Friday, August 28, 2009

Launching the Last Boats

Continuing the groundbreaking research on Titanic's Secrets Unfold---- The Launching of the Last Lifeboats

Coming on the heels of the prior articles into how and when the early boats and then the rear boats, were loaded and lowered, I was pleased at how the final pieces of the puzzle fell into place. But I was absolutely thrilled to see another of Titanic's secrets unfold literally before my eyes. I won't reveal it until the end, but it's discoveries like this that make the painstaking research worthwhile.


The story of the launching of the last lifeboats begins with Greaser Frederick Scott, who told his story to the British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry.

His bombshell evidence was first printed in Titanic's Secrets Unfold/Launching the Rear Boats, but it warrants reprinting here:

5640. And did you get an order to go up on deck?
- Yes, the engineer came down and told everybody to go out of the engine room.

5645. Then did you go on deck?
- Yes, up the working alleyway.
5646. And then did you get orders?
- Some of the firemen came down and told us we had to get some lifebelts.
5647. What did you do then?
- We got them at the Third class; from there we went up on the boat deck. There were two boats left then on the port side; lowered down to the ship's side they were then.
5648. Were there any on the starboard side?
- No.
5649. Let us see if we can get this quite clearly. Did you look over the starboard side?
- Yes, we went to the starboard side first.

5655. Then you went back to the port side?
- We went to the port side then.
5656. Then you looked over that?
- Yes.
5657. Tell us what you saw?
- I saw two boats then, and one of the boats was where the Officer pulled a revolver out and shot it between the ship and the boat and said, "If any man jumps into the boat I will shoot him like a dog."
5658. That is Mr. Lowe, according to the evidence. Do you remember where these boats were? Were they forward or aft?
- Aft.
5659. Aft on the port side?
- Aft on the port side.

Scott couldn't be any clearer. By the time he reached Boat No. 14, in which Fifth Officer Harold Lowe left the ship, all the starboard rear boats were gone, as was No. 16 port.

This puts two officers in motion (to use an American football term.) Sixth Officer J. Moody, who had been in charge of No. 16, and First Officer William Murdoch, who supervised the starboard boats.

Murdoch went to No. 10 after seeing Nos. 13 and 15 safely off the ship.

There's a huge gap in Moody's known movements between the launching of No. 16 and the next time anyone mentions him--- helping get Collapsible A off the roof of the officer's quarters near the bridge. However, we can make an education guess as to where he was at least part of the time.

Moody had just lowered his boat, No. 16. The other two aft port boats were being supervised by other officers. Why wouldn’t he pass to No. 10 to help get the last aft boat in the davits?

We know from evidence given by various crewmen that the first thing they would do when arriving at a lifeboat is clear the falls and make sure the plug was in. Murdoch was the superior officer. Moody, in fact, was the most junior officer on the ship. If they arrived at No. 10 one after the other, it’s only logical that the junior would be checking the plug.

Then, before No. 10 was ready to load, two more officers would have converged on the lifeboat bringing the total to four. Moody from No. 16, Murdoch from No. 15, Wilde from No.14, and Second Officer Charles Lightoller from No. 12. It wouldn’t have taken long to disperse the officer corps to where they were needed more.

Lightoller went forward to No. 4, the boat he had been forced to abandon almost an hour earlier. The others stayed at No. 10 which was still on the boat deck and not in the davits. That’s confirmed by the testimony given at the U.S. Senate Inquiry by seaman Frank Evans.

Evans related how he lowered No. 12 to the sea, ‘then’ went to No. 10.

“…and the Chief Officer, Mr. Murdoch, was standing there and I lowered the boat with the assistance of a steward,” he said.

His evidence has to be read in conjunction with seaman Edward Buley’s, also before the Senate Inquiry.

Buley gives a slightly jumbled account of his initial work at No. 10:

“There was No. 10 boat and there was no one there, and the Chief Officer asked what I was, and I told him, and he said “Jump in and see if you can find another seaman to give you a hand.” I found Evans and we both got in the boat and Chief Officer Murdoch and Baker also was there.”

Juxtapose Evans, who has a slightly different memory of what happened:

“The chief officer said “What are you, Evans?” I said “A seaman, sir.” He said,”All right, get into that boat with the other seamen…and I got into the bows of this boat and a young ship’s baker was getting the children and chucking them into the boat and the women were jumping. Mr. Murdoch made them jump across into the boat.”

Note that while Buley and Evans call Murdoch the Chief Officer, he wasn’t on the Titanic. He was the First Officer.

Baker Charles Joughin gave his story to the British Inquiry, and he introduces true Chief Officer Henry Wilde at No. 10:

Q. Did you go to your boat, No. 10?
- Yes.
5943. And what did you find was the situation there?
- Everything orderly. The Chief Officer was there.
5944. Is that Mr. Wilde ?
- Yes, Mr. Wilde.
5945. Were there passengers there?
- A good many passengers there.
5946. What was happening, how far had things got?
- They were getting the boat ready for getting the passengers in, and Mr. Wilde shouted out for the stewards to keep the people back, to keep the men back, but there was no necessity for it. The men kept back themselves, and we made a line and passed the ladies and children through.
5947. Who made the line?
- The stewards mostly - stewards and seamen; they were all together.
5948. I think I caught you to say that though Mr. Wilde gave the order to keep the men back there was really no necessity, they kept back themselves?
- Yes.
5949. Was the order good - the discipline good?
- Splendid.
5950. No. 10 was being got ready. When you saw it had anybody got into the boat yet?
- No.
5951. Now tell us about No. 10 in order: What happened?
- It was swung out, the stewards, firemen and sailors all got in a line. We passed the ladies and children through.

The evidence of the three men is consistent: No. 10 was swung out (Joughin)---by Evans (Evans)—as Wilde made sure nobody interfered with the loading (Joughin)---Buley was ordered in and told to find another seaman to help, who turned out to be Evans (Buley)---who was questioned by Murdoch before being let in the boat (Evans)---after which Joughin passed women and children into the boat (Joughin) under the watchful eye of Murdoch (Evans).

Murdoch, from the evidence of Evans, stayed long enough to see the loading of No. 10 underway. At some point he, too, went forward---- to emergency boat No. 2, where he was remembered by seaman Frank Osman at the U.S. Senate Inquiry.

Mr. Osman: …I went away in No. 2 boat, the fourth from the last to leave the ship.

Senator Burton:Who had command of that boat?
Mr. Osman: The fourth officer, Mr. Boxhall.
Senator Burton: Did he direct the loading of the boat?
Mr. Osman: No, sir, the chief officer, Mr. Murdoch.

Murdoch was soon joined up front by Wilde.

QM George Rowe told the Senate Inquiry:
I …was firing the distress signals until about five and twenty minutes after 1.
At that time they were getting out the starboard collapsible boats. The chief officer, Wilde, wanted a sailor.

Wilde was at starboard collapsible C. He would have, by this scenario, left No. 10 in charge of Fifth Officer Moody.

Rowe was among three crewmen who had been sending off rockets for almost an hour---Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall, Quartermaster Rowe, and Quartermaster Arthur Bright. Suddenly, they found themselves dispatched to help with the last lifeboats on deck.

Boxhall was ordered to take charge of Boat No. 2. His account from the Senate Inquiry (with superfluous questions removed):

Mr. Boxhall: The Captain was standing by this emergency boat.
Senator Smith: What was he doing?
Mr. Boxhall: Supervising the boats being loaded, I think.
Senator Smith: Did he tell you to get in?
Mr. Boxhall: He told me I had to get into that boat and go away.

Note that Murdoch is missing at No. 2.and replaced by Wilde but the Captain is giving the orders to lower the boat.

Even as No. 2 went down, Boxhall noticed that No. 4 was still being loaded on A deck.

Boxhall, British Wreck Commissioner’s Inquiry, Day 13
“15432. Did you notice whether there were passengers on the deck at the time the boat was lowered?
- Yes, there were passengers round the deck, but I noticed as I was being lowered that they were filling No. 4 boat.”

Rowe’s colleague, Bright, picks up the story after Boxhall left in No. 2.

After we had finished firing the distress signals there were two boats left. I went and assisted to get out the starboard one; that is, the starboard collapsible boat. Rowe went away to help to get the other one out, and I went away myself.

Senator SMITH.
Did you assist in loading that boat?
I assisted to get it up.

For the record, Bright was wrong about Rowe. He had actually gone to doublecheck whether to stop firing rockets or not.

“I asked Capt. Smith if I should fire any more,and he said "No; get into that boat." I went to the boat.” (Rowe, Senate Inquiry)

What’s interesting here is that it’s very likely Wilde was at No. 2 before it was launched, and at Collapsible C seconds later (when there were only two boats left)to order Bright and Rowe over.

“It takes thirty seconds to walk through the bridge and get across to the other side. It takes about a minute if you walk around by the compass platform,” said
“Titanic” movie producer and director James Cameron, based on his experiences with a life-sized model of the ship.

While Bright and Rowe worked to get Collapsible C ready to load, No. 4 was launched and Lightoller hurried up to the boat deck to get Collapsible D ready. He was accompanied by Col. Archibald Gracie, whose recollections in his 1913 memoir, The Truth About the Titanic, will play a big part in the rest of the story.

“Our labors in loading the boats were now shifted to the Boat Deck above, where Clinch Smith and I, with others, followed Lightoller and the crew. On this deck some difficulty was experienced in getting the boats ready to lower…We had the hardest time with the Engelhardt boat, lifting and pushing it towards and over the rail,” he wrote.

Gracie is speaking of port Collapsible D. It should be remembered that the Engelhardt collapsibles weighed more than half a ton each.

A Controversy Explored

Eventually, Collapsible D was in the davits and being loaded. The loading of Collapsible C was further ahead since it began earlier. At this point, the narrative must slow to a crawl as we unravel a controversial episode of the launching of the final boats, one that has sparked a fierce debate among Titanic researchers.

It begins with first class passenger Hugh Woolner. Woolner told reporters and the Senate Inquiry (quoted here) he had been helping with D when he heard shouts coming from across the deck. He and a companion headed over to see what the commotion was about and “as we got around the corner, I saw these two flashes of a pistol.”
The gun had been fired by First Officer Murdoch who was “shouting out,”Get out of this, clear out of this” and that sort of thing to a lot of men who were swarming into a boat on that side.” Woolner and his friend helped drag men out of the boat and fill it with women who were standing by.

(Note Murdoch’s reappearance in the story.)

Collapsible C was swung out and Woolner told his companion “There is nothing more for us to do. Let us go down onto A deck again.” But when they did, they found the deck deserted. The lights turned red and the sea rushed in. To save themselves, they leapt to a window when they saw Collapsible D literally being lowered in front of them. They jumped in and were saved.

Gracie, who was also helping to load D, mentions nothing of this--- no shouts, no shots, no last-second rescues. And yet his account meshes well with Woolner’s.
He wrote,”We had now loaded all the women who were in sight at that quarter of the ship, and I ran along the deck with Clinch Smith on the port side some distance aft shouting, “Are there any more women?”

There’s the reason he heard no commotion. He wasn’t there. He was aft searching for more women to save.

“On my return there was a very palpable list to port as if the ship was about to topple over,” he wrote. Lightoller then commanded “All passengers to the starboard side.”

Lightoller, in his Senate testimony, remembered the incident.

“…she was taking a list over to port, the order was called, I think, by the chief officer. “Everyone on the starboard side to straighter her up,” which I repeated.

Seaman Samuel Hemming had a slightly different memory of what happened. He had been atop the officer’s house clearing away Collapsible B, he said, when he heard the order for men to starboard.

Hemming, Senate Inquiry, Day 7
Q. You saw what?
- The captain was there, and he sung out: "Everyone over to the starboard side, to keep the ship up as long as possible."

Q. - Yes, sir.
Q. How many?
Q. Several hundred?
- No, sir; I should not think it would amount to several hundred. It amounted to just one or two.
Q. It amounted to one or two hundred?
- Yes, sir.
Q. Men and women?
- No, sir; there were no women.

Gracie was among the scores of men who crossed the deck to starboard---where they found Collapsible C gone! Collapsible C had been lowered by the time the order of men-to-starboard was given, which suggests it had, indeed, been given by Wilde. He would have been freed by the launching of C in time to cross over to D.

“All the lifeboats had been lowered and had departed,” wrote Gracie. But in the crowd that congregated at the rail he discovered Mrs. J.M. Brown and Miss Evans, two women he had escorted to Boat No. 4 more than an hour earlier. As they discussed how the women came still to be aboard the ship, Gracie noticed crewmen “working on the roof of the officers’ quarters to to cut loose one of the Englehart boats.” It was Collapsible A.

He hadn’t been speaking with the women long when a crew member came from Collapsible D to say there was room for more women. Without delay, Gracie took Mrs. Brown and Miss Evans in hand and headed to D. Three or four other women joined them.

They didn’t go far before they were stopped amidships by a cordon of crewmen who would allow only the women to pass.

Gracie later learned why the line of men had been set up. He was told by Lightoller himself that after the men around D had been ordered to starboard “men from steerage rushed the boat.” Lightoller had had to wave his pistol to scare them off and restore order.

Gracie returned to starboard and began “working with the crew at the davits on the starboard side forward, adjusting them, ready for lowering the Engelhardt boat from the roof of the officers’ house to the boat deck below.”

It must be somewhere about here that Collapsible D was launched by Wilde. It wouldn’t take long to get five of the six women who accompanied Gracie into the boat. (Gracie described five women in his memoir, six in his Senate testimony). Miss Evans never boarded the lifeboat and was lost.

Collapsible D had only about 10 feet to drop before hitting water, but along the way, Huge Woolner and his friend leaped into it to save themselves.

It’s clear from the evidence that Collapsible D was not launched very closely after Collapsible C. And this should make you rethink Woolner’s story of meeting with D by seredipity.

Obviously he didn’t go down to A deck as quickly after the launch of Collapsible C as we’ve been left to believe. I'll go into that in greater detail later.

Given Woolner’s aggressive efforts to bring female passengers to the lifeboats, is it possible he accompanied Gracie and the six women to port, only to be stopped amidships? And then, watching carefully for when the order was given to lower away Collapsible D, did he make a dash to A deck? It makes more sense, given the evidence, than Woolner's own claim to have been saved by pure chance. But unless more evidence turns up to support or discount such a theory, we’ll never know for sure.

With Collapsibles C and D now off the ship, the final desparate moments aboard the Titanic were at hand.

Gracie watched as A was pushed off the roof and onto oars placed along the officers’ house to cushion its fall. On the other side of the ship, with D off, Lightoller leaped onto the roof of the officers’ quarters to try and get B down before the ship sank under him.

“With one other seaman I started to cast adrift the one remaining Engleheart (sic) on top of the officers'’quarters."”he wrote in his 1935 memoir. The reference to “one remaining” boat tells that this action took place ‘after’ A had been pushed to the boat deck. The other seaman he identifies as Samuel Hemming.

