Encyclopedia Titanica

The Record Speaks!

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In his latest opinion piece, Senan Molony said that it is important to bear in mind that Hugh Woolner is merely a battleground for the real issue, the claim that Collapsible C “left the Titanic close to her climactic consummation.” Yet, the final word on what happened at Collapsible C seems to have been made by the esteemed and well-respected Titanic author Senan Molony himself in his book "The Irish Aboard the Titanic."  On page 56, he


"The boat where men were gunned down appears to have been either collapsible C or A, all the way forward on the starboard side, since [Eugene] Daly says he 'rushed across the deck' to collapsible B on the port side.  C was the last boat lowered starboard, probably at 2 a.m., certainly at much later than the 1:40 a.m. time suggested by the British Inquiry."

Molony expressed the above opinion in his own published work and agreed with the present authors’ opinions about the shots fired and the later launch time of Collapsible C.  After experiencing an overpowering urge to be critical of our work, however, Molony suddenly felt no compunction about reversing his opinion.  Molony states that “the argument is not always about ‘what the argument is about.’  Given his shifting opinions and misrepresentation or ignoring of the evidence related to this issue, that old adage certainly rings true.

As a blatant example of misrepresenting the evidence, Molony stated in his reply to our article:

“If Woolner is on the port side, at Boat D, then he cannot see past the superstructure to where there are “two pistol flashes in the air.”

However, Woolner never said he saw pistol flashes while at collapsible D. What attracted him and Steffansson to the starboard side was the shouting that was going on. It was after they came around to the starboard side that they saw the pistol flashes. Once again in Woolner’s own words from his US Senate testimony:

“We went across there [from Collapsible D] because we heard a certain kind of shouting going on, and just as we got around the corner I saw these two flashes of the pistol….”

Molony also tries to discredit Woolner’s evidence that it was First Officer Murdoch who twice fired shots at collapsible C, claiming that it was Chief Officer Wilde alone who launched that boat and that nobody except Woolner made any mention of First Officer Murdoch being there. However, as we pointed out in our previous article, not mentioning an incident is not the same thing as a denial that the incident in question took place. 

In addition to Woolner, Steward Albert Pearcey identified Murdoch by name (BI 10390-96, 10492) as being the officer who was at collapsible C on the starboard side when he brought two babies over and was ordered into the boat. This is the same Albert Pearcey whose testimony Molony quoted very selectively in order to support his supposed 1:40 a.m. launch time for collapsible C -- a launch time that was taken from the watch of some unidentified passenger in the boat and which was described by Pearcey as being “just in time” for the boat to get away before the ship went down at 2:20 a.m. 

The practice of ignoring evidence that runs counter to his claims is not new for Senan Molony. Molony is quick to point out that QM Rowe talked about collapsible C being about three-quarters of a mile away from the ship when she sank, and that somehow this is inconsistent with a 2:00 AM departure time.  However, Molony conveniently leaves out Rowe’s Senate testimony saying that he believed the ship went down about 20 minutes after Collapsible C was launched (AI p. 524). The last time we checked, 20 minutes from 2 AM is 2:20 AM, the very time that most people said the ship foundered.

In his latest piece Molony continues to argue that ‘A’ deck was submerged when collapsible D was lowered, and therefore, Woolner and Steffansson could not have gone down to that deck as they said they did.  Molony discounts Charles Lightoller's corroborative 1935 account because it was written decades later, and he quotes Lightoller's 1912 evidence (BI 14023) as somehow proving that ‘A’ deck was under water at the time. 

Of course the intelligent reader will notice that Lightoller stated that "'A' deck was under water" after Collapsible D was lowered 10 feet to reach the water (BI 14020, BI 14021-22).  Lightoller's statement was in response to the Commissioner's question about the forepart of the ship being under water and was clearly a clarification that the water had only just reached the level of 'A' deck at the time boat D reached the water.  In other words, Lightoller's testimony is entirely consistent with what he wrote in 1935 when he said, regarding the escape of those two men who jumped from 'A' deck, that "the water was then actually lapping round their feet on ‘A’ deck, so they jumped for it and got away."

Molony has once again regurgitated his April 2006 claim that Woolner and Steffansson could not have escaped from 'A' deck because 'A' deck was already flooded.  In April 2006 we presented analytical data that explained why Molony's allegation was not true; we see no need to present that information again and refer the reader to the details presented here, and here.

Senan Molony has a curious agenda to discredit Hugh Woolner, and, in so doing, discredit quite a number of other credible witnesses as well. Molony continues to use the same failed tactics that he used in the ET forum in the hope that his arguments -- arguments that were shown to be erroneous at the time -- will now be taken as legitimate through the act of sheer repetition in what is characterized as a "related article."

All of Molony's claims of Woolner's unreliability, his ignoring of crucial evidence that counters his opinion, and his posting of information regarding irrelevant issues in Woolner’s personal life does not affect the corroborating evidence we have presented here.  We invite the readers to objectively examine the wealth of evidence supporting Woolner’s reliability as a witness, and to make up their own minds on the subject.


Samuel Halpern, USA


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Encyclopedia Titanica (2006) The Record Speaks! (ET Comment, ref: #5409, published 14 December 2006, generated 23rd March 2023 11:03:54 AM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/the-record-speaks.html