Where were the third class passengers between the collision and 135


Mr. Stephen Cooke

A question from a class of 9 and 10 year olds. We have been looking at the lists showing survivors in each lifeboat and the evidence of Daniel Buckley concerning locked gates. We notice there is only one third class person on board the first seven lifeboats launched. There is a rush of third class survivors in the boats launched after 1.35. Where were the third class passengers between the time of the collision and 1.35?

Tracey McIntire

Dear Mr. Cooke,
I would not consider myself as knowledgeable as some of the other people who post on this site, but I will attempt to answer your question. It is a matter of speculation whether the third class people were physically kept from going to the Boat Deck by locked gates. As you might know, the classes on Titanic were separated by barriers and gates. Certainly they were told to remain where they were until told to go up to the boats--those who did not listen and struck out on their own were most likely the ones who were saved. In any case, it was very difficult for the third class to find their way through the maze of corridors and stairways from where they were berthed to the Boat Deck. It is my guess that many were lost and wandering around below decks as the lifeboats were launched. Many could not speak or read English and this added to the confusion. Several stewards did lead some groups of third class passengers up to the Boat Deck and these people were able to get into the lifeboats. There are some third class survivors who speak of having to climb the cargo cranes to get up to the lifeboats. You might check out the discussion on this board under "General Titanic Questions: Were the Third Class Passengers Really Locked Down" for a more in-depth discussion of the controversy. I hope this has been helpful to you and your students. Feel free to e-mail me directly at [email protected] with any more questions.
Tracey McIntire

David Gleicher (Davidg)


You might want to look at the thread 'where (sic) the third class passengers locked up?' (In General Questions).

I think your question is a very sharp one, and is one that I've been looking into for some time. The weight of the evidence is that the mass of third class passengers from fairly early on congregated at, and to some degree were directed toward the extreme rear of the ship. They occupied, for the most part, the public spaces in the rear lower decks (G, F and E Decks). When it comes to these passengers (some 500 of them), from about 12 to 12:30 until the ship went down at 2:20, that's where they were and that is most likely where they died.

You correctly observe that third class passengers (mostly women and children) were not loaded onto lifeboats until around 1:30. Where were these passengers before that--that is, those that did get into lifeboats? Were they in the rear with the rest of the third class passengers and managed (or were led) up to the boat deck? (You might look at the thread a while back on Steward Hart in this regard.) Or were they fortunate individuals that managed to get to the top decks relatively early on (before 1AM) and were never part of the larger group at the rear? If so, they waited patiently (possibly on Deck A) from as early as 12:45 until 1:30, when boats were finally ready for them.

My own opinion at this point is that it is more likely the second of these possibilities than the first. But maybe you'll come to a different conclusion.

Hope that helps.



most of the 3 rd class passengers must have been restricted physically from going to the boat deck.

Sure some did not speak English but that would not stop them ( even the rats found ther way to the top)

About 1/2 of the women and children in class 3
died. (None of the 1 and 2 class children died)

Margaret Rice (an Irish Canadian widow whose husband was killed a year before) and her 4 young boys were left standing on the boat deck when all boats were gone . A woman of this type would not have taken 2 hours to find her way to the boat deck unless restricted

Mike Herbold

Feb 13, 2001
Without trying to blunt your fine argument, I must make a small correction -- in first class 2 year old Loraine Allison died. But she was the only one in first or second class to go down with the ship. 52 third class children 13 years and younger perished.

David Gleicher (Davidg)


What is the evidence that Margaret Rice was on the boat deck 'when all boats were gone'? On the basis of an eyewitness cited in Encyclopedia Titanica she and her children were last seen in a public room on one of the lower decks.



Stephen Cooke

Thank you for your replies.The class have been fascinated by your answers as we are new to the net. The children think that if the third class passengers were lost below decks then the obvious thing to do was to go up. If the gates were locked then they would have had a problem.They should have been able to find the dinning room and move on from there. David suggests they were at the rear of the ship.Then it seems to us that no effort was made to bring them to the boat deck. This could have been a deliberate act or, in the confusion, no-one gave the order to fetch or allow them onto the boat deck. David suggests that some third class passengers made their own way to the A deck and had to wait until the final few boats to escape. Were they kept back while the first and second class passengers were loaded onto the boats? There are more questions than answers. There are obviously many experts out there and we hope to continue our work on the Titanic and perhaps join in other discussions. This site has been wonderful to get us started on the web.

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