“We had just time to tip the boat over and let her drop into the water that was now above the boat deck…” Lightoller wrote. “Hemming and I then, as every single boat was now away from the port side, went over to the starboard side, to see if there was anything further to be done there.”

In the wireless room, meanwhile, the operators were isolated from the pandemonium outside.

Harold Bride, the junior man, gave an account of his final minutes on the Titanic to the New York Times, including his helping to get Collapsible A down.

“He (Jack Phillips, the senior operator) suggested with a sort of laugh that I look out and see if all the people were off in the boats, or if any boats were left, or how things were.”
“I saw a collapsible boat near a funnel and went over to it. Twelve men were trying to boost it down to the boat deck. They were having an awful time. It was the last boat left…I gave them a hand, and over she went. They all started to scramble in on the boat deck, and I walked back to Phillips. I said the last raft had gone.”

Hemming testified at the Senate Inquiry that he helped uncoil some kinks in the starboard falls of Collapsible A.

Hemming, Senate Inquiry
I passed the block up to the officers' house, and Mr. Moody , the sixth officer, said: "We don't want the block. We will leave the boat on deck." I put the fall on the deck, stayed there a moment, and there was no chance of the boat being cleared away, and I went to the bridge and looked over and saw the water climbing upon the bridge. I went and looked over the starboard side, and everything was black. I went over to the port side and saw a boat off the port quarter, and I went along the port side and got up the after boat davits and slid down the fall and swam to the boat and got it.

Captain Smith made his last visit to the Marconi room.

Recalled Bride: “Then came the Captain’s voice. “Men you have done your full duty. You can do no more. Abandon your cabin. Now it’s every man for himself.”

Phillips continued to send for another 10 minutes at least, by Bride’s estimate. Then they left the wireless room together.

“I went to the place I had seen the collapsible boat on the boat deck, and to my surprise, I saw the boat and the men still trying to push it off,” said Bride.

Gracie was at collapsible A at this time. “…I heard a noise that spread consternation among us all. This was no less than the water striking the bridge and gurgling up the hatchway forward. It seemed momentarily as if it would reach the Boat Deck. It appeared as if it would take the crew a long time to turn the Engelhardt boat right side up and lift it over the rail…Clinch Smith made the proposition that we should leave and go toward the stern, still on the starboard side.” They made a run for it.

Bride had just gone to help the men with B when “a large wave came awash of the deck. The big wave carried the boat off.”

The Wave.

It swept Gracie and Lightoller and dozens more off the ship. The end had come.

And still the Titanic refused to surrender to the sea. It stayed afloat for another five minutes or more before finally slipping gently under the water.

The End? Not yet.

The Test of the Clock

The first-hand accounts of the struggle to get the final boats off the ship come with a wealth of time references. But I never imagined how valuable they would turn out to be until after I had applied them to the narrative sequence of how the last boats were sent off the Titanic.

Let’s start at the end, the moment the ship sank, a time everyone agrees on.

That time is universally accepted as 2:20 a.m. April 15, 1912, which appears to be the consensus of survivors in lifeboats who watched the ship go under.

But there’s a second “end time” that has to be taken into account. You can call it The Wave.

That’s the moment a wave swept across the top deck of the Titanic, sweeping Lightoller, Gracie, Bride and many, many others into the ocean. To them, that would be the time of sinking, since most of them spent the next minutes underwater and fighting to save themselves by finding something, anything to cling to.

An analysis of what happened next suggests the following scenario:

The bow of the Titanic had been slowing sinking, and as it did the stern rose into the air until the propellers were out of the water. There came a point when the bow dipped fully under the ocean and a wave of water swept across the top deck. The pressure on the Titanic was unstoppable, and the ship split in two. The forepart sank, while the afterpart settled back into the water, but floating still. Water began to pour into areas heretofore dry, weighing what was left of the ship down. At the same time, the forepart was still partially attached, and pulled the afterpart down so that, to observers, it seemed the Titanic stood up almost vertically in the water. How long it maintained that position varies from witness to witness. School teacher Lawrence Beesley, in Boat #13, thought it could have been as long as five minutes; Emily Ryerson, in No. 4, said “several minutes” in her affidavit to the Senate Inquiry.

Since, obviously, nobody timed The Wave, we have to deduce a time. But since we’re talking a minute or two, give or take, which is within anyone’s margin of error, I’ve rounded it off to Beesley’s five minutes. The Wave then at 2:15 a.m.

Just before being swept into the ocean, wireless operator Harold Bride reached Collapsible B which had been pushed off the roof of the officers’ quarters but was nowhere near ready to be hooked up to the davits or to take passengers. Bride said that Captain Edward Smith had stepped into the wireless room only 10 minutes earlier and declared (I paraphrase) “You have done your duty. Now its every man for himself.”

Archibald Gracie wrote that “fifteen minutes after the launching of the last lifeboat on the port side” he heard the terrifying noise that heralded the wave which carried him into the ocean. The last port boat to be launched was Collapsible D.

That puts the launch of D 15 minutes before the Wave, somewhere near 2:00 a.m. April 15th. As I said in an earlier article, I’m not foolhardy enough to claim I can pinpoint the time of any action on the Titanic down to a one minute window, 97 years later. So although I will use 2:00 as the time that D left the ship for research purposes, it should be remembered that times are best understood as guideposts around which events occurred rather than fixed signposts.

Gracie escorted Mrs. Brown and Miss Evans to Collapsible D, but was stopped by a cordon of men amidships. 15-20 minutes before the ship sank, he said. 2:15 (The Wave) less 20 minutes is 1:55.

Note how this focuses the time when Lightoller stopped a rush on Collapsible D to the five-minute period after 1:50, when the men-to-starboard order was given, and 1:55 when the cordon was already in place.

As mentioned earlier, Hemming told the Senate Inquiry, he last saw Captain Smith give an order for all the men congregating around Collapsible D to go over to the starboard side.

SEH175. How long was this before the boat went down?
- It was some little time.
SEH176. How long was it before you slipped into the water?
- About a quarter of an hour, I should think, sir.

If it took 5 minutes for Hemming to go from seeing Collapsible D off the ship (2:00) to the time he himself jumped off (2:05), that means a quarter of an hour earlier was 1:50 a.m. April 14, 1912 when the "all men to starboard" order was given.

Watch how nicely it all coordinates.

Lightoller estimated the order came a half hour to three-quarters of an hour before the ship sank.1:50 to 2:20 is exactly half an hour.

Gracie was one of the men who went from Collapsible D to starboard. He noticed that "meanwhile, the crew were working on the roof of the officers' quarters to cut loose one of the Engelhardt boats."

That boat? Collapsible A.

The proof? Steward Edward Brown testified to the British Inquiry "I suppose it took us about 10 or 12 minutes" to get Collapsible A down. Ten to 12 minutes after 1:50 is just after 2:00, the very time Hemming was helping with the falls to A.

This brings us to one of the most contentious issues regarding the last boats. When did Collapsible C go?

I explored many possibilities, but each was unsatisfactory for one reason or another. And then I realized I should take my own advice---stop trying to locate an event 97 years ago to the exact minute. With that, the solution fell into place. Knowing when Collapsible D was lowered off the Titanic, I could say with confidence when Collapsible C went within a 10 minute window, possibly five.

The key was the evidence of Samuel Hemming.

He helped turn out Collapsible D and get it into the davits ready to load. He then climbed to the roof of the officer's quarters to clear Collapsible B. And then, he told the Senate Inquiry, he heard Capt. Smith give the order for all men around Collapsible D to go to the starboard side of the ship.

"After that I went over to the starboard side. The starboard collapsible boat had just been lowered."

The puzzle pieces began to fall into place.

Lightoller said he got the order to send men from D to starboard from Wilde. Wilde had been at C working to load the boat with Murdoch. For him to be at D means that C was off the ship, or at the very least was on its way down with Murdoch overseeing it was lowered safely.

Quartermaster George Rowe, who was in charge of C, told the Senate committee, " It took us a good five minutes to lower the boat on account of this rubbing going down."

It's unlikely Wilde would order 100 men or more to starboard when there was a possibility their mere presence could disrupt the lowering of C. Therefore its safe to say he waited until, at the least, C was halfway or more down the side of the ship before heading over to D.

With those considerations in mind, we arrive at a rough time of 1:45 for C leaving the ship.

But there is another, equally compelling, option.

Among the crewmen in Collapsible C was Albert Pearcey, pantryman. In his testimony to the British Inquiry he provided a definite and seeminly unchallengeable time for the launch of C.

10456. Can you give us any idea of how long it was after you had started rowing away from the "Titanic" before she sank?
- No, I cannot. It was 20 minutes to two when we came away from her.
10457. That will help us. It was 20 minutes to two, you remember, when you started rowing away from the ship's side - is that right?
- Yes.
10459. Not when you came up on deck, but when you started rowing away?
- Yes, when we got away. It was just in time.
10460. How do you remember it was 20 minutes to two?
- Because I looked at the time.
10461. That is what I wanted to know. Where did you look at the time?
- One of the passengers had the time.
10462. And it was 20 minutes to 2?
- Yes.
His timing was supported at the Senate Inquiry by Quartermaster Arthur Bright who left the ship in Collapsible D.

The collapsible boat on the port side was lowered after the one on the starboard side?
Yes; the starboard one went down before the other one.
And it went down immediately before the one on the port side?
I could not say how long. I suppose it was 20 minutes or more. It was getting ready before I went down.

Twenty minutes before D was lowered would be about 1:40.

What a dilemma? On one hand you have a very credible time provided by two crewman backed by a passenger's watch reading. On the other, a rational estimate turning on a known order given aboard the ship which ties Collapsible D to a lowered Collapsible C.

But as I noted, the difference is about five minutes. That may be as close as we can ever get. But it means the gap between the launch of Collapsible C and the lowering of D is between 15 and 20 minutes, significantly longer than Woolner's testimony would lead us to believe.

Finally, the cherry on the cake---watching one of Titanic's Secrets Unfold.

Steward John Hardy left the ship on Collapsible D. He told the Senate Inquiry he was convinced the Titanic would not sink until very late in the crisis. It was Murdoch who changed his mind.

Mr. Hardy
"I had great respect and great regard for Officer Murdoch and I was walking along the deck forward with him and he said "I believe she is gone, Hardy," and that's the only time I thought she might sink---when he said that."
Senator Smith
"How long was that before your boat was launched?
Mr. Hardy
A. "It was a good half hour, I should say, sir."
Senator Smith
Where did he go then, do you know?
Mr. Hardy
He was walking toward the afterpart of the deck. That was before all the boats had gone.
Senator Smith
He superintended the loading of the boats?
Mr. Hardy
Yes, sir; he went to see if a particular boat was properly manned.

And what was the only boat left aft at that moment?

Boat No. 10!

A good half hour, he said. D was launched at 2:00 a.m. A half hour earlier would be 1:30, just about the time Rowe stopped firing rockets to answer Chief Officer Wilde's call for men to help with starboard collapsible C.

Even Wilde's search for a sailor fits perfectly into the scenario. Having left No. 10 in the hands of Moody, he went forward to get C ready. He called for a sailor to clear the boat, then likely went to No. 2, where I see him sending Murdoch back to No. 10 while he took Murdoch’s place at 2 until C was ready to load.

For the first time, we can see the significance of Hardy's evidence. It gives us a time frame for the loading of No. 10 (almost done, but not quite),in relation to No. 2 (soon to go off after Boxhall, too, stops firing rockets and is ordered to take charge), No. 4 (on the heels of 2) and even Collapsible C (which is only now starting to be cleared.)

There is no hard evidence to prove it, other than the movements of the officers, but its a logical sequence of events and motivation.

And that's how Titanic's Secrets Unfold.

The Skeleton
I've always looked at the movements of the officers and crew as the skeleton upon which the story of the sinking of the Titanic is built. The clues above provide the best look yet at what was happening moment by moment:

1. Wilde, Murdoch, Lightoller and Moody converge on No. 10.

2. Lightoller is not needed and goes along to No. 4. Murdoch soon follows to No. 2
That leaves Wilde and Moody at 10
Lightoller at 4
Murdoch at 2

3. Wilde leaves 10 to go to C. Wilde calls for a seaman. Rowe and Bright go to C and start to get it out.
Wilde goes to 2. Murdoch goes to 10.
That leaves Wilde at 2
no officer at C
Lightoller at 4
Murdoch and Moody at 10

4. Wilde leaves 2 and returns to C. The Captain takes over at 2 and orders Boxhall in.
That leaves Wilde at C
Capt. Smith at 2
Lightoller at 4
Murdoch and Moody at 10

5. No. 2 goes off. No. 4 goes off, freeing Lightoller. No. 10 goes off, freeing Murdoch and Moody.

6. Murdoch goes to C.
Moody, possibly, goes to the roof of the officers' house to Collapsibles A and B.
Lightoller and Wilde get D ready.

7. Wilde returns to C.
This leaves Wilde and Murdoch at C
Lightoller at D
Moody at A and B

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Launching the Rear Boats

While working on a major project involving the Titanic, I ran into a snag. I thought I could unravel the problem by examining the order the rear boats were loaded and lowered. The answer helped, though less than I had hoped. But I was still pleased to fill a gap in my knowledge of what happened on the doomed ship.

Later,I realized that many people, including dedicated researchers, have misunderstandings about the loading of the rear boats. I hope this summary of my findings helps clear up some of the confusion.

The evidence of what happened on the Titanic is, as anyone who has done any research knows, often contradictory, always mindboggling, and, too frequently, tantalizingly short of conclusive. Nevertheless, if you listen carefully to what the survivors say, you can mine nuggets of fact that, collected and put in order, tell a tale reasonably well.

This is such a story.


The clearing of the rear boats started early.

Saloon steward William Ward told the Senate Inquiry he went to his station at Boat No. 7 (the first boat to leave the ship) only to find he wasn't needed. The lifeboat was already lowered level with the boat deck and the order was given to load the ladies in. He was sent aft to Boat No. 9 where he "assisted in taking the canvas cover off" and in lowering the boat ready for passengers.

Able Seaman Frederick Clench told the same inquiry he was unlacing the cover to Lifeboatg No. 11 when "an officer came along and drafted me on the other side."

It appears there were more crewmen working on the starboard rear boats than on the port side. At least three crewmen (Clench, A.B. Joseph Scarrott and A.B. Ernest Archer) told of being ordered from starboard to port to help get the boats out on that side of the ship.

There's no reason to believe that clearing boats on one side of the Titanic took more time than on the other, so we can assume that the rear boats, port and starboard, were ready to load at about the same time.

The starboard rear boats were loaded and lowered sequentially (that is No. 9 first, then No. 11, then 13, then 15). The situation on the port side was more complicated, as you'll see.


