the steerage in groups. He manages to bring up two groups of about fifty each and then was ordered into life boat 15. This is even discussed in Senon's article, although I can't isolate and particular passage or page at this point. I'd have to look again. If you wish, please read it if you haven't already.

Of course, I should have rephrased that. It shouldn't read "were held back" but instead "were not considered or assisted until..." That's what was intended. My apologies.


>>I also find myself reluctant to criticise the crew of Titanic, especially the Officers and seamen. They must have known the seriousness of their situation, and that the chance of their survival was small. Yet those Officers, who had found themselves in a nightmare scenario, worked tirelessly to save others and, simply, did their duty to the best of their ability (which is not to say perfectly). I cannot imagine how I would have acted in their stead, and I have nothing but admiration for their efforts.<<

No argument from me, Paul. As said, I just question the actions/occurrences, not the people.


>>There is no evidence that the Third Class panicked as a body. Many of the men of steerage who were saved instead showed the type of resourcefulness and daring to get to the boat deck which is in fact incompatible with panic.<<

As mentioned above, the flood of third-class who appeared on the boat deck near then end emerged in a scene that was already a state of chaos. If these individuals panicked, it's because of what was going on around them. If you came up on the boat deck and found water creeping toward you and people in a frenzy, you'd probably begin to panic, too. Further more, as Senon pointed out, it was at this point that they were desperate to get into a boat - not just steerage, but everyone! Desperation and panic are two entirely different things.

It's important to understand why the 3rd-class - everyone, actually - was behaving the way they did. Perhaps they reacted the way they did because of what was going on around them as well as they way they were treated.

As said: It's very likely that any panicking on the part of the 3rd-class below decks was due to their inability to gain assistance and get to the boat deck, not necessarily because the ship was sinking.
 

Noel F. Jones

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May 14, 2002
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"I don't see why you should be lambasted for having an opinion."

Don't bank on it Mark. I was "lambasted" recently for having a memory.

Noel
 
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Mark,

I think you will find that it is a myth that Hart brought up two groups. Reading the paper by David Gleicher: John Edward Hart: Dubious Hero; it seems that Hart may not have taken any women & children to boat 8. - None left in that boat. - In fact Hart may not have brought any W&C up.

I also think you will find Hart's own claim was about 50 in total not: "...two groups of about fifty each ....."

Given that only 121 3rd Class W&C survived, which boats were they in? Looking at a List compiled by Kyrila, a quick count gives: "
5 in boat 2, with perhaps 2 in boat 4, 8 for boat D and 30 for boat C. - That would be "one in 4" in boat C.

So the other 75/77 in the after boats?
1 in boat 10, 4 in boat 12, 2 in boat 11, 4 in boat 14, 20 in boat 16, 18 in boat 13 and 15 in boat 15 = 64 with 7 given no boat assignment. - The figure is short by 4/6. - Missed from my count [or Kyrila's List]?
 
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>>Don't bank on it Mark. I was "lambasted" recently for having a memory.<<

Actions speak louder than words, as the saying goes, eh, Noel? ;) Thanks for the support.
happy.gif



>>I think you will find that it is a myth that Hart brought up two groups. Reading the paper by David Gleicher: John Edward Hart: Dubious Hero; it seems that Hart may not have taken any women & children to boat 8. - None left in that boat. - In fact Hart may not have brought any W&C up. <<

Lester,

Thanks for the information. That helps. It makes me wonder, though: Where did the story about J.E. Hart come from, then?

This is actually worse - instead of two late trips to assist the steerage, it appears as if no one went to help them at all.

It has been a while, so I am not surprised I got the "50" count wrong. Thank you for refreshing my memory.

By the way, can you tell me where I may find Kyrila's list? I would love to take a closer look at it. Thanks!
happy.gif


Take care
 
Jul 20, 2000
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Hello Mark,

Reading David's paper it is my understanding that Hart's story came from what he told the British Inquiry.

Kyrila's Lifeboat Lists were published privately. You would need to contact her.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>I remember that one point you made was that there was no proof to substantiate any biasness officers'/crew's part.<<

Maybe so. I don't remember saying that. I believe it to be a valid point however, though perhaps not for the reasons some might think. The officers and the deck seamen had their hands full dealing with the boats themselves, getting anyone into them who would come along, and getting them away as quickly and as safely as possible. As dangerous as boat operations of any kind are, this requires a lot of focus and co-ordination and I don't think it really ever occured to any of them to wonder where anyone came from.

I'm not about the debate whether or not any of these people were biased. They were people of their times with all the cultural baggage that applies. I would submit however that they just didn't have the time to worry about it or were in a poor position to act on it. They had more pressing issues to concern themselves with.

