Page 49 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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Sir Robert Finlay: My Lord, I was dealing with what happened after the disaster in the way of preparing for launching and filling the boats. I do not propose to go through the evidence in detail with regard to the various steps taken by the boatswain in getting the deckhands ready and getting them on deck. All that is really a matter not in dispute. Then with regard to the uncovering of the boats, having the falls made ready and having them swung out under the superintendence of the officers, there is a great body of evidence; but that again speaks for itself and I do not think it is necessary to go through it again. If desired I can give the references, but I really think it is almost common ground. I hope that I am not putting forward any contentious proposition when I say that that part of the work was excellently done. While this was going on, the stewards had orders to attend to the passengers and to get them on deck. The stewards did that work, then went to the passengers and warned them to come on deck, got them up on deck, and any delay that there was was due to the reluctance of some passengers, particularly of the women, to come up and afterwards to get into the boats. That is a point of some importance and I propose to offer to the Court some references to the evidence on that point because it really is the great cause of the boats going off in the first instance not filled up to their full complement. The discipline, so far as the officers and crew were concerned, was perfect. Any difficulty was in getting the women to realise that they must come up, that they must leave the ship and trust themselves to the boats under the circumstances. Now before giving a few references - I have picked out with great care, with the assistance of my learned friend, the most important only - may I read what was said by Captain Rostron of the result of his conversation with the survivors which summarises the situation very fairly. It is on page 716, Question 25563, and the three following questions. Your Lordship says: - “It is said by, at all events, one of the witnesses that one reason why the lifeboats did not carry more than they in fact carried, was that all the people in the lifeboats were wearing lifebelts, and you cannot stow them so closely as you could stow people without lifebelts. I suppose there is some truth in it? - (A.) There is some truth in that. (Q.) You saw the passengers that you landed at New York, and must have conversed a good deal with them? - (A.) No. (Q.) Did you not? - (A.) No, I did not speak to half-a-dozen passengers the whole time. (Q.) Did you hear no explanation at all as to why these boats were not better filled? - (A.) No. The only explanation I got was when the boats first left the ‘Titanic’ the people really would not be put in the boats; they did not want to go in, and I understand that some of the boats that left first had fewer people in. That is all I know about it. (Q.) That is what I wanted to know. You heard that explanation given yourself? - (A.) Yes.” Although Captain Rostron speaks of that as not being very much, it really summarises the whole situation. They would not go in, they did not want to go, and the result was that the boats that left first had fewer than their full complement. And then, of course, there was also the intention of having them filled up from the gangway doors, an intention which afterwards had to be abandoned. Now, by way of merely illustrating a little that general proposition which results from Captain Rostron’s conversation with the passengers, may I invite your Lordship’s attention to what was said by Lucas at page 50 and the following pages? I will pick out a few questions and answers there. Question 1478 is: “Was any order given about filling up? - (A.) Yes, but there was not anybody there handy, no women. I was singing out for women myself. (Q.) Had you received the order that women were to be put in the boats? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) Whom did you receive that from? - (A.) Moody, the Sixth Officer.” That, I think, relates to boat No. 16, which, as a matter of fact, was somewhat later. Then Question 1501: “How many boats did you see filled? How many boats did you take notice of as they were being filled? - (A.) About nine. (Q.) Could you see whether
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