What happened on the starboard side of the bow from 140 AM to 210 AM


Tad G. Fitch

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Dec 31, 2005
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David,
Thank you for your response. I have been away most of the weekend and am just checking in, so I will address the points you raise as soon as I get the opportunity.

Kind regards,
Tad
 
Jan 10, 2006
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Samuel,

I was actually responding to this:

Another example is your suggestion that the first lifeboat left at 12:25. Contrary to your suggestion that we have never addressed any of the criticisms, we wrote, along with assistance from Sam Halpern and J. Kent Layton (who have no vested interest in supporting our conclusion in this respect unless they agree that the evidence supports them), a section specifically refuting the 12:25 launch time and providing the eyewitness and forensic evidence that proves the first boat didn't leave until 12:40 (for those following this thread, see the section "The Launch Time of the First Lifeboat" on the lifeboat article at Bill's website referenced above).

Looking back at the article Tad refers to here, I realize that as far as the issue of the timing of the first lifeboats leaving the starboard side is concerned, you in fact don't seem to have "assisted" in the way I thought Tad had in mind.

What I was recalling that got confused by Tad's reference to you and J. Kent Layton was your claiming to pinpoint the time that Lifeboat 10 departed, based on estimations of the listing of the ship. I certainly don't claim any great expertise in such a matter, but I know enough to know that, yes, this is indeed rather speculative.

In any case Lifeboat 10 is a whole other topic than the one at hand here, so better to leave sleeping dogs lie, don't you think?

DG
 
Dec 6, 2000
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David,

Just to be *very* clear about this -

Sam and Kent were heavily involved in the discussions to analyze the events that occured between 11:40 and 12:45. These discussions led to the writing of the new section of our article called "The Launch Time of the First Lifeboat".

They both were also very involved in the discussions that led to us moving back the time we feel #10 left the ship.

In fact, Kent's new book "Atlantic Liners" goes over the same material on these two issues.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Hi David.

Thank you for responding to my question. Although Tad may not have made it very clear, I did take an active interest in several areas that he, Bill, and George had looked into. It included the time of the launching of the first lifeboat, the first and last rocket firings, and the situation on the ship when it took on that list to port that so many witnesses reported on. This all resulted in my trying to get a handle on the flooding situation as a function of time.

While looking at the testimony of steward's Joseph Wheat and Frederick Ray I noticed a very interesting correlation. In Ray's case, he just came down from the boat deck to get a coat from his room and went forward to the door leading from the working alleyway to the 1st class staircase just ahead of the 2nd funnel casing. You can see this on any of the plans. At that time he got there, water on E deck had come up to that point from forward. This was shortly after Ray witnessed boat 7 being lowered, which we all agree was the first boat to leave the ship (US p. 803-804). Wheat said he got an order from McElroy again, which he said came about 12:45 to 12:50, to make sure all his men were out and sent up to the boat deck. After checking that nobody was still left in the Turkish bath attendant’s quarters down on F deck, he noticed water was starting to flow down that very same staircase mentioned by Ray from E deck onto F deck as he was about to go back up (10957-10972). For me, this establishes that the ship had trimmed down enough by the head about 12:50 for water to have reached that particular point on E deck where it was witnessed by Ray, who happened to have come down shortly after seeing boat 7 being lowered. Even allowing as much as 5 minutes for him to get down and get his coat, it still points to a launch time for boat 7 near 12:40-12:45 if Wheat's times are correct.

In that same flooding study, I found that AB John Poingdestre said that he went down about 45 minutes after the collision to the seamen’s quarters to get his boots after clearing some boats on the boat deck. When he was down there, a wooden bulkhead collapsed that separated 3rd class space from his quarters which then flooded his living space. He then came back up on deck in time to hear Capt. Smith give the order “Start putting the women and children in the boats”(2842-2858, 2874). Adding 45 minutes from the time of collision puts that event about 12:25. I also noticed that this happened to agree with Gracie’s estimate for when the order was given to load the boats. Not only that, 12:25 unadjusted time on Titanic corresponded very closely to 10:25 NY time when the first CQD was sent out by Phillips and pick up by various stations. From the time the order was given, you need to allow a good 10 minutes or thereabout for a boat to be safely loaded before it could be lowered. Then to lower it 60 ft to the water would take at least 5 minutes given the 6-to-1 pulley arrangement of the falls. All of this points to a launch time for the first boat coming about an hour after the collision.

I also notice that you place a great deal of weight on the times that QM George Rowe gave in testimony. Rowe said he was told by Smith not to fire anymore rockets and go to boat C. As you know, he said he helped a few remaining passengers into the boat before it was lowered, that he noticed the well deck was awash when he left, and that the ship sank about 20 minutes later. So now we have a problem. Rowe said he stopped firing rockets and left the bridge at 1:25. How is it possible that he could say that the she sank 20 minutes after he left if we have overwhelming evidence that it sank at 2:20? And when his boat reached the water after taking 5 minutes to lower, Rowe said “the well deck was submerged,” which can only mean the forecastle had gone under by then. There are many other events that I can point to like the time of the last rocket seen from Californian, or the logged NY time of the Baltic contact when Phillips was outside and noticed the well deck awash, all of which lead to a consistent picture as to when Rowe left the bridge to go to boat C. And none of this is speculative. They all support Rowe’s claim that he left the ship about 20 minutes before the ship sank. I think you know where I’m headed with this to explain the times that Rowe gave in his testimony. If you have some other explanation, I would be happy to hear it.
 

Tad G. Fitch

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Dec 31, 2005
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Hello David, how are you? I hope that you have been doing well. Sorry for the delay in my responding, I have been extremely busy over the past few days.

First, I want to echo your sentiments regarding respecting each other even while disagreeing fervently with some of each other's viewpoints about the launch sequence. It is ok to disagree, but respecting each other and not taking disagreement personally is important.

Regarding your earlier post, there are a number of points that I think we need to address.

