The Mount Temple


Jim Currie

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I think we have both been exploring a "textual analysis" of the documentary evidence, Sam, but I don't think we have yet explored fully a number of 'gaps'.

Harrison has left with the Liverpool Museum apparently a diary of his research that has not been fully disclosed, and cannot be examined currently during covid.

We ought to be able to properly explain why Gibson was away from the bridge for pretty much 1 hour out of his 4 hour 'Middle Watch'.

We ought to explore this a bit further?

Why was Gibson sent off the bridge to go and find something that apparently he couldn't find easily and within a reasonable amount of time?

I am very curious over all this, and incidentally grateful to the Moderators for allowing me to continue this line of questioning.

(I've got my first covid vaccination on Wednesday - hope you are keeping safe all of you - I really do sincerely hope you all are).
An update for you, Julian.
Boxhall knew exactly where the two boxes of socket signals were stored - in the wheelhouse, bridge sheltered area or chartroom. He did not send aft for these signals - he sent for the detonators to fire them. These, like all detonators and self igniting rockets (except for night signals) would have been stored in a magazine locker remote from the actual projectile box. In Titanic's case on the poop deck, away from the passenger accommodation.
 
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"I knew one of the boats had gone away, because I happened to be putting the firing lanyard inside the wheel-house after sending off a rocket, and the telephone bell rang. Somebody telephoned to say that one of the starboard boats had left the ship, and I was rather surprised."

After sending off a rocket? That was the phone call from Rowe. So how did he fire off that rocket before asking Rowe?
 
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Jim Currie

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"I knew one of the boats had gone away, because I happened to be putting the firing lanyard inside the wheel-house after sending off a rocket, and the telephone bell rang. Somebody telephoned to say that one of the starboard boats had left the ship, and I was rather surprised."

After sending off a rocket? That was the phone call from Rowe. So how did he fire off that rocket before asking Rowe?

Why would he tell Rowe to bring detonators if he already had them?

But there is more telling evidence, which destroys this story, Sam. This from QM Rowe:

"I then remained on the after bridge to await orders through the telephone. No orders came down, andI remained until 25 minutes after 12, when I saw a boat on the starboard beam. I telephoned to the fore bridge to know if they knew there was a boat lowered.They replied, asking me if I was the third officer. I replied, "No; I am the quartermaster."
They told me to bring over detonators, which are used in firing distress signals."


if Boxhall fired a socket signal before Rowe phoned to tell him about No.7 boat, it suggests that it was fired before the phone call to the poop and around the time the first boat went away. However, that too is untrue, because 3rd Oficer Pitman very clearly said the first signal was fired after he left the ship,

"Q: When was this? When did you first see them; [distress signals] before you left the Titanic?
A: Mr. PITMAN...No; shortly after.
Q: Did you see any while you were aboard the Titanic, any of that character?
A: Mr. PITMAN...
None were fired."

5th Officer Lowe said the first signal it was fired while he worked on boat 3 which corroborates Pitman's story and destroys the idea of Boxhall firing a signal before the phone call from the poop.

II suggest to you, Sam that the trauma was affecting Boxhall's memory recall.

Now will you please answer my red light query?
 

Julian Atkins

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l would suggest Jim, you are deliberately twisting the evidence, to provoke replies and continue this debate beyond what most of us would consider reasonable.

It is not a good stance to take, in my opinion.

Why would the Cotton Powder Co supply a separate box of just detonators, when we know the socket distress signals they supplied had the detonators within each item?

They didn't have to prime them with a charge from another source or box!

Each box contained it's own primed individual "rockets" ready to fire off from the box via a lanyard.

To suggest otherwise frankly bemuses me as to how you think you can peddle this nonsense and think that anyone will take you seriously!
 

Jim Currie

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l would suggest Jim, you are deliberately twisting the evidence, to provoke replies and continue this debate beyond what most of us would consider reasonable.

It is not a good stance to take, in my opinion.

Why would the Cotton Powder Co supply a separate box of just detonators, when we know the socket distress signals they supplied had the detonators within each item?

They didn't have to prime them with a charge from another source or box!

Each box contained it's own primed individual "rockets" ready to fire off from the box via a lanyard.

To suggest otherwise frankly bemuses me as to how you think you can peddle this nonsense and think that anyone will take you seriously!
What nonsense would that be Julian? That Boxhall did not know where the distress signal boxes (2 off) were?
Seems I do not hold the franchise on "nonsense". Who told you the socket signals were supplied ready for immediate use?
For your information, the socket signals were simply small star shells with an empty hole down the center of each for the inserion of the friction or"pencil" detonator before being able to be launched. The sequence was:
1: select a projectile from the box and insert in the launching socket .
2. Select a brass, friction detonator "pencil" from the detonator box and locate within the central tube of the projectile'
3. Remove the firing lanyard from the projectile box an connect one end to the ring on top of the detonator.
4. pull on lanyard quickly to withdraw the detonator " pencil" and ignite the projectile firing charge.
5. Remove the used detonator from the firing lanyard thus making itready for the next firing sequence.

