Page 29 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 1 - 5
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The Commissioner: There were sixteen wooden boats? The Attorney-General: Yes, my Lord, and four collapsible boats. Of the 16, as your Lordship knows, 14 were lifeboats, but it seems clear from the evidence that the boats did not carry the full complement they were capable of carrying. With regard to the boats, undoubtedly although it may be that one or two carried as many as they possibly could, yet, speaking generally, they do not seem to have taken as many women and children or persons on board as could have been taken. There is some evidence undoubtedly that some wives refused to leave, declining to go without their husbands. There is also considerable evidence of husbands insisting upon their wives and children going in accordance with the orders that were given. Now the boats were ordered to remain in the neighbourhood of the vessel, and did apparently for some time. Here, again, perhaps it is not remarkable, but it is impossible to get anything like a reliable estimate of time from those who survived, but there they were, in the boats, at distances, so far as I am able to judge, speaking generally, of 100 to 200 yards, in some cases more, from the “Titanic,” standing by her, which they continued to do until just a little before, or at about, two o’clock in the morning, when undoubtedly she went down by the head. She began to go down by the head, and, according to some accounts, buckled, and then broke in two, and the fore part of the vessel went down into the water and the stern part stood right up for some time (that there is a great deal of evidence about), and eventually that disappeared too. According to some statements there was an explosion before she broke in two, several explosions some Witnesses say. According to others, she plunged head down into the water with her stern standing right up, and was in that position for some few minutes (it is impossible, of course, to gauge the time accurately), and then disappeared. Which is the correct version of those three statements, of course it is not possible to say, certainly at the present moment, but there is undoubtedly evidence that as she began to settle, apparently by the head, there came a moment at which there was a great rush aft, which seems to indicate it was quite clear that something was taking place in the fore part of the vessel, apart altogether from the sinking, which caused persons to rush to the afterpart of the vessel. That somewhat suggests that there had been some breaking of the vessel which caused them to make this rush; but it might be because it also became apparent that she was going down by the bow. Whatever the reason was, undoubtedly a large number of persons who were left on board the vessel rushed aft and remained there until the vessel went down. The Commissioner: Is there any evidence as to the length of time between this rush aft and the final settlement of the afterpart of the ship? The Attorney-General: No, my Lord, there is not. When I say no evidence, I mean nothing so far which is reliable. The Commissioner: I suppose it would only be a question of a few minutes? The Attorney-General: That is all, my Lord. According to one Witness, I think it was put at ten minutes; others say a few minutes, and no one knows better than your Lordship how unreliable estimates of time must be necessarily at moments such as those. My Lord, there ends the melancholy and lamentable story of the “Titanic.” The boats were subsequently picked up by the “Carpathia,” which, in conjunction, or which alike with a number of other steamers, received wireless messages from the “Titanic” for assistance, and informing everybody who could receive wireless messages that she was sinking, and stating the position, latitude and longitude, which I gave to your Lordship a little while ago, in one of the messages sent to the “Caronia.” Now, my Lord, these wireless messages had been sent continually, not only to the vessels which I have indicated, but to a number of others, including, as I have just stated, the “Carpathia”; your Lordship will hear the account of those. I am not going to trouble you at the present moment by going into detail with regard to them.
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