It seems far more likely to me that if anyone acted to keep steerage buttoned up below decks, it would have been members of the hotel staff, if only because they would have been in a position to do so. It's not improbable that a few of these blokes may have been on a power trip of some kind. I believe it was what Brian Ticehurst described as "The Little Hitler Syndrome" in a documentary.

>>Another point I remember your asserting was that simply because there were no gates (if there were, and the PowerPoint seems to assure us of that, although I haven't been able to see it due to technical problems with my old computer), no favoritism occurred.<<

Sorry, I don't remember saying that either. I don't think a lack of physical barriers would have been a barrier to favourtism or bias. The officers just wouldn't be in a position to act on it.

At least not until a candidate for evacuation made it to the boats. (And in all fairness, all bets are off for that one!)
 

Paul Rogers

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Jun 1, 2000
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West Sussex, UK
Senan, you said:
The statistical evidence (quite apart from the British Inquiry's control of what evidence was called in the first place!!) indicates to us that there was control of access to the boat deck.

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence (ie non-Inquiry) to this point. One could read Paul Mauge in relation to the restaurant staff, who were kept down and who all died. But an argument can now be made, on foot of the statistical evidence alone, that the Titanic command decided to isolate the "island" of the superstructure, thus saving only certain strata of individuals.
Disagree. I don't think you can prove that sort of hypothesis using statistical evidence alone. Statistics can be read in so many different ways (and their meaning can be changed according to what 'base' you start with). They can be used to support a hypothesis, but you'll need a lot of corroborative evidence if you're going to try and prove a theory; especially such a controversial one.

Mark,
Oh, but the greater all total wasn't saved - most died anyway!
You have misunderstood me. When answering your hypothetical question, my position is that I'd happily: "leave people below on a sinking ship" if that meant that more people in total would be saved by my inaction. (Not more than half of the total passenger numbers.)
 

Senan Molony

Member
Jun 28, 1998
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Hi guys,

First of all I want to say that I am in complete agreement with Samuel Halpern, and I thank him for his generosity.

Hi Paul,

The question has been opened as to whether there was exercised control of access to the boat deck.

Yet, Poingdexter's 100 steerage in the forward well deck did not get up, as they were undoubtedly asking to be allowed do.

After he mentions them, they disappear from the evidence.

I am not trying to "prove" any particular theory, because proof is elusive in anything that happens at sea. But -

Discarding legalistic caution, we can state in a chat between mates that Poingdexter's 100 were simply denied access to the boat deck. Poingdexter strongly implies it and no-one contradicts him.

The facts support his implied denial of access - those steerage weren't in any of the early boats, even though they presented themselves earlier than anyone else.

There is abundant evidence adduced (said at the Inquiries) of steerage passengers, admittedly mostly males, crowding E deck, going aft in droves.

Why were they doing this? A logical deduction is because they were not allowed access to the boat deck - first at the bows, and then as they went further aft.

One does not see the E Deck steerage crowds going up to D Deck, to C Deck, B Deck, from amidships... why is the evidence silent on this?

Because it didn't happen. They were directed aft, not up. We can say that at the very least...

Archibald Gracie (ignoring Hart for a moment) indicates that a large crowd of steerage only came up via a main staircase just before the ship sank. He was surprised!

By the way, among the several witnesses who discuss this E-Deck aft-going crowd, none say they were panicking.

Some were seeking out female friends or relatives (but certainly not all; large numbers were males heading out alone or in groups of other males for the New World).

They might have been apprehensive, but everyone was fairly relaxed at that stage, including the stewards encouraging them to continue aft.

Again, we know there were stewards doing this. It is undoubtedly true when we apply a bit of common sense, that some or many of the steerage passengers said to those stewards that they would much prefer to just go up the stairs behind you to the boat deck, if you don't mind...

But since the steerage did not emerge in this way until Gracie's late late show (leaving Hart the humanitarian to one side owing to his suspicious placement in the British Inquiry) what did the stewards say to them in reply?

I know, without being able to prove it very corroboratively, what their answer was. And it was NOT: "Well, your women and children can go up, but no men at this stage."

There reply was something like "No - go aft to your own deck. There is no cause for worry, etc."

So, did the steerage just go aft like unquestioning sheep?
And if they were obedient sheep, then they can't have been panicking "wild animals," can they?
One can't have it both ways.

Paul Mauge:

20095: "A lot of persons came from the
front and went to the back, some of them with luggage, some with children. Some showed us a
piece of ice...

[Steerage children, going aft, not up]

Later:

20128: "After that we had been by the third-class deck just at the back, and we had been trying to go on the second-class passenger deck. Two or three stewards were there, and would not let us go.
I was dressed and the chef was too. He was not in his working dress, he was just like me. I asked
the stewards to pass, I said I was the secretary to the chef, and the stewards said, 'Pass along,
get away,' so the other cooks were obliged to stay on the deck there, they could not go up. That is where they die."
20130. Why? – "Because some stewards were there, and would not let them pass."