These brass detonator were supplied in separate detonator boxes. Julian and realatively heavy. Like the pojectiles,they would have been supplied in boxesof a dozen or ,multiples thereof. I suspect Titanic had two such boxes which would include spares incase of a dud.
By the way, what is nonsense about ratings being ordered to bring the detonators (not the signals themselves) and consequently, two said ratings each bringing a box of DETONATORS?

PS. I sugget you let Sam fight his own battles. He is a big boy.
 

Mike Spooner

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Jim, Blimey reading the procedures on launching distress rockets is certainly a bit more than just light the blue touch paper!
The question I ask how much practical pretraining was given to the crewmembers beforehand?
 

Jim Currie

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Jim, Blimey reading the procedures on launching distress rockets is certainly a bit more than just light the blue touch paper!
The question I ask how much practical pretraining was given to the crewmembers beforehand?
None! These were highy intelligent, well educated individuals. All rocket and signal boxes had anillustrated instruction sheet pinned to theinside of the lid.
 
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Mike Spooner

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None! These were highy intelligent, well educated individuals. All rocket and signal boxes had anillustrated instruction sheet pinned to theinside of the lid.
It all very well saying they are highly intelligent individual's reading instructions. But they still need the practical experience.
I see it today you can all the University degrees under the sun on how to drive a manual car from a book. But it not the same when comes to the practical side for the first time!
 

Julian Atkins

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What nonsense would that be Julian? That Boxhall did not know where the distress signal boxes (2 off) were?
Seems I do not hold the franchise on "nonsense". Who told you the socket signals were supplied ready for immediate use?
For your information, the socket signals were simply small star shells with an empty hole down the center of each for the inserion of the friction or"pencil" detonator before being able to be launched. The sequence was:
1: select a projectile from the box and insert in the launching socket .
2. Select a brass, friction detonator "pencil" from the detonator box and locate within the central tube of the projectile'
3. Remove the firing lanyard from the projectile box an connect one end to the ring on top of the detonator.
4. pull on lanyard quickly to withdraw the detonator " pencil" and ignite the projectile firing charge.
5. Remove the used detonator from the firing lanyard thus making itready for the next firing sequence.

These brass detonator were supplied in separate detonator boxes. Julian and realatively heavy. Like the pojectiles,they would have been supplied in boxesof a dozen or ,multiples thereof. I suspect Titanic had two such boxes which would include spares incase of a dud.
By the way, what is nonsense about ratings being ordered to bring the detonators (not the signals themselves) and consequently, two said ratings each bringing a box of DETONATORS?

PS. I sugget you let Sam fight his own battles. He is a big boy.

Jim,

I've read the Cotton Powder Co stuff of the era, and there were no separate detonator boxes.

I am quite aware as to what Boxhall asked Rowe to get, and how both described them.

It is obvious from the context they weren't "detonators".

Bright and Rowe brought from the rear of the ship a box each of primed socket distress signals.
 
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Mike Spooner

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What Lightoller had to say in the B.I.
14155. How are they discharged; are they discharged from a socket? - In the first place, the charge is no more and no less
than what you would use in a 12-pounder or something like that. In the rail is a gunmetal socket. In the base of this
cartridge, you may call it, is a black powder charge. The hole down through the centre of the remainder is blocked up with
a peg. You insert the cartridge in this socket; a brass detonator, which reaches from the top of the signal into the charge at
the base, is then inserted in this hole. There is a wire running through this detonator, and the pulling of this wire fires that,
and that, in turn, fires the charge at the base of the cartridge. That, exploding, throws the shell to a height of several
hundred feet, which is nothing more or less than a time shell and explodes by time in the air.
Now if you think just for one moment reading the instruction from a book, It wouldn't very wise not to have some practice beforehand. As for Boxhall he must of been very concern if got it right for the first time.
 
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The friction tube is what was inserted into the signal after the signal was put into the socket. A lanyard with hook was connected to the ring at the top of the friction tube, and when pulled horizontally. This would cause the firing composition around the head of the tube to be ignited by friction from the wire being pulled thereby producing a flash that ignited the pellet powder that ran down the friction tube. This then set off the powder charge in the base of the signal which propelled the signal skyward. It also set off a timed fuse which caused a detonator charge inside the signal to go off when the signal reached a height of about 500 feet. That in turn would set off the main charge of tonite in the signal.
 
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Julian Atkins

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Mike,

Boxhall was an idiot, and also at the time in my estimation unwell which apparently by the time of the USA Inquiry was pleurisy.