David, you said: “What you describe as “flaws”…is better described…as a rejection of conclusions you have reached based largely on speculation…or random statements by individuals…outside the sphere of the inquiries, and often considerably after the event.”

We do not understand where you got the idea that the accounts from outside the inquiries that we include are often from “considerably after the event”? This is simply incorrect. A quick look through the footnotes of our articles shows this is not the case at all. In fact, the vast majority of the sources are either from the inquiries, or survivor accounts from 1912, and most were given earlier than either Beesley’s or Gracie’s books were published.

We found some errors in your work where your conclusions do not agree with the testimony itself. We will be detailing these ‘flaws’ and other omissions of evidence in an upcoming online critique/article. We also will note cases where you actually quote testimony, but your conclusions are in direct conflict with what the witnesses themselves stated.

We never felt our own article was the appropriate place to discuss the pros and cons of each and every alternate timeline; instead we are presenting what we felt happened that night, based on the body of evidence as a whole.

David wrote: “with the…qualified exception of the works of Gracie and Beesley–I reach my conclusions only based on testimony at the official inquiries, and I take into account the directness of the testimony…and the credibility…The latter is determined…by the degree to which their testimony is internally consistent…”

We also feel that internal consistency is important and we have done our best to achieve that in our research. Working with source testimony from early accounts (testimony from the Inquiries, Beesley and Gracie) is invaluable and certainly commendable.

However, you speak of the importance of taking the body of evidence as a whole, and examining everything in the proper context. We agree that this is absolutely necessary if the truth is to be determined, but this is exactly the opposite of what we believe you have done in your work on the launch sequence.

You openly admit that you have reached your conclusions based only on testimony in the inquiries, as well as Beesley’s and Gracie’s books. This means that you are intentionally ignoring all of the eyewitness accounts and statements from outside of the inquiries.

Ignoring or rejecting these other sources of information without examining each individually and providing specific evidence that proves these sources to be incorrect is nothing less than wholesale rejection of other possible answers. There is good information to be found not only in Gracie and Beesley’s works, but also in the personal letters of survivors, as well as other sources.

Perhaps more confusing to us is your selective use of the inquiry evidence itself, particularly since this is your self-described #1 source. That being the case, why don’t you mention or include the large body of evidence from the inquiries alone that disagree with you?

Accounts such as Poingdestre’s estimate that at 45 minutes after the collision, he heard Smith order the loading of the boats, and the surviving officers’ testimony of how long it took to load and lower a lifeboat once it was ready to take on passengers? Why do you quote some of Rowe’s testimony that supports your findings, but ignore completely his testimony that Collapsible C left the ship 20 minutes before the ship sank? Why don’t you include Boxhall’s testimony that #2 left ½ hour before the ship sank? Questions such as these call into question your conclusions and willingness to view the evidence objectively.

David wrote: “whether Lifeboat 9…left before or after Lifeboat 14…amounts to the question of the departure of the former…Yes, there is an anomaly that you’ve discovered. There is a brief…reference by Scarrot to…McGough having helped launch Lifeboat 14, while…he left the ship in Lifeboat 9…”

What does the length of the reference about McGough have to do with its reliability? As you well know, just because there is only one reference to McGough at #14 doesn’t mean it didn’t happen — especially since there is no legitimate reason for researchers to disbelieve the eyewitness in question. In fact, Scarrott knew McGough personally, and served in the same starboard-watch deck crew with him under Fourth Officer Boxhall. Without a shred of evidence to the contrary, you reject his testimony as an “anomaly” off-hand, simply because your sequence isn’t in line with what this indicates.

David wrote: “This is later than any of the major timetables give for the launching of Lifeboat 9…both Quinn and I give a much earlier time, around 1:00…”

"Other timetables" have nothing to do with our own analysis of the sequence of events and the times we feel are most appropriate to assign to certain events based on the aggregate evidence. Our work is not an attempt to match (or differ from) other "timetables," but is instead an attempt to create an entirely fresh timetable based on the actual testimony and eyewitness evidence, not some preconceived interpretation of it.

At the time we initially worked on our timeline, the only other available timelines were the British Inquiry and one George had previously published in Titanic Tidbits #1 in 1991. Paul Quinn’s timeline in “Dusk to Dawn” was also published in 1999, but not released until after we had finished our research. We used *none* of these in our effort. We went back to the testimonies and other evidence and re-thought it all from scratch. When we revised our article, we stuck with that equation: using original evidence and trying to see how one piece of the puzzle connected with another in the most logical way — and in a way that best harmonized with multiple lines of original testimony wherever possible. And we continue to do that. A consensus of ‘how many timelines agree’ has *nothing* to do with analyzing testimony.

David wrote: Here’s what…makes your conclusion so at odds with everyone else’s. Below is the…testimony of Steward Ward…Can anyone…believe that the time Ward is referring to here is 1:30?! He says that… Murdoch had just previously launched Lifeboat 7… there was no crowd of passengers near the boat (according to you this is ten minutes after Lowe was firing shots near Lifeboat 14…); and…Ward testifies that “a lot of ladies and gentlemen there…were just treating it (the rescue) as a kind of a joke.”

David, your line of thinking here is selective at best. You seem to ignore or fail to recognize the overall context of the evidence. First of all, you make much of the fact that Ward says Murdoch had just previously launched # 7 before working on # 9. Do you reject the testimony and accounts that show that — after he worked on boat #7 - Murdoch worked at # 5, # 3 and # 1 prior to working on # 9? It is clear that Murdoch did not go right from # 7 to # 9.

You mentioned the testimony of Boatswain Mate Albert Haines, but Haines was very clear that “we were turning out the after boats while they were filling the forward ones. As soon as we finished turning the boats out I went to my own station…(A, 660)” And from Ward we know that they didn’t even start to take the covers off the after boats until No. 7 was ready for lowering.

