Titanic Safety Speed and Sacrifice by George Behe


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Jonathon Jedd

Guest
I recently read this fairly compact work, and must say I'm very impressed with Mr. Behe's arguments and constructions. While -- as he states in the prefatory notes -- some points can only be made suggestively, not with absolute conviction, George does an admirable job in the presentation of this material, which deals with some otherwise rather "speculative" aspects of the disaster: the speeding on of Titanic through troubled waters; sightings of ice prior to the collision; and possible coercion of employees by the White Star Line.

It's a very intriguing piece of writing, and I must especially compliment Behe's style of presentation. For instance, in Chapter Two, which deals with prior ice sightings, I was initially ready to discard his premise, due to the apparent tenuousness of the early evidence introduced. But upon further reading, I became quite convinced, despite my initial scepticism! The subsequent accounts in this section were beautifully woven into a most worthy tapestry of evidence, and it's extremely impressive to see an author ostensibly "lead with the chin", then proceed to demolish the very doubts he seemed to introduce via complete disclosure.

I'd highly recommend this work to anyone who's not seen it yet. While obviously not for the casual Titanophile -- Is there such a thing? -- it's certainly a very worthy addition to any library.

Season's Greetings,
JJ
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Tell me about it! I bought my copy from Amazon.com several months ago and it gave me a lot of food for thought. George is, as you noted, the first one to say up front that some of the material should be taken with a grain of salt (And that some of the witnesses/sources such as the media should be taken with a very LARGE grain of salt.) Still, this useful book gave me some interesting insights on contemporary perspectives on these events, to say nothing of the sources.

I'm planning to persue the personalities involved in greater depth in the coming year. This will involve going over the transcripts which I haven't had time to read as thoroughly as I need to. This book is tops on the list of things to re-read.

If only Amazon hadn't taken four weeks to get it to me.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Inger Sheil

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:) George and I have been discussing his booklet for a couple of years now, so he knows all about my reservations regarding the material and his interpretation of it. However, it is a thought provoking work, and it certainly has prompted me to keep an eye out for material that has a bearing on his arguments.

Michael - yes, keep an eye on the personalities involved ;-)

~ Inger
 

George Behe

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Thanks very much, Jonathon and Michael, for your generous assessment of my book's significance. As you said, I can't prove with 100% certainty that all three of my book's premises are true, but I think the evidence I've uncovered is pretty suggestive that this might indeed be the case.

Inger wrote:

>....it certainly has prompted me to keep an eye >out for material that has a
>bearing on his arguments.

Hi, Inger!

Have you found anything new in the last year or so? I've had pretty good luck myself; one passenger claimed that bets were being laid on the possibility that Titanic would beat Olympic's crossing time; another passenger claimed that a bulletin was posted shortly before the accident which said that Titanic was then making the best speed of the whole trip and that she would arrive in New York ahead of schedule if that speed was kept up; a third passenger said that one of the lookouts told him (while in the hospital in New York) that he had warned the bridge three separate times that the ship was passing near icebergs but that the bridge officers paid no attention to his warnings.

I feel better and better about my book all the time. :)

All my best,

George
 
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Jonathon Jedd

Guest
George: Bask away, sir -- you're certainly entitled!

I'd read Wyn Craig Wade's description of Fleet's rather fidgety testimony to the Senate Committee shortly before I read T:SS&S, and found myself flashing back repeatedly to that strong mental image of him while reading your monograph. The information you disclosed made that whole curious scenario -- Fleet's continual nervous glances towards Ismay -- fall into place for me. At last I felt I understood his motivations -- a simple man wedged between a rock and a very, very hard place.

I do wonder about Hichens' overall veracity from what I've read here on ET. But although that tends to weaken Chapter 3's underpinnings, it by no means demolishes the premise. Certainly, other crew members -- Mr. Lightoller, in particular -- seemed far from eager to respond with the utmost forthrightness, leading one to the conclusion that coercive intervention by White Star's management was indeed a strong possibility.

