Titanic Safety Speed and Sacrifice by George Behe


George Behe

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Hi, Jonathon!

>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.

My own comments were not expressed as succinctly as yours, but I think we were thinking the same thoughts. :)

Take care, old chap.

All my best,

George
 
J

Jonathon Jedd

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Wow, a Christmas present from George Behe! :cool:

Thanks very much, George! I'll email you shortly.
JJ
 

Inger Sheil

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G'day, George!

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.

Well no...that's not the key point that I feel counters your books premise :) Indeed, I wasn't even aware of the full text of the exchange until quite recently, when I was given a copy of Reade's book and was able to compare your paraphrasing of the exchange with the original as Reade recorded it.

I'm uneasy with a theory that relies upon two witnesses who were themselves key players in the events rather than disinterested observers, and who have left a range of accounts that have been filtered through the perceptions of others. My uneasiness increases given that your sources are frequently garbled newspaper accounts and hearsay, and that these require some tailoring to fit them all into the same mould. Put bluntly, Fleet and Lee had opportunity and motive to lie even without any WSL pressure (either way you cut it, they were liars - either they lied to defend themselves, or they lied to defend the WSL). I also find it rather problematic that you essentially tell people how they are to read the evidence rather than let them decide for themselves — you state, for example, that Peuchen ‘misunderstood Fleet’. How can you demonstrate this? Do you have a recording of what Fleet said precisely? Fleet may well have said to Peuchen exactly what Peuchen thought he said. You state as a fact that: ‘Miss Birkhead’s basic information is true’ (pg 49) that the bridge officers failed to respond to warnings . This is not a established fact — it is your theory. You dismiss the recurring theme of officers not having been on the bridge at all (after all, this is easily disproven), but I think it just as likely that rather than having survivors ‘misunderstand’ this was another element of the tale that Fleet and Lee were telling. On page 45 we have a quote that Miss Young or the reporter ‘clearly’ misunderstood her original source. Not necessarily — given the atmosphere of gossip and rumour on the Carpathia, it is just as possible Miss Young heard exactly what she reported — that it was thefatal iceberg that was sighted well beforehand. Or, if garbling has occurred, it could have been that she heard a distorted version of the wireless warnings received beforehand. Then there’s the amount of tailoring you’ve have to subject these accounts to — sheering them of moonlight, absentee officers, and explaining away Whitely’s claim to have heard the conversation while atop B. This is one of the problems when dealing with gossip, hearsay and rumourmongering —it can all originate from the one source, and how can you demonstrate that the source is legitimate? Particularly when that source — the Titanic’s lookouts — had sufficient motive for wishing to deflect blame (if you were the lookout on the Titanic when she struck a berg on a clear night, wouldn’t you - whether wholly innocent or not — fear being scapegoated?).

George wrote:

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.

You state that the WSL offered these jobs as if it were an established fact, but I remain singularly unconvinced on the material you've offered that this is the case. Fleet — in yet another indirect account — did not cite three prior icewarnings, and I regard Hichens as, at the very least, dubious in the extreme. You haven't offered any reason why the WSL would renege on its promise to Fleet and yet fulfill it to Hichens, when Fleet was potentially far more damaging. Why, if he was betrayed by the Line, would he continue to remain faithful to them by not disclosing such damaging evidence, even to sympathetic researchers such as Reade - even long after the line itself had ceased to exist? I doubt it.

George wrote:

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.

I do. Black berg or not, I strongly believe that, had they been sighting bergs prior to the fatal one, they would have been hyper-alert to potential risks ahead. I do not believe they would not have hesitated in order to debate what the object was when they saw another dark mass - this time directly ahead - whatever its shape or colour.

George wrote:

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.

Hichens has proved so interesting I’m going to start another thread for him under crew.

George wrote:

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.

Phil's tracking him down? Kewl! I'll just keep an eye out for him, then, and offer my assistance to either you or Phil should you need a London pair of legs. :) I don't claim to have Phil's skills at passenger and crew research (my focus is a good deal narrower than his as well), but as you know there are a number of good sites here in London that hold materials such as crew agreements, official logs and BOT documents etc, and I'll be back at them with a will come February (no doubt the January break away from it all will do me good). Anyway, our discussion has generated some information already — I’ll include that under the new thread when I start it.

George wrote:

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.