Lots of idiots that night. Rostron thought the old Carpathia could go 17 and a half knots, Stone not registering in his brain what he was seeing and what Gibson was telling him, and much else besides. (Evans is my oft quoted "idiot").

I perfectly understand how the Cotton Powder Co Socket Distress Signals were fired. It was very simple. It had to cope with a "distress" situation on board a ship.

No electric modern torch to read a manual. Insert the friction cartridge, then pull on the lanyard to fire off into the sky to be seen by any ship over 20 miles away, as Captain Lord himself admitted at the USA Inquiry for 19 miles.

Even Boxhall managed this, as did Rowe.

It's as simple as making a cup of tea with a tea bag! Those tea bags with strings attached consider for the strings the lanyard!

Why at night and in situations of potential panic and potential rapid sinking would the Cotton Powder Co sell for many years prior to the Titanic disaster something that required 'faffing about with'?

(Or to use Jim's post yesterday, upon which he appears to have back tracked upon without apology, requiring 2 boxes of detonators to brought up at Boxhall's request from the Poop bridge lockers by Rowe and Bright)
 
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Mike Spooner

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Julian,
If you regards the marine expects with master certificates as idiots, I included the legal men at the inquires as idiots too!
They were not marine expects yet asking the questions. They may of had marine expects advisors but they where not asking the questions only just answering the questions. Clearly I can see the legal men are just not asking the right questions as marine expect would do like wise.
I see the Cotton Powder company is a private company only selling on their products to the Board of Trade requirement.
However if you want include to the list of idiots that has to be the Board of Trade not giving clear instructions of their regulations and failing to move on with the times. Followed by not asking for practical training beforehand. Titanic was required by law from the BOT to have their clearance certificates and was well within the out of date regulations Thank god she was built to a higher standard, as could been lost in less than half an hour with many more lives lost. Who drew up the regulations? It wouldn't surprise me by those idiot legal men!
 

Jim Currie

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It all very well saying they are highly intelligent individual's reading instructions. But they still need the practical experience.
I see it today you can all the University degrees under the sun on how to drive a manual car from a book. But it not the same when comes to the practical side for the first time!
You don't get practical experience in firing a distress rocket, Mike. They are only used when you need them and hope you will never do so. Having said that, there were occasions when redundant rockets were fired as a demonstration but that was illegal. There was an incident many years ago at The Tail o' The Bank off Greenock when a chief officer was decapitated by such a rogue rocket.
 

Jim Currie

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View attachment 75722
The friction tube is what was inserted into the signal after the signal was put into the socket. A lanyard with hook was connected to the ring at the top of the friction tube, and when pulled horizontally. This would cause the firing composition around the head of the tube to be ignited by friction from the wire being pulled thereby producing a flash that ignited the pellet powder that ran down the friction tube. This then set off the powder charge in the base of the signal which propelled the signal skyward. It also set off a timed fuse which caused a detonator charge inside the signal to go off when the signal reached a height of about 500 feet. That in turn would set off the main charge of tonite in the signal.
No, Sam, the friction tube is the tube into which the friction primer ( pencil detonator)was inserted before firing. As packed, the tube was blocked by a wood plug which had to be removed before inserting the friction primer. Have you any idea what would have happened if the detonator was supplied with the friction tube and some half wit Deck boy cleaning the bridge, decided to open the box and play with the contents?
As Ipoint out to you and your friend - "Detonators" were friction primers.. I quote:
"A friction primer is a device to initiate the firing of muzzle-loading cannon. Each friction primer consists of a copper tube filled with gunpowder. The tube fits into the cannon touch hole burying its lower end in the gunpowder chamber. The top end of the tube extending above the touch hole has a short perpendicular spur tube filled with a priming mixture of antimony sulfide and potassium chlorate. A roughened wire slider extends from the outer end of the spur tube through the priming mixture and the gunpowder tube. This slider wire is twisted into a loop on the opposite side of the gunpowder tube.
The wire loop may be attached to a lanyard. A sharp tug on the lanyard pulls the roughened slider wire through the priming mixture which responds like a match igniting the gunpowder in the tube through the touch hole into the main powder charge within the chamber of the cannon. The length of the lanyard allows the person firing the cannon to avoid injury by standing to one side as the cannon recoils.
Friction primers were packed in sawdust in tinned metal boxes for storage and transport."

Melton, Jack W. "Friction Primer".

By the way, I amend my previous assumption. I suspect that during the supplying of the new vessel, the smaller box of socket signals was stowed aft, near to the aft launch tube and the larger box, stowed on the bridge. Also that at the time, both boxes of friction primers were stowed aft and that was the reason for the request to QM Row.
 
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Jim Currie

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Mike,

Boxhall was an idiot, and also at the time in my estimation unwell which apparently by the time of the USA Inquiry was pleurisy.