Saloon steward William Ward testified that after No. 9 was made ready, the crewmen stood around, waiting, for several minutes until First Officer William Murdoch arrived with a crowd of women.

The Purser or Murdoch (Ward wasn’t sure) asked “Are you ready?” Then came the order “Pass the women in.”

But wait. There's something obviously missing from this version of the story given to the U.S. Senate Inquiry. That piece of the puzzle is found in the British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry into the sinking of the Titanic.

There, Steward Charles Mackay testified that he heard Murdoch order Steward Joseph Wheat in charge of lifeboat No. 11. Wheat testified he took about 70 stewards with him to A deck while Mackay and Steward Edward Wheelton rounded up about 40 women from the boat deck and took them down as well.

It's obvious that the intent was to load women from A deck. This was a plan attempted attempted, then abandoned, at Boat No. 4. And school teacher Lawrence Beesley wrote that an unidentified officer of the Titanic had come to the back of the ship early in the sinking, when the roaring steam was still deafening everyone, and ordered the women down to A deck. But the decks had obviously filled up again by the time Murdoch arrived at the rear of the ship, and he intended on giving the procedure another go.

Sending about 110 people to A deck would have certainly thinned out the deck around the starboard rear boats. And just as certainly, it happened before No. 9 was loaded with the women Murdoch brought with him.

Steward James Widgery at No. 9 recalled what happened after some women were loaded into the boat.

"“The Chief Officer was there and called out for more women---there seemed to be none,” Men were allowed to get into the lifeboat and four or five did. No. 9 was lowered to the ocean and Murdoch called to the bosun to keep 100 yards off.

If Murdoch had tried loading No. 9 before he gave Wheat his orders, there would have been plenty of women topside to fill the lifeboat. Instead, Widgery says "there seemed to be none." Where were they all? Down on A deck with Wheat, Wheelton and Mackay, of course.

No. 9 was lowered without stopping at A deck. But Murdoch followed the two-stop procedure for the other three lifeboats on his side of the ship.

Steward Charles Mackay testified that No. 11 was sent to A deck empty. Seaman Walter Brice said the boat was "filled from A deck." And it was filled to overflowing. There were so many women and children waiting to get into No. 11 than some families were split up. Ruth Becker, 12, couldn't get in with her mother, brother and younger sister and was told to take the next boat. Jane Quick's two daughters. Winifred, 8, and Phyllis, 2, were put in, but she was held back until a sailor couldn't stand her screams of anguish and squeezed her in too. Mrs. Quick recounted seeing another mother screaming in despair on the Titanic after being separated from her baby.

Eventually the loading ended and, according to Fireman George Beauchamp, Murdoch gave the order: “That’s enough. Lower away.”

Murdoch moved to the next boat in line, No. 13.

Beauchamp told the British Inquiry that after abandoning the engine room he wound up on the boat deck beside No. 13.

“I went aft to the boat deck and across to the starboard side and stood on the deck of the ship by the boat and one foot on the boat and one foot on the lifeboat, like that, and helped the ladies and children in that were there.”

School teacher Lawrence Beesley was there as well, and in his account (The Loss of the S.S Titanic, Its Story and Its Lessons, 1912) he picks up the story.

“An officer--I think First Officer Murdock (sic spelling)—came striding along the deck, clad in a long coat, and resolute: he looked over the side and shouted to the boats being lowered: “Lower away, and when afloat, row around to the gangway and wait for orders.”

And this, as you’ll see, is a perfect juncture to leave the starboard boats to see what was happening on the port side all this time.


Able Seaman Frederick Clench had been, as mentioned, unlacing the cover to No. 11 lifeboat when an officer ordered him to start clearing the port boats.

He went to No. 16 “and started getting out the boat falls to let them down; I got out the two falls and coiled them down on the deck. When I was putting the plug in the boat in readiness to be lowered they were swinging the boat out.”

Clench jumped out of No. 16, then repeated the clearing process at Boat 14 and Boat 12.

“Then I assisted Mr. Lightoller…Him and me stood on the gunwhale of the boat helping load the women and children in. The chief officer was passing them along to us…” he told the Senate Inquiry.

Able Seaman Joseph Scarrott had been working at starboard boat No. 13 when Chief Officer Henry Wilde sent him across the ship to port boat No. 14. “Directly I got to my boat I jumped in, saw the plug in, and saw my dropping ladder was ready to be worked at a momen’ts notice; and then Mr. Wilde, the Chief Officer, came along and said: “All right, take the women and children.”

Able Seaman Ernest Archer testified in London that he had just lowered three starboard boats level with the boat deck when an officer “sang out that they wanted some seamen on the other side, on the port side…”

“I went over then and assisted in getting Nos. 12, 14, and 15 (he meant 16) out. I assisted in getting the falls and everything ready, and the passengers into No. 14 boat.”

From his account, Archer came over to port side later than Clench and later than Scarrott. He came after he lowered three starboard boats. Remember, Clench had just started unlacing No. 11 when he left. And Scarrott was getting No. 13 ready, something that had to be done before it was lowered level with the deck.

Archer went to No. 12 first. He saw the falls were already out(because Clench had been there before him.) Archer didn’t stick around. He went to No. 14, checked the falls, which Scarrott had already laid out. Then he helped Scarrott load the passengers.

So we have Clench, Wilde and Lightoller loading No.12 and Scarrott and Archer loading No. 14.

Jump Ahead, Look Back

From here on, the evidence comes in a series of leaps which require the researcher to work backwards to understand what happened. After each leap we have to recreate the steps that lead up to the point from which we start. We begin with the arrival of Able Seaman John Poigndestre at Boat No. 12.

He testified before the British Inquiry.

Q. Now having got to your boat, was it in a line with the boat deck or had it been lowered?
A. It was lowered, but in line with the boat deck.

Q, Was there anybody there looking after it?
A. Yes

Q. Who?
A. Mr. Lightoller.

Q. Was there anybody else with him?
A. No, only myself.

Q. Only you two?
A. Yes.

Where, then, were Clench and Wilde?

The answer is in the testimony of Frederick Clench at the U.S. Senate Inquiry. I used a partial quote of his testimony earlier. Here is the relevant quote in full.

”The second officer. Him and me stood on the gunwhale of the boat helping load the women and children in. The chief officer was passing them along to us, and we filled the three boats like that.”

Where were Clench and Wilde when Poigndestre arrived at Boat No. 12? At Boat No. 14, if we accept Clench’s direction. And we can even guess when they went and why.

Joseph Scarrott testified he had supervised the loading of 20 women into Boat No. 14 “when some men tried to rush the boats…I had to use a bit of persuasion. The only thing I could use was the boat’s tiller.”

A scramble at Boat No. 14 was just the sort of thing to attract the attention of Chief Officer Wilde. It’s not hard to see him leaving No. 12 in the hands of Lightoller and going over with Clench to handle things at No. 14. I stress, there’s no proof this happened, so it is presented as a logical explanation only.

The loading of Boats 12 and 14 continued. Archer said he spent some time at No. 14 then went to No. 16.

Here we have another of those leaps in evidence—a big one.

Fifth Officer Harold Lowe showed up at Boat No. 14.

“We were practically full up. I was taking the women in when Mr. Lowe came,” said Seaman Scarrott.

Lowe described his arrival to the Senate Inquiry: “I met Sixth Officer (James) Moody, and asked Moody, “What are you doing?” He said,”I am getting these boats away.” So we filled both 14 and 16 with women and children.”

Lowe was asked by the Senators “Why did you go to her (No. 14) in particular?”
His answer: “Because they seemed to be busy there.”

Q. Who was in charge there?
A. I do not know who was in charge there. I finished up loading No. 14 and Mr. Moody was finishing up loading No. 16.”

Where were Chief Officer Wilde and Second Officer Lightoller? The answer appears to be at No. 16 where Seaman Clench said he and the officers also worked at loading passengers.

Lowe told the U.S. Senate Inquiry that he briefly saw Lightoller.

Lowe: He was there part of the time, and he went away somewhere else. He must have gone to the second boat forward. (i.e. No. 12)

But where did Lightoller come from? From No. 16 if we believe Clench. And the reason for his leaving No. 16 is obvious---Moody had arrived, and there was no need for three of the Titanic’s officers (himself, Wilde and Moody) to supervise one lifeboat.

Lightoller would have indeed headed for No. 12 which he left with Seaman Poigndestre in charge.

Seaman John Poigndestre told the British Inquiry that after No. 12 was filled with women and children, he left it on the davits and went to No. 16.

Now, his testimony leaves the impression that he had been with Second Officer Charles Lightoller at Boat No. 12 all along up until the time he went to No. 14. But a closer reading of his evidence shows this wasn’t the case.

Q.Now having, to use your own phrase, filled it up with about 40, what was done with the boat?
A. It was left there.

Q. Left on a level with the boat deck?
A. Yes, with the boat deck.

Remember that Seaman Clench said he helped load Boats No. 12, 14, and 16 with Chief Officer Wilde and Second Officer Lightoller.

Assume, then, his testimony was accurate. When he and Wilde left for No. 14, Lightoller was left alone at No. 12 until Poigndestre arrived. At some point, Lightoller left No. 12 for No. 14 to recreate the triumvirate that Clench spoke of.

And then, the trio moved on to No. 16, if we continue to use Clench’s testimony as a guide. All the while Poigndestre would have been at No. 12, alone.

But Poigndestre provides another important clue. When he arrived at No. 14, he said, Chief Wilde was in charge.

Again, that’s a logical development. Assuming Wilde and Lightoller were at No. 16, once Moody arrived to finish loading, the superior officers left. Lightoller went back to No. 12, freeing Poigndestre to help at No. 14. Wilde, delayed, perhaps, by the need to speak to Moody, would have followed Lightoller’s footsteps, stopping at No. 14. At that moment all the rear port boats would have had one officer supervising, a perfectly reasonable distribution.

Lowe by this point would have climbed into No. 14 preparing to descend to the ocean. He never mentions seeing CO Wilde.

“Did you go by anybody’s orders?” he was asked in London.
“I did not,” he answered. “I saw five boats go away without an officer and I told Mr. Moody on my own that I had seen five boats go away and an officer ought to go in one of these boats. I asked him who it was to be—him or I--- and he told me “You go; I will get in another boat.”

Scarrott picks up the story…

Scarrott: “Mr. Lowe came in our boat. I told him that I had had a bit of trouble through the rushing business, and he said, “All right.” He pulled out his revolver and he fired two shots between the ship and the boat’s side and issued a warning to the remainder of the men that were about there…He asked me, “How many got into the boat?” I told him as near as I could count that that was the number and he said to me,” Do you think the boat will stand it?” I said, “Yes, she is hanging all right.” “All right,” he said, “Lower away 14.”

While Lowe confirmed he fired his gun—he said three shots—Scarrott’s account appears to be chronologically reversed. It makes more sense if the discussion about the stability of the lifeboat came first, then the discussion of the “rushing business.” Here’s why…

Lowe testified he didn’t fire his gun while the lifeboat was still level with the boat deck. He fired as it was being lowered, one shot fired horizontally along the side of the ship at each of the lower open decks to intimidate the horde of men “all glaring, like wild beasts ready to spring.”

But we’ve gotten ahead of ourselves.

Return to the moment when the rear port boats are loaded at last and ready to be launched. Moody is in charge at No. 16. Wilde at No.14 and Lightoller at No. 12.

The boats were lowered starting with aft boat No. 16. Then 14, then 12.

“Numbers 12, 14 and 16 went down pretty much at the same time,” Lowe told the British Inquiry.

Poigndestre provides the evidence to confirm the order of the lowering.

He testified he saw No. 14 lowered.

Q. What did you do next?
A. I went to my own boat.

Q. When you got back to No. 12, was there any Officer there?
A. Yes.
Q. Who?
A. Mr. Lightoller.

Q. Any seamen, firemen or anybody else?
A. Yes, there were some sailors there.

Q. What were their names?
A. There was Lucas, who lowered the boat, and another man who lowered the other end I did not know, but another man I asked to come in the boat by the name of Clinch.

Ungarbling his answer we see Poigndestre said there were two men, who eventually lowered the boat—Lucas, and another he didn’t know, and “Clinch”, as the court reporter rendered Clench’s name.

Clench, who had been at No. 16 was now at No. 12, obviously because No. 16 had been launched ahead of No. 14. Poigndestre, following the launch of No. 14, went to No.12 which was, in turn, lowered to the sea.

Back to Starboard

It’s at this point we should return to the rear starboard boats.

We left as First Officer Murdoch had loaded No. 13 on the boat deck.

School teacher Lawrence Beesley takes up the story.

“An officer—I think First Officer Murdoch—came striding along the deck, clad in a long coat, from his manner and face evidently in great agitation, but determined and resolute: he looked over the side and shouted to the boats being lowered : “Lower away and when afloat, row around to the gangway and wait for orders.”

…And the officer passed by and went across the ship to the port side.”

We can pinpoint the time and place of Beesley’s observation by the very next paragraph of his written account.

“Almost immediately after this, I heard a cry from below of “Any more ladies” and looking over the edge of the deck, saw boat 13 swinging level with the rail of B deck…”

So, No. 13 had been loaded on the boat deck, lowered to a deck below (deck A, actually, Beesley made the mistake of assuming the boat deck was A and the deck below B), Murdoch gave the crew in the lifeboats instructions, and then he WENT ACROSS THE SHIP TO THE PORT SIDE.

Steward Frederick Crowe testified at the Senate hearings that he had helped load No. 14 on the port side with women and children until he was told to man the boat. His testimony is key.

Q. Who told you to man the boat?
A. The senior officer. I’m not sure if it was the first officer or the chief officer, sir, but I believe the man’s name was Murdoch.

The significance of this can’t be overstated. It provides the best time link between the starboard and port rear boats--- Boats 9 and 11 off the ship, Boat 13 lowered to A deck, Boats 16, 14, and 12 still on the davits, Boat 14 starting to load crewmen preparatory to being lowered.

When I posted a version of this article on Encyclopedia Titanica, I was met with a virulent attack by a group which claimed that Steward Crowe was an unreliable witness, especially because no one else reportedly saw Murdoch at Boat 14.

The attack wilted when I introduced Charlotte Collyer, a British survivor travelling second cabin. Collyer was saved with her 8-year-old daughter Marjorie in Boat 14. And in a lengthy account published in The Semi-Monthly Magazine, May, 1912, she positively identifies First Officer Murdoch at the boat, corroborating Crowe’s testimony.

Charlotte Collyer said she, her daughter, and her husband left their cabin to go on deck.

“When we reached the second-cabin promenade deck, we found a great many people there.” The second-cabin promenade deck was, for all intents and purposes, where the rear boats were located.

Her husband approached an officer, either Fifth Officer Lowe or First Officer Murdoch, to ask a question. She wasn’t sure which officer, although later she demonstrated that she definitely knew who Murdoch was, identifying him correctly as the officer who reputedly shot himself.