Another omission of evidence is how you don’t mention or even acknowledge Annie Robinson’s testimony where she indicates that # 11 left around 1:35 a.m. Specifically, she said “I do not think we were in the boat more than three-quarters of an hour” before the ship sank (B, 13302-3). And she was wearing a watch.
Of course, this boat was launched shortly after # 9, which indicates a much later launch time for # 9 than what you suggest here.

You also find it unbelievable that there was no crowd or panic around # 9 if it was lowered just after # 14 on the opposite side of the ship, where there were crowds and panic. Several accounts give indication of why this was the case, including that of Beesley, who you said you trust well enough to include in your small and exclusive ring of non-inquiry testimony that you choose to acknowledge. Beesley himself said that after the crew had swung out the aft starboard boats, a rumor began to circulate that men were to be taken off on the port side. He was unsure of where the rumor started, but said that it was “acted on at once by almost all the men,” who went to watch the preparation for lowering the aft port boats. Beesley said that this left the aft starboard side “almost deserted.” This is one of the things that lead to there being a large crowd on the aft port side, and not the aft starboard boats initially.

David wrote: (regarding the launch time of the first starboard boats) “Here you side with the Mersey Commission, that the time was 12:45, while Quinn and I again agree that it was in the range of 12:20 to 12:30.”

We are surprised that you continually bring up Paul Quinn and Senan Molony, as their timelines disagree with yours in some very important respects. You mention where they agree with you, but neglect to mention where they don’t. For example, Paul in his sequence, and Senan in his lifeboat timeline from “The Irish Aboard Titanic” both have #10 as the last of the aft port boats to be launched; Paul has # 8 leaving before # 6, Collapsible C being launched at 2:00, etc. — all of which are conclusions that you continue to reject.

David wrote: “Third Officer Pittman--who helped prepare, and launch the Lifeboat 5…testified, albeit with qualification, that the boat left at !2:30…Further, First Officer Lightoller testified it had taken roughly a half hour to prepare the lifeboats on the forward end, which began five to ten minutes prior to midnight.”

We presented in great detail why we do not believe Pitman’s testimony of 12:30 is correct. Please see our article for this explanation.
Contrary to your suggestion that Lightoller’s testimony somehow supports that the boat preparation began “five to ten minutes prior to midnight,” we know from the testimony that he was first called out by Boxhall 20 minutes after the collision, or 12:00 (which comes from Boxhall, Pitman, and Lightoller himself), when they first began to uncover the boats. Lookout Symons says he heard them strike 8 bells in the nest as he was walking to the Boat Deck. You also ignore the large number of crewmembers and passengers who indicate that the order for passengers to board the boats did not come until around 12:25 a.m. Even Gracie, who you choose to include as a source, said that from his own conclusions and that of others, “it appears that forty-five minutes had now elapsed since the collision” when orders came to load the lifeboats with women and children.

David wrote: “The error that the Mersey Commission made, I suggest in my book, stems from testimony by Rowe that the first rocket he fired was at 12:45, coupled with the assumption that that was the first rocket fired altogether.”

And we don’t think it was an error at all. Again, please see the evidence presented in our article.

Boxhall’s testimony provides evidence that at least one rocket was fired prior to Rowe and Bright even coming to the bridge. Rowe gave conflicting evidence, 50 years later, telling one person that no rockets were fired before he came to the bridge; however, at around the same time he made this statement, Rowe told another person that rockets were fired before he came to the Bridge.

David wrote: “Rowe does not testify to seeing a rocket fired when he observed Lifeboat 7, so one has to surmise that he left for the Bridge before…it was fired.”

Just because Rowe didn’t testify to seeing something doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. This clearly is a glaring inference on your part David. There were lots of things Rowe didn’t testify to: Commotion up on the decks. The funnels blowing off steam, the participation of QM Bright in the launching of the rockets. In fact, if Quartermaster Bright had perished in the sinking, we would never have known about his role in bringing rockets forward or helping QM Rowe fire them, since Rowe doesn’t mention him at all in any of the accounts he gave.

David wrote: “You don’t have much to say about Pittman, except for some extremely inferential and tortured reasoning related to a single statement he made.”

"Not much to say about Pitman?" We devote 5 paragraphs to this! Speaking of counter evidence — where is your counter evidence to our conclusions about Pitman? Other than ignoring our conclusions, David, you are not arguing evidence here at all. We can determine from the eyewitness statements and time estimates that were given by them, that the order to load the lifeboats was not given until around 12:25 a.m., and as the officers of the ship testified, there is a known estimated time frame for how long it would take to load a lifeboat and lower it. You do not even mention any of this evidence in your book or arguments here.

David wrote: “Without any statement by Rowe to this effect--and according to Senan this has been officially confirmed by Rowe…you…speculate that Rowe had re-set his watch…This is what I mean when I say that your arguments often amount to fantasizing.”

We do not rely on survivor recollections that were written down half-a-century after the events in question took place. If you’ll examine all of Rowe’s modern-day recollections, you’ll see that there are so many factual contradictions between his various accounts that it would be utterly foolhardy for any serious researcher to rely on those accounts alone as being historically accurate. By that point, Rowe was giving, within days or months of each other, conflicting evidence as to the time when he saw the boat in the water, whether or not a rocket was fired before he came forward, etc. These contradictions are detailed in his own words in our online article, and are not a matter of interpretation, but a matter of fact.

Senan’s opinion is not evidence, but simply that, his opinion, which he is perfectly entitled to. We read and discussed the same documents and testimony relating to Rowe that he does, and go over them in great detail in our article. I do admit that I am confused as to why you are suddenly citing Rowe’s reminiscences from 50 years after the sinking as evidence, when earlier you falsely accused us of rashly relying on survivor accounts that were written long after the disaster. You say that you rely solely on the inquiry testimony, Beesley and Gracie, all of which are period sources. That’s all well and good - but you have unaccountably neglected to utilize dozens of non-inquiry accounts from survivors that were written immediately after the sinking in 1912. Somewhat of a double-standard isn’t it?

