Third class passengers during the sinking


Where did the steerage assemble during the sinking? Also, other than gates, were there other means of trapping them besides watertight compartment doors?
 
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Daniel M. Roper

Guest
Michael,

Others with alot more knowledge than I do should weigh in on this shortly. But perhaps my limited understanding will get you going on this.

As I understand it, many 3rd class passengers were immigrants. The barriers segregating 3rd class were designed to keep the immigrants in a confined area until they could be processed at Ellis Island. If there weren't any barriers it would have been much easier for 3rd class passengers to avoid the immigration process by debarking with 1st and 2nd class passengers and disappearing into the streets of New York City. With barriers in place, however, they could be processed in an orderly and secure fashion.

The barriers were meant for immigration control, not to keep 3rd class passengers from reaching the boat deck and competing with the upper class passengers for lifeboat seats, although that was the unintended result of having so many passageways blocked.

When the order came to board the lifeboats, the 1st and 2nd class passengers were closest to the boat deck and thus got most of the available seats. For a long time (until all but just a couple of boats had been lowered), few realized that Titanic would actually sink, and that the sinking would happen before rescue ships arrived on the scene. Thus 3rd class passengers were milling about peacefully on their deck until realization suddenly hit that Titanic was doomed.

By the point 3rd class passengers (and most of the rest of the passengers for that matter) knew what was happening, only a couple of lifeboats remained. And because many of the 3rd classers still remained on the third class deck, when that frightening realization finally set in and panic spread, many of them went to the closest possible exits only to find them barred (but those had been barred all along to keep 3rd class segregated for the reasons set forth above).

There were evacuation routes for third class that were open and many third class passengers made it out sooner or later. But the barriers that many had encountered at first only made them that much more desperate and added fuel to the raging fire of panic.

I hope I have stated this correctly.

Sincerely,

Dan Roper
 
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Off the top of my head:

Some of the men in third class in the bow congregated up on the forward well deck. I have to assume that at some point they were allowed up to the Boat Deck. Other men from the bow would have moved aft thru Scotland Road.

At the stern, people gathered at the Third Class General Room under the poop deck. Some of these people moved up to the stern well deck.

Regardless of whether these people in the General Room were allowed up on deck or not, I'm sure many remained below to keep warm, until it was too late to even be able to negotiate the stairs, and were trapped and drowned as the ship sank.

I also expect some few passengers did not even leave their rooms, and were trapped there.
 
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Hi Mike,

My understanding is that many 3rd Class Passengers were assembled on the After Well Deck.

In your second post you talk about barriers other than gates, like in a night to remember. They show crewman blocking them on the third class stairs.

Going from memory most of the gates shown in ANTR show several steps leading to a full-height grill type door. There is no evidence to suggest that [as with Cameron's deck-height flights] that those full-height grill type doors existed at the top of flights of stairs. The only possible place I can see would have been was at the top of the stairs that led from rooms G-1 to G-40 into 2nd Class. In other words the loweest flight of the After 2nd Class Stairway. But equally any such door could have been at the bottom of those stairs. In either case if those rooms were let to 3rd Class [rather than to 2nd Class Passengers] 3rd Class had their own stairs leading up to Scotland Road.

In case it helps I'm pasting below an item I posted to a discuission on 3rd Class Escape Routes, about the beginning of June.

Hope this helps,
Lester


I cannot immediately relocate the posting, but about 2 weeks ago Michael
Standart posted a message about 3rd Class and Locked Gates. He referred to a
paper in the latest issue of Voyage which I understand generally argues
against the idea of locked gates as depicted in films. At least that is how
I recall the post. Apologizes to Michael if I have mis-quoted him.

My understanding based on the a Report by Lord Mersey is that on E-deck from
the cross passageway; which was the forward 3rd Class Entrance that main
alleyways ran aft on each side "through to the after end of the vessel".
Although the port-side alleyway ran the full distance it was interrupted by
some 5 water-tight doors. These were located at the the forward and after
ends of the Engine Casing; just aft of the Turbine Engine Casing and at
points forward and aft of the after 2nd Class stairway.

While I understand that those WTdoors remained open assuming they had been
closed [manually, not from the Bridge] to have escaped from the forward
section of the ship 3rd Class passengers could have used the ladderway
[which you mention] from the forward Well Deck. There was a gate at the top;
but as it was only rail height it could have been climbed over. The deck
plans in Eaton & Haas show two doorways near the forward 1st Class
gentlemen's lavatory on E-deck. What the "Escape" is and why the other door
goes into one of the cubicles ..... Perhaps someone else can answer that? In
the plans in the Shipbuilder [and therefore Olympic] the Escape door is into
a linen locker; with the other door going into a drying room.

Otherwise by way of a doorway into the 1st Class Entrance. I do not believe
that it would have had any steps to it and doubt that it would have been a
grill type doorway. Aft of that there was access via the Steward's Stairway.
If those two were locked then the only escape route would seem to have been
via the ladderway from the forward Well Deck; so it would seem that some 3rd
Class passengers could have been trapped.

As for any 3rd Class passengers in rooms 101 to 126; if the WTdoors aft on
E-deck were closed and they were denied access through to 2nd Class then it
would seem that they would have been totally trapped. The same would have
applied if rooms G-1 to G-40 were assigned to 3rd Class. Here and only here
would there seem to be the possibility of a grill type dooway at the top of
a deck high flight of stairs [as depicted by Cameron].

Others may have a bettter idea, but I understand that the doorways leading
into 2nd Class were opened; but later closed.

I hope this helps,
Lester
 
Michael, et. al.