As Michael alluded to, my biggest disappointment in your book was the lag time involved in getting it from Amazon!

Best wishes,
JJ
 

Inger Sheil

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:) Ah, it's good to be confident in your own work, George. And I know that as you're constantly re-assessing your research, any future additions will contain corrections on such minor factual points as Fastnet rock. Perhaps, just to give a more rounded picture, you might want to give some more of Reade's interview with Fleet? I know you appreciate how important it is to present all the evidence, even if it doesn't particularly support your case. Might also be worthwhile exploring the claims that Hichens occupied the position he was said to have occupied in South Africa...there were some very interesting comments made on that point on the ET messageboard not so long ago that I'm sure you took note of.

Yah, I've found new material - which makes me ever more curious about the lookouts and the role they played (and their experience). Although I can't say it's precisely a focus area for me, I'm grateful to you for prompting me to keep a closer lookout on the lookouts :) I think Reade was onto something with some of his asides in 'The Ship that Stood Still'.

All the best,

Inger
 

George Behe

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Hi, Inger!

>And I know that as you're constantly
>re-assessing your research, any future additions >will contain corrections on such minor factual
>points as Fastnet rock.

I take it your biography of Lowe is going to be completely free of errors, eh? :)

>Perhaps, just to give a more rounded picture, you >might want to give
>some more of Reade's interview with Fleet? I know >you appreciate how important it is to present
>all the evidence, even if it doesn't particularly >support your case.

Could you please be more specific?

>Might also be worthwhile
>exploring the claims that Hichens occupied the >position he was said to have occupied in South
>Africa...there were some very interesting >comments made on that point on the ET
>messageboard not so long ago that I'm sure you >took note of.

Yes, I saw the comments -- but I didn't see any documentation to back them up. Nevertheless, if you know how Hichens actually spent his later years (assuming that my own information is inaccurate, that is), I'd be glad to see your information.

Al my best,

George
 
J

Jonathon Jedd

Guest
Sounds like a personal problem to me, Inger. :)

If I didn't know better -- and I don't -- I'd swear I somehow re-ignited a long-standing feud here. Oh, the innuendos are subtle, but they're nonetheless painfully obvious, so that the tenor of your last post comes off more as "sour grapes" or "raining on the parade" than objective criticism.

If there are serious flaws in this book that you can demonstrate, rather than merely allude to, I'd certainly like to know as well. Can you document these points?

Thanks,
JJ
 
May 12, 2005
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All,

I do not think there are any really serious "flaws" in George's work, which is not what I'd call a "booklet," by the way. There can be no book without errors, however, regardless of the subject. We can never know everything. We can only present a story as honestly as possible. Facts will always at some point elude us. We just have to do our best. George certinly did his, whatever his critics may feel about his particular angle on the story.

Randy
 
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I thought George's book was a fascinating and thought-provoking read. If the book does go to a revised edition, though, I would like to the see the "Titanic at sea" photo annotated as being a composite picture, because otherwise it gives the reader the impression that that photo is real.

Parks
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I'll second Sparks sentiments on a revised edition. On that picture of the Titanic at sea, George and I discussed this in passing several months ago. The publisher goofed insofar as the caption went. Hopefully, they'll get it right for round two.

Tracy, I agree with you completely on Gill and Hitchens.

Jon, I don't know about you, but I have to wonder how much of Fleet's fidgety performance was really a performance. He struck me as somebody who was playing dumb, and who was going out of his way to hide the fact that he knew more then he wanted to tell.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Inger Sheil

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G'day, George!

George wrote:

"I take it your biography of Lowe is going to be completely free of errors, eh? :)

My remarks were intended to be helpful, as I know you care so deeply about the quality of your work, and I hope that's the way they were taken :). I would certainly never set myself up as a paragon of perfect accuracy - indeed, even on this board when I have discovered my errors or they have been pointed out to me I have endeavoured to correct them ASAP. I doubt you recall it, but we once had an email exchange on this subject and I outlined to you my intention to submit my MSS to as many recognized experts in particular fields as possible, particularly in areas where I felt my own knowledge was weakest. In spite of that, I have no doubt that errors (either my own or, as in the case of the photo caption Parks refers to above, through the publisher's hands) will find their way into the text, and I'm certain you and others will point them out to me. Fastnet Rock is a major geographical feature recogisable to seamen, as I'm sure you're aware.