Given that I find it unlikely that an unqualified man would be given the position he is said to have held, I can't accept the Hichens account at face value. ;-)

George wrote:

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.

Two secondhand accounts that are vague in the extreme - Hichens does not specify what events he was supposed to be covering up, and as for Fleet - well, you can pick which version of his tale you prefer :). Rather than ascribe one possible interpretation to these events, I prefer to keep my options open, and critically assess the motives of the participants. I don't think these accounts really corroborate each other at all, except in as much as they both hint at bribery as part of a dark (unspecified in Hichens case)conspiracy. I used to see this all the time in politics - people liked to intimate that they were in the 'know', and in possession of 'privileged information'.

George wrote:

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?

According to your version of events, they changed their stories in order to participate in a coverup even though they knew that they could be contradicted at the inquiry in front of Senator Smith by anyone on the Carpathia who had overheard them :) Their responses (and I believe that the version they told was probably not consistent) reads to me like a simple defensive posture. If challenged by a crewman or passenger as to how, as a lookout, they had failed to see the fatal berg in time, I think it's perfectly within the bounds of possibility and even probability that they immediately deflected criticism ('tweren't my fault, I did my job, it was the Bridge's fault'). It sounded to me that, whatever stories were told on the Carpathia, they were not broadcast widely but rather told to small groups and individuals - given that shipboard gossip (rife at any time) was a fever pitch, why should we or they suppose that Boxhall or Olliver would even hear these stories and single them out among all the other rumours?

However, telling a story in the confused aftermath of a disaster in an atmosphere riddled with rumour and gossip and publicly repeating it at a senatorial inquiry is an entirely different kettle of fish.

George wrote:

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 do indeed disagree. I think it's perfectly feasible that Fleet was already deflecting blame at this point - the ship has just sunk, he's the lookout...I can understand why he'd be a little anxious about the potential for being blamed. What's more, I don't think that Peuchen necessarily misunderstood what he heard, as you claim he did. I think this might be the early 'prototype' Fleet tale, which went through more than one incarnation as time went on.

George wrote:

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. :)

What - you're only interested in material that might support your theory rather than counter it? ;-) That's always the challenge with a conspiracy theory, George...how does one disprove a conspiracy when even the very lack of evidence is taken as evidence in itself? It is extraordinarily difficult to disprove that a meeting, for example, between Fleet and WSL officials took place, although it is pure conjecture on your part that it did. (If the account isn't there, why that just proves how deep the cover-up goes!). As it is, I think our discussion above goes to underline just how problematical this material is. Our reading of it is all based on our interpretation (and I'm not claiming my reading is more valid than yours, but I do claim equal validity for my interpretation). It's rather like theories on the identity of Jack the Ripper - researchers will take accounts, ideas and interpretations and weave them into theories...which wind up pointing the finger at different suspects. ;-)

All the best,

Inger
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Hi, Inger!

>I'm uneasy with a theory that relies upon two witnesses who were themselves key >players in the
>events rather than disinterested observers, and who have left a range of accounts >that have been
>filtered through the perceptions of others.

Well, as I've said repeatedly, that's the very reason why I've never claimed to have found the *definite* truth of the matter.

>Put bluntly, Fleet and Lee had opportunity and motive to lie even
>without any WSL pressure (either way you cut it, they were liars - either they lied >to defend
>themselves, or they lied to defend the WSL).

Bingo. My book argued the case for the second scenario based upon evidence that I've gathered together from widely-scattered sources over a very long period of time; if you should ever accumulate enough new evidence to do so, I hope you'll consider writing a book which argues the case for the first scenario.

>I also find it rather problematic that you essentially
>tell people how they are to read the evidence rather than let them decide for >themselves

I make no apologies for my presentation. My book quotes most of my key sources *verbatim* and then presents my own interpretation of that evidence. I feel that my readers are intelligent enough to examine my sources in a critical manner and then evaluate the merit of my interpretation for themselves. Some people will agree with my interpretation and some people won't. That's just the way it is (as you'll undoubtedly find out for yourself after your own Titanic book is published.) :)

>Fleet may well have said to Peuchen exactly
>what Peuchen thought he said.

True -- which of course opens up the possibility that Fleet was telling the truth to Peuchen and that he did not get a reply from the bridge when he attempted to phone Moody with his ice warning. Just out of curiosity, do you feel that Moody may have neglected to answer the bridge telephone in a timely manner (or indeed answer it at all?) What do you base your answer on?