David wrote:
You claim several “officer problems” associated with my conclusions… You claim that Sixth Officer Moody was at Lifeboat 16 when it was launched at 1:20, according to my timetable, but that he was observed at Lifeboats 13 and 15 “finishing up the loading” which I say were launched at 1:25."

This is hardly the only situation where you have an officer problem. In fact, in several cases, you reject the testimony of members of the deck department who state specifically, by name, that Murdoch loaded a particular boat, because you believe it was Wilde. If you didn’t do so, you would end up with even more cases where eyewitness testimony would place officers in two places at once on opposite sides of the ship at once, if your times and lowering sequence was correct. This will be covered in much more detail when we put together our full critique of your conclusions.

David wrote: “there is no definitive sighting of Moody in the loading of 13 and 15…there is a brief reference in testimony (which I can't place at the moment) to an unidentified officer loading these boats from A Deck...Even if it were Moody, there is no time given for when he was helping load people into 13 and 15, so that he still could have been at Lifeboat 16 at 1:20.”

As explained in our article, the evidence does strongly suggest it was Moody. See the paragraph in our article that starts with “Boats #13 and #15 appear to have been launched”. The timing of Moody’s suggested presence at #9, #13 and #15 would almost certainly have been between 1:30 and 1:40. Is the 1:20 time you mention from your own timeline? It sure isn’t from ours. Our article also references the testimony you couldn’t place — Lookout Lee’s account of an unnamed officer who he says was tall, thin, the fifth or sixth officer, and drowned. (You did read our article *carefully*, didn’t you?) We list all of these sources there.

Lee’s description fits Moody exactly and amongst the officers, Moody only, and it is clear he was talking about a member of the deck department, and clarifies it wasn’t Wilde. We know from Lowe’s affidavit and private accounts that Lowe wasn’t involved in the loading of the aft starboard boats, and we can rule out Wilde, Murdoch, Pitman, and Boxhall as being this officer for various and obvious reasons. McElroy doesn’t fit this physical or rank description, and besides, other accounts of an officer and not a purser overseeing the loading from A Deck during the loading of the last two aft starboard boats exist, including Littlejohn’s accounts.

Lee says that this officer was the one “attending to” putting the passengers into the boats on A Deck, and Littlejohn also says this officer was overseeing things there. We know from Beesley and others mention that Murdoch left #13 and # 15 and was seen crossing over to the port side of the ship after ordering them lowered away. Beesley says that after Murdoch’s order, they then stopped at A Deck and took on more passengers there.

We can establish from the testimony of surviving crewmembers that the majority of passengers in those two boats were loaded from A Deck. Since these two boats were amongst the most fully-loaded of the night (#15 had somewhere between 60 and 70 aboard), this means that they had to have been loading from A Deck for more than a few minutes. Since it is apparent in the evidence that Murdoch did not stay on the Boat Deck above # 13 and #15 until they lowered away, this means the officer on A Deck would have been the one overseeing things.

Hope your week is going well.

Kind regards,
Tad
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Generally supporting your comments, Tad, and in particular the following:

David wrote: “there is no definitive sighting of Moody in the loading of 13 and 15…there is a brief reference in testimony (which I can't place at the moment) to an unidentified officer loading these boats from A Deck...Even if it were Moody, there is no time given for when he was helping load people into 13 and 15, so that he still could have been at Lifeboat 16 at 1:20.”

As explained in our article, the evidence does strongly suggest it was Moody. See the paragraph in our article that starts with “Boats #13 and #15 appear to have been launched”. The timing of Moody’s suggested presence at #9, #13 and #15 would almost certainly have been between 1:30 and 1:40. Is the 1:20 time you mention from your own timeline? It sure isn’t from ours. Our article also references the testimony you couldn’t place — Lookout Lee’s account of an unnamed officer who he says was tall, thin, the fifth or sixth officer, and drowned. (You did read our article *carefully*, didn’t you?) We list all of these sources there.

Lee’s description fits Moody exactly and amongst the officers, Moody only, and it is clear he was talking about a member of the deck department, and clarifies it wasn’t Wilde. We know from Lowe’s affidavit and private accounts that Lowe wasn’t involved in the loading of the aft starboard boats, and we can rule out Wilde, Murdoch, Pitman, and Boxhall as being this officer for various and obvious reasons. McElroy doesn’t fit this physical or rank description, and besides, other accounts of an officer and not a purser overseeing the loading from A Deck during the loading of the last two aft starboard boats exist, including Littlejohn’s accounts.

Lee says that this officer was the one “attending to” putting the passengers into the boats on A Deck, and Littlejohn also says this officer was overseeing things there. We know from Beesley and others mention that Murdoch left #13 and # 15 and was seen crossing over to the port side of the ship after ordering them lowered away. Beesley says that after Murdoch’s order, they then stopped at A Deck and took on more passengers there.

I'd also add that Lee's description of the officer's "fresh" complexion also accords with contemporary accounts of this fair skinned young man. If not Moody, then who was this six-foot tall, "spare" built deck officer with a notably fresh complexion, who occupied the rank of about fifth of sixth officer, and whom Lee thought went on to drown? The candidates are rather limited.
 

Tad G. Fitch

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Dec 31, 2005
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Hello Inger, how are you? Thanks for your post. I had forgotten to mention that aspect of Lee's description, but you raise a valid point, since Lee's exact physical description is so prevalent in so many other descriptions of Moody, nevermind the fact that he specifies 5th or 6th officer, and that he was drowned.

As a member of the deck department, Lee would have known or at least recognized the officers of the ship, and would be unlikely to mistake a member of the victualling department as one of the officers, particularly giving a description entirely inconsistent with McElroy as David suggests.

Littlejohn also said in his accounts that an officer was overseeing the loading of # 13 and # 15 from A Deck, and as a member of the victualling department, he said it was an officer.

I hope that you are doing well. We'll have to catch up on things one of these days.

All my best,
Tad
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Hi, David.

As posted above, it seems we have concensus that the officer who helped load the aft starboard boats was *very probably* Moody.