George wrote:

"Could you please be more specific?"

:) We've discussed this one in the past. Here’s how you characterised Reade’s interview with Fleet on page 84 of your book:

“However, the author has been fortunate enough to acquire a copy of ‘The Ship that Stood Still’ by Leslie Reade (Patrick Stephens Ltd, 1993), which contains Reade’s 1964 interview with lookout Fred Fleet. To the surprise of Titanic historians everywhere, Fleet confirmed Mrs Chaffee’s information that there had been only one lookout in the crow’s nest right before the collision!

After the iceberg had already been sighted and the bridge warned by telephone, Lookouts Fred Fleet and Reginald Lee stood helplessly in the crow’s nest and watched the advance of the ice mountain as it glided relentlessly toward the Titanic. Fleet knew that the ship might smash head-on into the berg, and he apparently realised that the foremast (upon which the crow’s nest was mounted) might well come crashing to the deck (or into the sea) if the collision was severe enough. Fleet therefore told Lee to abandon the crow’s nest while there was still time. Lee did not want to leave Fleet alone in the crow’s nest , but he began to descend the ladder when Fleet insisted. Reginald Lee’s conscience and sense of duty overrode his obedience to Fred Fleet, however, and a moment later he climbed back to his duty station to stand beside Fleet, both men were at their stations when the collision took place.”


Here’s how Reade records the exchange:

“It was the beautifullest night I ever seen,” he began. “The stars were like lamps. I saw this black thing looming up; I didn’t know what it was.”

And here he added something to the evidence he had given at the American and British inquiries, which, if true, was at least a vivid detail, and possibly of great significance.

“I asked Lee if he knew what it was,” said Fleet, “He couldn’t say.” I thought I better right the bell. I rang it three times.”

How long did this interval last while Fleet questioned Lee? Half a minute-? Only a few seconds-? Whatever it was, there had never previously been a hint of any pause between Fleet’s sighting the iceberg and ringing the bell.

It seemed to me that he was telling the truth in this new, and slightly different, but perhaps important, version. He did not realise the possible significance of what he was saying, but the impression he made throughout was that of an honest man.

At Washington, Fleet had said: “Before I reported, I said, ‘There is ice ahead’ and then I put my hand over to the bell and rang it three times, and then I went to the phone.” And also: “I reported it as soon as ever I seen it.” And reported it as “an iceberg”.

Fred Fleet, for his part, still had more than a clear memory of the terrifying seconds that had passed while he and Lee waited in the crow’s nest after telephoning the bridge. He said the memory had haunted him for many years after the wreck. He could not sleep at night, remembering the slow advance of that “black thing”. Eventually, he had gone to a doctor for help. He thought that Lee also was shocked by the experience. Lee left the White Star and joined Union-Castle, where he served in the Kennilworth Castle.

“Lee,” said Flee, “he died of drink many years ago.”

I tried to bring the old man back to the approach of the iceberg.

“We watched the thing, It had a pointed top. We didn’t like the look of this thing. I said the Lee, ‘you better go down, there’s no sense the two of us being up here, if we strike.’ He didn’t want to go. ‘I can’t do that,’ he said. But I made him and he went down the ladder.”

That, also, was new, although not important. I asked him if he was alone then up there when they hit the iceberg.

“No, he climbed back up. We was up there together.”