Some time later, a stoker came on deck, the fingers of one hand having been cut off.

“I asked him if there was any danger.”
“Dynger!” he screamed, at the top of his voice. “I should just sye so! It’s ‘ell down below. Look at me! This boat’ll sink like a log in ten minutes.”

At one point during the next 10 to 15 minutes (by her estimate), she saw Murdoch “place guards by the gangways, to prevent others like the wounded stoker from coming on deck.”

She saw the first lifeboat lowered away. “Very few men went in her, only five or six members of the crew.”

“The lowering of the second boat took more time…The Officer in Charge was Harold Lowe. First Officer Murdock (sic) had moved to the other end of the deck.”

Moved to the other end of the deck. He would have had to be at the same end of the deck in order to move to the other end. And he was there before Lowe. And her statement was made in the context of Boat 14, Lowe’s boat, the same boat where Steward Crowe saw Murdoch.

In fact, Charlotte Collyer’s eyewitness account may provide us the reason Murdoch went to port---to place guards to keep stokers off the boat deck.

Murdoch would have spent little time at the port boats. He would see immediately he was not needed, that the port boats were well supervised by officers. This is common sense.

On his return to starboard he would be disappointed to find No. 13 still was not in the water.

After loading what women and children were available on the boat deck, No. 13 was lowered to A deck. Dr. Washington Dodge, in an address to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, May 11, 1912, said:

“Here, as the boat was lowered even with the deck, the women, about eight in number, were assisted by several of us over the rail of the steamer into the boat.”

Repeated calls were made for more women (were these what Beesley heard?). “None appearing,” said Dodge,”the men were told to tumble in.”

An estimated 9-12 male passengers and crewmen piled into No. 13. A crewman called up to Beesley “Any ladies on your deck?” No, said Beesley. “Then you had better jump,” the crewman said. And Beesley leaped down into No. 13.

But before it could be lowered, two more women were located and put in. Lowering was started, and stopped again as a family—father, mother and child—were located and had to be fit into the lifeboat.

Even then, it could not be lowered to the Atlantic. The boat was coming down directly over the engine room discharge and would be swamped if it didn’t stop and wait for the Titanic to sink deeper until the discharge was below the water level.

We can’t tell when during this course of stops and starts Murdoch returned to No. 13. But there wasn’t much he could do. He still had to load the last lifeboat on the starboard side, No. 15.

No. 15, unfortunately, is a mystery boat. At least four crewman who survived on No. 15 testified at the British Inquiry—Fireman George Cavell, Steward John Hart, Steward Sam Rule and Fireman James Taylor. They may as well have been talking about four different boats for all the good it did.

They couldn’t agree whether No. 15 loaded on the boat deck, A deck or B deck. There was some consensus that a group of passengers was picked up on A deck, but they couldn’t agree on the composition of men, women and children.

And where did the female passengers come from? It’s clear that there were no women on the boat deck when Beesley jumped to No. 13 and no women on A deck when officers tried to fill No. 13. Yet minutes later, No. 15 is being loaded. The answer may be that Steward Hart’s testimony to bringing a group of 22 women and three children to No. 15 was the simple truth after all.

But it doesn’t matter for the purposes of this article. What’s known is that No. 15 was loaded and lowered last on the starboard side.

The Bridge between Port and Starboard

While working on the next segment of this research, the final boats to be launched, I stumbled across the most amazing link between the port and starboard rear boats. It was the testimony of Greaser Frederick Scott on Day 6 of the British Inquiry. Here are the relevent excerpts (emphasis mine):

5640. And did you get an order to go up on deck?
- Yes, the engineer came down and told everybody to go out of the engine room.
5646. And then did you get orders?
- Some of the firemen came down and told us we had to get some lifebelts.
5647. What did you do then?
- We got them at the Third class; from there we went up on the boat deck. There were two boats left then on the port side; lowered down to the ship's side they were then.
5648. Were there any on the starboard side?
- No.

5649. Let us see if we can get this quite clearly. Did you look over the starboard side?
- Yes, we went to the starboard side first.

5652. It was the port side that had listed over?
- Yes. We went up the starboard ladder and came this side of her. We looked, and there was no boat. We went to the port side, and there were no boats then lowered to the ship's side. (The punctuation in the transcript is wrong. He was saying there were no boats on starboard. The transcript should read “We went to the port side and…There were no boats then lowered to the ship’s side. )

5655. Then you went back to the port side?
- We went to the port side then.

5657. Tell us what you saw?
- I saw two boats then, and one of the boats was where the Officer pulled a revolver out and shot it between the ship and the boat and said, "If any man jumps into the boat I will shoot him like a dog."
5658. That is Mr. Lowe, according to the evidence.

We know from other crewmen that the engine room was abandoned about 1:17 to 1:20 a.m. (April 15, 1912.) Scott estimated he spent 20 minutes finding a lifebelt and wandering about before he came topside. There he discovered that ALL the rear boats on the starboard side of the ship were gone, port boat No. 16 was gone, and port boat No. 14 was about to be launched. Time was such a fluid concept during the sinking that we shouldn’t place to much emphasis on his estimate of when he reached No. 14, but we cannot discount, indeed we must not discount, his evidence of the order the rear boats, port and starboard, went off the sinking ship.

To recap:

Boat 9 was the first of the rear boats to be loaded and lowered. It was followed by No. 11. No. 13 was loaded on the boat deck and lowered to A deck where loading continued. But various delays kept No. 13 attached to the Titanic for longer than anticipated.

Meanwhile the loading of the port boats started with No. 12, followed with No. 14, then No. 16. Only when all three were loaded did the lowering begin in reverse order, No. 16 first, then 14, then 12.

As the three port boats were being loaded, starboard boat No. 13 was launched and NO. 15 followed minutes later.

No. 10 was the last of the rear boats to leave the Titanic.

A more detailed account of the launch of Lifeboat 10 will come in the next segment of Titanic’s Secrets Unfold, where I’ll examine the evidence of the scramble to launch the last lifeboats on the sinking Titanic, including Collapsibles A and B.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The First Boats. The Crucial First Hour

Fewer than 700 people knew what happened the night the Titanic sank.

Barely more than a dozen children too young to understand what was happening learned details from their parents.

Their combined recollections are the ultimate resource that researchers have to reconstruct the events of that fateful night.

But, as will be demonstrated, writers and researchers have failed for decades to listen to the evidence of the survivors. It's astonishing to realize that hundreds of books and articles written over the years have been wrong in their accounts of the sinking of the Titanic because of this failure to use properly the best available evidence.

The following is an examination of the first hour after the Titanic hit an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean. Compare what the survivors said happened with what has been purported in histories and articles ever since.

But first, a short digression on methodology.

The time headings are guidelines only.

They illustrate a concurrence of eyewitness estimates of time. Events may have happened slightly before or shortly after the time noted. The times are not "assigned." They derive from the observations of Titanic survivors. Particularly important and useful is when survivors measured the passage of time in relation to the single immutable event of the night --- the collision with an iceberg.

I accept that the difference between New York Time and Titanic time is one hour and 33 minutes. All wireless messages are referenced accordingly. There is much discussion on this point in various threads on Encyclopedia Titanica. As you will see, the 1:33 time difference accords with events on the ship as recounted by Titanic survivors.

Where no time was given by a survivor, I used the simple research technique of before-or-after to locate events in the timeline. The technique recognizes that an event occurs before something else or after something else. Logic determines which, but the placement in time is tested by what other survivors heard, said and did at the estimated time.

I have used direct quotes both to illuminate a point and to identify the source of the quotation. In some cases, such as Inquiry testimony, I have edited out superfluous questions and answers to permit the witnesses to tell their stories in as much of a narrative as possible.

The dates of newspaper interviews are generally those in the dateline. The interviews often appeared in the newspaper the day after, i.e. an interview conducted and datelined April 19 would be published the following day, on April 20th.
The Titanic collides with an iceberg in the Atlantic ocean.

Robert Hichens, QM, U.S. Senate Inquiry.
"Then the first officer told the other quartermaster standing by to take the time, and told one of the junior officers to make a note of that in the logbook. That was at 20 minutes of 12, sir."

If the Titanic has not sunk, the official log would have shown that the ship hit an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. April 14, 1912. Titanic survivors gave various estimates of the time of the accident, but I chose as my starting point the "official" time of 11:40.

Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall and Captain Edward Smith enter the bridge within seconds of the collision. The Captain questions First Officer William Murdoch as to what happened. The three men go to the starboard bow and look over to see if they can spot the iceberg. The official British and American inquiries contain various accounts from Quartermaster Alfred Olliver, Quartermaster Robert Hichens (who was at the wheel) and Fourth Officer Boxhall of the exchange between the Captain and Murdoch.

Boxhall, Murdoch, and the Captain go to the starboard bow and look over to see if they can spot the iceberg. Boxhall goes to check for damage.

"…whilst the Captain was talking to Murdoch, at the starboard wing of the bridge, I slipped down to go forward and have a look to see if I could find any damage. Nobody told me to go." Boxhall, radio interview, October, 1962.

The Captain returns to the bridge. He telegraphs half-speed

QM Alfred Olliver, U.S.Senate Inquiry
- "…whilst on the bridge she went ahead, after she struck; she went half speed ahead. The Captain telegraphed half speed ahead."
"How long did he go ahead half speed?"
- "Not very long, sir."

Olliver is ordered to find the carpenter.

Olliver, U.S. Senate Inquiry
"The Captain gave me orders to tell the carpenter to go and take the draft of water."

Second Officer Charles Lightoller, roused by the collision, steps out of his quarters. Everything appears normal. He sees the Captain and Murdoch standing at opposite ends of the bridge.

Lightoller, U.S. Senate Inquiry
"Did you see him (the Captain) on the bridge?"
- "About 3 minutes after impact."
How much time elapsed after the impact and your appearance on the deck?
- Two or three minutes.
Two or three minutes?
- Two minutes.
How long did you remain on deck?
- About two or 3 minutes.

The Captain sees the commutator read 5 degrees to starboard.

Robert Hichens, QM, U.S. Senate Inquiry:
- "The Captain sent then for the carpenter to sound the ship. He also came back to the wheelhouse and looked at the commutator in front of the compass, which is a little instrument like a clock to tell you how the ship is listing. The ship had a list of 5 degrees to starboard."
"How long after the impact, or collision?"- "Judging roughly, about 5 minutes…"

The Captain alerts the wireless operators he's ordered an inspection.

"I was standing by Phillips telling him to go to bed when the Captain put his head in the cabin.
"We’ve struck an iceberg," the Captain said, "and I’m having an inspection made to tell what it has done for us. You better get ready to send out a call for assistance. But don’t send it until I tell you."
Harold Bride, New York Times, April 28, 1912

The Captain’s first visit to the wireless room is determined by working backward from his next visit (which Bride estimated took place 10 minutes later) and which resulted in the first distress call being sent. Another clue is that the Captain says he’s having an inspection made; that means his first trip to the Marconi room took place while the search for the carpenter was still ongoing.

Boxhall goes to F deck where he finds no sign of injury to the ship. On his way back to the bridge he searches the forward passenger areas of the decks he passes, still finding no damage.

Olliver goes to E deck in search of the carpenter, whose quarters are on that deck. He finds the carpenter measuring the flooding of the ship and tells him to report to the Captain.

Olliver returns to the bridge.

The Captain sends Olliver to the Chief Engineer with a written message which he's already prepared. (Olliver, U.S. Senate Inquiry)

I accept the suggestion by David G. Brown that the note was a formal written order required by White Star regulations to have the ship's ballast adjusted. Kudos to Mr. Brown for solving one of the outstanding mysteries of the Titanic story.

Olliver delivers the message to the Chief Engineer.

Olliver, U.S. Senate Inquiry, Day 7, April 26, 1912
"The engines were not running. They were stopped. I delivered the message and I waited for an answer. I waited for 2 or 3 minutes. Then he saw me standing and he asked me what I wanted. I said I was waiting for an answer to the message I took him. He told me to take back---to tell the Captain that he would get it done as soon as possible."

Sixth Officer James Moody, meanwhile, sends Seaman Frank Evans to find the carpenter.

Frank Evans, able seaman, U.S. Senate Inquiry, Day 7, April 26, 1912
"I went up the ladder and met one officer...I think it was the fifth officer. The fifth or sixth officer. He told me to go down and find the carpenter and sound all the wells forward, and report to the bridge."

Fifth Officer Harold Lowe was still sleeping at this time, by his own account.

Boxhall returns to the bridge

"I went on to the bridge and reported to the Captain and First Officer that I had seen no damage whatever…I think we stayed on the bridge just for a moment or two, probably a couple of minutes, and then he told me to find the carpenter and tell him to sound the ship forward." Boxhall, British Board of Trade Inquiry, Day 13
"I came up on to the bridge again and reported to the Captain, "I’ve been down below, sir, right down as far as I can go without removing hatches or the tarpaulin, right through the Third Class accomodation forward and I don’t see any signs of any damage, not even a glass port broken." He said," Did you see the Carpenter anywhere, Mr. Boxhall?"…"I do wish you’d go down and find him and tell him to sound the ship round forward and let me know right away." Boxhall, Radio Interview, October, 1962

Up to this point, we can see the Captain trying to learn from the carpenter how seriously the ship has been damaged. This phase of the story is about to end, and the next phase to begin with the introduction of the boatswain.

Evans meets the boatswain. Evans, U.S. Senate Inquiry:
I met the boatswain there and he said "Who are you looking for, Evans?" I said "The carpenter." He said,"He has gone up." He said,"What is the matter?" I said,"I do not know. I think we have struck an iceberg." The boatswain went up then.

Boxhall, on his way below to look for the carpenter, meets the carpenter coming to see the Captain. Boxhall tells him where to find the Captain. Boxhall starts down again, this time to see where the ship is taking water, when he meets Iago Smith of the mails who is headed to brief the Captain. Boxhall repeats the directions to find the Captain. Boxhall heads to the mailroom to see the flooding for himself.

The boatswain, on his way to the bridge, tells crewmen they may be needed shortly.

George Symons, British Board of Trade inquiry, Day 10:
"Q. Whilst you were dressing, was an order given?
A. There was an order came to the forecastle door by the boatswain to "Stand by, as you may be wanted at any moment."
Q. What time was this?
A. By the time I got on deck it must have been about one bell, a quarter to 12.
i.e. 11:45
The carpenter and Mr.Smith give their reports to the Captain. There are no eyewitness accounts unless we accept the story of Seaman James McGough
in the 1912 publication of Lloyds Weekly News titled The Deathless Story of Titanic/ Seaman’s Vivid Description.

"I heard Captain Smith ordering the carpenter to make soundings. I heard the report of ‘Chips’ who said "Ten degrees list to starboard."
"My God" cried the Captain. "Bos’un, pipe all hand on deck."