>You dismiss the recurring theme of officers not having been on the bridge at
>all (after all, this is easily disproven),

This recurring theme (as well as one or two others) could easily have stemmed from a misinterpretation of what the lookouts actually said, and that is the position I take in my book. I don't think Fleet said a dozen different things to a dozen different people -- I think his basic (true) story got garbled by intermediaries as it passed down the 'food chain.' My book presents my own opinion about what it was that Fleet really said, and readers are free to evaluate my views and agree or disagree with them as they see fit. That's a healthy state of affairs.

>....(if you were the lookout on
>the Titanic when she struck a berg on a clear night, wouldn’t you - whether wholly >innocent or
>not — fear being scapegoated?).

Certainly, but -- on the other hand -- if you somehow found yourself in Fleet's position, just think how unjust such scapegoating would be if you had performed your duties properly and the dereliction of duty actually lay with the bridge officers instead of yourself. That's a definite possibility too.

>You state that the WSL offered these jobs as if it were an established fact, but I >remain
>singularly unconvinced on the material you've offered that this is the case.

That's the way it is then, I guess. (The same bribery story was told to Walter Lord by a surviving crewman himself, though; I don't tell you this to *convince* you of anything, Inger -- I tell you this just so you'll be aware that there's more to the bribery subject than you presently believe. )

>You haven't offered any reason why the WSL would renege on its
>promise to Fleet and yet fulfill it to Hichens, when Fleet was potentially far more >damaging.

I'm afraid I don't know the answer to that question, but White Star didn't keep its promise to Walter Lord's informant either. (Oddly enough, though, that chap seemed rather good natured about it.)

>Why, if he was betrayed by the Line, would he continue to remain faithful to them >by not
>disclosing such damaging evidence, even to sympathetic researchers such as Reade - >even
>long after the line itself had ceased to exist? I doubt it.

Would you admit to selling your personal integrity for personal gain if an interested stranger wondered about it? I doubt if many people would jump at such an opportunity, and I suspect that's why Fleet privately told a *friend* about his bribe but refrained from mentioning it to a passing author.

>Rather than ascribe one possible interpretation to these events, I prefer to
>keep my options open, and critically assess the motives of the participants.

...or, more accurately, to critically assess what you *think* their motives were -- which is the very same thing I did in my book. I've already explained why I gave the bribery scenario more weight than your theory that Fleet was ready to blame anyone and everyone except himself. Although you apparently disagree, I don't think Fleet would have blamed *innocent* people for something that was actually his fault, and that's why I give credence to the possibility that he saw several 'early' icebergs and that the bridge officers failed to take appropriate action based on his warnings.

>According to your version of events, they changed their stories in order to >participate in a
>coverup even though they knew that they could be contradicted at the inquiry in >front of Senator
>Smith by anyone on the Carpathia who had overheard them :)

Well, all I can say is that when Peuchen contradicted Fleet at the Inquiry, Senator Smith believed Fleet instead of Peuchen and let the matter drop. I suspect Fleet could easily have gotten around similar problems if he had had to explain to Senator Smith his comments to various people on the Carpathia. ("Oy, Sir, they was mistaken just like the Major; I never said that; they misunderstood my meanin', Sir; here's what I really said, Sir....")

>What - you're only interested in material that might support your theory rather >than counter it? ;-)

Not at all, but your statement that I relied on too many second-hand accounts led me to believe that you had uncovered *primary* accounts that you felt I should have used in their place. (I guess I was mistaken, eh?) :)

In any case, though, the second hand reports continue to accumulate, and -- until the 'big one' comes along -- I'll continue to file them away for future reference. :)

All my best,

George
 

Inger Sheil

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Nursing results of too much Christmas cheer here, George, so will tackle this when the head clears :) Thoughtful response requires thoughtful answer, so will address the issues you raise.

Best wishes,

Inger
 

George Behe

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Hi, Inger!

Take your time, since I've already said pretty much all I have to say on the subject. However, I'd still be interested to hear your thoughts re: the possible truth of Fleet's claim to Peuchen that the bridge didn't reply to his warning. I have a theory about this possibility that I've never expressed publicly, and my theory might also affect the question (now being discussed in another thread) of the interval that separated the berg sighting and the collision.