If the Titanic had been dodging bergs prior to the fatal one, I find it difficult to believe that Fleet would have needed to ask his colleague what the ‘black thing’ was. I’m inclined to side with Reade on this one, and think Fleet’s revelation — with its admission of hesitation - potentially very significant indeed.
(Reade, P. 25)

I thought the following remarks quite insightful, and they pose some very challenging issues regarding this source. Dave wrote:

For more on Hichens' self importance, see his biography on ET. At different times he called himself a master mariner or a navigating officer. And the tale about him being a "harbour master" is pure bulldust. Harbour Masters in major ports are at least Masters or Extra Masters and they don't go out in boats to meet ships.

You responded to me:

"Yes, I saw the comments -- but I didn't see any documentation to back them up. Nevertheless, if you know how Hichens actually spent his later years (assuming that my own information is inaccurate, that is), I'd be glad to see your information."

How specific was your source? I’d be happy to attempt to help you confirm or disprove it if you have an exact date, etc. for when and where the encounter took place. Of course, you are quite entitled to differ with me on the validity of the points raised by Dave. However, and as you have used Hichens as a source, might I suggest that as a researcher you might want to investigate for yourself whether the claims about Hichens' position can be proved or disproved? I will of course keep an eye out for anything I might come across, but this is really more your particular field than mine.

I hope I don't really need to restate what I've said in the past but I will just in case: simply because my reservations about some of your conclusions deepen with time and research doesn't mean that I would ever dismiss your work in its entirety or condemn your conspiracy theory as impossible.

I've discussed your conclusions with researchers and with men of a maritime background who have read it, and we tend to agree that you raise a good many valid points and questions (particularly about the issue of speed).

Warmest regards,

Inger
 

Inger Sheil

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Jonathan, I'm afraid it's always dangerous to 'read' too much into the tone of a post - as has been amply demonstrated on this board in the past :). If I might make a suggestion in the most constructive way possible, I recommend that you avoid jumping to the conclusions you did in the above post - ascribing motives to me such as "sour grapes" and “raining on the parade” is potentially inflammatory, and does nothing to promote reasoned debate. What reason do you have for supposing that either motive should prompt my response, other than your own subjective interpretation of my ‘tone’? ‘Painfully obvious’? Howso? Simply because I don’t agree with George on every point doesn’t mean that we’ve got a ‘long-standing feud’.

Researchers can differ quite honestly and openly without either malice or jealously being a motivation. I have frequent and vigorous debates with the researchers I most admire - not just on line, either, as I've sat in restaurants, pubs, hotel foyers and in museums with them as we've tossed theories, arguments, points and counterpoints at each other. As you're new to the board, you are possibly not aware of the fact that George and I have been interacting both privately and publicly online for a few years now and, while we disagree on many issues, have both professed a personal respect for each other's work. George has even been known to call me a friend from time to time ;-). If I have George’s permission, I wouldn’t mind reproducing a comment from one of his emails about the character of our exchanges, which we both enjoy (or at least we’ve told each other we enjoy them). I’ve sent him printed material in the past, we’ve made each other mutual offers of research assistance, and I’ve invited him to visit me here in London. You’re jumping to the defence of someone who doesn’t need it, and defending him from someone who is not ‘attacking’.

What you have 'somehow re-ignited' is not a long running feud, but rather a long running discussion that has taken place over several forums and in private emails. You'll have to excuse me if I allude to matters rather than go into them in laborious detail, as we've been round and round this a few times. I gather you're new to this debate and have just read T:SS&S, so I appreciate that you wish to discuss it in great detail. However, you will understand that it is perfectly natural that after having covered this ground with George and others a good many times I would casually refer to issues that I have raised in the past with George rather than attempt to make a federal case against him :)

George's 'Three previous berg warnings' theory relies heavily upon second hand accounts attributed to the Titanic's lookouts that contradict their inquiry testimony. At no point does in T:SS&S, to my recollection, does George investigate the possibility that Fleet and Lee might have a motivation other than coercion and/or bribery from the WSL for changing their story from that attributed to them on the Carpathia. Whatever way you cut it, these men were not disinterested witnesses. In the atmosphere on the Carpathia, where male and crew survivors were resented, they were in the unenviable position of having been the lookouts on duty when the Titanic struck the berg. No matter how blameless they were in the situation, they must have feared scapegoating from the passengers and even fellow crewmen - how easy, then, to blame the men on duty on the Bridge who - being dead - weren't in much of a position
to contradict them. George believes that the stories were garbled, accounting for the different versions that were reported. The alternative is that they were telling different stories - that they saw more than one berg, that they reported the fatal berg much earlier than they did, etc.