Lots of idiots that night. Rostron thought the old Carpathia could go 17 and a half knots, Stone not registering in his brain what he was seeing and what Gibson was telling him, and much else besides. (Evans is my oft quoted "idiot").

I perfectly understand how the Cotton Powder Co Socket Distress Signals were fired. It was very simple. It had to cope with a "distress" situation on board a ship.

No electric modern torch to read a manual. Insert the friction cartridge, then pull on the lanyard to fire off into the sky to be seen by any ship over 20 miles away, as Captain Lord himself admitted at the USA Inquiry for 19 miles.

Even Boxhall managed this, as did Rowe.

It's as simple as making a cup of tea with a tea bag! Those tea bags with strings attached consider for the strings the lanyard!

Why at night and in situations of potential panic and potential rapid sinking would the Cotton Powder Co sell for many years prior to the Titanic disaster something that required 'faffing about with'?

(Or to use Jim's post yesterday, upon which he appears to have back tracked upon without apology, requiring 2 boxes of detonators to brought up at Boxhall's request from the Poop bridge lockers by Rowe and Bright)
Julian, you really should not use such emotive words without prefixing with IMO.
In respectfully point out to you and everyone else reading this that none of us are, in any way qualified to announce to the world that a person of another profession is an "idiot" when that person is pursuing his or her profession.
I on the other hand, am more than fully qualified to comment on the actions of any mariner. when pursuing his career, and have formally done so on many occasions.
In the case of Boxhall, there is no evidence to prove the man was less than competent...including his erroneous distress position. In fact, had it not been for his quick thinking under extreme pressure, the likes of which, I hope none of us ever have to experience, the loss of life would have undoubtedly been greater.
In the case of Rostron, there are several pointers to that man's ability as a mariner but more to the point and more in your interest - he lied under oath. But that is another matter.

As to your remarks about how easy it was to fire a signal - why do you think manufacturers label their products if it was so easy.?
As a matter of interest.. if you had never fired a Schermuly line rocket - how would you learn to fire it if there were no instructions inside the lid of the box and you had not studied them previously?

As for poor Stone?
The man told you, me them and the ship's cat that what he saw did not match his expectations regarding the sighting of an urgent call for help and his thoughts were clarified when the nearby vessel steamed away."
You, and others are too quick to condemn. I put it to you and them: If - with complete absence of professional knowledge - you experienced what Stone described and heard no more of the matter... what would be your conclusions?

Last, but not least - your post script in brackets:

My answer is this, Julian.

In the above post you observe "Insert the friction cartridge, then pull on the lanyard to fire off". However, in your previous post you wrote "Bright and Rowe brought from the rear of the ship a box each of primed socket distress signals."

What did you mean by these two contradictory observations?

I remind you that a signal "primed" is ready to fire... you do not insert anything..., like a rifle, you pull the trigger.
 

Jim Currie

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Oh, one more thing. The friction tubes, lanyard and cleaning hook were supplied in the box that the signals came in. Boxes of 24, 12 and 6 were available. The box of 24 measured 15x9x8 in. The signals themselves were about 2x8 in.
You are describing the box "as supplied", Sam. Under the Explosive Act of 1894, the socket signals would be classed as explosives and the friction tubes as detonators and would have been stored separately...especially in a passenger and emigrant ship. You seem to think that everyone in 1912 was an uneducated moron.
When Boxhall gave the order, he would have been specific as to what he wanted. i.e. if he wantd Rowe to bring a box of distress signals, it would be natural to think he would have ordered "bring me a box of distress signals." However, the witness very clearly received a specific a order i.e. ..They told me to bring over detonators, which are used in firing distress signals. "
This is the same witness who actually went on to use these very same detonators which, according to you, he found in the box marked "Socket Signals" .
Incidentally, you also pushed the idea that Boxhall fired a signal before he spoke to Rowe. How was that possible if Rowe and his mate brought the two boxes of projectiles including detonators to the bridge?
 
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Mike Spooner

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You don't get practical experience in firing a distress rocket, Mike. They are only used when you need them and hope you will never do so. Having said that, there were occasions when redundant rockets were fired as a demonstration but that was illegal. There was an incident many years ago at The Tail o' The Bank off Greenock when a chief officer was decapitated by such a rogue rocket.
Jim I regard when a ship is in trouble and requires assistant not just by sinking but for other reasons to, like broken rudder, propeller, prop shaft, engine or just run out of fuel. Where there is a distress signal available like firing rockets high in the air to bring attention to a near by ship. However since the BOT have interduce the idea they should of taken more serious and made sure crew members where pretrained. I put the blame on the BOT and not the crew members.
Just a matter of intertest was there a shelf life on these rockets?
 
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