The Pitman Memorandum


Status
Not open for further replies.

Senan Molony

Member
Jun 28, 1998
1,690
18
313
Dublin
The Pitman Memorandum appears on pages 420 and 421 of the US Inquiry transcript.

There is an anomaly in Day 1, in that the printed hours and mileage do not produce the knots cited, unlike on other days.

This document would appear to be a typed up copy of an original handwritten note, insofar as it is hard to believe Pitman would have written such an infelicity as "knots per hour."

A typing-up could give rise to transpositions or complete misreads of the manuscript figures. It could also leave out (or possibly add in) material.

Nonetheless, it would appear that the speed for Day 1 is not a transposition error, insofar as it is carried forward by Pitman to obtain his overall average speed for the voyage.

Here is the Memorandum.

207546.jpg

207547.jpg


I freely confess my utter stupefaction at the figures I have arrowed in red, which are represented as part of the daily sums...

On day three, 526 and 26 combined would give the headline mileage of 546. But there seems little relationship to the other tots, or whatever they are.

We have many people who consider themselves expert on this board. Perhaps someone may care to attempt to explain to me the ARROWED figures?

I await instruction. Be as patronising as you like.
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
6,661
1,395
323
NewtonMearns, Glasgow, Scotland.
" Pitman would have written such an infelicity as "knots per hour."

To be exact Senan, he would not have SAID it but he may just have qualified it for the lay-person typing-up his memorandum.
Like you, I am partially mystified by the little red arrow numbers.
I also find it mildly interesting that the word 'hour' is typed in full in two places while it is abbreviated to 'hr' when first typed.

It should also be noted that the general average speed for the voyage from Daunt Rock to Noon on the 14th is not 21.08 knots but 21.48 knots.

Day 1....484
Day 2....519
Day 3....546
Total...1549 nautical miles.

Run
Day 1 22hrs 38 minutes.
Day 2 24hrs 44 minutes.
Day 3 24hrs 44 minutes.
Total......72hrs 06 minutes,

By dividing the total distance run by the total running time, we get a general average speed of
21.48 miles. Rounded up, it's 21.5 knots. This does not fit with Pitman's mean hourly speed figure. However, if there had been a typo in the first days average speed as I suggested, then the figures would start to make sense. See here:

Pitman............ Revised
3rd.Day............3rd Day
20.14..............21.40
21.01..............21.01
22.10..............22.10
--------------------------
3)63.24............3)64.50
Mean 21.08.........Mean 21.5



When I was looking for the original, I was looking for something in Pitman;s handwriting. I now wonder if Pitman, rather than writing it all down, dictated his memo to a stenographer who was a bit 'cloth-eared' and mistook the word 'four' for the word 'oh'. Hence,
'twenty one point four eight' might have sounded like 'twent one point OH eight' to an untrained ear listening to a foreigner speaking in a local Somerset accent.


Jim.

PS. note the extra .01 in the second sets of speeds. This was because, for some strange reason. I was not allowed to type the numbers point zero, zero one. I am, of course, allowed to curse in Gaelic! Consequently, the total of thr three day's speed will show .01 too much!
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
6,661
1,395
323
NewtonMearns, Glasgow, Scotland.
Hello Senan.

I have been having a closer look at Pitman's memo and those puzzling numbers. Actually there's quite a bit more we can learn from this document.

Everyone supposes that Titanic followed a classic Great Circle course from Fastnet to 'The Corner'. The writing of Beesley suggest she at least went along the south coast of Ireland. However, strangely enough, he does not mention Fastnet Rock Lighthouse - that Iconic last fix position before starting the long featureless run across the Atlantic wastes!

Blindly following a full great circle would take the ship into higher latitudes, perhaps more than is wanted - particularly during the ice season on the Grand Banks. What if Smith decided to sail what is known in the trade as a 'composite course' i.e. part rhum line and part great circle? This practice was more common than some people think. If Smith did in fact follow that practice then it would explain the strange situation of the two exactly the same (44 minutes) clock set backs.