While the majority of remarks attributed to Fleet came from secondhand sources, in one instance he does cite an interview between Fleet and a researcher - Reade's interview with Fleet (referred to above). However, George does not
give the reader the very important piece of information that Fleet in this interview admitted that he hesitated before ringing the bell (if true, then that delay would be quite sufficient for the man to feel somewhat anxious at the inquiries).

George also draws on some less than reliable witnesses - Hichens, for example, I would characterise as a self-aggrandising liar. Even this account is not a direct statement from the man himself, but rather another second hand report. I note your comment that “Certainly, other crew members -- Mr. Lightoller, in particular -- seemed far from eager to respond with the utmost forthrightness, leading one to the conclusion that coercive intervention by White Star's management was indeed a strong possibility.”. You would be intersted to know, however, that the siege mentality demonstrated by the Titanic’s crew was common to seaman asked to testify at inquiries. Take this comment from Frank Bullen in his book “Men of the Merchant Service” (Macmillan & Co, 1900 p. 87: I do not mean to speak evil of dignities, God knows; but the proceedings of some of these courts, abroad especially, are sufficient to make angels weep.”

These aren't the beginning or the end of my quibbles with George's book, just a couple of points that spring to mind. I felt that too much of the material was drawn from second hand, often garbled accounts, and that the key witnesses were by no means disinterested observers of events, but rather central participants themselves. You find George's arguments convincing, and that's your prerogative. I find aspects of it interesting and thought provoking, but I remained unconvinced of his three iceberg conspiracy theory after I'd finished.

I suggest that my position is an honourable one, and that my motives need not be the negative ones you deduce from a reading of my 'tone'.

All the best,

Inger
 

Inger Sheil

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Hallo, Randy!

I do not think there are any really serious "flaws" in George's work, which is not what I'd call a "booklet," by the way.

Randy, m’dear, I hope you don’t think that my use of the term ‘booklet’ was in any way derogatory? It was intended as a descriptive term, not a perjorative — my Oxford Dictionary simply describes a booklet as ‘a small, thin usually paper-covered book’. I have several titles I describe as booklets that are prized parts of my Titanic collection — it refers to the size, not the merits of the content. And, as you see by the defintion, it doesn’t preclude the work being a ‘book’! I also think it's a bit of a shame that what I intended as helpful suggestions on my part have been taken as an attack.

George’s work is based on his interpretation of material. I disagree with his interpretation of some of this material. That’s my right, y’know…the data we have is so far from being complete or objective that George can’t prove his theory, and I can’t disprove it. Should he produce evidence that satisfies me, I’ll happily adopt his theory as fact and chuck the canonical version. I’m sure you and everyone else likewise keeps an open mind about the possibility that George’s interpretation of the material is not the correct one. Does that sound fair? :)

All the best,

Inger
 
May 12, 2005
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Inger,

I realize the term "booklet" may apply technically but to me it infers something insubstantial. I take your word that you did not mean it in this regard.

As to George's particular slant - no, I realize his MAY not be the correct interpretation, though my opinion is that it is very much nearer the mark than others. I don't believe George or Senan or anyone else ever can be the final word on the issue of the Californian. As both men will surely agree, there are just too many intricacies and inconsistencies for the matter to be settled to mutual satisfaction.

Inger, I think you bring up valid points as always and you know you have my respect.

I was just wanting mainly to make a general statement that errors occur no matter how methodical and careful one is. They are not neccessarily an indication of shoddy research.

In George's own case, surely he knows better than anyone what inaccuracies he will need to correct in a future edition of his book.

