Page 159 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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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. The Commissioner: What page is that? The Attorney-General: 781. “I desire further, my Lord, to say that there is no evidence that when they did reach the boat deck there was any discrimination practiced 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, in speaking on behalf of the third class passengers, I should make that observation to your Lordship.” Now, my Lord, in view of that statement by my learned friend, a statement which he very fairly, and, if I may say so, very properly made, having regard to the suggestions that certainly have been made public with regard to the third class passengers. I do not intend to go in any detail into the evidence. Your Lordship will remember that we went with great care in this case into the plans, and also, with Mr. Wilding’s assistance, along the decks, in order to see whether or not the third class passengers had access to the decks, and we have had much discussion about the barricades, or the barriers, that existed on the vessel; at one time it looked as if it was possible that it might be suggested that it was those that prevented the third class passengers from getting on the deck. So far as the evidence goes it is quite plain that nothing of that kind took place. You have still to remember that there was a larger percentage of third class passengers drowned than of second or first class. My Lord, one reason that occurs to me, and that, I suggest, is worthy of consideration, is that these third class passengers were emigrants. They would probably almost, and they would certainly be carrying all they possessed with them. To leave the cabin or to leave the vessel with all their little property on board and to go into the boat would be a thing that they would naturally be loth to do, more loth probably than a person whose property was not all on the vessel, and who might be inclined to leave such little baggage as he had without any very serious consideration. When you bear in mind here that you have emigrants, and that you are dealing with emigrants, and that they were asked to leave and to get into the boat at a distance, no doubt, of some 65 feet, and to be lowered in these boats into the water, probably many of them never having been on a vessel before, and certainly not of a vessel of this character, I think one can readily understand why it is that the third class passengers refused to leave the ship, and remained on the ship in a larger number proportionately than either first or second class passengers. There is one other reason, not an unimportant one, which is of course that their quarters, according to the construction of the ship, were in a less favourable position undoubtedly for reaching the boats than either the first or second class passengers. That, I think, is quite clear from what we saw. The Commissioner: Their quarters are at the extreme ends. The Attorney-General: Yes, both forward and aft, and that must be borne in mind. Still, according to the evidence, stewards were told off and were sent to fetch them, and according to what you have before you they failed to get them to come on deck for the most part, or to attempt to get into the boats. Your Lordship may remember one particular piece of evidence, I think it was as to boat No. 15, the last boat on the starboard side, of which it was said that stewards were sent to get passengers, and sent down to see whether there were no women and children to come up from the third class to get into this last boat that was leaving on the starboard side, and then came back and apparently they found no one. I am bound to say that the evidence that was given with regard to that was not very satisfactory, and your Lordship will remember with regard to this last boat that as she was being lowered and as the passengers were getting into her it was then found that she could take more, and stewards were sent down to see whether they could find any third class passengers to come up on deck and get into the boat, and the answer was that they
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