Page 163 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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part of this case, and I repeat it now, any comment that I have to make with regard to this boat is not directed against either Sir Cosmo or Lady Duff-Gordon. For my own part, I should find it impossible to make any harsh or severe comment upon the conduct of any woman who, in circumstances such as these, found herself suddenly lowered down this great vessel on a dark night into the water in a small boat, and who was afraid to go back because she thought there was a danger of being swamped. At any rate, I shall make no comment whatever upon it. But, my Lord, the evidence, and the reason why I am directing attention to it, is that it is quite plain that for some reason that boat was lowered with 12 persons in it instead of 40, and there is not the faintest explanation, as far as I can see, of why that happened. There were altogether seven of the crew of that vessel; of course, a far larger proportion in comparison with passengers than in any other boat. There were seven crew and five passengers - Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff-Gordon, Miss Francatelli, and the two American passengers. That constituted the whole of the evidence. And also it is apparent from the evidence that they did not get into the boat - that is to say, these passengers - until the boat was being lowered. Your Lordship will remember the evidence in particular with regard to the two American passengers, that they came running along, and were bundled into the boat at the last minute as she was going down. The order which was given is an order with which one has become somewhat familiar in this case - I do not profess to be repeating the exact words, it is not necessary that I should read them - but substantially it was that they were to stand by the vessel and to come back when called upon. My Lord, I am quite sure - in fact, I know it has exercised your Lordship’s mind a good deal, as it must those of all who have striven to comprehend that order and see what it meant. The only possible explanation, it seems to me, is that it was intended at one time, as no doubt, it was according to the evidence to fetch passengers from the gangway aft. We have had the evidence about the proposal that they should be put into boats from the gangway aft, but apparently that is all we hear of it, nothing seems to have been done, and so far as I know, of the evidence no order was given as to preparing the gangway or opening the door, and one quite understands, of course, that it might have been a very dangerous thing to do if the vessel is all the time going down further and further by the head; it may have possibly been a thing that could not have been done, but, my Lord, there, I regret to say, the matter must be left as regards this boat. I am quite unable myself to offer any explanation of it. I am puzzled over it. I have read the evidence with care, but I cannot see why this boat was lowered in these circumstances and with that very small number of passengers. My Lord, the value of it as throwing light upon this Enquiry, is, I think, twofold. First of all, it shows, I think, the importance of boat drill; it shows further that had there been boat drill, you would have had your men presumably at the moment ready, knowing what there was to be done, and I think if there had been better organisation as to what should happen in the case of an emergency such as this, there would have been a better possibility of getting the passengers into the boats. One is a little struck by this - and I make this observation for your Lordship’s consideration - that although, as I have said, there was perfect discipline in the sense that there was no panic, the organisation does not seem to have been quite satisfactory with regard to getting the passengers out from their cabins and placing them in the boats. What strikes one in reading the evidence is that nobody seems to have known precisely what his duty was, or how many persons were to be placed in the boat before the boat was lowered. Certainly that is the evidence with regard to a number of the boats. I think I am right in saying (I will deal with it in detail) that there were only four of the boats that left with their full complement of passengers and crew; but all the rest left with a less number than they could have carried, more particularly could have carried on this particular night. Now, my Lord, one must bear in mind as against that, I think, that this vessel was on her first voyage. I suppose if those who were on board the vessel, particularly the crew, if they are in the
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