All my best for the holidays,

Randy
 

Tracy Smith

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Randy said:

. I don't believe George or Senan or anyone else ever can be the final word on the issue of the Californian. As both men will surely agree, there are just too many intricacies and inconsistencies for the matter to be settled to mutual satisfaction.

Amen to that! I agree completely. And because this is so, everyone's input is valuable. I recently finished reading "The Ship That Stood Still" and "A Titanic Myth" by interlibrary loan, and I found both books to be outstanding, even though my opinion leans strongly to the Lord side. Now I want my own copies of both books!
 
J

Jonathon Jedd

Guest
Michael: We may be saying the same thing in different words. What you perceive as Fleet's likely mindset is pretty much what I envisioned while reading George's book. I recalled that description of Fleet repeatedly looking to Ismay, and imagined that what might have been going through his head at each glance was something akin to "How'm I doin', boss?" ;-)

Inger: My apologies if I misunderstood your intent. Regarding your excerpt from Reade, what strikes me is Fleet's significant use of the phrase "that BLACK thing!" Because of this descriptor, it occurs to me that his account is not necessarily inconsistent with George's premise. Presumeably what Fleet was describing was a "black berg" -- a relatively rare entity, as I understand it, which he might never have seen before. And he couldn't comprehend what his eyes revealed. (Nor could Lee, according to Fleet.)

Much depends, of course, on the individual's interpretation of this account. But it's certainly conceivable -- to me, at least -- that Fleet could have spotted and recognized a hundred "normal" (white) icebergs prior to that point and still been mystified by "this black thing", if a "black berg" was indeed outside the scope of his experience.

JJ
 

George Behe

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Hi, Jonathon!

Would you mind dropping me an email at my Compuserve address? ([email protected]) If you'd care to trust me with your snail mail address, there's something I'd like to send to you. Many thanks, old chap.

Randy wrote:

>We can only present a story as honestly as possible. Facts will
>always at some point elude us. We just have to do our best. George >certinly did his, whatever
>his critics may feel about his particular angle on the story.

Hi, Randy!

That pretty much says it all, old chap. The fact that much of my evidence was relayed through intermediaries is the reason why I can't (at this point anyway) *prove* that my book's three main premises are true; nevertheless, I still feel that my evidence (weaknesses and all) is too important *not* to have presented it for the consideration of my fellow researchers.

Take care, my friend.

Parks wrote (and Michael concurred with):

>If the book does go to a
>revised edition, though, I would like to the see the "Titanic at sea" >photo annotated as being a
>composite picture, because otherwise it gives the reader the impression >that that photo is real.

Hi, Parks and Michael!

I agree. I was absolutely horrified when I realized that the illustration's caption had been truncated by the publisher, and that's the very first correction I'd make if the book were ever to see a second edition. (That'll never happen, though -- the book will go out of print long before the demand for a second edition ever materializes.)

Take care, guys.

Inger quoted Fred Fleet and Leslie Reade:

(Fleet):

>"I asked Lee if he knew what it was," said Fleet, "He couldn’t say. I >thought I better right the
>bell. I rang it three times......."

(Reade):

>If the Titanic had been dodging bergs prior to the fatal one, I find it >difficult to believe that Fleet
>would have needed to ask his colleague what the ‘black thing’ was.

Unless I'm mistaken, the above paragraphs are the key points that you feel counter my book's premise that Fred Fleet warned the bridge of three 'early' icebergs. You feel that Fleet's hesitation at warning the bridge about the fatal iceberg caused him to feel guilty about it later on and to make up excuses to cover up his laxness. It's possible, of course, but IMO that doesn't explain why White Star would offer Fleet (and Hichens, and Walter Lord's informant) a "lifetime job with good pay." I've never heard of another shipping line that ever made such a wonderful offer to its shipwrecked employees (whether or not such offers were ever honored), and I doubt very much that such an offer stemmed from kindness or sympathy.

Some people have expressed the opinion that, if Fleet had indeed seen three 'early' icebergs before 11:40 pm, he would have known that the object directly ahead of the Titanic was *another* iceberg and would not have wondered what it was or hesitated before warning the bridge of the berg's presence.