Stewards controlling access...

Interestingly, of course, Mauge had actually previously been to the boat deck! But that was immediately after the accident and BEFORE a containment plan had been put into operation, if indeed it was.

You're right - I cannot prove any containment plan was decided upon, and one of the reasons is that no-one was going to testify to it. But we can see vestigial glimpses that may amount to traces of its effects.

I would think it likely there was a quick summit of senior personnel on the bridge after the implications of the impact emerged, to plan a course of action once evacuation was decided upon.

Again, there is no evidence given of this, but we can suggest that it happened. Otherwise the command's "rear" (in this case, the underneath) is wide open to what they fear most, unrestricted steerage. One would be surprised, therefore, if it didn't happen.

Smith, Wilde and the Master-at-Arms would all have assumed responsibilities at such a summit and thereafter allocated tasks to others.

The fact that Lightoller was controlling boats on one side and Murdoch on the other might indicate that Smith, Wilde, etc had more strategic issues to grapple with.

I don't buy this idea that they acted in a dazed manner, or just started clearing boats that they knew had insufficient places without giving thought to how they might be filled. Knowing their underneath was open... the likes of Mauge getting up, only to go back down and be denied a return. He was indeed fortunate.

Almost everyone on this thread talks about steerage panic, as if it were a given. No doubt it would have been assumed by the Titanic command too.

It was probably an unfair assumption, in all senses.

The first thing done in any military situation is to secure the perimeter. So if they were worried about panic, or even general efficiency, they would likely have taken prompt steps to prevent "flood up" - ie, steerage coming up through the ship to the boat deck.

No-one knows for sure what was going on below, but one could argue that the proof is in the pudding - steerage not making it up nice and early through the internal stairways, whether man, woman or child.

The Irish stories have steerage climbing the aft cranes from the aft well deck to gain access to second class. Eugene Daly claimed he inched around the ship's side and abseiled up on a lifeboat's fall. That's only one example.

Steerage women and children did not get up until late in the night because they are only in the late boats!

If they allowed up after 1.30am in some cases, and they were, this is still a delay of 90 mins from when the Titanic command knew the ship must sink.

Think about Lowe's lowering of 14 and its location on the boat deck... he passes the aft well deck, where the third class people are coralled, and he lets got a few shots along the side to discourage jumpers.

These people are not there because they think it is a good place to be. They are there because they cannot progress further. Some of them, "glaring like wild beasts" would clearly like to be in Lowe's lifeboat.

I suggest again, which came first, the "panic" or the desperation? What caused it?

It simply cannot be that steerage are a craven, stupid, lumpen mass who would not move towards the boat deck of their own volition in the time before 1.30am if they were completely free to do so.

So the corollary implies that they were NOT free to do so. Even though assuredly, like Poingdexter's 100, they would have wanted UP.

The stories are legion of unorthodox routes to the boat deck by those who did get there.

Think of the Hillsborough (football stadium) crush deaths of 96 persons in 1989 in a situation in which barriers were kept shut.

When there is a sudden emergency facing authority who don't have enough numbers, who haven't previously thought about what to do, what is the likely first resort?

To attempt to contain the situation.

And then containment becomes a fait accompli. This could even be said to be a rather generous interpretation.

Understandable? Yes. Fair? No.

The British Report insults our intelligence when it tries to pretend things were otherwise.

The British Report said the officers and crew "all worked admirably," which is putting it too far.

In a two-hour examination (an undreamt-of time luxury in the case of the vast majority of ship sinkings), the boats ALL went away - on average - one third empty.

So the scorecard shows:
Filling boats - 66pc.
That is a C Grade.

It is not bad, it may even be quite good, but it is not very good, and it is not excellent.

For every individual who worked admirably in filling boats, there was another individual or another factor which dragged down the average performance to C Grade only.

Women and children first!

Target in two hours: 100pc of W & C saved.

Titanic outcome across all three classes:

Children saved: 52pc - D Grade
Women saved: 74pc - B Grade.

Both these latter are unrefined British Report statistics, with the women including the 20 out of 23 female crew saved, which is disproportionately high.

So the scorecard shows B, C and D grades.

Not exactly straight As.

Even Lord Mersey said: "I think that if there had been better organisation the results would have been more satisfactory."

He seems to regards the outcomes as somewhat unsatisfactory!

Yet we have received or inherited this impression notion of a disaster that was redeemed by unalloyed crew magnificence - and undermined only by insufficient lifeboats, not the fault of anyone on board.

The statistics show conclusively that this version of affairs is untrue.