It's been a week - do you have any responses to any of the issues posted above by Sam, Tad and Inger?
 
Jan 10, 2006
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Bill,

My apologies. I do have something to say, but this is a very busy time for me at work so it hasn't been possible to get to it. I should be posting something within a week.

DG
 
Jan 10, 2006
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Tad, Samuel, Bill,

Thanks for the lengthy responses, As promised, I will respond in kind.

First, on something not related to the immediate issues we are discussing, I don’t refer to others who agree with me on some matter, because I think that proves I am right. I certainly do disagree with you, Mahoney and Quinn with regard to Lifeboat 10, siding in that case with the Mersey Commission. The reason I refer to what others say is simply that serious research articles locate the views they are advancing in relation to other views on the topic. In other words, this kind of writing is a dialogue.

Having said that, I’m not going to pursue here the question of Moody at the starboard aft lifeboats. To me it seems a trivial issue.

On the other hand, the other two (related) issues you raised– when the first starboard boats on the forward end left the ship, and when Lifeboat 9 left–are not trivial. They ultimately enter into the question of when Collapsible C was launched, which in turn has to do with what I believe is a key sub-text of your work and Quinn’s, among many, many others, notably Walter Lord and James Cameron. Namely, a deep-seated belief that there was a rush of Third Class men into the forward end as the ship was literally going under, causing a melee in the launching of Collapsible C--as testified to by Hugh Woolner at the Senate investigation–and that this possibly led to shots being fired by an officer in the vicinity of one of the collapsibles, and possibly the officer shooting himself.

The import of our disagreement (to me, anyway) is that the Mersey Commission finding that C left at 1:40--which I argue is more than adequately supported by the weight of the evidence–takes the ground away from this conventional, melodramatic (and metaphorically problematic) picture of the last moments on the ship. This is why, from my end, there is some passion behind what would otherwise be yet another antiquarian exchange.

Since you’ve opened up a number of fronts, I am going to confine myself in this post to the issue of when the first boats left the starboard side. I hope to follow up within a week or so on the question of the departure time of Lifeboat 9. After that I’ll wait for your forthcoming analytic critique of my book.

The issue of when the first lifeboats were launched from the starboard side, revolves around a roughly twenty minute discrepancy between your view and mine, that more or less is carried forward to the discrepancy in the times we give for the launching of Collapsible C. Your contention, as I understand it, is still that Rowe was on an adjusted time when he testified to seeing the first boat, no. 7, alone in the water at 12:25. You infer from this a time of 12:50 to 12:55 before all three boats had been launched. In addition, you are arguing that the boats were not loaded until 12:25, and infer from that the same time of 12:50 to 12:55 for all of the three boats to be in the water.

My view is quite different of course. Your first crucial claim that Rowe testified in adjusted time has no evidentiary basis. It moves beyond improbable inference into pure conjecture. I take Rowe’s testimony (amazingly enough) at its word. It is direct first-hand testimony that the first boat on the starboard side was in the water around 12:25. In a similar fashion, I credit Third Officer Pitman’s testimony at its word, that the second boat, Lifeboat 5 left at around 12:30, and that as testified to by Lowe, Lifeboat 3 left a few minutes after that. Thus rather than a time of 12:50 to 12:55, simply from the direct evidence I arrive at a time of 12:30 to 12:35. (I should say there is an error in two of my tables in the book that give the launching of Lifeboat 5 as 12:25, but as the text makes clear the correct time is 12:30.)

It is important to keep in mind that most of what we do know about the early preparation of the boats on the forward end comes from Lightoller, whose interactions as he describes them, were largely with Wilde, and at certain key moments (according to him) with Smith.

When it came to the loading the boats, Lightoller exclusively was on the port side (and soon would be engaged in his ongoing struggle with Lifeboat 4 on A Deck). He has almost nothing to say, and therefore we know very little about, the timing of Murdoch’s activities, including the loading of Lifeboat 7. What we do know is that along with Lightoller, Murdoch had been supervising the preparation of the boats on the forward end, with Wilde overseeing the whole operation, and being the one primarily in direct communication with Smith.

Boxhall indicated in testimony that neither he nor Smith were aware that Lifeboat 7 had been launched until it was already in the water and had been spotted by Rowe. It would seem then that either Murdoch had been told at some point by Smith or, more likely, by Wilde, to begin loading boats even before all the boats had on the forward end had been prepared, or he took it upon himself to do so.

In any case, it is quite feasible that Murdoch began loading no. 7 as early as around 12:10 to 12:15. This early time is consistent with Pitman’s testimony that Lifeboat 5 was just being uncovered at around 12:20, and that it might even have been that Pitman arrived five minutes earlier than that. According to Pitman, Murdoch was already working at these boats and ordered him to assist, at around 12:20. Hence a departure time of between 12:20 and 12:25 for Lifeboat 7, as testified to by Rowe, and a launching of Lifeboats 5 and 3 between 12:30 and 12:35, is not inconsistent either with Pitman’s testimony or Rowe’s..

You offer up two basic counter-arguments to the above. One is that “the order to load the boats” was at 12:25 so that the three boats on the starboard side must have been launched later than that, and by implication, according to your time-table, that indeed it took from thirty to forty minutes to load these boats. Second, you contend that Pitman’s testimony is fatally flawed, and by implication, the time of 12:30 that he testified to, must have been off by twenty to twenty-five minutes, according to your time table. Both arguments are therefore improbable on the surface, but I’ll address each in somewhat more detail.

With regard to the first, with all due respect, are you saying that there was one big order that was given–kind of like a grade B movie--Captain Smith announcing for all to hear that at that moment the loading of lifeboats could commence. And at that moment and no a moment before, there could not have been lifeboats on the forward end to have been loaded, let alone launched.

Let’s leave the movie theatre and consider that in the real world the orders to load the boats, like the orders to bring passengers up to the Boat Deck, were filtered through a chain of command that on the Titanic, not atypically, spread out as it got to lower levels, where the detailed activities took place.

