When and where did Smith know the ship was doomed?


May 3, 2005
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Hi Jim,

The answer to your question is here from a post on my Titanic blog:

Titanic's Secrets Unfold

Monday, January 28, 2013

Exactly when did Capt.Smith know the Titanic was doomed?

The answer to that question determines how swiftly the Captain reacted to order the evacuation of the ship.

Some commentators have said Capt. Smith didn't know for 45 to 50 minutes. As I demonstrated here--
http://titanicsecrets.blogspot.com/2009/07/first-boats-cutting-gordian-knot.html-- the Captain knew in less than half that time that the Titanic was sinking and there was nothing he could do about it.

Now I've uncovered a long-lost newspaper account that narrows the time frame more precisely.

Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall was asked the question specifically at the British Inquiry into the sinking of the Titanic.

May 22, 1912
British Inquiry

15610. Did you hear the Captain say anything to anybody about the ship being doomed?
- The Captain did remark something to me in the earlier part of the evening after the order had been given to clear the boats. I encountered him when reporting something to him, or something, and he was inquiring about the men going on with the work, and I said, "Yes, they are carrying on all right." I said, "Is it really serious?" He said, "Mr. Andrews tells me he gives her from an hour to an hour and a half." That must have been some little time afterwards. Evidently Mr. Andrews had been down.

15611. Can you tell us how long it was after the collision that the Captain said that?
- No, I have not the slightest idea.

15612. Did you say as a matter of fact in America that it was about 20 minutes after the collision?
- No, I do not think so.

15613. You could not fix the time?
- I cannot fix the time; I have tried, but I cannot.


I have discovered the source of that question, and the telling answer that Boxhall failed to give in England.

Exactly one month earlier, on April 22, 1912, Boxhall testified before the U.S. Senate Inquiry into the disaster. A week after that, Sen. Theodore E. Burton. a member of the panel hearing evidence, had a private meeting with Boxhall. The fruit of that meeting was revealed the next day. Associated Press reported the story and it appeared in newspapers on April 30, 1912. I've found it in the Boston Evening Transcript and the Trenton True American. Here it is as printed in Pittsburgh's Gazette Times, May 2, 1912:

(Associated Press to Gazette Times)

White Star Line Withheld News 12 Hours

Captain Felt Doom

"Washington, April 30---Before the hearing was resumed today Senator Burton announced that he had examined Fourth Officer Boxhall late last night and had learned from him that J.W.Andrews, builder of the Titanic, who went down with the ship, told Capt. Smith after the collision that the boat would sink within an hour.
:"I had a long talk with Officer Boxhall," said Senator Burton," and asked him to recall if he could what he heard Capt.Smith say on the deck of the ship after the collision. Boxhall recalled several trivial things that had been said on the bridge and about the deck before the order was given to get out the lifeboats and then recollected what the Captain had said about the condition of the ship a few minutes after the collision.

Captain Knew He was Doomed

He said Capt. Smith had told him about 20 minutes after the collision that the Titanic was doomed and that J.W.Andrews, representing the builders, had given him the information. Andrews had gone over the ship immediately after the crash and discovered that her hull had been ripped open. He told the Captain that the ship could not be saved."
This testimony is corroborative of that given by Samuel Hemming, a seaman, who said the boatswain woke up (sic) with the exclamation "Get out of here, you only have half an hour to live. This comes from Andrews. Keep it to yourselves."
Senator Burton planned to have Boxhall recalled to the stand before leaving for England to be questioned further about this incident."


Obviously, Boxhall was not recalled before the Senate committee. But Burton's information formed the basis of the question asked of Boxhall in London.

Why did Boxhall profess in London that he couldn't remember when his conversation with the Captain took place?

Was the '' J.W. Andrews , representing the builders '' in those articles really should have been Thomas Andrews ?
Is there any truth to a meeting of Smith, Andrews and Ismay all together at one time as depicted in the movies ?
 

George Jacub

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Was the '' J.W. Andrews , representing the builders '' in those articles really should have been Thomas Andrews ? Is there any truth to a meeting of Smith, Andrews and Ismay all together at one time as depicted in the movies ?

Assistant Purser Frank Prentice was quoted in an article in Maclean’s magazine (Canada's version of Time and Newsweek magazines) , in April, 1977, ("A night still remembered" by Carol Kennedy ). He said:
"… I happened to be up on the boat deck and I saw Thomas Andrews, the designer, Bruce Ismay, the chairman and Captain Smith, talking together. I heard Ismay say to Andrews: "What’s the position? Is there any news?" And Andrews said: "Well, sir, the position is that she’s going to sink. There’s nothing that can stop us sinking. The water’s just coming straight up. The bulkheads won’t help her in any way at all."
 

Seumas

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Assistant Purser Frank Prentice was quoted in an article in Maclean’s magazine (Canada's version of Time and Newsweek magazines) , in April, 1977, ("A night still remembered" by Carol Kennedy ). He said:
"… I happened to be up on the boat deck and I saw Thomas Andrews, the designer, Bruce Ismay, the chairman and Captain Smith, talking together. I heard Ismay say to Andrews: "What’s the position? Is there any news?" And Andrews said: "Well, sir, the position is that she’s going to sink. There’s nothing that can stop us sinking. The water’s just coming straight up. The bulkheads won’t help her in any way at all."

I'd be rather careful about taking Frank Prentice's word for things.