But we know what happened immediately afterward.

First Class passenger Gilbert Tucker sees the Captain giving orders to a group of officers.

"I started back to my cabin and in the main companionway I ran across Captain Smith with a group of his officers. As I passed he was giving orders to call all hands, get life belts on them, and prepare to lower away the boats…As I looked at my watch then it was about 11:45. Gilbert Tucker, Jr., Tells of Wreck, Albany Times-Union, April 19, 1912.

Olliver returns to the bridge. Wilde orders him to find the bosun. Olliver finds the bosun, who, at this point, is headed to the bridge.

Olliver, U.S. Senate Inquiry
"As soon as I delivered that message, the Chief Officer sent me to the boatswain of the ship and told me to tell the boatswain to get the oar lines and to uncover the boats and get them ready for lowering. And I done so and came back on the bridge.

Less than 10 minutes after the collision the Captain knows the ship is badly damaged. He acts promptly and decisively. Any suggestion that Capt. Smith hesitated or was derelict in his duty is obviously false.

Moody orders Olliver to get the boat list.

Olliver, U.S. Senate Inquiry, Day 7
"No sooner did I get on the bridge than the Sixth Officer told me to go and get the boats’ list so that he could muster the men at the boats. I went and got the sailors’ boat list and took it to him."

Quartermaster John Poingdestre meets the carpenter who is on his way back from the bridge.

Poingdestre, British Board of Trade Inquiry, Day 4
2810 Before you saw the carpenter, while you were remaining outside the mess-room, what was your ship doing?
- I think the ship was stopped.
2808. Having gone back to your mess room, did you remain there, or did you leave the mess-room?- I remained outside the mess-room for a few minutes.
2793. Where were you?- Underneath the forecastle, outside the mess room, on the port side.
2809. And then?- I saw the carpenter.
2819. Will you tell me what was said by the carpenter to you?- The carpenter told me, and said the ship was making water; "Get up to your boats."

This tells us it was after the carpenter spoke with the Captain, and that the carpenter was aware the Captain had decided to call the men up to clear the boats. No such order had been given yet and the carpenter was in no position to give orders to the seamen.

2820. Did he give you any more definite information than that?- No.
2821. He did not tell you how much?
- He said about 7 feet, Sir.

Here we learn what the carpenter told the Captain. The ship had taken 7 feet of water in about seven minutes. It was flooding at the rate of about a foot a minute.

2822. Did he tell you whether he had been sounding himself?- He had been sounding the wells down in the firemen's compartment.
2825. Now when the carpenter gave you that information how long do you think that was after the ship had struck the iceberg?- I think about 10 minutes.
2826. What did you do after the carpenter had told you that?- Stayed where I was.
2827. For about how long?- A matter of a couple of minutes.
2828. And at the end of a couple of minutes what did you do?- The boatswain piped.
2829. What did the boatswain pipe?- "All hands up and get the lifeboats ready."

Seaman George Moore hears the bosun pipe "All hands."

George Moore, Able seaman, U.S. Senate Inquiry.
- "About 10 minutes to 12 the boatswain came and piped all hands on the boat deck and started to get out boats."
What did that mean, that the entire crew was to go up on the boat deck?
- All the able seamen.

Ismay arrives on the bridge. The Captain tells him the Titanic struck an iceberg.

J. Bruce Ismay, U.S. Senate Inquiry, April, 1912
- "I was never on the bridge until after the accident."
"How long after the accident?"
" I should think it might have been about 10 minutes."
"What if anything did he (the Captain) say to you about the collison?"
"…I asked him what had happened and he said we had struck ice."
I asked Captain Smith what was the matter and he said we had struck ice. I asked him whether he thought it serious and he said he did.
Statement issued by J. Bruce Ismay to The Times, Sunday, 21st April 1912.

Many of the crew testified to hearing the call for 'all hands' from the bosun. But there are subtle differences in what they remembered. Note, however, the correlation of time---between 11:50 and 11:55 p.m.

Seaman Ernest Archer, Senate Inquiry, Day 7, April 26, 1912
- "…the boatswain ordered us on deck."
"How long after that (the collision) did that occur?"
- About 10 minutes sir.
- We went on deck at the top of the forecastle ladder, to the boatswain, and we waited for the watch and he gave us orders, and we proceeded to the boat deck and proceeded to uncover and clear away the boats.

Lookout Reginald Lee, British Inquiry, Day 4
Did you get any orders to go on the boat deck?
- No, but I heard the boatswain call the other watch.
Did you hear what orders he gave?
- Yes, he told everybody to get the boats ready for turning out.

Seaman William Lucas, British Inquiry, Day 3
- The first orders I got was up under the bridge, that would be the boatswain’s mate, followed by the boatswain, "All hands up about the boats."
How long was that after the collision do you suppose?
- I suppose about a quarter of an hour.

Seaman Fred Clench, U.S. Senate Inquiry, Day 7, April 26, 1912
"…I heard the boatswain’s pipe call all hands out on deck. We went up to where he stood under the forecastle and he ordered all hands to the boat deck."

Seaman Edward Buley, U.S. Senate Inquiry, Day 7, April 26, 1912
- "The next order from the chief officer, Murdoch, was to tell the seamen to get together and uncover the boats and turn them out as quietly as though nothing had happened. They turned them out in about 20 minutes." i.e. by 12:10 or so. Compare this with Lightoller's account below.

"When did you first see that boat on the bow?"
- "When we started turning the boats out. That was about 10 minutes after she struck."

Seaman Albert Horswell hears the order to uncover the lifeboats. (11:52 by Titanic time).

Albert Horswell, radio interview, May 10, 1934 (transcript on Encyclopedia Titanica).
"I was asleep in my bunk in the foredeck quarters when she struck…At 12:15 a.m. orders were given to uncover the lifeboat, and 15 minutes later orders were given to swing out the davits…At 12:30 came orders: All passengers on deck with lifebelts on."

Horswell’s estimates of time raise the whole issue of how malleable time was on the Titanic.
The Titanic was steaming westward, and clocks aboard the ship were to be moved back 43 minutes during the night. The adjustment was to be in two steps. The watch on deck (or some of them at least) would stay at their posts an extra 23 minutes before being relieved. To the old watch it would be 12:23; to the new watch it would be midnight. Another time adjustment was to take place four hours later so that passengers would wake to a clock that had been turned back 43 minutes from the night before.
Horswell was asleep at the time of the collision. He was therefore intending to wake up after the first time change. If his times are adjusted by 23 minutes, they correspond perfectly with the evidence of other witnesses.

George Symons, AB, British Board of Trade Inquiry, Day 10
"…I heard the water coming into No. 1 hold. I looked down No. 1 hold… when the order came for "all hands on the boat deck."
Q. Can you give us any idea what time it was when you noticed this water reaching nearly the coamings of the hatch?
A. Roughly…5 minutes to 12 because as I was on my way to the deck, so they struck 8 bells in the crowsnest."
Q. When you got to the boat deck, what order did you get then?
A. The order I got…from Mr. Murdoch, and also the boatswain, was, they gave an order to uncover the boats and gets the falls out.

First Class Passenger Paul Chevre, Montreal Herald, April 19, 1912
"Fifteen minutes after we struck…our worst fears were realized when the order "man the lifeboats" was given from the Commander."

Boxhall returns to the bridge. He tells the Captain what he saw below. The Captain walks away without saying anything. (Boxhall, British Inquiry, Day 13)
"And then you came up and reported to the Commander?
- Yes.
What did he say?
- He walked away and left me. He went off the bridge, as far as I remember.

The Captain already knows everything Boxhall can tell him about the flooding below. But his saying nothing is still puzzling. However we know what he did next.

Boxhall, U.S. Senate Inquiry, Day 3
- I went right on the bridge again and reported to the Captain what I had seen.
What did he say?
- He said all right and then the order came out for the boats…To clear the lifeboats.

"We have been told that at some time you called the other officers…Could you form any opinion as to how long that was after the impact?
- …I have tried to place the time for it, and the nearest I can get to it as approximately 20 minutes to half an hour."
Boxhall, British Inquiry, Day 13

Boxhall never says who ordered him to call the other officers. Was it the Captain or Wilde? As you’ll see below, he roused the officers sooner than he thought.

Lightoller, British Board of Trade Inquiry
"He just came in and quietly remarked "You know we have struck an iceberg. The water is up to F deck in the mail room."

Lightoller, Titanic and Other Ships, 1935
"Not another word passed. He went out, closing the door whilst I slipped into some clothes as quickly as possible and went out on deck."

Herbert Pitman, Third Officer, U.S. Senate Inquiry, April 23, 1912
"…I thought I had better start dressing as it was near my watch, so I started dressing, and when I was partly dressed Mr. Boxhall came in and said the mail room---there was water in the mail room. I said "What happened?" He said "We struck an iceberg." So I put a coat on and went on deck...."

Harold Lowe, Fifth Officer, U.S. Senate Inquiry, April 24, 1912:
"Mr. Boxhall, the fourth officer, told me that he told me that we had struck an iceberg, but I do not remember it…It must have been when I was asleep. You must remember that we do not have any too much sleep and therefore when we sleep, we die."

Lightoller is ordered by Chief Officer Wilde to clear the boats.

Lightoller, British Board of Trade Inquiry

"I met the Chief Officer almost immediately, after coming out of the door of the quarters. First of all the Chief officer told me to commence to get the covers off the boats. I asked him then if all the hands had been called and he said "yes".

Lightoller starts clearing the first boat, No. 4, alone.

Lightoller, British Board of Trade Inquiry
"I commenced myself and then as the hands turned up, I told them off to the boats. I began on the port side with the port forward boat. That would be No. 4."
"I commenced stripping off No.4; then two or three turned up; I told them off to No.4 boat and stood off then myself and directed the men as they came up on deck, passing around the boat deck, round the various boats and seeing that the men were evenly distributed around both the port and starboard."

Lightoller was dressed and out of his room after the crew were called (approx. 11:50 p.m.) but before any sailors reached No. 4, which, he testified, was the first boat they would come to as they came up the stairs to the boat deck.

Boxhall, British Inquiry
After calling those officers did you go on the bridge again?
- Yes, I think I went towards the bridge, I am not sure whether it was then that I heard the order given to clear the boats or unlace the covers. I might have been on the bridge for a few minutes and then heard this order given.
- "I went right along the line of boats and I saw the men starting, the watch on deck, our watch.
I was unlacing the covers on the port side myself and I saw a lot of men come along---the watch I presume."

Understand what Boxhall is saying. He sees men working and assumes they’re the men from the watch already on duty. Then he sees "a lot of men come along" and assumes they’re the next watch. He’s saying the clearing of the boats began before midnight, when the next watch would normally be coming up.

As the crewmen set to work, the civilians on the ship were milling around trying to learn what had happened.

First Class Passenger Mrs. Anna Warren sees ship designer Thomas Andrews run up the stairs from A deck.

"…we then went to our rooms, put on all our heavy wraps and went to the foot of the grand staircase on D deck, again interviewing passengers and crew as to the danger. While standing there a Mr. Perry, I think his name was, one of the designers of the vessel, rushed by, going up the stairs. He was asked if there was any danger but made no reply. But a passenger who was afterwards saved told me that his face had on it a look of terror." Mrs. Frank Warren, "Portland Woman Describes Wreck", Portland Oregonian, April 27, 1912.

First Class Passenger Mr. William Sloper sees Andrews taking the stairs three at a time.

"We found that in the few moments we had been walking around the deck 30 or 40 passengers had gathered, most of them dressed in night clothes and dressing gowns. At this moment the designer of the ship, at whose table in the dining saloon Mrs. Gibson and Dorothy had been sitting at mealtime during the voyage, came bouncing up the stairs three at a time. Dorothy rushed over to him, putting her hands on his arm demanded to know what had happened. Without answering and with a worried look on his face, he brushed Dorothy aside and continued on up the next flight of steps, presumably on his way to the Captain’s bridge." William Sloper, his account posted on Encyclopedia Titanica, referenced to Ship to Shore, Oceanigraphic Research Society, Spring, 1984, pages 301-413.

The Captain and Ismay are briefed by Andrews who says the ship is sinking and nothing can save her.

Frank Prentice, Maclean’s magazine, April, 1977, "A night still remembered" by Carol Kennedy
"… I happened to be up on the boat deck and I saw Thomas Andrews, the designer, Bruce Ismay, the chairman and Captain Smith, talking together. I heard Ismay say to Andrews: "What’s the position? Is there any news?" And Andrews said: "Well, sir, the position is that she’s going to sink. There’s nothing that can stop us sinking. The water’s just coming straight up. The bulkheads won’t help her in any way at all."

The bosun, meanwhile, has gone below.

Hemming, U.S. Senate Inquiry, Day 7
"We went back in our bunks a few minutes. Then the joiner came in and he said "If I were you, I would turn out, you fellows. She is making water, one-two-three, and the racket court is getting filled up."
"Just as he went, the boatswain came, and he says "Turn out, you fellows," he says; "You haven’t half an hour to live." He said: "That is from Mr. Andrews." He said: "Keep it to yourselves, and let no one know."
"It would be about a quarter of an hour, sir, from the time the ship struck."

The Captain speaks with officers, then heads to the wireless room.

Paul Chevre, Canadian Press, April 19, 1912
"After a wait, during which a number of officers on the Captain’s bridge were seen to be holding a consultation, a message was rushed to the wireless operator."

Harold Bride, wireless operator, British Inquiry
"The Captain told us he wanted assistance. He gave us to understand he wanted us to call CQD. The Captain gave him (Mr. Phillips) the latitude and longitude of the Titanic and told him to be quick about it or words to that effect."
The Captain went away (after his first visit) and in ten minutes, I should estimate the time, he came back. We could hear a terrible confusion outside…"Send the call for assistance," ordered the Captain, barely putting his head in the door. "What call should I send?" Phillips asked. "The regulation international call for help. Just that."
Then the Captain was gone. Phillips began to send "C.Q.D." Harold Bride, New York Times, April 28, 1912.

Titanic: "CQD CQD CQD CQD CQD CQD DE MGY 41.44N. 50.24 W."

Seaman William Lucas, following orders to clear the boats, finds Moody and Lightoller at the forward port boats.

Lucas, British Inquiry, Day 3
1461. Then you went to the next one, No. 2?- The opposite side, the port side.
1462. Who was in charge of that boat at that time; was any Officer there?- The only Officers I saw there were Mr. Moody and Mr. Lightoller.
1463. Did they give you any orders?- Yes.
1464. What did they say?- They said "get out the boats," we all got out those boats - before the boats were lowered, before they were swung out.

Lightoller sees Ismay standing alone on the boat deck.

Lightoller, British Board of Trade Inquiry, when asked about seeing Mr. Ismay.
- "On the boat deck…When we started to uncover the boats."
"How long was that after the collison?"
- "About 20 minutes."

