Where did the steerage assemble during the sinking? Also, other than gates, were there other means of trapping them besides watertight compartment doors?
Daniel Buckley did mention something pertinent to my question:
From Day 13 of the US Senate Inquiry. Buckley's comments are in bold.
"14966. Were you permitted to go on up to the top deck without any interference?
- Yes, sir. They tried to keep us down at first on our steerage deck. They did not want us to go up to the first class place at all.
14967. Who tried to do that?
- I can not say who they were. I think they were sailors.
14968. What happened then? Did the steerage passengers try to get out?
- Yes; they did. There was one steerage passenger there, and he was getting up the steps, and just as he was going in a little gate a fellow came along and chucked him down; threw him down into the steerage place. This fellow got excited, and he ran after him, and he could not find him. He got up over the little gate. He did not find him.
14969. What gate do you mean?
- A little gate just at the top of the stairs going up into the first class deck.
14970. There was a gate between the steerage and the first class deck?
- Yes. The first class deck was higher up than the steerage deck, and there were some steps leading up to it; 9 or 10 steps, and a gate just at the top of the steps.
14971. Was the gate locked?
- It was not locked at the time we made the attempt to get up there, but the sailor, or whoever he was, locked it. So that this fellow that went up after him broke the lock on it, and he went after the fellow that threw him down. He said if he could get hold of him he would throw him into the ocean."
So it was unlocked, then locked by the sailor, and then the lock was broken. Did the sailor act of his own initiative in locking it, or was it supposed to be kept locked? Not keeping it locked seems to defeat the purpose in confining passengers to certain areas of the ship. I know the old saying 'A closed door is a locked door', but was WSL really counting on passengers respecting an unlocked gate?
Maybe I spoke too soon? A further question indicates Buckley was in the aft well deck and not in the forward well deck? Which is confusing because he seems to indicate he was in the bow, and was present in the forward well deck. Can anyone clarify why he answered 'aft'?
14989. I wish you would tell the committee in what part of the ship this steerage was located.
- Down, I think, in the lower part of the steamer, in the after part of the ship; at the back.