In his later years, he was either very forgetful and/or very creative with the truth. For example:

  • Prentice wasn't an "Assistant Purser" at all. He was a humble storekeeper. I think I know why he did this though. Prentice later left the sea and became a successful car salesman in Bournemouth (he is listed as such on the 1939 ID card register of England & Wales), the latter is a well-to-do town on England's south coast. As he rose in social circumstance with people wanting to hear from this Titanic survivor, he may have felt that claiming he worked for the pursers staff sounded better than being a mere storekeeper in the victualling department.
  • Then he claimed in a 1960s BBC interview to have witnessed the lowering of the first two lifeboats and that they both capsized and their occupants drowned because the boats were incompetently lowered. This simply did not happen, the multiple witnesses from Lifeboats 5 & 7 for a start ! Prentice might have witnessed Collapsibles A & B float off the deck and decades later got things all jumbled up in his mind.
  • He offered two quite different stories as to what happened to his friend Cyril Ricks (another storekeeper). The first was that he found Ricks in the water after the ship had went down and that Ricks was unconscious with a bad wound on his head presumably from having struck some wreckage. However in an interview shortly before Prentice died he said that Ricks had instead broken both his legs and was lucid until the cold water finally overwhelmed him.
  • To cap it all off he claimed to have floated in the freezing cold water for four hours before being rescued. This would have required superhuman strength and endurance to do so. Quite simply, Prentice would never have lasted anywhere near that long in the water. In actual fact he was hauled from the sea by his shipmates in boat 4, probably within about half an hour of the ship going down.
So Prentice truly may have seen Captain Smith, Bruce Ismay and Thomas Andrews on deck discussing the ship's fate but the fact is that he wasn't a very reliable or consistent witness and we should be cautious about taking his word for things.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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we should be cautious about taking his word for things.
This could said about almost every witness. Speaking about inconsistency, Harold Bride is a good example of that, so much so, that one point the attorney general remarked, "It is not very material [speaking about the line of questioning at that point] except that one likes to be satisfied we have got hold of the same gentleman who gave evidence in America."
 

Seumas

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That's quite true Sam and as a devoted historian of the Titanic yourself I've no doubt you've read quite a number of wildly confusing and contradictory accounts from survivors.

What bothers me about is Prentice's account is has more contradictions and if I may go so far, inventions, than most other survivors.

Another of Prentice's claims that I forgot to mention earlier was that he also claimed that at Cobh he personally helped load a considerable quantity of gold and silver bullion aboard the ship. Other people have looked into this in the last twenty years and have found not a scrap of evidence for any gold or silver bullion ever being loaded at Cobh.

A curious fellow was Frank Prentice.
 
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B-rad

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I do not believe that Andrews came to the bridge until later in the sinking. The first reference we have of Andrews is Johnstone. I believe that Andrews thinking like most that something happened with the engines went to the engine room. captain smith followed shortly there after.
 

Thomas C.

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I do not believe that Andrews came to the bridge until later in the sinking. The first reference we have of Andrews is Johnstone.

Yes, if we rely only on testimonies from the inquiries. And no, if we include other sources of information.

Mrs. Cassebeer said in her account:
''I was reclining on a couch in my room at the time and I had summoned a stewardess to inquire if it would be safe for me to allow the electric grate to burn throughout the night. She assured me that it would and immediately after she had left my cabin the shock of the cabin came. It sounded as if something were grinding and tearing away the very entrails of the monster liner. I knew immediately that there was something radically wrong and slipping on a kimono and slippers, I hurried on deck where I met Harry Anderson, a fellow passenger, and together we made our way to the bow of the boat where we found a litter of small particles of ice which was torn from the iceberg by force of the impact. We could see the berg towering some 75 to 100 feet out of the sea, and, as I afterwards learned only one-fifth of the iceberg shows above the water you can imagine the enormous size of that mountain of ice. Here we also met Thomas Andrews, who, I understand was the designer of the Titanic. In answer to many questions he assured everybody that we were absolutely safe and that the Titanic was absolutely unsinkable. He said that she could break in three separate and distinct parts and that each part would stay afloat indefinitely.''

August Weikman, ship berber also met Andrews.
''Gus stated that as soon as the liner hit the berg he hurried up to the deck. On the way up he met Mr. Andrews, the builder of the boat, and in answer to his question as to what the situation was the builder replied "My God, it's serious." Mr. Weikman also met Captain Smith on the stairway and spoke to him concerning the extent of the damage. The Captain made no reply.''

He confirmed his story in his affidavit
''I was sitting in my barber shop on Sunday night, April 14, 1912, at 11.40 p. m., when the collision occurred. I went forward to the steerage on "G" deck and saw one of the baggage-masters, and he told me that water was coming in in the baggage room on the deck below. I think the baggageman's name was Bessant. I then went upstairs and met Mr. Andrews, the "builder," and he was giving instructions to get the steerage passengers "on deck." I proceeded along "E" deck to my room on "C" deck...
...I helped to launch the boats, and there seemed to be a shortage of women. When I was on "E" deck I met the captain returning from "G" deck, who had been there with Mr. Andrews, and the captain was on the bridge at that time.


For me it seems that Andrews after collision, went on the bridge. After Captain told him about the report of the carpenter, they went below.
Propably between 11 50 and 12 00.
 

Jim Currie

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Captain Smith knew his ship was doomed the minute his Carpenter reported the sounding to him. What he did not know, was how long she would take to sink. like all fully Qualified Extra Masters, he would know very well how to determine that, but did not have the luxury of time to get out pencil and paper. That was the job of the builder's representative, Thomas Andrews, Andrews would get the plans out and from the times and rates of flooding as well as the location of the flooding, would be able to get a very good idea as to when the ship would lose all reserve buoyancy and sink.

If you want nonsense in it's purest form... ask the question why it was that although Captain Smith must have known within ten minutes of impact that his ship was doomed and 5 minutes later had all the Deck Officers and crew to stations and had the boats turned out and the passengers and rest of the crew called, he waited for yet another 20 minutes before calling for help?