Therefore any order took effect through different people, at different times, in different localities and even in different words with different meanings and with different effects. Lightoller’s testimony itself indicates that there was no single grand announcement that the boats be loaded, and in fact Lightoller testified that he had little contact or knowledge about what Murdoch was doing.

Smith at this time was primarily concerned with contacting other ships. In general, it was up to Wilde to make operational decisions and to convey Smith’s broad orders to the senior officers, who were responsible for having these orders implemented. Just as he was in contact with Lightoller, no doubt Wilde was in contact with Murdoch as well, but of course we have no witnesses to what orders Murdoch was actually given.

To make the point perhaps more clearly, you cite Poingdestre’s testimony, the heart of which is:
The Commissioner:
He first said he went to this place to get his boots three-quarters of an hour after the collision, and that when he got his boots and was coming out then the wooden bulkhead gave way. That must have been, if anything, longer than three-quarters of an hour.
It is very difficult, my Lord.
Poingdestre:
Well, about three-quarters of an hour, my Lord.
The Commissioner:
It is near enough.
2873. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) You cleared out, you say?
Poingdestre: Yes.
2874. Where did you go to then?
- I was going up on to the boat deck to go towards my own boat, and I heard the Captain pass the remark, "Start putting the women and children in the boats," and then I went to my boat, No. 12.

All that we know from this supposed evidence is that on his way to preparing boats on the port side aft, Poingdestre heard the Captain “pass the remark, ‘start putting women and children in the boats’.” Granting that this was around 12:25, since Poingdestre was likely on the port side, being on his way to no. 12, and since it is well-documented that Smith assisted in the loading of Lifeboat 8, and since nos. 6 and 8 would have been ready to be loaded at around this time, it does not seem improbable that Poingdestre heard an order by Smith to load them. In any case, how on earth does this bear one way or another on when the first three boats on the starboard side were loaded and launched by Murdoch?

Turning briefly to your other counter-argument, discrediting Pitman’s testimony, you don’t dispute Pitman’s estimate of 12:20 as when he arrived at Lifeboat 5, but you argue that the boat could not have been loaded and launched by 12:30.

You really have to inflate the time it would have taken to prepare and load these three boats, to arrive at your conclusions. These boats, with three top officers overseeing the operation, and a remarkable twenty-four crew members who entered them–and with no time being taken to look for more passengers, would not have taken, as your timetable suggests, thirty-five to forty-five minutes to be loaded and launched.

Pitman, assisted by four “sailors”, and racing for time, filled lifeboat 5 only to 55% capacity (Lifeboat 7 was only filled to 43% and no. 5 to 60%), he took seven other crew members aboard, and he himself estimated that he got the boat in the water in about ten minutes. Even if he were off by five or ten minutes it would still mean that the boat was launched fifteen to twenty minutes before you say it was launched. Finally, as I’ve suggested, it is quite possible that Pitman erred on the other side, having arrived at the boat around 12:15 instead of 12:20, making a 12:25 to 12:30 launch time plausible.

Much of the rest of your argument has to do with the claim that Pitman’s time does not correspond to the grand 12:25 order to load the boats, with all your witnesses on the starboard side, and which I’ve sufficiently discussed.

I will have more to say about the launching of Lifeboat 9 in a later post.

DG
 
Mar 27, 2004
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David,

I am forced to wonder, reading your above posts, if you've bothered to read (or at least carefully read) the 2009 version of my book, Atlantic Liners: A Trio of Trios. This is why: First of all, you could not even remember how to correctly spell my name in your early posts. Secondly, I have not seen an order come through the publisher directly (up to this time), and neither have I seen any orders from you directly through any of the methods I have for making this book available. Finally and perhaps most importantly, your responses and assertions about what we are supposedly trying to argue, where we got our evidence, and why we reach certain conclusions (including your post from just earlier today) go in direct contradiction to much of the information that was made available through that publication.

If you have not done so already, I would recommend that you pick up a copy of that book and read the main text as well as all footnotes and endnotes in the Titanic chapter, and take it in conjunction with all evidence presented in the lifeboat article. The two pieces were researched concurrently and are mutually supportive. To read one without reading the other would be missing a large piece of the overall picture that we have managed to reconstruct.

Take care!
 

Tad G. Fitch

Member
Dec 31, 2005
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David, thanks for your response to our inquiries. I hope that you are doing well.

David wrote: "I don’t refer to others who agree with me on some matter, because I think that proves I am right... The reason I refer to what others say is simply that serious research articles locate the views they are advancing in relation to other views on the topic."

The viewpoints of other authors means very little, and does not constitute a discussion of the actual evidence. Your citations of specific opinions on the lifeboat sequence held by Quinn or Molony that you agree with (coupled with the fact that you always fail to mention the areas where Molony and Quinn disagree with you) leaves one with the impression that you think your selective quoting of other authors somehow buttresses your own conclusions that are similar. On the other hand, we started our lifeboat research from "scratch," and built it from the ground up, not relying on previous works by others, but on the eyewitness accounts and statements themselves, not any preconceived notions. The timeline that we have reconstructed takes into account a far larger range of evidence than just what lifeboats were loaded or lowered when. The estimated launch times that we have in our article fit into that larger, and vitally important, picture and timeline of events that night, both on the Boat Deck, and elsewhere. Our revised article also reflects our willingness to revise our opinion or findings on certain points when new evidence necessitates such alterations.

David wrote: "Having said that, I’m not going to pursue here the question of Moody at the starboard aft lifeboats. To me it seems a trivial issue."

