Titanic Stewards Describe Rescue

The Courier News

STEWARDS DESCRIBE METHODS ADOPTED TO SAVE WOMEN AND CHILDREN WHEN TITANIC SUNK

John Edward Hart, third class steward on the Titanic, examined when the Titanic inquiry was resumed yesterday, said there were 58 passengers in his section, and he served lifebelts to all who would put them on.

Later, when the order came for women and children to be passed to the boat deck, all those willing to go were shown the way. Some were not willing to go, and some who wnet and found it cold returned to their cabins.

When witness left the third-class compartment for the last time, there were still passengers there who would not go to the boat deck.

The Solicitor-General – By this time you realised it was a serious matter?

Witness – Yes, but they would not be convinced.

The Solicitor-General – Did you do your best to convince them?

Witness – Yes. Everybody did their best. He saw no one trying to keep back third class passengers.

A Personal Passage

By Mr Harbinson (for the third class passengers) – When he was first aroused and told that there had been an accident he did not believe it, and went to sleep again for fifteen or twenty minutes.

Mr Harbinson – I put it to you that some of the third class passengers refused to go on to the boat deck because of the assurance you gave them that they were not in danger?

-That is not so. If you care to find out you will see that some of them did go up on deck.

Mr Harbinson – Don’t be impertinent.

- I have no wish to be impertinent.

Witness was asked how many women were left below in the third class quarters and he answered “A few.”

Mr Harbinson pressed him for a definite estimate, but the President pointed out that in his opinion an estimate under such circumstances could have no value at all.

Mr Harbinson (to the witness) – You spoke about a rush of men upon deck. How do you know they were coming upon deck?

- Because I saw them. (Laughter.)

Mr Harbinson was proceeding to question the witness whether he could account for the low percentage of third class passengers saved when the President interposed, “Don’t ask him such questions, please. They do not help me at all. You are wasting our time when you are asking him questions about percentage. He knows nothing about percentages.”

Mr Harbinson – I will ask no further questions, my Lord.

Saving the Babies

Evidence was then given by Albert Victor Pearcey, a third class pantry hand on board the Titanic, who said he did not feel the collision, but was apprised of the fact that there had been an accident by the order being given to close the watertight doors. He helped to do so, and then came the order, “Assist all passengers to the boat deck.” He assisted some of the passengers to put on lifebelts, and passed them through the emergency door which opened onto the first class main companion.

He afterwards went on to the boat deck and, seeing two babies unattended, he picked them up and put them into a collapsible boat. Mr Murdoch told him to get inside, and take charge of them and this he did. In all there were 71 persons in his boat.

The Attorney-General – Did you notice whether there were any women or children on the deck at all when you left? – I did not see any.

What happened to the boat when it reached the water? – It floated all right and was dry. I handed the babies over to the passengers and took an oar. When we left her the Titanic had a list on the port side. I saw her go down. Her lights were burning up to the last. Continuing, witness said his boat left the Titanic twenty minutes to two. When the vessel went down, she plunged her head down and the stern stood upright. Her keel was visible.

The Attorney-General – What happened to the stern then? – It went down. It upset me and I cannot describe very well describe it.

The Attorney-General – Very well, I will not ask you any more questions.

Women Struggling in Water

First Class Steward Edward Brown described how the women and children were put into the boats. Mr Bruce Ismay, he said, called out, “Women and children first,” and assisted to get them into the first collapsible boat that left. He saw nothing of Mr Ismay after that. The falls of the second collapsible boat when it was being launched stuck, and he jumped into it and cut the after falls, and shouted to the men on deck to cut the others. He did not see whether they did so, as he was washed into the water. He saw two or three women struggling, but could not help them, as he was drawn down in the vortex under the surface of the water “round and round,” He eventually came to the surface, and after being in the water for some time came across a collapsible boat, which was half submerged. There were 16 men in her.

Mr Aspinall – While working with the collapsible boat did you see Captain Smith?

Witness – Yes, he came past us with a megaphone in his hand. He said, “Well boys, do your best for the women and children, and look after yourselves,” then he went on the bridge.

Clothing Torn Off Him

Mr Cotter – When you got into the water did you see other people round you?

Witness – Yes, they tore my clothing away from me in their struggles.

Charles McKie [sic], bathroom steward, said his boat had 74 or 78 people in it, including nine children, two first class passengers, and two second class passengers. The rest were ladies from the third class. When they got to the Carpathia some of the passengers complained of having been crushed.

Mr Cotter – Were complaints made about men?

Witness – Yes, because we smoked.

The inquiry was adjourned until today.

Related Biographies:

Edward Brown
John Edward Hart
Charles Donald McKay
Albert Victor Pearcey

Acknowledgements

Gordon Steadwood

Contributor

Mike Poirier

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