What is for absolute certain is the fact that Smith would not have relied on anyone to advise him on what to do immediately following a collision of any kind. Nor would he have waited for a builder's representative's report before calling for help. Total rubbish of the first order.
Within 10 minutes of impact, the poor man knew his ship wasn't going anywhere and that he urgently needed help.
 
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B-rad

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Yes, if we rely only on testimonies from the inquiries. And no, if we include other sources of information.

Mrs. Cassebeer said in her account:
''I was reclining on a couch in my room at the time and I had summoned a stewardess to inquire if it would be safe for me to allow the electric grate to burn throughout the night. She assured me that it would and immediately after she had left my cabin the shock of the cabin came. It sounded as if something were grinding and tearing away the very entrails of the monster liner. I knew immediately that there was something radically wrong and slipping on a kimono and slippers, I hurried on deck where I met Harry Anderson, a fellow passenger, and together we made our way to the bow of the boat where we found a litter of small particles of ice which was torn from the iceberg by force of the impact. We could see the berg towering some 75 to 100 feet out of the sea, and, as I afterwards learned only one-fifth of the iceberg shows above the water you can imagine the enormous size of that mountain of ice. Here we also met Thomas Andrews, who, I understand was the designer of the Titanic. In answer to many questions he assured everybody that we were absolutely safe and that the Titanic was absolutely unsinkable. He said that she could break in three separate and distinct parts and that each part would stay afloat indefinitely.''

August Weikman, ship berber also met Andrews.
''Gus stated that as soon as the liner hit the berg he hurried up to the deck. On the way up he met Mr. Andrews, the builder of the boat, and in answer to his question as to what the situation was the builder replied "My God, it's serious." Mr. Weikman also met Captain Smith on the stairway and spoke to him concerning the extent of the damage. The Captain made no reply.''

He confirmed his story in his affidavit
''I was sitting in my barber shop on Sunday night, April 14, 1912, at 11.40 p. m., when the collision occurred. I went forward to the steerage on "G" deck and saw one of the baggage-masters, and he told me that water was coming in in the baggage room on the deck below. I think the baggageman's name was Bessant. I then went upstairs and met Mr. Andrews, the "builder," and he was giving instructions to get the steerage passengers "on deck." I proceeded along "E" deck to my room on "C" deck...
...I helped to launch the boats, and there seemed to be a shortage of women. When I was on "E" deck I met the captain returning from "G" deck, who had been there with Mr. Andrews, and the captain was on the bridge at that time.


For me it seems that Andrews after collision, went on the bridge. After Captain told him about the report of the carpenter, they went below.
Propably between 11 50 and 12 00.

Mrs. Cassebeer, who's cabin was on D deck, said that after the collision she knew immediately something had gone wrong. She went out on deck, and met ' Harry Anderson, a fellow passenger', and they both went to the 'bow of the boat' and saw 'a litter of small particles of ice which was torn from the iceberg by force of the impact'. She also made her way up soon enough to spot the iceberg, “...towering some 75 to 100 feet out of the sea.” It is here that she, “...met Thomas Andrews, who, I understand was the designer of the Titanic. In answer to many questions he assured everybody that we were absolutely safe and that the Titanic was absolutely unsinkable. He said that she could break in three separate and distinct parts and that each part would stay afloat indefinitely.”

In a personal letter Cassebeer would write, using notes she had taken aboard the Carpathia, that the collision occurred at 11:44, and feeling the engine stop she started to panic. Anderson knocked at her door, wearing a lifebelt, saying ‘the mail room was flooded’. After searching for a lifebelt in her room, she would write, “At the purser’s office level we bumped into Mr. Andrews, the ship’s designer, whom I knew well. He seemed to be extremely busy and when he passed us he didn’t even say a word to me…” This account clearly makes it sound as if she encountered Andrews after his trip to the mail room, which will be looked at later.

In yet another account it would read, “She declared this afternoon that Thomas Andrews, of the firm of Harland and Wolff, sat next to her at the table and frequently told her that steamer had been started before it was finished, but even though it should be cut in three parts, it would still float.” Could the ‘answer to many questions’, previously mentioned, have been table talk as suggested above, and that Cassebeer just recollected in her other account as it was relevant (perhaps even the newspaper did not fully write what was said) and she indeed did not actually speak to Andrews after the collision as written in her letter? It is odd how the first account makes it seem as if she barely knew who Andrews was, while in her letter she wrote, “whom I knew well.” In another letter she would write, “I sat at the table at Dr. O'Laughlin's [sic] left side, with Mr. Thomas Andrews opposite me. Mr. and Mrs. Hoyt sat besides Mr. Andrews, and I think next came a Mr. and Mrs. Lord, and then a Mr. and Mrs. Albert Dick.” This is all suggestive that she knew who Andrews was.

I am more inclined to believe Cassebeer’s personal letter saying that she ran into Andrews on C deck and he did not say a word to him, after being awoken by Anderson who stated the mail room was flooded. Cassebeer’s talk of the ship being able to be cut in three was a recollection of her table talk with Andrews, with whom she dined, and one of his answers to the many questions being thrown at him over their meals. Cassebeer’s account most likely happened a little after 12:20 when Etches said Andrews accompanied him to C deck for we know that Cassebeer would make her way into the gymnasium – seeing the Astors- and we know from Nichols that passengers were seen in the gym around 12:30 which shortly afterwards came the launching of boat five and event that both Cassebeer and Weikman (who say Mr. Widener in the gym) recall shortly afterwards. Boat five is excepted to have launched around 12:45.

Weikman's affidavit shows that he met Andrews on 'E' deck.

