Page 95 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
P. 95
With regard to the possibility of putting them on board, of course, the evidence of what the German Lines have done and what the “Olympic” has done with regard to the possibility of providing the boats is very potent and forcible evidence, and I cannot improve upon it by talking about it. But I could not help observing that what was very much in your Lordship’s mind was, what is the good of having more boats if you cannot get them away from the ship, if time does not allow and circumstances do not allow your getting away more than were got away on this occasion or even as many as on this occasion. I want to submit a consideration to your Lordship with regard to that, which may sound a paradox, but, nevertheless, I think it is true, and that is this, that it was the very deficiency of boats, the very disparity between the number and the number of people that had to go into them that caused the delay in this case, and that is bound to cause a delay. That the delay was not a delay in mechanically lowering the boats in most instances is clear - there were one or two instances in which falls caught, and so forth - but in the majority of cases the boats seem to have gone perfectly smoothly into the water, and your Lordship will be advised as to how much time is necessary to take off the covers of the boats and to actually lower them into the water. I think your Lordship will find that it is comparatively short. The delay that took place was a natural delay, because of the difficulty of selecting your passengers and getting them into the boats in a selected condition - a difficulty which is naturally obvious when you are trying to get wives away from husbands. The Commissioner: If there had been a sufficient number of boats to accommodate all the passengers, do you suggest that the order would not have been given: “Women and children first”? Mr. Roche: My Lord, not to the same extent. There might have been [an] attempt at selection, but probably not for this reason. At the time when they started putting the people into the boats, at any rate; they did not think, apparently, that the disaster was very imminent. They did not put anyone in for half an hour. Mr. Lightoller says he did not get the order to clear away the boats for some half an hour afterwards. I think in that state of mind and in that condition of things they would have let people go in a natural order; at any rate, they would have let families go together. As to unaccompanied women, there might have been a desire to put them into the boats first, but after that, at all events, the more normal process would have been going forward of the families going together, the women being attended and assisted by their friends, those whom they knew, and there would not have been the great difficulty of the stewards having to go down two or three times. Your Lordship had evidence particularly of the third class stewards having to go down two or three times, with the boats waiting, trying to urge people into the boats, and, on the other hand, keeping back other people who were anxious to go. You got all the conditions which were unfavourable to a speedy filling of the boats and none of the conditions which are favourable to a speedy filling of the boats. I should be sorry if it were thought that anything I was saying was intended to reflect on the propriety of the order which was given in this case of “Women and children first.” One is glad to think it was given and that it was adopted and followed, and even glad to think, out of respect for human nature, that it probably led to many of these boats going away half filled, because men would not go into them when they knew that the standing order was “Women and children first.” That is a reason, I submit, which accounts not merely for the delay in sending away the boats, but for the boats being only partly filled. The Commissioner: I have difficulty in accepting that. I cannot understand why a boat should be sent away half full. Mr. Roche: If a boat had been waiting for some time, and they desired to get another boat out, it is of course, easy to lower it down and trust to it being filled from elsewhere. That the people who actually lowered away thought that boat was going to leave the ship’s side empty one very
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