Page 28 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 1 - 5
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heard it, but not the man who actually rang it. Now, my Lord, the shock, so far as one knows from the evidence, taking it generally, does not appear to have been a severe one; that is, according to the accounts of the survivors. I am not saying there are not some who take a different view; but (I am only dealing with the evidence so far as I am able to at present), speaking generally, it does not appear to have been as severe perhaps as one would have imagined. However, your Lordship will hear all about that. Apparently, part of the starboard side of the vessel below the waterline was struck, and possibly also (although this is to a certain extent speculation or deduction from what happened afterwards) part of the bottom of the vessel was ripped up. Now, almost immediately after this had happened, water was observed to be pouring into the fore hatch. My Lord, I see there is a reference in a newspaper report, and I am right in saying that the man who struck the three bells is alive, although we have not got a proof from him yet; he is in America. Now, my Lord, from this moment again it is very difficult to ascertain what actually happened between the striking (which I place at 11.40 on the 14th April) and about two o’clock on the 15th in the morning when she sank. According to one of our Witnesses, who will be called before you, at a very early stage, the carpenter went to ascertain what water she was making, and he reported that she had made seven feet of water within a very few minutes; in the fore part - exactly in what part I cannot say - The Commissioner: Is the carpenter alive? The Attorney-General: No, my Lord, a number of Witnesses state that pieces of ice were observed immediately after she struck on the fore-well deck. The Commissioner: Is anyone able to indicate with the pointer where the fore-well deck is? The Attorney-General: Yes, my Lord. It is just abaft the foremast; it is easily seen. Now, my Lord, I am not sure that I have stated yet that almost immediately after she struck, Captain Smith came on the bridge - which is reconstituting, as best we can from the evidence, what happened - and I gather, from the orders that were given by him very shortly after he came on to the bridge, that he must have realised that the matter was serious; but, according to the information which we have got from the survivors, at any rate at present, there does not appear to have been any panic on board the vessel. Orders, generally speaking, were carried out in an orderly and a regular fashion. The men were told to go to their stations in their boats. I understand that each man had his station in the boat, and that there was a list, or there were lists in the boats, indicating the stations which the men were to take in the boats if the orders came, so that when an order came for men to go to their stations in the boats it was not necessary to tell him to what particular place he should go or what particular boat. The boats were numbered, and a man would know he had to go to boat No. 12 and take a certain place there. I cannot say from the evidence which will be called before your Lordship that the men seemed to know very well what their places in the boats were, notwithstanding these precautions which had been taken by the owners and the Captain, but still there appears to have been very little confusion. Orders were given for the boats to be lowered - to be got ready first; and also orders were given that the women and children were to come first; and orders were also given; the men were all called up - those who were not on watch and had gone below were called up, as well as the passengers - and all were told to take lifebelts and put them on. Now I am not going at the present moment, particularly as it is not necessary, into further detail as to what happened at that time, because it is very difficult to say. I gather from the evidence (I mean now, of course, from the evidence which I know I can call before you) that the women and children were placed in the boats; that all the boats were lowered; that is the 16; the 14 lifeboats and the two wooden cutters; and that also the four collapsible boats were either were put into the sea or attempts were made to launch them. I am not sure what happened with regard to the four.
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