Lookouts George Hogg and Frank Evans relieve Fleet and Reginald Lee in the crowsnest.

George Hogg, U.S. Senate Inquiry
"I dressed myself and we relieved the lookout at 12 o’clock, me and my mate Evans."

Lookout Frederick Fleet, April 23, 1912, U.S. Senate Inquiry
- I remained in the crow’s nest until I got relief.
How long did you stay there?
- About a quarter of an hour to 20 minutes after.
After what?
- After the accident.
i.e. until relieved at 12 o’clock, confirming Hogg’s testimony

Note that the lookouts were relieved at midnight April 14, 1912 and not at 12:23 a.m. April 15. This will be important later on.

Beesley sees an officer take the cover off No. 16.

Lawrence Beesley, The Loss of the S.S. Titanic, 1912:
"…as I crossed from the starboard to the port side to go down by the vestibule door, I saw an officer climb on the last lifeboat on the port side-number 16---and begin to throw off the cover, but I do not remember than anyone paid any particular attention to him."

Was this Sixth Office James Moody? When Third Officer Herbert Pitman was ordered aft to get the rear boats cleared, he met Moody already there.

John B. Thayer, Sinking of the S.S. Titanic, 1940
It was shortly after midnight. My father and I came in from the cold deck to the hallway or lounge. There were quite a few people standing around questioning each other in a dazed kind of way…We saw, as they passed, Mr. Ismay, Mr. Andrews and some of the ships officers. Mr. Andrews told us he did not give the ship more over an hour to live.

Boxhall, British Inquiry, Day 13
15610 Did you hear the Captain say anything to anybody about the ship being doomed?
--The Captain did remark something to me in the earlier part of the evening after the order had been given to clear the boats. ...he was inquiring about the men going on with the work and I said, "Yes, they are carrying on all right. " I said,"Is it really serious?" He said,"Mr. Andrews tells me he gives her from an hour to an hour and a half." That must have been some little time afterwards. Evidently Mr. Andrews had been down.

First class passengers begin to get alarmed. The better-connected approach the Captain and Mr. Andrews for information.

Isaac G. Fraunthal, New York Sun, April 20, 1912
"At midnight I heard a furious pounding on the door of a stateroom near mine. A man I didn’t know was doing his best to waken his friends. I couldn’t make head or tail of what he was saying so I made for the deck."

Mrs. Bishop, U.S.Senate Inquiry:…we were awakened by a man who had a stateroom near us...He told us to come upstairs.

Mr. Dickinson Bishop, U.S.Senate Inquiry: "I did not hear any alarm. The alarm we had was from another passenger, a friend of ours on the ship…Mr. A.A. Stewart of New York.

Mr. Bishop, Dowaigiac Daily News, May 10, 1912
."I felt assured all was safe and returned to our stateroom. We both undressed and retired. I once more began to read and so occupied myself for ten minutes."
"Presently Mr. Stewart, a friend we had made on board ship, who had been across the ocean many times rapped at the door and called me outside. He informed me we had best get up and dress. He then called my attention to the listing of the boat which began soon after the iceberg was struck."

Mr. Bishop, New York Times, April 19, 1912
Shortly before we got up the second time, Mr. Stuart, a circus man who had charge of Buffalo Bill’s show on its trip abroad knocked at the door and called in to me "Come on out and amuse yourself."

I.G. Frauenthal, New York Sun, April 20, 1912
"Presently I saw the Captain. Several men approached him. One of these was Col. Astor and I heard him say,"Captain, my wife is not in good health. She has gone to bed and I don’t want to get her up unless it is absolutely necessary. What is the situation?"
Captain Smith replied quietly,"Col. Astor, you had better get your wife up at once. I fear we may have to take to the boats."

Mrs. Nelle Snyder, Toronto World, April 20, 1912
When I came up on deck, said Mrs. Snyder, I heard Col. Astor ask Captain Smith if he had not better waken Mrs. Astor. He said he did not wish unneccessarily to disturb her as she was in delicate health. I did not hear the Captain’s answer but I saw Col. Astor turn pale and hurry below.

Mrs. W.F. Minahan, The Milwaukee Journal, April 21, 1912.
"…I have no idea how long after it was that we were awakened by the hysterical crying and screaming of a woman in the passageway outside…When we reached the passageway outside the cabin we saw that the woman who was screaming was Mrs. John Jacob Astor. Her husband was trying to calm her, with but little effect."

Peuchen, U.S. Senate Inquiry.
"I talked with two young ladies who claimed to have had a very narrow escape. They said their stateroom was right near the Astors’. I think almost next to it…They slept through the crash and they were awakened by Mrs. Astor. She was in a rather excited state."

Ismay goes below to change his clothes. He meets the Chief Engineer.

Ismay, British Inquiry, Day 16
I met the Chief Engineer at the top of the stairs.

Ismay, Senate Inquiry, Day 11
Did the chief engineer of the Titanic state to you the extent of the damage?
- He said that he thought the damage was serious; that he hoped the pumps would be able to control the water.
How long was that after the impact?
- I should think it would be perhaps a half an hour afterwards; 35 or 40 minutes.

Bruce Ismay obviously stayed topside much longer than is generally believed. He told the Senate he came up about 10 minutes after the collision and went down to dress "perhaps" 20 minutes later.
His evidence, while important, is confusing. In modern terms you would say its corrupted data. As you’ll see, this piece of the puzzle doesn’t fit, although we can see where it should.

He testified he returned to his cabin, put a suit over his pyjamas and returned in time to hear the Captain order the boats lowered. If he left the boat deck at about 12:10 as he testified, then he would have returned after the order to lower the boats had already been given and after the Captain had gone below himself. If he was there to hear the order to lower the boats, he had to have left the boat deck earlier than he thought, but not by much. In fact, we can even surmise it was Capt. Smith’s advice to Mr. Astor which prompted Ismay to return to his cabin and get better dressed. The timing fits perfectly for him to return, hear the order to lower the boats and go to tell an officer at the starboard boats.
Equally important is his evidence that he saw the Chief Engineer. This is the first suggestion that the Chief Engineer had gone up to see the Captain, and that his visit preceeded the Captain’s own trip below by less than 10 minutes.

Chevre sees the Captain speak with one officer who says people should don lifebelts.

Paul Chevre, Montreal Gazette, April 20, 1912 (I have my notes of this newspaper article, but not a photocopy of the article itself, so the following is taken from my notes.)
"I saw the Captain go down the companionway-reassure passengers. He had a serious conversation with one officer. I could hear the latter express an opinion it would be well to have the passengers ordered to put on lifebelts."

Mrs. Dickinson Bishop, U.S. Senate Inquiry:
- "So we dressed again thoroughly and…went upstairs. After being there about 5 or 10 minutes one of the men we were with ran up and spoke to the Captain, who was just then coming down the stairs.

Who was this man?
- Mr. Astor.
Col. Astor?
- Yes. The Captain told him something in an undertone. He came back and told six of us, who were standing with his wife, that we had better put on our life belts. I had gotten down two flights of stairs to tell my husband, who had returned to the stateroom for a moment, before I heard the Captain announce that the life belts should be put on. That was about three or four minutes later than the Captain announced the life belts should be put on."

Mr. Dickinson Bishop, New York Times, April 19, 1912.
When we reached the upper deck we found only a few people there and none of them seemed to be frightened in the least. We stayed there a while talking. Mr. and Mrs. John Jacob Astor and Mr. and Mrs. G.A. Harder were in our group. I went downstairs to get some wraps when Mr. Astor started to go up to see the Captain. When I returned I found that the Captain had advised him to get life preservers and prepare for the worst. Shortly after the order was shouted for everybody to put on a preserver and they began to man the lifeboats.

Mr. Bishop, Dowagiac Daily News, Friday 10 May 1912
Mrs. Bishop wished a muff and I went for it, and while in the stateroom she came in and said we had been ordered to put on life belts. This we did and again went to the boat deck."The lowering of the life boats was done deliberately, and it was not even commenced until we had been on deck for several minutes.

Harder says that an officer at the foot of the stairs told passengers to get their lifebelts.

George Harder, U.S. Senate Inquiry, May 3, 1912:
"I saw Mr. and Mrs. Bishop and I saw Colonel and Mrs. Astor and they all seemed to be of the opinion that there was no danger. A little while after that an officer appeared at the foot of the stairs and he announced that everybody should go to their staterooms and put on their life belts…That, I think, was a little after 12, about 12 o’clock, that is, roughly."

Mrs. G.E. Bishop, "Mr. And Mrs. Bishop Give First Authentic Interview Concerning Titanic Disaster", Dowagiac Daily News, April 20, 1912.
"John Jacob Astor was standing at the foot of the stairway as I started to go back the second time. He told us to get on our lifebelts and we did."

Mrs. Stuart White, U.S, Senate Inquiry:
"Q. You went on deck?
A . We went right up on deck ourselves.
Q. On the upper deck?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. The lifeboats had not been cleared?
A. Nothing had been said about the lifeboats in any way, when suddenly Capt. Smith came down the stairway and ordered us all to put on our life preservers, which we did.

Mrs. J.M. Brown, "Girl Went Down To Save Another", Boston Daily Globe, April 21, 1912.
Mrs. J.J. Brown, of Acton, Boston Daily Globe, April 21, 1912.
"It was some little time after midnight that Capt. Smith, followed by John Jacob Astor, went rapidly along our deck. As he passed, Capt. Smith was quite pale…But he seemed perfectly calm and his voice was quite natural as he ordered all on deck to put on lifebelts."

J.R. McGough. Philadelphia Public Ledger. April 19, 1912
"I dressed quickly and went with a number of other people to the deck. There was little noise of excitement at the time. The promenade deck strained and creaked, so we went to a lower deck, which seemed less insecure. By this time the engines had been reversed and I could feel the ship backing. Officers and stewards warned us to dress and put on life preservers. I went to my stateroom…"

Horswell hears "passengers on deck with lifebelts."
At 12:30 (i.e. 12:07 as previously explained) came orders: "All passengers on deck with life belts on." A dozen of us were given clubs and sent into the steerage to get the third class passengers out. First we tried to talk to them, but they wouldn't come out. Then, reluctantly, we used the clubs.

Steward Alfred Crawford sees Ismay leave his room. B Deck.
Alfred Crawford, U.S. Senate Inquiry, Day 9,
Afterwards a gentleman—a Mr. Stewart—came down and asked me to help dress him, and to tie his shoes, and I did so. He went on deck and came back again and told me that it was serious, that they had told passengers to put on lifebelts. I got the lifebelts down and tied one on him and also one on others I gave them to other ladies and gentlemen on the deck. After that, during that time, I saw Mr. Ismay come out of his room and a bedroom steward named Clark and went on deck.

Gracie sees Ismay headed for the bridge.
Archibald Gracie, The Truth About the Titanic, 1912. P.124
"…I descended to the glass-enclosed Deck A, port side, and looked over the rail to see whether the ship was on an even keel, but I still could see nothing wrong. Entering the companionway, I passed Mr. Ismay with a member of the crew hurrying up the stairway. He wore a day suit, and, as usual, was hatless. He seemed much too preoccupied to notice anyone. Therefore I did not speak to him…"

Statement issued by J. Bruce Ismay to The Times Sunday 21st April 1912. I then returned to my room and put on a suit of clothes. I had been in my overcoat and pyjamas up to this time. I then went back to the boat deck and heard Captain Smith give the order to clear the boats.

The third stage of events is about to begin.
Stage One was the search for the carpenter to learn how badly the ship was damaged.
Stage Two was the bosun calling up the seamen and putting them to work clearing the lifeboats.
Stage Three is the loading of the boats.

Horswell hears the order to swing out the davits.
Radio interview with Albert Horswell, Thursday 10 May 1934, transcript on Encyclopedia Titanica
At 12:15 a.m ( time adjusted as previously explained) orders were given to uncover the life-boats and 15 minutes later orders were given to swing out the davits. In the meantime the position of the ship had been worked out and given to the wireless operator with orders to broadcast the international signal of distress. I heard an officer say we were about 1,100 miles out of New York, just off the tip of Newfoundland.

2:15-23 =11:52+15= 12:07/ 12:15+15=12:30-23 = 12:07

Bruce Ismay, U.S. Senate Inquiry, Day 1, April 19, 1912
Were you outside on the deck…when the order was given to lower the lifeboats?
- I heard Capt. Smith give the order when I was on the bridge.
Will you tell us what he said.
I know I heard him give the order to lower the boats. I think that is all he said. I think he simply turned abound and gave the order.

Lightoller, British Board of Trade Inquiry
"From the time we commenced to strip No.4 boat cover until the time we swung them out I should judge would be probably at most 15-20 minutes."

Lightoller has already ordered Pitman to uncover the aft boats.
Lightoller, British Board of Trade
"I remember directing one of the junior officers to look after the after section of boats."
"I really could not say what time the after boats were finished uncovering. Knowing that the Third Officer was there in charge I did not bother so much about that as the forward ones."

Pitman meets Moody aft. (Time unspecified. But before Pitman goes to No. 7)
Pitman, U.S. Senate Inquiry
"So I put a coat on and went on deck, and saw the men uncovering the boats and clearing them away. I walked along to the after-end of the boat deck, and met Mr. Moody, the sixth officer. I asked him if he had seen the iceberg. He said no, but he said "There is some ice on the forward well deck." So, to satisfy my curiousity, I went down there myself."

Bruce Ismay, Senate Inquiry, Day 1
-I heard the order to get the boats out. I walked along to the starboard side of the ship, where I met one of the officers. I told him to get the boats out---.
What officer?
-That I could not remember, sir.

By the process of elimination, the officer would be either Chief Officer Wilde or First Officer Murdoch, with Murdoch most likely because he was charged with loading the starboard boats.

Lightoller asks Wilde if he should load the boats. He’s told to wait. He asks the Captain who says go ahead.
Lightoller, British Board of Trade Inquiry, Day 12
- "Previous to any swinging out, when No. 4 was almost uncovered, in fact, the canvas cover was off. They were taking the falls out and I think they were in the act of taking the strong back out and the next movement to be executed would be swinging the boat out. So before any delay had occurred I asked the Commander, as I say, should we lower away."
"That means should you put people into the boat, I suppose?"
"Yes, we had had orders to swing out, so the boat was in the process of being swung out."