It was a grubby little disaster and there was relatively little noble about it as a whole, individual instances of heroism excepted.

Some will look at the glass half-empty or half-full. I tend to think a 66pc mark on filling lifeboats is pretty poor in the circumstances.

I am now going to retire from this debate, glad that it has prompted a useful exchange of ideas and the raising of some possible scenarios.

I actually have no firm conclusions, but I can see that a number of interpretations might be supported by the existing evidence - including ones contrary to those I have suggested myself.

But if only 10pc of what was alleged outside the Inquiries is true, it surely destroys forever the notion of a supremely gallant sinking.
 

Paul Rogers

Member
Jun 1, 2000
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West Sussex, UK
Senan and Sam,

I shall admit that you make a strong case, and that this thread has made for very interesting (if uncomfortable) reading. One final thought:
Yet we have received or inherited this impression notion of a disaster that was redeemed by unalloyed crew magnificence - and undermined only by insufficient lifeboats, not the fault of anyone on board.
If there had been sufficient lifeboats for all, then how, I wonder, would that fact have impacted on Senan's hypothetical Officer's summit on the bridge. Would there have been a concerted effort to evacuate 3rd Class in those circumstances, or would the spectre of 'panic' still have existed?

Perhaps the loss of so many 3rd Class women and children was the fault, indirectly, of insufficient lifeboats after all; even though the crew couldn't launch what boats they had in the time available.
 
Jun 12, 2004
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>>Perhaps the loss of so many 3rd Class women and children was the fault, indirectly, of insufficient lifeboats after all; even though the crew couldn't launch what boats they had in the time available.<<


Paul,

I already covered this. Using Senon's figures, we know that there, in fact, was enough room in the life boats for all of the women and children. I calculated this. Even the the extant boat count shows this. The early boats were launched half-full; accummulated, the open space left on the boats could have provided for several hundred more. How many third-class women and children were there, not accounted for by those already in the boats? I am not certain offhand of the count for the former, but the count for the latter was 53 out of a grand total of 76. Had the third-class women and children been granted (even lead) to the boat deck early on, they would have stood a good chance of being loaded into these lifeboats and safely lowered away. I could illustrate the number of people actually lowered in each boat, but I'm sure that you are already aware of this. Lester's figures above provide clarification on this as well.

The "panic" you seem so adamant to insist would have overcome them is no more than speculation. This is the point I (we) have been making the whole time, yet you continue to suggest such a plan of action would have been difficult or impossible to achieve. Not only has that line of thinking been shown to be presumptuous and biased toward third-class, the evidence clearly points to the fact that panic would likely not have occurred. The "panic" we've witnessed by them later on when they finally emerged onto the boat deck has been thoroughly explained (by me) above. Please go back and reread the texts. Thank you.
 
Jun 12, 2004
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>>You have misunderstood me. When answering your hypothetical question, my position is that I'd happily: "leave people below on a sinking ship" if that meant that more people in total would be saved by my inaction. (Not more than half of the total passenger numbers.)<<

Paul,

You don't know as a fact that keeping third-class below decks would have resulted in a higher percentage of survivors. To presume so could be deemed impulsive and wreckless. Such thinking is therefore erroneous.

As a matter of fact, the third-class was held back and only 700 people (some of them including a few third-class stragglers) survived, many from being picked up from the water. In the last stages, as the water crept up on deck and Collapsibles A & B began to float away, panic started to rise - but not by the third-class. How can you say, then, that allowing the third-class to the boat deck would have increased panic? It was only because some steerage managed to gain access to the boat deck (albeit in the later stages of the sinking) that even 700 people survived. You can't, therefore, assume that stifling the upward movements of those below decks would have a direct influence over the number of overall survivors. If anything, the third-class added to that count.

In the end, keeping third-class below decks would only have added to the death count - and it did! The evidence shows that allowing access of the boat deck to the steerage would have, if anything, increased the number of those saved.
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,615
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Easley South Carolina
>>Senan is absolutely correct when he wrote: "an argument can now be made, on foot of the statistical evidence alone, that the Titanic command decided to isolate the 'island' of the superstructure, thus saving only certain strata of individuals." <<

Yes, the *arguement* can be made, and for all I know, it could be dead on the mark. I could also argue that the steerage was simply forgotten about by the senior staff. Granted, it could have been any number of different ways around. Senan could be right, Paul could be right, Sam could be right, Mark could be right, I could be right or there could have been some dynamic or a collection of dynamics at work that hasn't occured to us.

Unfortunately, the numbers alone don't necesserily speak to exactly what those dynamics and factors were. All they tell us is the unfortunate end result. Arguements in and of themselves are interesting, perhaps even compelling, but aren't always proof.
 

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