Was there cheering in Lifeboat 11?


Sep 10, 2012
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I know the title of this thread may look a bit weird, as well as the fact I am asking such a peculiar question, but I found an account that had a tidbit puzzling enough for me to want to further inquire about it in this forum.

I recently happened to come across an account of the sinking by Edith Rosenbaum (who was saved in Lifeboat 11) which can be found here (and possibly somewhere else). In it, she wrote "The men in our boat asked the women to cheer, saying �Those cheers that you hear on the big boat mean they have all gotten into life boats and are saved.� And do you know, that we actually cheered, believing that the big shout was one of thanks giving."

To my (quite superficial) knowledge, however, no one else in the same lifeboat mentioned having done such a thing.

I know there are many variables to take into consideration when analyzing such an issue, among others the fact that it was written twenty-two years after the disaster, that it may have been affected by an editorial pen, that Miss Rosembaum herself may have stretched some details, and the fact that just because no one else mentioned such an event it doesn't mean that said event did not take place.

But how can something that was described as "the most horrible sounds ever heard by mortal man" (by Colonel Gracie) or as "the scream of Death" (by Edwina Troutt), be mistaken by cheering by an entire boatload of people (and a fairly numerous one at that, given that Lifeboat 11 appears to have been more than half full at least)?

Again, it's possible that no one who cheered actually believed that the sound was from cheering, but like I said, I found the issue puzzling enough that I thought of inquiring about it here.

Thank you for reading this post.
 
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Bob Godfrey

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Jane Quick, also in boat 11, recalled that a crewman told the frightened women that the sound of cries from the water was cheering. But in Jane's version of the story he was not believed and there was no mention of the lifeboat's occupants cheering back.

Also note this testimony from seaman Frank Evans at the British Inquiry:

Did you not hear the cries of anyone in distress?
No, sir.
For help?
In the first place, when the ship sank. I was in No. 10 boat, then, sir.
When the ship sank you heard these cries?
We heard these cries, but we took them to be the boats that went away from the starboard side of the ship; that they were cheering one another, sir.
Giving them encouragement?
Giving them encouragement, sir.
 
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Mar 18, 2008
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The problem with Edith Rosenbaum is, that she did not mention it in her 1912 accounts. It may be that it was like Jane Quick said that it was told to them that it was cheering. And Edith Rosenbaum made it up and said that they cheered back as she also made up other stuff in her later accounts.
 
Sep 10, 2012
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Well, in my opinion, the idea of a single crewman on one boat mistaking those cries for cheering (or two of them, given that both Evans in Lifeboat 10 and that unnamed crewman in Lifeboat 11 made that assumption) seems more plausible than several men in the same boat making that mistake, though I have to say I still am at a loss as to how those cries could be mistaken for cheering. However, I never heard the sound of over a thousand people screaming as they freeze to death in icy water - and I sincerely hope that neither I nor anyone else ever has to hear such a sound - so I acknowledge that it may be possible to mistake those cries for cheering, even if I can't understand how.
 

Adam Went

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Perhaps a couple of the survivors genuinely believed that they heard cheering but I doubt there would have been much of that going on, given the circumstances. The truth is that a lot of the people in the lifeboats were probably suffering from shock, and IMO it's difficult to place too much faith in their accounts in the immediate aftermath of the sinking.

Cheers,
Adam.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Edwina Troutt maintained that in boat 16 Master at Arms Bailey tried various means to drown out the cries of the dying. "That scream of death was worse than any siren ... He got us all to scream as loudly as WE could." When this proved to be even more alarming, Bailey urged them instead to sing "Pull for the shore, boys, pull for the shore."
 
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Bob Godfrey

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I think it was Don Lynch (who knew Edwina as well as anybody) who thought D more likely after assessing her various recollections. But is this established beyond doubt?
 
Mar 18, 2008
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Not sure if without doubt but in a letter she mentioned that there was a lamp in her boat but no oil. This was the case in No. D as No. 16 left the ship without a lamp on board and which makes me to think that Don is right. (Not sure if you saw our discussion on FB about it.)
Don had also pointed out that she mentioned to had been in the same boat with the Navratil children which was also D.
 

Bob Godfrey

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She also stated that Bailey was the man in charge of her boat. That's the problem - Edwina said various things at various times that each prove she was in a different boat! :)
 
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Yes, but the detail with the lamp was in her early version. The mention of Bailey and No. 16 was in a later one. Not sure but quite possible that it has something to do with "the last boat". Bright was in D Bailey in 16 both start with a B.
 
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Mrs. Futrelle was another one who also change her story. In one report she was in No. 9 (she was there as she was mentioned by Mrs. Lines if I remember right) in another one she claimed to had been in the same boat with Mrs. Harris (who was in D) and in another one in the boat left before Mrs. Harris.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Edwina didn't just get the names confused, she specified that Bailey was a Master at Arms. I have an audio recording of her making that point. As you know Facebook is hopeless when it comes to searching for past debates, Ioannis, but I did manage to find the one which you recalled. Don goes for boat D, on the basis of the Navratils. Peter Engberg sticks with boat 16, on the basis of Bailey. But there is no conclusive answer and they agreed to differ.
 
Mar 18, 2008
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And I am going with D too because of the lamp with no oil (which was the case with No. D as No. 16 did not have a lamp) which she mentioned before that she was in the boat with Navratil or Bailey.
 
Jane Quick, also in boat 11, recalled that a crewman told the frightened women that the sound of cries from the water was cheering. But in Jane's version of the story he was not believed and there was no mention of the lifeboat's occupants cheering back.

Also note this testimony from seaman Frank Evans at the British Inquiry:

Did you not hear the cries of anyone in distress?
No, sir.
For help?
In the first place, when the ship sank. I was in No. 10 boat, then, sir.
When the ship sank you heard these cries?
We heard these cries, but we took them to be the boats that went away from the starboard side of the ship; that they were cheering one another, sir.
Giving them encouragement?
Giving them encouragement, sir.
My Mary Marvin was in Boat #10, but this is the first I have seen the name of anyone else in that boat.
 
Nov 14, 2005
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My Mary Marvin was in Boat #10, but this is the first I have seen the name of anyone else in that boat.
Hope I'm not misreading your comment but you can check out the survivors by boat number below. There is some argument as to the accuracy of who was in which boat (see various threads) but this is what I look up when I have a question about it. Cheers.
 

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