Also, if we look at Pitman's notations in this light, then what he seems to be telling us in your red arrow numbers is that they first planned to sail in a certain direction for 326 miles. Then, alter course and sail for another 1000 miles on that course for 2 days, setting the clocks back 44 minutes each day.
Then they were to alter course again and sail for another 96 miles. And so on.
To test this theory; if we ignore the numbers below the Day 3 run (520+46) which we can account for, then the total planned distance on the composite route would be 326+1000+96+250+3 + 1675 nautical miles.
The exact distance and seemingly shortest route from Daunt Rock along the south coast, then by GC track to The Corner is 55+1618 = 1673 nautical miles. Is it a coincidence that there is only 2 nautical miles of a difference? The distances run each day as recorded by Pitman are 484+519+546 = 1549 nautical miles. If we subtract that from the shortest distance of the two previous total distances to The Corner we get 1673-1549=124 nautical miles and from the larger distance 1675-1549+126 nautical miles.
Not a lot of difference. In fact, when I calculated the run back from The Corner to Noon on the 14th April, I got 124 miles.

The other glaring bit of evidence that navigation students should have noted was the even number of planned clock set-backs on Days 2 & 3.
Only a miracle ship would be able to run on a curved course at the same speed for 2 days and increase her longitude by exactly the same amount each day; that's what the 44 minute each day clock difference is telling us. This being so then we can take it that Pitman was telling the Senate Committee that these were planned clock set backs and in all likely hood the ship was going to sail in a straight line for these two days.

I hope someone will check my numbers!

Talking of which: just in case I did not make myself clear on a thread which must no longer be mentioned - When proper Noon happens on a clock which shows 11-59am - a minute to 12, then that clock must be put forward one minute so that it too reads proper Noon.
Similarly: when proper Noon happens on a clock which is showing 1208pm - 8 minutes past 12, then that particular clock has to be put back 8 minutes so that it too reads proper Noon.

Incidentally: I fully appreciate Mark's actions. I have always considered this site as a gathering place for curiosity, intellect and knowledge. The minute it starts to degenerate into a slanging match then I'll leave it to the 'degenerates'.
 

Senan Molony

Member
Jun 28, 1998
1,690
18
313
Dublin
Hi Jim,

I am thinking of awarding a 'Pitman Medal' for endeavours in this, the most titanic longitudinal/time question since - well, since the essential longitude/time question in the search for a reliable ship's chronometer.

John Harrison was the man then. What a hero. One can still see his clocks at Greenwich. And if if you can't get to Greenwich, meantime see pictures of the clocks and read the story of the timeless quest in that book "Longitude" by Avad Lesbo, or was it Dava Sobel, she and I get mixed up sometimes.

You don't get the medal.

Try, try and try again. I like the similarity in overall numbers for the total mileage elapse of the voyage - but, really, 1,000 miles in a straight line, and later a leg of THREE miles????

Our next competitor, please.

I trust, in time, we will be seeing the Flynn stone certainty...

All to the good.

Oyez! Oyez! Be upstanding and pray recognise this honourable court. Nav 101 is hereby back in session.
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
6,661
1,395
323
NewtonMearns, Glasgow, Scotland.
Hi Senan!

"You don't get the medal."

Got all I'm due thank you!

"but, really, 1,000 miles in a straight line,"?

Yes very much so '1,000 miles in a straight line'.
It was standard practice and taught in all the navigation schools throughout the world.. even the ones I went to!

"later a leg of THREE miles????"

Why not?

We need to know what the good Senators were after when they requested this information if indeed they did so. Perhaps Pitman volunteered it.?
What is very obvious from your little red arrows is that Pitman divided the information into components.

Component 1 is the day's run for each day.
Component 2 is the average speed achieved each day.
Component 3 - the one we're discussing, was how these distances were split up.

Perhaps it was Pitman's intention to talk the good Senators through it?

Let's say it was. Indulge me!

Senator Smith

'We thank you for your memorandum Mr. Pitman.

Most of what you have written we understand clearly. However we find it difficult to comprehend the various notations under the day's run and average speed for Day 1 and Day 2. Perhaps you will provide guidance and enlightenment in this matter for the benefit of The Committee members?'

Mr. Pitman

' With pleasure sir!

These numbers represent the number of miles travelled on various courses from the ship time we passed Daunt Rock on the 11th of April.'

Senator Smith

'Thank you. That's clear enough. However, I note there is one time here where the ship must have travelled for a very short space of time on a particular course since you note she was on it for a mere three miles. Why was that?'