I don't think the above opinion necessarily holds water, though. We know from Rostron's testimony that at least *some* icebergs were visible to the Carpathia (and readily identifiable as icebergs) at a range of about two miles. The long-range visibility of some of these bergs might well have depended upon their height, color, reflectivity etc. If at least *some* bergs could be seen from the Carpathia at a range of two miles, there is no reason for us to think that similar bergs (of the same height and possessing similar physical characteristics) could not have been seen by the Titanic's lookouts at roughly the same range.

Titanic's lookouts had been warned to expect ice encounters any time after 11 pm, and the Senate ice chart *proves* that Titanic *did* steam through a belt of outlying icebergs for some time prior to the actual collision. That being the case, Fleet and Lee might have been expected to see at least *some* of these outlying bergs (the readily-identifiable ones, anyway) at the same long range that Captain Rostron saw similar bergs from his own vessel. However, when Fleet and Lee suddenly saw a dark object ahead of the Titanic (an object whose appearance -- due to a difference in height? color? reflectivity? -- differed from the readily-identifiable icebergs that could be seen at long range), I can easily see why the two lookouts might have hesitated for a moment and wondered what the heck they were looking at. By the time they realized what the dark object actually was, though, it was too late for the Titanic to avoid it.

I wrote:

>.....if you know how Hichens actually spent his later years (assuming >that my own information is inaccurate, that is), I'd be glad to see your >information."

You replied:

>How specific was your source?

I've misplaced my "Tidbits" file which contains the raw data I used to write my "Tidbits 2" pamphlet as well as "Safety, Speed and Sacrifice," but I don't recall Blum being more specific than saying that it was 1914 when he ran into the Titanic's QM in Cape Town.

>I’d be happy to attempt to help you confirm or disprove it if you
>have an exact date, etc. for when and where the encounter took place.

Thanks very much for your offer, but I'm afraid the year 1914 is the best I can do (at the moment, anyway.) However, I believe Phil Gowan is currently in the process of tracking down Hichens; given Phil's uncanny ability to ferret out these Titanic-related people, I don't think we'll have to wait very long before we'll find out if Hichens truly lived in South Africa in 1914. Even so, I'd be very grateful for any assistance you might be able to render in discovering Hichens' true whereabouts during that time period.

>Of course, you are quite
>entitled to differ with me on the validity of the points raised by Dave.

I don't necessarily differ with you or Dave on these points, but I certainly can't accept those points at face value without seeing any supporting documentation.

>At no point does in
>T:SS&S, to my recollection, does George investigate the possibility that >Fleet and Lee might
>have a motivation other than coercion and/or bribery from the WSL for >changing their story from
>that attributed to them on the Carpathia.

That's true. The two independent accounts which alleged that White Star offered identical bribes to both Fleet and Hichens caused me to refrain from engaging in nebulous speculation about other reasons why the lookouts might have stopped telling their 'early iceberg' story; even with their inherent uncertainty, I felt that two *independent*, *corroborative* accounts concerning possible bribery were worth far more than mere speculation that might -- or might not -- apply to the men in question.

>No matter how blameless they were in the situation, they must have
>feared scapegoating from the passengers and even fellow crewmen - how >easy, then, to blame
>the men on duty on the Bridge who - being dead - weren't in much of a >position
>to contradict them.

Would the lookouts have made such false accusations knowing full well that Boxhall and Olliver had survived the disaster and would be able to contradict their lies? I don't think so (although you may disagree.) Fleet was still seated in his lifeboat when he told Major Peuchen that the bridge had not replied to his ice warning; that's pretty early in the game for Fleet to be making such comments if they weren't true.

>I felt that too much of the material was drawn from second hand, often
>garbled accounts,

Perhaps I was looking for information in the wrong places, Inger; I'd be grateful if you could point me toward some untapped *primary* sources that mention the lookouts' early iceberg sightings. :)

All my best,

George
 

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