Hemming, U.S. Senate Inquiry:
"Then I went to the boats on the port side, to do the same, until Mr. Lightoller called me and said,"Come with me." And he said "Get another good man." I says "Foley is here somewhere." He says "I have no time to stop for Foley." So he called a man himself (was it Haines, the boatswain’s mate?) and he said "Follow me."
So we followed him, and he said: "Stand by to lower this boat." It was No. 4 boat.""We lowered the boat in line with the A deck, when I had an order come from the Captain to see that the boats were properly provided with lights…"

Boxhall, British Inquiry, Day 13
The Chief Officer told me to find the lamp trimmer. I did find him after a little trouble…He was on the boat deck working amongst the men. I told him to take a couple of men down with him and fetch the lamps…

Charles Lightoller, British Inquiry, Day 12
13872. What was the order?
- After I had swung out No. 4 boat I asked the Chief Officer should we put the women and children in, and he said "No." I left the men to go ahead with their work and found the Commander, or I met him and I asked him should we put the women and children in, and the Commander said "Yes, put the women and children in and lower away." That was the last order I received on the ship.
13873. Was that, as you understood it, a general order for the boats?
- Yes, a general order.

Boxhall questions the Captain regarding the position being sent by wireless message. He works out a better one. He submits the new position to the Captain.

Boxhall, British Board of Trade Inquiry
When the order was given to clear the boats, what did you do; did you go to any particular boat?
- No, I went right along the line of boats and I saw the men starting, the watch on deck,our watch.
Which side of the ship?
The port side. I went along the port side and afterwards I was down the starboard side as well but for how long I cannot remember. I was unlacing covers on the port side myself and I saw a lot of men come along---the watch I presume. They started to unscrew some out on the after part of the port side; I was just going along there and seeing all the men were well established with their work…
…after seeing the men continuing with their work, I saw all the officers were out, and I went into the chart-room to work out its position.
You took it to the Marconi office in order that it might be sent by the wireless operator?
I submitted the position to the Captain first and he told me to take it to the Marconi room.

The very next sequence of events is crucial to the story.

Corrected position sent out.
Titanic to Carpathia: "Come at once. We have struck a berg. It’s a CQD OM. Position 41.46 No. 50.14 W."
Carpathia to Titanic: Shall I tell my Captain? Do you require assistance?
Titanic to Carpathia: Yes, come quick."
Carpathia to Titanic: Putting about and heading for you."
Cape /Race to all: "MGY give corrected position 41.46 N. 50.14 W. Calling him, no answer."
Titanic to Ypringa: MGY CQD. Here corrected position 41.46 N. 50.14.W. Require immediate assistance. We have collision with iceberg. Sinking. Can hear nothing for noise of steam."

The Frankfurt replies. Bride goes to tell the Captain. He asks the Captain to reduce the steam noise.
"I went to report to the Captain. He was on the boat deck, on starboard side, if I remember." Harold Bride, British Board of Trade Inquiry

The noise of escaping steam directly over our cabin caused a deal of trouble to Mr. Phillips in reading the replies to our distress call, and this I also reported to Capt. Smith, who by some means managed to get it abated. Harold Bride, "A report which I have made to Mr. Cross, the traffic manager of the Marconi Co.", April 27, 1912.

Charles Lightoller, Titanic and Other Ships, 1935, reprinted in The Story of the Titanic as told by its survivors, edited by Jack Winocour, P. 288.
However, having got Captain Smith’s sanction, I indicated to the Bosun’s Mate (Haines) and we lowered down the first boat level with the boat deck, and, just at this time, thank heaven, the frightful din of escaping steam suddenly stopped, fore and aft the ship. It was almost startling to hear one’s own voice again after the appalling din of the last half hour or so.

This sequence of evidence is extremely important. We can see wireless operator Phillips complaining about the steam noise at 12:08. Bride is asking the Captain to reduce the noise. And Lightoller says he was lowering No. 4 at the exact moment the steam noise stopped. For the first time ever we can see when the loading of the Titanic’s lifeboats started—roughly 12:10 a.m. (The noise of escaping steam was being mentioned as late at the loading of Boat No. 1, so it either restarted or was cut off only in the pipe on the port side nearest the wireless room.)

It appears that after giving the order to lower the lifeboats, Captain Smith headed down to see the damage to the ship and to speak with the Chief Engineer. His trip down is recorded by passengers and crew. As he heads below, he tells passengers to put on their lifebelts. Once again the most socially ranked got the news first.

First Class Passenger Albert Dick, Calgary Herald, April 19, 1912, " ‘Bert’ Dick Tells His Story of Experiences For People of Calgary"
"Out of the private and staterooms they crowded up to the decks but there was no panic, but absolute confidence in the boat’s ability to stand what appeared for thirty minutes to be but light damage. Then the great boat began to get out of the horizontal. A settling of the bows was noticed and the order was given that the boats were to be lowered."

First Class Passenger Henry Stengel, Newark Evening News, "Stengel Tells Tragedy Story", April 19, 1912
It was a half hour after the shock that the boats were lowered.

First Class Passenger John Pillsbury Snyder, Minneapolis Morning Tribune, "Mr. Snyder Tells of Ship Disaster, Three Men Shot", April 20, 1912.
Both men and women occupied the first few boats and my wife and I got into one of those that went over the rail first. That was about 12:10 o’clock.

This could be a valuable clue to the time No. 7, Mr. Snyder’s boat, was swung out on the davits. But Snyder is quoted in other contemporary stories giving different accounts. I include them for comparison.

Mr. Snyder, St. Paul Dispatch, "Mill City Man Tells of Wreck", April 19, 1912
"Our boat was the first or second that was launched…We took the boat at 12:10 o’clock…"

Mr.Snyder, Minneapolis Morning Tribune, "Titanic Passengers Reach Minneapolis", April 22, 1912
"As near as I can remember, our boat swung off the deck of the Titanic about 12:30 a.m."

We can clearly see that a half hour after the Titanic hit the iceberg:
The Captain has learned the ship is sinking and cannot be saved.
He has ordered the lifeboats cleared and the passengers called up with lifebelts
He has ordered the wireless operators to send distress signals
He has ordered the passengers loaded into the lifeboats, and his order is filtering to the decks below
With all that underway, he heads down to see the damage for himself.
Mr. Andrews leads the way. They separate temporarily as Captain Smith goes to the mail room to see the flooding and Andrews heads directly to the engine room. After meeting up again in the engine room, the Captain goes directly back to the bridge while Andrews goes to the mail room, then turns his attention to saving passengers. If the elevators were still operating, the Captain’s trip below could have taken much less time than imagined.

Mrs. Emily Ryerson, affidavit, U.S. Senate Inquiry, May 10, 1912
"…I put on a warm wrapper and looked out the window…and saw the stars shining and a calm sea but heard no noise. It was 12 o’clock. After about 10 minutes I went out in the corridor and saw far off people hurrying on deck. A passenger ran by and called out, "Put on your life belts and come up on the boat deck." I said, "Where did you get those orders?" He said, "From the captain."

Bedroom Steward Alfred Crawford hears the Captain order passengers up with lifebelts.
Senator Smith: You say after the order was passed for life belts?
Crawford: Yes.
Senator Smith: Who gave that order.
Crawford: The Captain.
Senator Smith: How long after the collision?
Crawford: I should say about 30 minutes. i.e. 12:10

U.S. Senate Inquiry, April 19, 1912
Steward James Johnson, British Inquiry, Day 6 - "I went down and walked along the saloon (on E deck) and saw Mr. Andrews come down and go down to the engine room and then I saw the Captain directly following him…
And he (Mr. Andrews) and the Captain came through?
- No, he came 3 or 4 minutes before the Captain.

Where had the Captain been? Stewardess Annie Robinson saw him heading for the mail room.
Annie Robinson, British Inquiry, Day 11
"The mail man passed along first, and he returned with Mr. McElroy and the Captain, and they went in the direction of the mail room…" Note no mention of Mr. Andrews.

After the Captain and Purser McElroy left, Mrs. Robinson went to the mail room herself. She found the water "within six steps of coming on to E deck."
About what time was this?
-About half-an-hour after she struck.
After the collision?
-After the collision, about half-an-hour.

A slightly different version of Mrs. Robinson’s account appears in the book. THOMAS ANDREWS SHIPBUILDER, by Shan Bullock (1912). In Chapter 7 Bullock writes
"Another stewardess gives an account of Andrews, bareheaded and insufficiently clad against the icy cold, going quietly about bidding the attendants to rouse all passengers and get them up to the boats.
Overhearing him say to Captain Smith on the Upper deck, "Well, three have gone already, Captain," she ran to the lower stairway and to her surprise found water within six steps of her feet. Whereupon she hurried above to summon help, and, returning, met Andrews, who told her to advise passengers to leave the Upper deck."

Comparing quotes attributed to this stewardess with a segment of Walter Lord’s book A Night To Remember its obvious that Bullock is writing about Annie Robinson. Bullock’s source of information is unknown (to me, at least). He has Robinson overhear Andrews speaking to the Captain on F deck (which was called the Upper Deck) and tell him that "three have gone already", obviously meaning three watertight compartments. The Titanic could still float with four flooded compartments, but not five. While nothing turns on it, its interesting, if true, to know what the Captain knew about the condition of the ship at that moment.

Joseph Wheat, British Inquiry, Day 11
Did you hear instructions given to the stewards to see that all the people were taken up to the deck?
- Yes, I heard that instruction given by Mr. McElroy about a quarter past 12, or round about that time; he sent us down to Mr. Harding to get lifebelts on the passengers and get them on deck."

Note that Mrs. Robinson puts Purser McElroy with the Captain in the mail room. It appears that the Captain went on to the engine room while McElroy mobilized the stewards. Even the timing now makes sense.
Bathroom Steward Charles Mackay sees the Captain.

Steward Charles D. Mackay, British Board of Trade Inquiry
-"The first order I heard was from the Second Steward to close all the watertight doors on F deck.
How long after the accident was it you heard that order?
- A matter of about a quarter of an hour.
i.e. 11:55
Did you see the Captain about this time?
- No, I saw the Captain a matter of about 20 minutes after that.
i.e. 12:15
- "I saw him come down the working staircase and go along, I presume, to the Chief Engineer’s room."

Steward James Johnson, British Inquiry, Day 4

- "Then I followed Mr. Andrews after he came up from the engine room…I followed Mr. Andrews and went down to E deck…and saw Mr. Andrews go down by the baggage room or mail room."

Andrews appears to have caught up to the Captain as they both return to the boat deck.

First Class Passenger Albert Dick, Maclean’s Magazine, May 1, 1950, "When that great ship went down", by Ray Gardner
They headed for the grand staircase where they saw Captain Smith and Andrews, the ship’s builder, dash up the stairs. Dick grabbed his wife by the hand and they rushed out on deck.
"There was no panic," Dick recalls. "Andrews had a megaphone and he began to address the passengers. I remember his words. ‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ he said, ‘there is no need of panic. Go back to your staterooms and put on your lifebelts and warm clothing. Be as quick as you can’,"

Albert Dick, Manitoba Free Press, April 19, 1912, "Calgary Man Was Pushed Into Boat"
It was twenty minutes after before we realized the danger. My wife came up with me on the upper deck, and we met there, Mr. Andrews, the designer of the ship, who sat at the table with us. He told us to go down to our cabins and get our life belts.
"There is no need of a panic," he said. "There are plenty of boats. Get up as quick as you can, however."
New York Herald, April 20th, 1912, reprinted in THOMAS ANDREWS SHIPBUILDER, By Shan Bullock (1912), CHAPTER VIII.
"Mr. Dick goes on to record that, in his view, nothing deserved more praise than the conduct of Andrews after the ship had struck. "He was on hand at once and said that he was going below to investigate. We begged him not to go, but he insisted, saying he knew the ship as no one else did and that he might be able to allay the fears of the passengers. He went.
"As the minutes flew by we did not know what to do or which way to turn. . . . Captain Smith was everywhere doing his best to calm the rising tide of fear. . . But in the minds of most of us there was . . . the feeling that something was going to happen, and we waited for Mr. Andrews to come back.
"When he came we hung upon his words, and they were these: 'There is no cause for any excitement. All of you get what you can in the way of clothes and come on deck as soon as you can. She is torn to bits below, but she will not sink if her after bulkheads hold.'
"It seemed almost impossible that this could be true . . . and many in the crowd smiled, thinking this was merely a little extra knowledge that Mr. Andrews saw fit to impart." ..."

(Note the consistency of Mr.Dick’s account regardless of source or year.)
Andrews, it appears, then headed below to make sure the passengers were all up and lifebelts distributed.

Steward Henry Samuel Etches, U.S. Senate Inquiry.
"Q. When did you last see Mr. Andrews?
A It would be about 20 minutes past 12. He stopped me. I was going along B deck and he asked had I waked all my passengers… Mr. Andrews then told me to come down on C deck with him…We walked along C deck together. The purser was standing outside of his office, in a large group of ladies. The purser was asking them to do as he asked them, and to go back in their rooms and not to frighten themselves, but as a preliminary caution, to put the life belts on…Mr. Andrews said: "That is exactly what I have been trying to get them to do." And with that, he walked down the staircase to go on lower D deck."

It’s now--- with the Captain back on the boat deck---that a major piece of the Titanic puzzle falls into place. It’s been the Gordian knot of the Titanic story.

Lightoller, U.S. Senate Inquiry
"It would take us a quarter of an hour or 20 minutes to get No. 4 uncovered and the falls out. Then to swing out and lower it down to A deck would take another 6-7 minutes at least. Then I gave the order to go down to the lower deck which I countermanded perhaps 2-3 minutes might have elapsed there. Then I went to No. 6. A rough calculation from Lightoller's estimates of time gives us:
11:55 plus 15 = 12:10(uncovered) plus 6 (lowered to A)= 12:16 plus 2 (aborted loading) = 12:19

Archibald Gracie, The Truth About the Titanic, 1912
"When the order to load the boat was received I had promptly moved forward with the ladies in my charge toward the boats then being lowered from the Boat Deck above to Deck A on the port side of the ship, where we then were. A tall, slim young Englishman, Sixth Officer J.P. Moody, whose name I learned later, with other members of the crew, barred the progress of us men passenger any nearer to the boats. All that was left me was then to consign these ladies in my charge to the protection of the ship’s officer, and I thereby was relieved of their responsibility…

Lightoller, British Board of Trade Inquiry
"I swung out No. 4 with the intention of loading all the boats from A deck, the next deck below the boat deck. I lowered No. 4 down to A deck and gave orders for the women and children to go down to A deck to be loaded through the windows."
"…but as I was going down the ladder after giving the order, someone sung out and said the windows were up. I countermanded the order and told the people to come back on the boat deck and instructed two or three--- I think they were stewards ---to find the handles and lower the windows…so then I went on to No. 6."

First Class Passenger Woolner reminds the Captain of the windows around A deck.
Hugh Woolner, U.S. Senate Inquiry
"He (the Captain) was between the two lifeboats that were farthest astern on the port side giving orders." i.e. Nos. 6 and 8."I did not look at my watch. I should think it was half an hour (after the collision)." i.e. 12:10
"He said "I want all the passengers to go on A deck because I intend they shall go into the boats from A deck." I remembered noticing as I came up that all those glass windows were raised to the very top, and I went to the Captain and saluted him and said "Haven’t you forgotten, sir, that all those glass windows are closed?" He said "By God, you are right. Call those people back." Very few people had moved, but the few that had gone down the companionway came up again and everything went all right."