Several of us posed the specific question to you of what evidence you have that supports this officer being anyone other than Moody. Inger, Sam, and myself provided specific evidence supporting our conclusions on this, which you have not addressed. This is not a "trivial issue" as you put it. The officer movements are just one of many critical pieces of evidence that need to be taken into account, along with the body of evidence as a whole, if an accurate timeline is to be reached. As it stands now, you are forced to attempt to discredit the eyewitness statements of who was where and when, or else your times for the lowerings would have some of the officers in two places at once, including Moody. (Another example is your dismissal of Evans' and Buley's sighting of Murdoch at #10. This is despite the fact that both men were members of the deck department, Evans having served with Murdoch previously on the Olympic, and both men were very likely to know Murdoch by sight. Why do you dismiss this? Because otherwise your proposed times have Murdoch on two sides of the ship at once. Also, it calls into question your assumption that # 10 left right after # 8, with Wilde going right from the one boat, to the other!).

David wrote: "They ultimately enter into the question of when Collapsible C was launched...which in turn has to do with what I believe is a key sub-text of your work and Quinn’s...Namely, a deep-seated belief that there was a rush of Third Class men into the forward end as the ship was literally going under, causing a melee in the launching of Collapsible C--as testified to by Hugh Woolner at the Senate investigation–and that this possibly led to shots being fired by an officer in the vicinity of one of the collapsibles, and possibly the officer shooting himself."

The key phrase here is when you say "what I believe." You are completely wrong in assuming any alleged shooting event has anything to do with how we reached the conclusion of when Collapsible C left the ship. We know that you are fully aware of this, since we have previously spelled out to you specific eyewitness testimony and accounts that prove Collapsible C left the ship closer to 2:00, but you have failed to address this testimony at all. (I can link to the old threads if you wish). Rowe's statement that the ship sank just 20 minutes after he left in C, Carter's statements giving a similar time estimate, Ismay estimating even less time than them, etc., are just some of the many lines of evidence here which you do not include in your book or have completely failed to address, and none of these have anything to do with any supposed "melee" of third class passengers.

David wrote:
"My view is quite different of course. Your first crucial claim that Rowe testified in adjusted time has no evidentiary basis. It moves beyond improbable inference into pure conjecture. I take Rowe’s testimony (amazingly enough) at its word. It is direct first-hand testimony that the first boat on the starboard side was in the water around 12:25."

A more accurate statement would be that you take at face value the statements of Rowe's which you agree with, and that you ignore the statements of his which you don't agree with, without explaining why or even bringing it up (e.g. Rowe's time estimate of the ship sinking just 20 minutes after Collapsible C left the ship.) We have already pointed out that Rowe gave conflicting accounts over the years, of his actions and the timing of events, and several times estimates, including 12:25 for when the first lifeboat lowered away. He also said 12:30 and 1:00 a.m. in other accounts. In one account, he even admitted when asked about the timing of a certain event that he never "thought of or about a watch." So the time estimates given by him need to be scrutinized in the context of the larger body of evidence. His time of the collision passes this test, his time for the first and last boat on the starboard side does not. When Rowe said that he saw in a boat in water at a time when numerous other witnesses said the order to load the boats had only just come down, it is clear that Rowe’s statement cannot be relied upon.

And if you want to talk about "pure conjecture", let's talk about your book's statements, without any evidence whatsoever, that Lowe went to the port A Deck to lower the windows for # 4. Or Moody being at # 6.

David wrote: "It is important to keep in mind that most of what we do know about the early preparation of the boats on the forward end comes from Lightoller, whose interactions as he describes them, were largely with Wilde, and at certain key moments (according to him) with Smith."

It is puzzling that you apparently limit yourself to Lightoller's recollections about early lifeboat preparations, because additional evidence on the subject is available from a wide variety of additional crewmembers and passengers. Most of what we know does not come from Lightoller alone. The sum total of this additional evidence supports the timeline that we have compiled in both the lifeboat article and in J. Kent Layton's Atlantic Liners: A Trio of Trios.

This is in line with another point from the previous posts that you have thus far ignored: You have freely admitted that the only sources you consider credible are the inquiries, as well as Beesley and Gracie. By limiting yourself to these sources alone, you have literally ignored dozens of reliable eyewitness accounts without even bothering to see what they say. How can you claim to give a full picture of what happened if you don't even take the full body of evidence into account?

David wrote: "With regard to the first, with all due respect, are you saying that there was one big order that was given–kind of like a grade B movie--Captain Smith announcing for all to hear that at that moment the loading of lifeboats could commence. And at that moment and no a moment before, there could not have been lifeboats on the forward end to have been loaded, let alone launched."

There is nothing cinematically dramatic about the evidence offered by crew and passengers who recalled the events in question, and no dramatic license has been given in our lifeboat article. It is based solely on eyewitness statements, not on conjecture.

David wrote: "In any case, how on earth does this bear one way or another on when the first three boats on the starboard side were loaded and launched by Murdoch?"

Let me explain it to you. Besides Poingdestre (who you mention in your post), Lightoller, Hart, Hichens, Gracie, Shelley, Mackay, and others all stated times or gave estimates indicating that the order to load the boats with passengers was not given until sometime around 12:25 a.m. In our article, we have also provided strong eyewitness evidence that Captain Smith did not even learn the ship was doomed until 12:25 or so. Both the delivery of Andrews' news and the order to load the boats with passengers were given around 12:25. This is also close to 12:27, when the first CQD was sent out. You have never addressed any of the specific eyewitness accounts relating to this. These eyewitnesses were all in different areas of the ship, and are a mix of passengers and crewmembers. It wasn't just those people in one particular section of the ship who said this, and they all estimate the order to load the boats coming down at roughly the same time.

David wrote: "Smith at this time was primarily concerned with contacting other ships."

Strictly speaking, this is a demonstrably false statement. Smith was involved in many matters between 11:40 and 12:25, and his movements can be followed in a fair amount of detail, with specific time references and time frames given by the eyewitnesses. If you had read our article or Kent's book carefully, you would be aware that there are eyewitness accounts disproving your statement.

David wrote: "You really have to inflate the time it would have taken to prepare and load these three boats, to arrive at your conclusions."

The estimates of how long it would take to prepare and load the lifeboats does not come from our own conclusions, but rather is based upon specific testimony from survivors (chief amongst them, Lightoller and Lowe), as well as known procedures for loading and preparing lifeboats, and a wealth of technical information available to everyone on just how these mechanisms worked.