I then went upstairs and met Mr. Andrews, the "builder," and he was giving instructions to get the steerage passengers "on deck." I proceeded along "E" deck to my room on "C" deck. I went on the main deck and saw some ice laying there. Orders were given, "All hands to man the lifeboats, also to put on lifebelts." Who gave the orders? "Mr. Dodd, second steward."

What this also shows is that by this point Andrews knew there was danger. Johnstone would see Andrews talk to some first class ladies on D deck on the grand staircase and reassure them that nothing was wrong which is contradictory to his later attitude where he expresses greatly upon people to put on their lifebelts.

The only source of Andrew's coming up top early is from Bullock’s book ‘Thomas Andrews Shipbuilder’, which says Thomas Andrews was called by the Captain after the impact. Unfortunately, there is no evidence of this happening, and Bullock’s source it unknown. We have to ask ourselves would Captain Smith have requested Thomas Andrews? What would Andrews have added to the situation that Smith could not get from his crew? Thomas Andrews may very well have made his way out of his room on his own regard, but if he had done so than it is unclear if Andrews may have made his way to the bridge or have gone below to the engine room as many believed that the collision with the iceberg was in fact the feeling of something gone wrong in the engine room.

Rule would see Captain Smith coming back up from below when heading down after coming up to see what had happened. He would run into Johnstone in the pantry before Johnstone himself went below. Johnstone would tell him that the Captain had just been to the engine room. We know from Robinson that Captain Smith had come down the McElroy and the postal clerk, apparently the same one Boxhall had spoken to around 11:50ish. Most people make this account by Robinson the same as the one that occurred with Andrews, but a close examination of the testimony says otherwise.

13280. (The Commissioner - To the witness.) About what time was this?
- About half-an-hour after she struck.

13281. After the collision?
- After the collision about half-an-hour.

13282. (Mr. Raymond Asquith.) Did you see the Captain and Mr. Andrews about this time?
- The mail man passed along first and he returned with Mr. McElroy and the Captain and they went in the direction of the mail room, but that was before.

13283. It was seeing the Captain and Mr. Andrews going to the mail room that made you go there?
- I followed after they had come back.

When reading this it appears that Robinson is not answering the question asked of herin 13282, but relating an event that happened ‘before’ seeing Captain Smith and Andrews. In question 13283 the questioner gets to his point, and Robinson gives him his desired answer. Otherwise why did it take the postal clerk 20 minutes to come back down the Smith?

We know that the Carpenter went up to the bridge around 11:47-11:50. We also know that Evans would run into the boatswain who told Evans that the carpenter had gone up. The boatswain would then ask what had happened, and upon learning go up himself. an hour short of that Boxhall would be told – though it was probably the same info but either Evans miss recalled what the Boatswain said, or the Boatswain misspoke. Hemming would recall the Boatswain telling him, “Turn out you fellows. You haven’t half an hour to live. That is from Mr. Andrews. Keep it to yourself and let no one know.” - . an hour short of that Boxhall would be told though it was probably the same info but either Evans miss recalled what the Boatswain said, or the Boatswain misspoke. Hemming’s put this at 11:50 - 11:55.

In order for the boatswain to start getting the crew up, he would need permission from the Captain or someone acting on his behalf. A possible – though in no way perfect narrative- is looking as if Smith went below very briefly with the postal clerk and McElroy, possibly ran into Andrews learned of the info. Smith then relayed this info to the boatswain.

:)
 

George Jacub

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Mrs. Cassebeer, who's cabin was on D deck, said that after the collision she knew immediately something had gone wrong. She went out on deck, and met ' Harry Anderson, a fellow passenger', and they both went to the 'bow of the boat' and saw 'a litter of small particles of ice which was torn from the iceberg by force of the impact'. She also made her way up soon enough to spot the iceberg, “...towering some 75 to 100 feet out of the sea.” It is here that she, “...met Thomas Andrews, who, I understand was the designer of the Titanic. In answer to many questions he assured everybody that we were absolutely safe and that the Titanic was absolutely unsinkable. He said that she could break in three separate and distinct parts and that each part would stay afloat indefinitely.”

In a personal letter Cassebeer would write, using notes she had taken aboard the Carpathia, that the collision occurred at 11:44, and feeling the engine stop she started to panic. Anderson knocked at her door, wearing a lifebelt, saying ‘the mail room was flooded’. After searching for a lifebelt in her room, she would write, “At the purser’s office level we bumped into Mr. Andrews, the ship’s designer, whom I knew well. He seemed to be extremely busy and when he passed us he didn’t even say a word to me…” This account clearly makes it sound as if she encountered Andrews after his trip to the mail room, which will be looked at later.

In yet another account it would read, “She declared this afternoon that Thomas Andrews, of the firm of Harland and Wolff, sat next to her at the table and frequently told her that steamer had been started before it was finished, but even though it should be cut in three parts, it would still float.” Could the ‘answer to many questions’, previously mentioned, have been table talk as suggested above, and that Cassebeer just recollected in her other account as it was relevant (perhaps even the newspaper did not fully write what was said) and she indeed did not actually speak to Andrews after the collision as written in her letter? It is odd how the first account makes it seem as if she barely knew who Andrews was, while in her letter she wrote, “whom I knew well.” In another letter she would write, “I sat at the table at Dr. O'Laughlin's [sic] left side, with Mr. Thomas Andrews opposite me. Mr. and Mrs. Hoyt sat besides Mr. Andrews, and I think next came a Mr. and Mrs. Lord, and then a Mr. and Mrs. Albert Dick.” This is all suggestive that she knew who Andrews was.

