Page 77 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
P. 77
Mr. Dunlop: Gill thought she was a passenger steamer. The Commissioner: What did Groves say? Mr. Dunlop: I am coming to Groves, the Third Officer. He thought she was a passenger steamer too. I will deal with that in a moment. I have dealt with Stone, the Second Officer; I am now dealing with Gill; Gill thought she was a passenger steamer. He thought so because of her row of deck lights and port lights. And it is important, my Lord, to remember that he says he saw her shortly after 12 o’clock, which was the end of his watch, as he was going forward to call his mate. According to Groves, the Third Officer, whose evidence was the more dramatic of the two, he said he saw the deck lights and this glare of lights go out at 11.40. That is when they disappeared, according to him. Groves, my Lord, at Question 8203, says the lights disappeared at 11.40. Gill, nevertheless, sees them all ablaze, at Question 18136, a few minutes after 12. If Groves is right Gill must be wrong, and if Gill is right Groves cannot be right. So much, my Lord, for Gill. Groves, the Third Officer, was the gentleman who was on watch from 8 till midnight. When he was pressed at the end of his evidence - I will not say by whom - to say he thought it was the “Titanic,” my Lord, he answered this. The Commissioner: Did I press him? Mr. Dunlop: Your Lordship asked the question. The Commissioner: I thought so. Mr. Dunlop: Up to that moment, my Lord, he had not the courage to say that she was the “Titanic,” but, thus stimulated, he said this: “From what I have heard subsequently I do, but I do not put myself forward as an experienced man.” That was the best answer, my Lord, he was able to give. Question 8442. My Lord, it is perfectly clear, I submit, that Groves did not think so at the time, because at the end of his watch he went to have his usual chat with the Marconi operator, who was a kind of “Evening News” to him. He went there to find what vessels there were and what news there was, and, according to the operator’s version of the conversation which took place at the end of Groves’ watch, not a word was said about the steamer which Groves described in the witness-box. He did not mention her - nothing about seeing a large passenger steamer and her lights going out at 11.40. He did not ask: “Is this vessel the ‘Titanic’”? or anything of the kind. My Lord, that appears in the Marconi operator’s evidence at Questions 9034 to 9050, where the Marconi operator told your Lordship that there was no reference at all by Groves to the steamer which he had seen, and both went off to bed. Groves attached no importance at the time to the vessel which he had seen, and he attached no importance at all to any of the incidents which he described when here in the witness-box; and I submit that his evidence was largely the result of imagination stimulated by vanity. So much with regard to the class of vessels seen. (After a short adjournment.) Mr. Dunlop: My Lord, the next point I wanted to deal with was what navigation lights the witnesses from the “Californian” saw. They only saw one masthead light; the “Titanic” had two. The evidence on that point is the Master’s evidence, Q. 6805; the Second Officer, Q. 8079; Gibson, Q. 7791; Gill did not notice any masthead lights; the Third Officer said he thought he saw two, no doubt, because he thought that the vessel he was seeing was a passenger steamer; but the Second Officer, Gibson, and the Master were all very emphatic that the vessel which they saw was only exhibiting one masthead light, and they said that if she in fact had been carrying two masthead lights they could not have failed to pick up the second light. That it was not the “Titanic” is, I submit, also clear from the description which the witnesses gave and the direction in which the steamer they saw was moving. Before 11.40 that night the “Titanic” was steering about due west, and to every vessel to the northward of her she would be
   72   73   74   75   76   77   78   79   80   81   82