Washington, April 24---The Senate investigating committee probing the Titanic horror today declined to act on a new request by J. Bruce Ismay, managing director of the White Star Line, that owned the ill-fated ship, to quit the inquiry and return to England.
Ismay made a second plea to be allowed to go to his home on the grounds that his wife is ill. He promised on his "word as a gentleman" that he would return to the United States when requested, but the committee refused to pass on his request, so he is virtually a prisoner, as he has been asked not to leave the Captial while the inquiry is being conducted.
Tales of brutality on the open sea by Quartermaster Hitchins of the Titanic, told by Major Arthur Peuchen of Toronto, a witness before the Senate investigating committee, stirred the members of the board.
Hitchins is charged by Peuchen with refusing to take an oar to help save the lives of passengers of the lost ship. He is also accused by Peuchen of being brutal to the women in the lifeboat in which he held the tiller.
Hitchins is a big, powerful man. He is a hardened sea lion and one of the biggest men on the ship. While he sat idly holding the tiller in the lifeboat frail little women, who had never known a moment's hard work, beat over oars and rowed like galley slaves, according to Peuchen.
Heart-rending cries from the drowning passengers made the night hideous to those brave women in the lifeboat, Major Peuchen testified. They were so moved by the touching appeals for help that they asked Hitchins to head for the spot where the ship went down in the hope of saving some lives, but this he refused, brutally declaring, the witness said, that "it's our lives now, not theirs."
Some of the women pleaded with him. "Our husbands are on the ship; we cannot leave them. Please go back, " they begged.
"There's nothing there but a lot of stiffs," said Hitchins, brutally, and refused to turn the boat toward the ship.
The quartermaster, who, Peuchen said, was utterly unfit for his position, refused to take an oar or to perform any service, but sit at the helm.
"Was Brutal to Women."
It is of record elsewhere that Hitchins, who was at the wheel when the Titanic struck, asked one of the women for brandy. Peuchen said he swore horribly all the time and was utterably brutal to the women.
Asked why he did not interfere, Peuchen said:
"He was a large, powerful man. I could not reach him from where I was without a struggle. I had had a row with him once. I thought it better not to talk to him."
Peuchen said that he was surprised that there were so few aboard to man the boats.
"If they were there they were not at their stations," he said. "I had supposed that there would have been a drill or something of the kind, but I saw none. I judge it was what is called a 'scratch-crew,' picked up for this voyage and unfamiliar with the boat, even if sufficient in number."
Chicago American, Wednesday, April 24, 1912, p. 1, c. 4
Related Biographies:Robert Hichens
Joseph Bruce Ismay
Arthur Godfrey Peuchen