Page 113 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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prevent them getting to the boat deck?” and he says, “No, my Lord.” Now, my Lord, I wish to say distinctly that no evidence has been given in the course of this case that would substantiate a charge that any attempt was made to keep back the third class passengers. There is not an atom or a tittle of evidence upon which any such allegation could be based, and I do not for one moment say the third class passengers were deliberately kept back or were kept back at all in the sense that any effort was made to prevent them reaching the boat deck. I desire further, my Lord, to say that there is no evidence that when they did reach the boat deck there was any discrimination practised either by the officers or the sailors in putting them into the boats. It would be wrong of me to say so, because there is no evidence which would bear me out in saying so, and I think it only fair that in speaking on behalf of the third class passengers I should make that observation to your Lordship. But, my Lord, how do we account for the disproportion in the saved as between the third class and the other classes? My Lord, I regret to say I cannot accept the statements made by Hart as being in all respects absolutely accurate. If I may put it colloquially, my Lord, my suggestion would be that the picture has been somewhat touched up, because in the evidence given by several witnesses, and in answer to questions which I put to quite a number who came into the witness-box, there was not one of them who could say that they had heard any instructions given to stewards to go and take their places and direct these third class passengers to the boat deck. Hart says they were there, that the emergency door was opened, but he is the only third class steward called, and we have only got his uncorroborated evidence to rely upon. Now, my Lord, is this account which he gives consistent in all respects with the number of third class passengers who have been drowned. I questioned him further to this effect: Question 10255, “According to you, all the women and children, from the aft part of the boat who were taken up and who wanted to escape could have done so?” and he says, “I do not doubt that for a moment.” True it is that in another portion of his evidence he said that some of them who did go to the boat deck returned again, but in Question 10200 he said: “It was only a small number who refused to leave,” that is to say, who refused to leave their cabins. He says, “It was only a small number who refused to leave.” Now, my submission to your Lordship is this, that if there had been a proper organisation of the stewards in the third class quarters, if a proper warning had been given to the third class passengers, if they had been told that the position of the “Titanic” was dangerous and that the ship was doomed, my submission to your Lordship is that if they had been told that, and, further, told that the “Carpathia” was coming to their rescue, a circumstance they could have been informed of, then I say it is highly improbable that any of them would have refused, even in small numbers, to have left the sinking ship. Now, my Lord, the question has been raised - I raised it, and my friend Mr. Holmes said it was rather ridiculous, but, of course, that is a matter of opinion - of a general alarm. True it is, my Lord, that if a general alarm were sounded it is possible it might give rise to panic - I admit that at once - but, my Lord, on the other hand, there is also the view to be considered that it is only fair that people who are on a ship that is doomed should in some way be apprised of the serious condition of the circumstances in which they are placed, and it is therefore a matter I would respectfully suggest to your Lordship for consideration and for the consideration of your Lordship’s skilled advisers, as to whether or not it would be desirable in case of danger, fire, or wreck, that some kind of general alarm should be sounded. That is a matter I would leave to your Lordship and to your Lordship’s skilled advisers, but I merely suggest that it is a matter which is worthy of serious consideration. I do think on this occasion, as appears from the evidence of Boxhall and Bride that the passengers on the “Titanic” could have been informed by the officers that the “Carpathia” was coming to their assistance. There is no doubt that that was known to those on board of the “Titanic,” because if your Lordship refers to the evidence of the Fourth Officer, Boxhall, on page 361, Question 15610, I asked him, (Q.) “Did you hear the Captain say
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