I am more inclined to believe Cassebeer’s personal letter saying that she ran into Andrews on C deck and he did not say a word to him, after being awoken by Anderson who stated the mail room was flooded. Cassebeer’s talk of the ship being able to be cut in three was a recollection of her table talk with Andrews, with whom she dined, and one of his answers to the many questions being thrown at him over their meals. Cassebeer’s account most likely happened a little after 12:20 when Etches said Andrews accompanied him to C deck for we know that Cassebeer would make her way into the gymnasium – seeing the Astors- and we know from Nichols that passengers were seen in the gym around 12:30 which shortly afterwards came the launching of boat five and event that both Cassebeer and Weikman (who say Mr. Widener in the gym) recall shortly afterwards. Boat five is excepted to have launched around 12:45.

Weikman's affidavit shows that he met Andrews on 'E' deck.

I then went upstairs and met Mr. Andrews, the "builder," and he was giving instructions to get the steerage passengers "on deck." I proceeded along "E" deck to my room on "C" deck. I went on the main deck and saw some ice laying there. Orders were given, "All hands to man the lifeboats, also to put on lifebelts." Who gave the orders? "Mr. Dodd, second steward."

What this also shows is that by this point Andrews knew there was danger. Johnstone would see Andrews talk to some first class ladies on D deck on the grand staircase and reassure them that nothing was wrong which is contradictory to his later attitude where he expresses greatly upon people to put on their lifebelts.

The only source of Andrew's coming up top early is from Bullock’s book ‘Thomas Andrews Shipbuilder’, which says Thomas Andrews was called by the Captain after the impact. Unfortunately, there is no evidence of this happening, and Bullock’s source it unknown. We have to ask ourselves would Captain Smith have requested Thomas Andrews? What would Andrews have added to the situation that Smith could not get from his crew? Thomas Andrews may very well have made his way out of his room on his own regard, but if he had done so than it is unclear if Andrews may have made his way to the bridge or have gone below to the engine room as many believed that the collision with the iceberg was in fact the feeling of something gone wrong in the engine room.

Rule would see Captain Smith coming back up from below when heading down after coming up to see what had happened. He would run into Johnstone in the pantry before Johnstone himself went below. Johnstone would tell him that the Captain had just been to the engine room. We know from Robinson that Captain Smith had come down the McElroy and the postal clerk, apparently the same one Boxhall had spoken to around 11:50ish. Most people make this account by Robinson the same as the one that occurred with Andrews, but a close examination of the testimony says otherwise.

13280. (The Commissioner - To the witness.) About what time was this?
- About half-an-hour after she struck.

13281. After the collision?
- After the collision about half-an-hour.

13282. (Mr. Raymond Asquith.) Did you see the Captain and Mr. Andrews about this time?
- The mail man passed along first and he returned with Mr. McElroy and the Captain and they went in the direction of the mail room, but that was before.

13283. It was seeing the Captain and Mr. Andrews going to the mail room that made you go there?
- I followed after they had come back.

When reading this it appears that Robinson is not answering the question asked of herin 13282, but relating an event that happened ‘before’ seeing Captain Smith and Andrews. In question 13283 the questioner gets to his point, and Robinson gives him his desired answer. Otherwise why did it take the postal clerk 20 minutes to come back down the Smith?

We know that the Carpenter went up to the bridge around 11:47-11:50. We also know that Evans would run into the boatswain who told Evans that the carpenter had gone up. The boatswain would then ask what had happened, and upon learning go up himself. an hour short of that Boxhall would be told – though it was probably the same info but either Evans miss recalled what the Boatswain said, or the Boatswain misspoke. Hemming would recall the Boatswain telling him, “Turn out you fellows. You haven’t half an hour to live. That is from Mr. Andrews. Keep it to yourself and let no one know.” - . an hour short of that Boxhall would be told though it was probably the same info but either Evans miss recalled what the Boatswain said, or the Boatswain misspoke. Hemming’s put this at 11:50 - 11:55.

In order for the boatswain to start getting the crew up, he would need permission from the Captain or someone acting on his behalf. A possible – though in no way perfect narrative- is looking as if Smith went below very briefly with the postal clerk and McElroy, possibly ran into Andrews learned of the info. Smith then relayed this info to the boatswain.

:)
Second Officer Charles Lightoller wrote in his 1935 book 'Titanic and Other Ships; the following:

"Andrews, the designer, and nephew of the late Lord Pirrie was making the trip with us and it was he, familiar with every nook and corner in her, who made a quick tour of inspection with the
Carpenter
and reported her condition to Captain Smith." (emphasis mine)
 

B-rad

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Second Officer Charles Lightoller wrote in his 1935 book 'Titanic and Other Ships; the following:

"Andrews, the designer, and nephew of the late Lord Pirrie was making the trip with us and it was he, familiar with every nook and corner in her, who made a quick tour of inspection with the
Carpenter
and reported her condition to Captain Smith." (emphasis mine)
Good catch. No doubt that may be true. I'm sure Andrews worked closely with those who had the technical knowledge of the ship. However and Unfortantly this gives us little info to go off of as there is no knowledge of how lightoller knew this or came to this conclusion Not a time frame of when this knowledge occurred.

As mentioned when Evans met the boatswain the boatswain said the carpenter had gone up. Being so early it is not out of question that this is the same person Olliver ran in to. If Andrews was down at the same time then it is possible that he was with the carpenter. However we have Boxhall who was sent to find the carpenter at around 11:45-11:50, which whom he found on the stairs from A deck to the boat deck. Could the carpenter have related this to the captain? At a pub right now so hard to look up details lol.

Again good eye!
 

B-rad

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After thought. Lightoller was not aware of anything until boxhall called him around 12am. Therefore Lightoller ( if all these events occurred b4) is speaking in hindsight via learned knowledge not first hand.
 
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Second Officer Charles Lightoller wrote in his 1935 book 'Titanic and Other Ships; the following:

I would not put too much in a book written years later which contains many mistakes. According to his book he loaded boat No. 2 but not the collapsible which we know was not the case. Also he had the date for the accident on 12th April 1912. The man was there, the date know, how could he do such a mistake?!
 