Even giving you the benefit of the doubt and removing several minutes from the estimates that Lightoller and Lowe gave regarding the length of time it took to load and lower a boat, it still would have taken 15 minutes from when they started to uncover until it is ready for loading, and then 10-15 minutes to load a boat, depending how many are put in and any reluctance of passengers to enter, etc. Another account is from Nichols who said it took about 20 minutes to load and lower #15, which was quite full.

David wrote: "I will have more to say about the launching of Lifeboat 9 in a later post."

Instead of doing that, it might be better if you were to address the many unanswered questions and points that I directed at you in my post, as well as the questions Sam, Inger, and the others put to you in their posts but which you have not acknowledged.

As far as our critique of your work, do not misunderstand us. It will not be a review of your book as a whole, just of your conclusions relating to the lifeboat launch sequence. As we have stated previously, while we disagree with you in that area, you make some interesting points regarding the third class passengers in your book and we have recommend that others read it, despite our disagreement with you on the lifeboat findings.

I hope that you have a great weekend.

Kind regards,
Tad
 
Jan 10, 2006
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Tad,

You write:

“Instead of doing that, it might be better if you were to address the many unanswered questions and points that I directed at you in my post, as well as the questions Sam, Inger, and the others put to you in their posts but which you have not acknowledged.”

Well, as far as the question of Moody is concerned, Inger and I have been through this before, and anyway I don’t dismiss out of hand the possibility that the officer referred to was Moody. What more can I say?

Many other points you and Sam make have to do with other departure times–Collapsible C, no. 10, no. 4,no. 6 and on and on, and this is not the time or place I want to address them (see my book). You initially cited two major areas where you thought my ideas were wanting–the departure time of the first boats launched and the departure time of Lifeboat 9. Those are the areas I am trying to briefly to address.

In terms of positive evidence, concerning the first boats launched, the most telling rejoinder the two of you make in your last posts, rests on a false assumption (one might say, conceit), that there was a single point in space/time–12:25 on the forward end--when an order came down from Smith that the boats be loaded. Therefore, implicitly, no boat could have been loaded prior to that.

I don’t need to respond to each single “eye-witness” you cite along these lines--and anyway I don’t disagree that the order to load the boats on the port side was around 12:25, which is all you demonstrate. But your assumption is relaxed there is no evidence left about the boats on the starboard side, loaded by Murdoch, which are the boats after all that we are discussing.

As you know, Pitman, once Lifeboat 5 was ready to be loaded (and Lifeboat 7 was in the water), checked with Smith, and was told to “carry on.” Presumably meaning to load and launch the boat as ordered by Murdoch (and Ismay).. This is quite consistent with Pitman’s testimony that he arrived at the boat around 12:20. And you have not demonstrated at all that Murdoch was already loading Lifeboat 7 at that point, or that around ten minutes later, Lifeboat 5 was in the water.

Your other argument, attempting to discredit Pitman’s testimony, coupled with the above belief that the starboard side boats were ordered loaded no earlier than 12:25 implies, by your time-table, that it took twenty-five to thirty minutes (by the way, I misstated these numbers by accident in my last post) to simply load these boats and launch them.

This is what you wrote, referring to Lifeboat 5:

“Even giving you the benefit of the doubt and removing several minutes from the estimates that Lightoller and Lowe gave regarding the length of time it took to load and lower a boat, it still would have taken 15 minutes from when they started to uncover until it is ready for loading, and then 10-15 minutes to load a boat…”

Since they were presumably uncovered by 12:25, when Smith gave the grand order to load the boats on the forward end, Lifeboat 5 should have been in the water ten to fifteen minutes later; that is, between 12:35 and 12:40, not between 12:50 and 12:55, as you would have it.

There is also a sleight of hand you perform when calculating the time it must have taken for Pitman to launch the boat. Pitman’s testimony was not that the boat was just beginning to be uncovered when he arrived at 12:20.

Pitman was asked, “was the cover being stripped at the time you got there?” To which he replied, “It was being uncovered then, yes.” A previous statement of Pitman’s as to the state of the boat when he arrived was, “well the cover was still on” could thus be easily interpreted to mean that the boat was not far from being ready to load; which would have been the time Murdoch was most likely to have summoned Pitman to the boat in the first place.

DG
 
Mar 22, 2003
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www.titanicology.com
David, you said:

>>A previous statement of Pitman’s as to the state of the boat when he arrived was, “well the cover was still on” could thus be easily interpreted to mean that the boat was not far from being ready to load.<<

How can you possibly suggest that? Not far from being ready to load with the cover still on? Before anything much can be done with a boat the cover had to be first unlaced and taken off. Then they had to take the grips off, ship the rudder, put in the plug while hopefully you had others who would be getting out and coiling the falls, getting the oars unlashed, etc., then swing the boat out and lower to the rail and make fast. There are estimates of how long all that took in the testimonies. It was not a 5 minute deal. If Pitman came to No. 5 about 12:20, and they were still stripping the cover off, then I see no possible way that No. 5 could be loaded and ready to lower by 12:30 as you have it. The only sleight of hand being played here I'm afraid is what you are suggesting.
 
Dec 6, 2000
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David wrote:
"this is not the time or place I want to address them (see my book)"

We did. Which is why we are now writing a full article to point out the flaws in your lifeboat launching timeline.

"you have not demonstrated at all that Murdoch was already loading Lifeboat 7 at that point, or that around ten minutes later, Lifeboat 5 was in the water."

Of course we wouldn't attempt to prove #5 left 10 minutes after #7, as our timeline has only 5 minutes!

Let's also keep in mind that Pitman did just a bit more than David says above, in those 10 minutes. He talked to Ismay about loading the lifeboat, and also went to the bridge looking for Captain Smith to see if he should load the boat. These items will add at least a few more minutes to however long it took him to finish these things. Making 10 minutes even less likely to be correct.
 

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