I've done a good bit of research on this topic, some of which you can read in my research article on this site "The Fatal Journey of the Third Class Men."

The conclusions I've reached is that some 300 to 450 Third Class men were directed, more or less, by stewards, from their front quarters to the stern along Scotland Road, a journey that went on from shortly after 12 midnight until 1AM at the latest. 50 to 100 of these men made it up to the after Well Deck, but most remained below in various public spaces in the stern.

A small number of Third Class men (Pickard is one of the known examples) got to the stern quickly and made it up to the Boat Deck. However, there is evidence that at some point early on, around 1AM perhaps, the ship's authorities--stewards most likely and possibly officers--restricted entry by Third Class men entering the Boat Deck from Well Deck. (As Bill mentions there is also testimony about a contingent of up to 100 men seen soon after the accident on the forward Well Deck, who also seem to have been restricted from entry to the Forward Boat Deck.)

There is no evidence, apart from a few minor uncorrobrated tales, that forceful means were necessary to prevent the Third Class men on the after Well Deck or below in the stern from proceding,and therefore none were used. Based on the testimony, whether gates were locked or not is rather irrelevant because 1. the authorities do not seem to have been challenged; and 2. if there had been any serious rush of the gates they would have easily been broached.

As for the Third Class women and children, they were generally quartered in the stern. There is little evidence, as I see it, that they were restricted from reaching the Boat Deck, in the manner of the men. However, once the Third Class men had reached the stern it seems many women and children were effectively trapped in the stern and therefore never made it up to the Boat Deck.

Those Third Class women who did get to the Boat Deck, almost all of them prior to 1:15AM or so, were loaded on to lifeboats much like the women from the other classes,and virtually all of these women and children, some 181 of them, survived. The 145 women and children who did not survive, like most of the Third Class men, remained below in public spaaces in the stern until some time after 2:05AM (when Collpasible D was launched). At that point there was a rush up to the top decks (the after Poop and Well Decks as well as the Boat Deck) by those in the stern. This was during the last 10 or 15 minutes when it became obvious to those below that the ship was literally going down. Of course by that time, for virutally all of them, it was too late.

David Gleicher
 

Tracy Smith

Member
I have a question in relation to what Dan Roper posted.

He stated that whatever types of barriers existed to segregate third class from the other two classes was for the purpose of immigrantion control, because most of the third class passengers were immigrants.

But what about immigrants who traveled second or first class? Was the processing at Ellis Island waived for more affluent immigrants? Surely not all immigrants traveled third class. I know this is true because my own great grandparents, along with my maternal grandmother immigrated from England to the US in 1912, aboard the Baltic, and they traveled second class.
 
I'd like to make a correction of my previous post. The number of women and children Third Class passengers who survived was roughly 126 not 181 (the latter being the number that survived altogether). The exact number depends on what you define as a child.

Sorry about that.

DG
 

Charles

Member
Well, the steerage passengers on Titanic were gathered on the aft well deck like said earlier in the thread, but later on (this is only my theory) they would have realized that stewards were guarding the way to B Deck in second class so they must have found a way through scotland road (unless the watertight doors were closed by the time) and through the D Deck galley and first class dining room and up the first class staircase, which would explain Col. Gracie's account of many passengers including women running out of the grand staircase exit.
 

Jack Dawson

Former Member
I'm sure they has been discussed before, but I have not seen a definitive answer; what would have been the repercussions for someone just hopping over a short gate or railing? I mean was someone of 'real' authority going to physically subdue you? I'm sure that before the ship hit the iceberg it was a more serious matter; but I really can't see any credible means of stopping a determined person after midnight on the 15th. The officers were busy, the deck crew busy, and the stewards?

Say I was in the forward well deck, who would challenge (or stop me) from climbing the stairs up to B deck, and just hopping over the gate?
 

Jack Dawson

Former Member
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.
 
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.


Maybe Buckley (who with all single male passengers had been berthed in the bow) after leaving his flooding cabin seemed high ground and moved to the stern (via Scotland Road) where he then tried to access the boat deck?
 
@Bob Godfrey Sixth Officer Moody (in 2012 Miniseries) said that holding the Steerage down is "Company Policy". Correct me if I'm wrong, yet there was no such policy that would give 1st and 2nd Class priority in getting the lifeboats first?
 
I've never read anything about keeping steerage down as part of any company policy.The plight of 3rd class was a mixture of scenarios.There was some language barrier as a lot crew didn't speak the language of these non English speaking countries that some of 3rd class came from.There were some gates open, some closed and locked.Some crew members did go down and escort groups of people up to the boat decks. Of course 3rd class was not entirely blameless either.One survivor, August Wenerstrom, recalled being very irritated at seeing a bunch of Catholics praying to the Almighty to save them without doing a lick of anything to try and save themselves. There were also a number 3rd class passengers that cut out on their own and did make it to the boat deck and get into lifeboats. I think the biggest problem was that the crew was too involved with the 1st and 2nd class on the boat deck,that they didn't really take care to go below and make sure that ALL gates were open, and everyone was properly informed and prepared of the situation.Of course the majority of this evacuation was a sloppy, incompetent mess for most people involved. This why you have lifeboat drills!!!
 
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Talira Greycrest

Guest
I think it's worth noting that a number of steerage passengers came from countries where English is not the official language, so they probably had difficulty understanding what they were being told. I remember a scene in the '97 movie where, for just a few seconds, viewers see a family of either four or five standing next to a sign. One of the passengers has a book in his hand and appears to be trying to translate what's written on the sign into his own language so the family can understand it.
 
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