Brad Rousse

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This could said about almost every witness.
This is something people should keep in mind. It's something I've thought about since things people swoon over for accuracy (like On a Sea of Glass and Honor and Glory) are very reliant on eyewitness testimony but I've always wondered what their process was to determine what was likely true and what might have been tarted up by the period press.
 
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Bob_Read

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The problem is that although eyewitness testimony is demonstrably unreliable, in 1912 you don’t have much else.
 

Brad Rousse

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The problem is that although eyewitness testimony is demonstrably unreliable, in 1912 you don’t have much else.
That's true. And with my academic background in history I recognize that. But my point was more how does one determine what's reliable and what's not? It's certainly a difficult trick to master. I think I remember Glass briefly saying the closer to the disaster the more reliable they felt, but that still leaves the tarting newsmen were prone to in the era.
 

B-rad

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I find that 'Glass' is a great jumping off point with several topics. They definitely did their research and their list of sources is most helpful. With such a passionate group of individuals I can see them hashing problems out until they come to some collective agreement. However, with that said -and this is true to every source- there are things that I disagree with based on my own research. One example is the Cassebeer account. They have her being Andrew's first eye witness after the ship struck, but I believe that not to be the case (see posts above). Doesn't mean I'm right, or they are wrong, just different conclusions. I have yet to speak to some of the H&G people, but I have some questions for them about who they too came to some conclusions - or if the image they show is accurate (they sometimes put inaccuracies- from what I hear- in pics so that anyone duplicating it will do the same).

I also believe the closer to the disaster the better - especially with first hand accounts, as they often change throughout time. To the very topic of this thread I have spent a great deal of time trying to piece together the research. Below is a pic of me, about a year ago now, trying to arrange 144 separate events cut out into strips. Right side being events with time ranges (such as 11:40-11:45 for example). Middle - times as stated by survivors- did not take liberty of correcting their times as I believe this method will show what's wrong- also some estimates based on testimony (ie they said did this 10min, then did that 5min etc...). Left is events with no time placed where they make sense the most. Some are events that exactly matched time events just the other person didn't state a time. Overall got a pretty good narrative, with some interesting results. Unfortunately more info kept turning up and the 144 kept growing, and kept making me have to rework certain aspects, so I put it aside cause I was going crazy - lol. Did write a very long paper though about what I found... one day I'll finish it. :)
accounts.png
 

Jim Currie

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Mrs. Cassebeer, who's cabin was on D deck, said that after the collision she knew immediately something had gone wrong. She went out on deck, and met ' Harry Anderson, a fellow passenger', and they both went to the 'bow of the boat' and saw 'a litter of small particles of ice which was torn from the iceberg by force of the impact'. She also made her way up soon enough to spot the iceberg, “...towering some 75 to 100 feet out of the sea.” It is here that she, “...met Thomas Andrews, who, I understand was the designer of the Titanic. In answer to many questions he assured everybody that we were absolutely safe and that the Titanic was absolutely unsinkable. He said that she could break in three separate and distinct parts and that each part would stay afloat indefinitely.”

In a personal letter Cassebeer would write, using notes she had taken aboard the Carpathia, that the collision occurred at 11:44, and feeling the engine stop she started to panic. Anderson knocked at her door, wearing a lifebelt, saying ‘the mail room was flooded’. After searching for a lifebelt in her room, she would write, “At the purser’s office level we bumped into Mr. Andrews, the ship’s designer, whom I knew well. He seemed to be extremely busy and when he passed us he didn’t even say a word to me…” This account clearly makes it sound as if she encountered Andrews after his trip to the mail room, which will be looked at later.

In yet another account it would read, “She declared this afternoon that Thomas Andrews, of the firm of Harland and Wolff, sat next to her at the table and frequently told her that steamer had been started before it was finished, but even though it should be cut in three parts, it would still float.” Could the ‘answer to many questions’, previously mentioned, have been table talk as suggested above, and that Cassebeer just recollected in her other account as it was relevant (perhaps even the newspaper did not fully write what was said) and she indeed did not actually speak to Andrews after the collision as written in her letter? It is odd how the first account makes it seem as if she barely knew who Andrews was, while in her letter she wrote, “whom I knew well.” In another letter she would write, “I sat at the table at Dr. O'Laughlin's [sic] left side, with Mr. Thomas Andrews opposite me. Mr. and Mrs. Hoyt sat besides Mr. Andrews, and I think next came a Mr. and Mrs. Lord, and then a Mr. and Mrs. Albert Dick.” This is all suggestive that she knew who Andrews was.

I am more inclined to believe Cassebeer’s personal letter saying that she ran into Andrews on C deck and he did not say a word to him, after being awoken by Anderson who stated the mail room was flooded. Cassebeer’s talk of the ship being able to be cut in three was a recollection of her table talk with Andrews, with whom she dined, and one of his answers to the many questions being thrown at him over their meals. Cassebeer’s account most likely happened a little after 12:20 when Etches said Andrews accompanied him to C deck for we know that Cassebeer would make her way into the gymnasium – seeing the Astors- and we know from Nichols that passengers were seen in the gym around 12:30 which shortly afterwards came the launching of boat five and event that both Cassebeer and Weikman (who say Mr. Widener in the gym) recall shortly afterwards. Boat five is excepted to have launched around 12:45.

Weikman's affidavit shows that he met Andrews on 'E' deck.

I then went upstairs and met Mr. Andrews, the "builder," and he was giving instructions to get the steerage passengers "on deck." I proceeded along "E" deck to my room on "C" deck. I went on the main deck and saw some ice laying there. Orders were given, "All hands to man the lifeboats, also to put on lifebelts." Who gave the orders? "Mr. Dodd, second steward."