Pitman:

'That distance represents a minor correction that was necessary to bring the ship back onto the intended track after obtaining the ship's position from celestial observations. At that time, we found, she was almost a mile to the south of our intended track. We therefore altered course for about 8 minutes to bring her back onto the line. Since it was part of the over-all progress of the ship it must be accounted for.'

As I wrote before - everyone assumes too much and does not look at the evidence provided.

The two Glaringly obvious anomalies in Pitman's memo are the 1000 miles number and the twin 44 minute clock alteration.

To explain:

If it had been the intention to change course every 5 degrees of longitude and if Titanic was to actually travel in a long, gradual curve as during a Great Circle passage, then the amount of clock changes planned or actual would have been different each night. They would most certainly not have been two equal lots of 44 minutes. Any navigator worth his salt would know this.

Not Nav.10 but simple 1st year navigation!

Jim
 

Senan Molony

Member
Jun 28, 1998
1,690
18
313
Dublin
Gee, Fred...

You're so smart.

Wilma medal be won?

Will the idea of a three mile leg as a correction win favour, or will someone throw Pebbles?

Will there be another Barney?

More tRubble?
 

Walter Flynn

Member
Dec 23, 2010
63
0
96
'Perhaps it was Pitman's intention to talk the good Senators through it?'

Face it. The memo was not from Pitman. It came from the Great Gazoo intended for the Grand Poobah of the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes who lived on Bedrock Hill with the other Gruesomes.
 

Walter Flynn

Member
Dec 23, 2010
63
0
96
Sorry, cannot do if y're asking what each number itself means. The one to ask is long gone. The only thing I can say is that when ya add them up it gets ya the distance from the lightship to the corner - 1675 miles.
The purpose of the memo was to show the good senators the ship's speed day to day and the mean for the voyage. It is inconsistent with what he told them cause he said at time of collision she was making the same as the last 24 hours. He told she was only doin 21 1/2 but his memo says 22.1.
 

Don Olson

Member
Jan 21, 2011
2
0
31
The numbers marked in the Pitman memorandum appear to be intermediate steps in long division problems worked by hand. The attached image will show the long division steps which produce the numbers in the memorandum.

These steps will look familiar to those who learned long division in the days before calculators.

There is almost certainly an error by Pitman in the first long division, and two possible corrections are suggested in the attached image.

The idea that these numbers represent long divisions is likely correct, but the suggestions to fix Pitman's mistake are more uncertain because they involve changing either the time or the distance.

207621.jpg
 

Walter Flynn

Member
Dec 23, 2010
63
0
96
Mr. Olson - Ya get the prize. Brilliant. We all gotta throw away the calculators and start using long division again.

The other mistake made beside writing 21.4 as 20.14 was pulling down the 0 and writing it as a 6 to get 326 instead of 320 which he then carried through. But it was obviously a hand written memo, and things like that happen.

Strange how all these numbers except the last two added up to the distance from the lightship to the corner. And the last two add to the distance for the 3rd day.
 

Senan Molony

Member
Jun 28, 1998
1,690
18
313
Dublin
Don Olson wins the Pitman Medal 2011. (Or should that be 20.11?)

BRILLIANT.

I can see exactly through this method why he got 20.14, because that is a mistake I would have made!

Fantastic. Proves everything.

Wow, maths can be magical.

And hey, I KNEW we couldn't have a three mile leg!

Well done, Don.
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
6,661
1,395
323
NewtonMearns, Glasgow, Scotland.
Hello Don,

Well done!

I'm not sure if we do not have a coincidence here! The method you show for Long division is hardly likely to have been the same method as used by UK people. However, I may be wrong and after all, the numbers you show do match everything very neatly


There is however, one thing that is for sure and Walter pointed it out. Unless it was missed:

"The only thing I can say is that when ya add them up it gets ya the distance from the lightship to the corner - 1675 miles."

That is exactly right.
(well done Walter!).

Surely this is not a coincidence?

I still feel a little uncomfortable with that.

[In fairness, you deduced this Jim.]
So you see, I'm not just a handsome devil Senan!
 
Jun 10, 1999
1,284
21
313
Martin, I have access to a very ornate portrait minature of Napoleon (value @ $650.00) that I could offer for an original Pittman portrait.

Michael Cundiff
NV, USA
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Similar threads

Similar threads