All my best,

George
 
Jan 8, 2001
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This may be a bit old to some of you all, but I just got my copy of George's "Speed, Safety and Sacrifice" today and really thought it was cutting edge stuff! All the evidence George provided and along with reading David Brown's book really has me believing Murdoch was dodging bergs for the hour leading up to the collision. I especially found the previous and subsequent White Star coverups interesting and a sound basis for Behe's conclusions on the Titanic coverups. The only thing I'm wondering about that wasn't addressed was, did Fleet maybe say he kept warning the bridge without response to passengers to cover up for his own guilt for not warning the bridge in time? Great book and am sorry it took me so long to get it. I would also like to see George's correspondence with Leslie Harrison regarding the Californian incident published into a book. Any chance of that George? Finally, the picture of the Titanic taken on April 12 from the Lake Manitoba: Is that real? And if so, why haven't we seen or heard about that before? I was always under the impression, the last picture of Titanic was taken at Queenstown. If it's real, it sure is a great piece of history!

Thanks,

Michael Koch
 
Dec 6, 2000
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George told me that the photo in the book was 'doctored'. As I recall (I don't have the book in front of me), the publisher *changed* the caption to indicate the photo was real. George originally had a caption to indicate the photo was not true
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
I have the book as well. Like much of Georges work, it's very thorough and thought povoking. That quite a few sources are second hand is a bit of a problem, but the premise that the people involved said what they did is entirely credible IMO.

Mike, you asked; >>The only thing I'm wondering about that wasn't addressed was, did Fleet maybe say he kept warning the bridge without response to passengers to cover up for his own guilt for not warning the bridge in time?<<

Guilt? I don't know. The impression I have from reading Fleet's actual testimony to the U.S. Senate was that the ship started to turn away while he was still waiting for somebody to answer the phone. IOW, the bridge saw the berg first and started acting on it. Fleet's and Lee's remarks in the lifeboat, if actually said, wouldn't surprise me in the least. They were on watch when the collision occured, and they knew they would be facing some tough questions later. It sounds to me like they were laying the groundwork for the time honoured tradition known as CYA! (Cover your a**)
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Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Sep 20, 2000
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Apparently I missed this thread when it started, but I'd just like to inject my own sentiments here. George's monograph really is first-rate -- original, exciting, and exceptionally well-researched. It's only a shame it's often hard to find.

I agree that the secondary nature of *some* of the sources does muddy the water a little. But I think George did an excellent job of selecting and editing his materials according to general reliability. And, true to form, Behe doesn't ram anything down the reader's throat; he merely presents his evidence and elaborates on what it may well suggest -- an admirably scholarly trait.

The funniest thing about "T:S,S,&S" is that when I first got it (from Amazon), I was disheartened by its slender size. But that thought never recurred *after* I'd read it. It's really quite a treasure.

Cheers,
John
 
Dec 7, 2000
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The book's size and price is the reason I did not originally buy it back in 1999 when it was readily available to me. I'm now kicking myself for not doing so, as after having read some of George's work I know his research and works are absolutely excellent and worth every dollar that they cost. Oh well, I did not know George or his work back in 1999 -- I wish I did.
 
Feb 21, 2003
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I apologize for the late post in this thread. That being said, I have George's book T:S,S&S in my library. When my copy arrived from Amazon.com I was surprised at the slender volume. Do not let the size fool you, dynamite comes in small packages.

George lays out his evidence and lets the reader ultimately decide what to believe. The information is tightly structured and well thought out. I did not have a problem with 'secondary sources', and some of the more 'hearsay' evidence. This book is definitely thought provoking and thorough.

Over the years I have purchased 5 copies and gave them to school students I have mentored. These are young people that became interested in Titanic via the movie. This is a great book to get them started.
 
Jul 7, 2002
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Susan,

What a great idea!

I highly recommend this book because of George's solid academic approach: hypothesis supported by logic and convincing evidence.

Best wishes,

Cathy
 

George Behe

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Hi, Susan and Cathy!

Thanks very much for your kind words. (There's nothing like getting the young ones started on highly controversial information that will taint their entire 'Titanic outlook' from that point onwards.) ;-)

All my best,

George
 
Feb 21, 2003
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Well George, I have never divulged to the 'kiddies' that the author of such a fine volume has dressed in a carrot costume and guzzles 'dewskies' by the gallon!
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Look at it this way, I would rather get them started learning Titanic controversy than current political events
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