What this also shows is that by this point Andrews knew there was danger. Johnstone would see Andrews talk to some first class ladies on D deck on the grand staircase and reassure them that nothing was wrong which is contradictory to his later attitude where he expresses greatly upon people to put on their lifebelts.

The only source of Andrew's coming up top early is from Bullock’s book ‘Thomas Andrews Shipbuilder’, which says Thomas Andrews was called by the Captain after the impact. Unfortunately, there is no evidence of this happening, and Bullock’s source it unknown. We have to ask ourselves would Captain Smith have requested Thomas Andrews? What would Andrews have added to the situation that Smith could not get from his crew? Thomas Andrews may very well have made his way out of his room on his own regard, but if he had done so than it is unclear if Andrews may have made his way to the bridge or have gone below to the engine room as many believed that the collision with the iceberg was in fact the feeling of something gone wrong in the engine room.

Rule would see Captain Smith coming back up from below when heading down after coming up to see what had happened. He would run into Johnstone in the pantry before Johnstone himself went below. Johnstone would tell him that the Captain had just been to the engine room. We know from Robinson that Captain Smith had come down the McElroy and the postal clerk, apparently the same one Boxhall had spoken to around 11:50ish. Most people make this account by Robinson the same as the one that occurred with Andrews, but a close examination of the testimony says otherwise.

13280. (The Commissioner - To the witness.) About what time was this?
- About half-an-hour after she struck.

13281. After the collision?
- After the collision about half-an-hour.

13282. (Mr. Raymond Asquith.) Did you see the Captain and Mr. Andrews about this time?
- The mail man passed along first and he returned with Mr. McElroy and the Captain and they went in the direction of the mail room, but that was before.

13283. It was seeing the Captain and Mr. Andrews going to the mail room that made you go there?
- I followed after they had come back.

When reading this it appears that Robinson is not answering the question asked of herin 13282, but relating an event that happened ‘before’ seeing Captain Smith and Andrews. In question 13283 the questioner gets to his point, and Robinson gives him his desired answer. Otherwise why did it take the postal clerk 20 minutes to come back down the Smith?

We know that the Carpenter went up to the bridge around 11:47-11:50. We also know that Evans would run into the boatswain who told Evans that the carpenter had gone up. The boatswain would then ask what had happened, and upon learning go up himself. an hour short of that Boxhall would be told – though it was probably the same info but either Evans miss recalled what the Boatswain said, or the Boatswain misspoke. Hemming would recall the Boatswain telling him, “Turn out you fellows. You haven’t half an hour to live. That is from Mr. Andrews. Keep it to yourself and let no one know.” - . an hour short of that Boxhall would be told though it was probably the same info but either Evans miss recalled what the Boatswain said, or the Boatswain misspoke. Hemming’s put this at 11:50 - 11:55.

In order for the boatswain to start getting the crew up, he would need permission from the Captain or someone acting on his behalf. A possible – though in no way perfect narrative- is looking as if Smith went below very briefly with the postal clerk and McElroy, possibly ran into Andrews learned of the info. Smith then relayed this info to the boatswain.

:)


QM Olliver, who was the bridge messenger at the time. Was sent by Captain Smith to find the Carpenter. Olliver found the man already carrying out his duty which was to sound all the compartments. Under normal circumstances, sounding of all the ship's compartments and tanks would be a regular routine and the results would be carefully recorded in the Soundings Book kept by the Chief Officer.
While this was going on, 4th Officer Boxhall was below on his first inspection trip. he was not off the bridge for long and returned to make his first report to Captain Smith. After he did so, he immediately went below again. At the bottom of the stairs from the bridge, he met the Carpenter on his way to make the first soundings report to the Captain. Within a few minutes after that, Smith would know the extent of the down-flooding. Subsequent soundings compared with pumping-out rates would inform everyone as to how long the ship had to live.
 
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Bob_Read

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Hi Brad: The answer to how much relative weight to give to eyewitness testimony might vary also. Personally I would give the greatest weight to testimony which checked several boxes like:
1. Testimony given closer in time to an event.
2. Testimony is given by a trained observer.
3. Testimony is given by one to whom no ulterior motives regarding the testimony can be ascribed.
4. Testimony is corroborated.
I’m sure there might be more but these would be my top criteria.
 
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B-rad

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QM Olliver, who was the bridge messenger at the time. Was sent by Captain Smith to find the Carpenter. Olliver found the man already carrying out his duty which was to sound all the compartments. Under normal circumstances, sounding of all the ship's compartments and tanks would be a regular routine and the results would be carefully recorded in the Soundings Book kept by the Chief Officer.
While this was going on, 4th Officer Boxhall was below on his first inspection trip. he was not off the bridge for long and returned to make his first report to Captain Smith. After he did so, he immediately went below again. At the bottom of the stairs from the bridge, he met the Carpenter on his way to make the first soundings report to the Captain. Within a few minutes after that, Smith would know the extent of the down-flooding. Subsequent soundings compared with pumping-out rates would inform everyone as to how long the ship had to live.

Indeed. Boxhall, during the British inquiry, would state that he made it all the way down to F deck during his first inspection, stating he went to, “the lowest deck I could get to without going into the cargo space.” He would describe his route during the British Inquiry:
Through a staircase under the port side of the forecastle head which takes me down into D deck, and then walked along aft along D deck just underneath the budge [bridge?], and down the staircase there on the port side, and then I am down on E deck near E deck doors, the working alleyway, and then you cross over to the starboard side of E deck and go down another accommodation staircase on to F deck I am not sure whether I went lower. Anyway, I went as low as I could possibly get."

(IDK Why it all became italicized below but it wont let me fix it??)

This route would have put Boxhall on the starboard side of hatch 2 on G deck between watertight bulkheads B & C. [MAP 1] While below Boxhall did not see, “...any damage whatever.”[ii] When asked how long this first inspection took, Boxhall would state, “Somewhere between five and ten minutes.”[iii] Later Boxhall would state, ““I do not think I should be ten minutes.”[iv] Boxhall would go back to the bridge and report to the captain.

We know from Wilding the time it would take to get down below:

20940. (Mr. Laing.) If your Lordship pleases. I only wanted to clear it up if your Lordship thought it was material. (To the witness.) With regard to the access from the third class accommodation both forward and aft, have you, for the sake of experiment, tried how long it would take to walk from the very lowest part of the third class accommodation on to the boat deck?
- I have.
20941. And what was the time - I mean at a walking pace?
- I went at a slow walking pace. On one occasion one of the assessors accompanied me; on one occasion one of the Board of Trade Counsel, and on one occasion the Counsel for the third class passengers. The times varied a little, but they were always between 3 and 3 1/2 minutes. That is right down from the lowest third class cabin that was occupied.

Based on this and testimony of when the joiner/carpenter (eyewitnesses claim both positions) went and started waking people (11:50-11:55, same as the Boatswain), I am inclined to believe that Boxhall’s first inspection was more around the five minute mark, for the carpenter most likely proceeded to the bridge and got permission by Smith to start arousing the crew.

Boxhall then states that he, “...stayed on the bridge just for a moment or two, probably a couple of minutes, and then he told me to find the carpenter and tell him to sound the ship forward.”[v] Once leaving the bride he, “... met the carpenter. I think it would be on the ladder leading from the bridge down to A deck, and he wanted to know where the Captain was. I told him he was on the bridge ...he said the ship was making water fast, and he passed it on to the bridge.”[vi] So roughly calculating we have 11:47-11:50ish.

Boxhall would meet the mail clerk Smith, which whom Robinson had seen going up earlier. Boxhall would send him to the bridge. This would possibly prompt Smith’s first trip below. Boxhall would continue his journey below himself (either though he was told to find the Carpenter, and he did, so he should have reported back to the bridge) saying, “I went down the same way as I did when I visited the third class accommodation previously. I went down as far as E deck and went to the starboard alley on E deck and the watertight door stopped me getting through. ...Then I crossed over and went into the working alleyway and so into the mail room.”

The first watertight door on E deck would be the door on Bulkhead K right beside the reciprocating engines, far to aft to be the door Boxhall was speaking of. Tracing Boxhall’s original route down to F deck Boxhall could have encounter two watertight doors, one on bulkhead C and one on bulkhead D. The one on D was just aft the squash court and would have led to no way to get further down. The one on Bulkhead C would have blocked the passage from F deck to stairs just port of hatch 3 that would lead down to G deck, which would have another set of stairs that would lead to the Orlop deck, and as such the mail room where Boxhall was told there was flooding. Based on this it becomes obvious that Boxhall mistook the door as being on E deck and instead it was on F deck, which would cause him to go back up to E deck. [MAP 2]

Boxhall would then state, “I went down in the mail room and found the water was within a couple of feet of G deck, the deck I was standing on. It was rising rapidly up the ladder and I could hear it rushing in. I stayed there just for a minute or two and had a look. I saw mail-bags floating around on deck. I saw it was no use trying to get them out so I went back again to the bridge.”
A newspaper article[vii] would read of a supposed account given by Boxhall of mail clerk William Gwinn:
Fourth Officer Boxhall of the Titanic has told Cornelius J. Gwinne [sic] of Woodbridge, N.J., brother of the mail clerk, something of his brave death. Mr. Gwinne repeated it yesterday.

Boxhall was the man who was sent below by Capt. Smith after the collision to examine into the extent of the damage. When he got down to E deck where the mailroom was he found it awash. Three of the clerks were there at the time and a moment later Gwinne appeared in his night clothes having rushed down from his cabin two decks above. The fifth man followed.
No orders were given, but the five men in the room at once began getting out the registered mail… Although the water was running so deep toward the last that the men had to stand on other mail bags. One of the men, a Briton, gave up and went above. He is alive today.

This last part is not true, and it seems unlikely that Boxhall would speak ill of a Brit. However, it is interesting. Was this Smith- the mail clerk that Boxhall ran into above deck? Neither here nor there right now.

Either way Boxhall would leave, met Dodd who would inquire what to do with the mail bags, to which Boxhall would say he would ask the Captain (though he never relays that he did) and Boxhall would report to the bridge. Smith's actions to Boxhall's report of flooding seen during his second inspection, changes throughout Boxhall's testimonies. On day 3 of the US inquiry[viii], Boxhall recalled that once he laid the news to Smith, Smith, “...said all right and then the order came out for the boats.” During the British inquiry, Boxhall would say, “He walked away and left me. He went off the bridge, as far as I remember.”[ix] Boxhall would then have it that he went to wake the other officers around 20 to 30 minutes after the collision.[x] Pitman agrees with 20 minutes[xi], while Lightoller would state that it could have been any time from 15 min to 30 min.[xii] After waking the officers Boxhall would state, “Yes, I think I went towards the bridge, I am not sure whether it was then that I heard the order given to clear the boats or unlace the covers. I might have been on the bridge for a few minutes and then heard this order given.”[xiii]

map 1 and 2.png






[ii] 15361-5
[iii] 15580
[iv] 15579
[v] 15368
[vi] 15369-70
[vii] The Sun, Friday, April 26, 1912
[viii] US pg. 245
[ix] 15587
[x] 15378-79
[xi] 14949
[xii] 13785
[xiii] 15380
 
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