Woolner says the order to scrub the loading of No. 4 came from the Captain. That means the Captain had to have returned to the boat deck in time to give the order. Woolner's estimate of 12:10 would correspond to when Lightoller had No. 4 swung out on the davits.

Lightoller, British Inquiry, Day 12
- I ... sent the boatswain and 6 men, or told the boatswain to go down below and take some men with him, and open the gangway doors with the intention of sending the boats to the gangway doors to be filled up.
Can you help us when it was that you gave this order to the boatswain?
- I think it was...whilst I was working at No. 6 boat.

Beesley sees crews clear and lower No. 9-15.
"I was now on the starboard side of the top boat deck; the time about 12:20. We watched the crew at work on the lifeboats, numbers 9, 11, 13 and 15, some inside arranging the oars, some coiling ropes on the deck…others with cranks fitted to the rocking arms of the davits.

Hogg leaves the crows nest after seeing people on deck with lifebelts. He says No. 6 was his assigned boat, although he doesn’t exactly say that’s where he went.
Hogg, U.S. Senate Inquiry: Day 7
"We relieved the lookout at 12 o’clock…We stopped about 20 minutes and lifted up the back cover of the nest…and I saw people running about with life belts on. I went to the telephone then to try to ring up on the bridge and ask whether I was wanted in the nest…I could get no answer on the telephone…
I went straight to the boat deck. I assisted in starting to uncover the boats. Then I was sent for a Jacob’s ladder."
What boat were you assigned to?
- No. 6 was my proper boat; what I signed for.
Q. Who sent you for the Jacob’s ladder?
A. The boatswain. As I got past the No. 7 boat on the starboard side, Mr. Murdoch, chief officer, said "See that those plugs are in that boat."…I jumped out to assist with the falls and he said "You step in that boat." Mr. Murdoch lowered one end and…Evans lowered the other end."

The official change of watch for some including Hichens. Hichens is sent to No. 6
"I left the wheel at 23 minutes past 12, sir. I was relieved by Quartermaster Perkins (sic)…I think the first officer, or one of the officers said,"That will do with the wheel; get the boats out." I went out to get the boats out on the port side. I think I got in No. 6 boat, sir…" Robert Hichens, quartermaster, U.S. Senate Inquiry.

Robert Hichens, British Inquiry
When were you relieved by Quartermaster Perkis? What did you do? Did you get an order, first of all?
- Yes, orders to carry on helping to get a collapsible boat uncovered, getting the cover off a collapsible boat.
Who gave that order?
- I think it was the Chief Officer-- Mr. Wilde, or Mr. Lightoller. I’m not sure which.
Did you clear her, taking away all the coverings?
…I was ordered away to one of the next lifeboats before I had time to ship the rudder and so on.
You had the cover off?- I had the cover off and got the boat's grips off.
Who ordered you to another boat?
- Mr. Lightoller.
And to what boat?
- No. 6 boat.
When you got to her were there any passengers on board?
- No.

It’s important to understand what these witnesses are saying. Between roughly 12:20 and 12:23 Lightoller is concerned with Boat No. 6. He has already abandoned loading No. 4. The boatswain sends Hogg for a ropeladder which is consistent with his having already been ordered to open the gangway doors. Hogg crosses the ship to get the ladder and is ordered to get into No. 7. This proves that Murdoch was loading No. 7 at the same time as Lightoller tried to load No. 4 then moved to No.6 on his side of the ship.

Etches sees Murdoch, Ismay, Pitman and Olliver at No. 7.
Henry Etches, U.S. Senate Inquiry, Day 9
I went on the boat deck and they were just loading No. 7…I looked at No. 5 and they were taking the covers off and preparing her, and I assisted to launch No. 7. There was Mr. Murdoch, Mr. Ismay, Mr. Pitman and a Quartermaster, two stewards and myself there….Mr. Pitman assisted, yes. Mr. Ismay was assisting with the falls.

Pitman goes to No. 5 on Murdoch's orders. The cover is still on No. 5.
Now; you went, in fact, to No.5. Why was that?
- Mr. Murdoch ordered me there.
When you got to No. 5 in what state was No.5?
- Well, the cover was still on.
How long do you think had elapsed from the time of the striking of the berg up to the time you got to No.5?…Was it an hour, do you think?
- No. I should think it would be about 12:20.
Herbert Pitman, British Inquiry, Day 13
Note the time. Although the times are rough, they correlate. At about the time Hogg came down from the crowsnest, Pitman was being sent from No. 7 to No. 5. The significance of this cannot be understated.
It means the loading of No. 7 began about the same time as Lightoller began to lower and load No. 4. As Lightoller aborted loading No.4, Murdoch was completing the loading of No.7.
Pitman was clearing No. 5 as Hogg was getting a Jacob's ladder. Murdoch commandeered Hogg to get into No.7 just before it was lowered to the sea.
Once again, I stress that the times are not exact, but they're too close to be coincidental. And everywhere you look, there's more evidence to support the correlation.

John Podesta saw the bosun after he left No. 6 to follow Lightoller's orders.
Then the bo’sun came to our door (his name was Nichols) and shouted "Get your lifebelts and man your boats." …He was very pale and his lips were in a twitter. He had several ABs with him. I heard he was on his way to the fore-peak to get a gangplank as they thought the Olympic was going to reach us." Southern Daily Echo, May 27, 1968 (reprinted Titanic Voices, 1994, p. 160)

The significance here is that Podesta then went to the boat deck to his assigned boat---No. 7. He arrived to find No. 7 full.

"Jack Podesta and Nutbean followed the bo’sun’s orders and found the boat they were allotted was already full and they were ordered to help lower it." (Titanic Voices, P.160)

Let's sum up what this all means:
Lightoller heard the general order to load the boats.
He lowered No. 4 to A deck intending to load passengers from there.
On the starboard side of the Titanic, Murdoch started loading passengers into No. 7.
Lightoller says it took at least 6 or 7 minutes to get No. 4 to A deck, plus another few minutes to order women to A, and then to countermand the order.
The Captain returned to the boat deck, ordered women to A deck to get into lifeboat No.4
Woolner reminded the Captain that A was enclosed by windows. The Captain ordered the loading of No. 4 aborted.
Lightoller then moved to No. 6.
Lightoller ordered the boatswain to open the gangway doors.
Hogg left the crowsnest about 12:20 He met the boatswain who ordered him to get a Jacob's ladder which would be needed if passengers were to use the gangway door to enter lifeboats.
Hichens, meanwhile, was relieved at the wheel and was told to clear the port collapsible boat. While there, Lightoller ordered him to No. 6.
Murdoch, hard at work loading No. 7, sent Pitman to get No. 5 ready to load.
Hogg went to starboard to get the ladder, and was ordered into No. 7 by Murdoch moments before it was lowered.
The boatswain passed Podesta on the lower decks. Podesta went topside to his assigned boat, No. 7. He found it full and helped lower No. 7 to the ocean.

When? We've been told when for years.

Quartermaster George Rowe, U.S. Senate Inquiry, Day 7
Where were you the night of the collision?
-I felt a slight jar and looked at my watch. It was then 20 minutes to 12...I then remained on the after bridge to await orders through the telephone...I remained until 25 minutes after 12 when I saw a boat on the starboard beam.

Boat No. 7 is proving a pivotal boat. Not only does it tie together the forward boats port and starboard, but it has important connections to what’s happening at the rear starboard boats.

Saloon steward W. Ward, U.S. Senate Inquiry.
"I went to No. 9 boat and assisted to take the canvas cover off of her. Then we lowered her down to level with the boat deck…I was stationed at No. 7 and she was already lowered to the same level as the deck. They called for the ladies to get in. Some got in, and there were a few men got into it…They did not want me for that boat, although I was told off for that boat. They just had sufficient men to man the boat. Then I went aft to No. 9. "

George Widgery, bath steward, helps clear No. 9
"I went up on deck to my boat, No. 7. When I got up there, it was just about to be lowered. The purser sent me along to No. 9. They had taken the canvas off of No. 9 and lowered it." Widgery, U.S. Senate Inquiry.

Saloon Steward Frederick Ray arrives at No. 9 as it swung out. He finds Sixth Officer Moody there.
Frederick Ray, U.S. Senate Inquiry, Day 9
Q. When you got to Lifeboat No. 9…what took place?
A. I went to the rail and looked over and saw the first boat leaving the ship on the starboard side."
QWhat officer stood at lifeboat No. 9, if any?
A.There was an officer there, but I do know what rank he took. He did not survive, so I do not know him. I did not know any of them, in fact only
Mr. Murdoch.

By the process of elimination, the officer could only be Moody. It wasn’t Murdoch, leaving only Wilde and Moody as officers who did not survive. Nobody ever mentions Wilde anywhere near the rear starboard boats. And Ward testified that Moody ordered him to take charge of No. 9, providing a convincing link between Moody and No. 9.

At the fore of the ship, meanwhile, the loading went on.

Pitman asks the Captain if he should start loading No. 5.
I got her overboard all right, and lowered level with the rail…Of the boat deck, yes. Then this man in the dressing gown said we had better get her loaded with women and children. So I said "I await the commander’s orders" to which he replied "very well" or something like that. It then dawned on me that it might be Mr. Ismay…So I went along to the bridge and saw Capt. Smith and I told him that I thought it was Mr. Ismay that wished me to get the boat away with women and children in it. So he said "Go ahead, carry on." I came along and brought in my boat. I stood on it and said "Come along, ladies." Herbert Pitman, U.S. Senate Inquiry, Day 4

It’s interesting to note that the person encouraging Pitman to load No. 5 was likely not Mr.Ismay. Ismay had changed to a suit almost half an hour earlier; he was no longer wearing his dressing gown. He had a coat over his suit.

Mrs. Warren, Portland Oregonian, April 27, 1912. (NOTE THE TIMING.)
"…a steward passed, ordering all to don lifebelts and warm clothing and go to the boat deck at once, saying that was simply a precautionary measure. According to my impression, the time was about 45 minutes after the accident. i.e. 12:25 We went back to our room for a third time, seized the lifebelts and hastened to a point two decks above, where an officer assisted in adjusting our lifebelts."
..."The only people we remembered seeing, except for a young woman by the name of Miss Ostby... were Mr. Astor, his wife and servants, who were standing near one of the boats which was being cleared preparatory to being lowered. The Astor’s did not get into this boat. They all went back inside…We discovered that the boat next to the one the Astor’s had been near had been lowered to the level of the deck, so we went towards it and were told by the officer to get in…The boat in which I rode was commanded by Officer Pitman.

Pitman, U.S. Senate Inquiry, Day 4
Was it (No. 7) lowered at the same time yours was lowered?
- Two or three minutes previously.

Returning to the chronology, we approach another significant time.

Boxhall, British Board of Trade Inquiry
-I could see the light with the naked eye but I could not define what it was, but by the aid of a pair of glasses I found it was the two masthead lights of a vessel, probably about half a point on the port bow…
Could you see how far off she was?
-No, I could not see, but I had sent in the meantime for some rockets, and told the Captain I had sent for some rockets, and told him I would send them off and told him when I saw this light. He said "Yes, carry on with it."

Harold Bride, U.S. Senate Inquiry, Day 2, April 20, 1912
What did the Captain say when you delivered that message (from the Carpathia)?
- He came back with me to the cabin, sir.
What took place?
- He asked Mr. Philips what other ships he was in communication with, sir…He interrupted Mr. Phillips when Mr. Phillips was establishing communication with the Olympic, so he was told the Olympic was there.
Then what took place Mr. Bride?
- Why, he worked out the difference between the Carpathia’s position and ours sir.
And then what occurred?
- He went out to the cabin then, and we still continued to exchange.

Harold Bride, Thrilling Tale by Titanic’s Surving Wireless Man as told in New York Times, April 28, 1912. (Reprinted in "The story of the Titanic as told by its survivors", 1960, edited by Jack Winocour)
The Captain came back. What are you sending?" he asked. "C.Q.D." Philips replied. The humor of the situation appealed to me. I cut in with a little remark that made us all laugh, including the Captain. "Send S.O.S.," I said. "It’s the new call and it may be your last chance to send it." Philips with a laugh changed the signal to S.O.S.

Titanic to Olympic: MGY MKC SOS.

Various witnesses described their reactions to the first distress rocket launched from the deck of the Titanic.

Suddenly, a rush of light from the forward deck, a hissing roar that made us all turn from watching the boats, and a rocket leapt upward to where the stars blinked and twinkled above us…And with a gasping sigh one word escaped the lips of the crowd: "Rockets." Anybody knows what rockets at sea mean. Lawrence Beesley, "The Loss of the S.S. Titanic", 1912, reprinted in the Winocour book.

Herbert Stone, second officer of the Californian, saw the first rocket.
At about 12:45, I observed a flash of light in the sky just above that steamer. I thought nothing of it as there were several shooting stars about, the night being fine and clear with lifth airs and calms. Shortly after, I observed another distinctly over the steamer which I made out to be a white rocket, though I observed no flash on the deck… Statement By Herbert Stone, April 18, 1912 (published in The Ship That Stood Still, Leslie Reade.)

The Californian’s ship’s time was 1:50 ahead of New York Time. Titanic time was 1:33 ahead of New York Time. Subtracting the17 minutes difference from Stone’s first sighting of a rocket, we arrive at a time for the first rocket of 12:28 a.m. Titanic time.

If the rockets were sent up 8-10 minutes apart, the second rocket would have been launched between 12:36 and 12:38.

12:40 One hour after the Titanic struck the iceberg.
The earliest estimated time for the launching of Boat No. 6.

Robert Hichens, as we saw, was ordered to No. 6 after being relieved at the wheel at 12:23. Hichens, British Inquiry:
…I was working there not more than a quarter of an hour or 20 minutes, I suppose, before I was sent away in the boat. i.e. the earliest estimate for when No. 6 left is, by his reckoning, 12:23 + 15 = 12:38 + time spent at Collapsible D.

There you have it. The first hour.

Aside from the obvious--- discovering the truth of what happened during the first 60 minutes after the Titanic hit the iceberg—this detailed timeline allows for further research in many areas.

Take, for example, the question of the movement of the Titanic following the collision.

This has been debated in many ways on Encyclopedia Titanica. Now there’s a new way to test the various theories.

Greaser Fred Scott described the stops and starts of the Titanic as he remembered them. Overlaying his account and we have:
11:40-11:50 Stop 10 minutes
11:50-12:00 Slow Ahead 10 minutes
12:00- 12:10 Stop 10 minutes
12:10-12:15 Slow Astern 5 minutes
Stop Engines

Now do those times correspond to anything significant?

Slow ahead at 11:50 would correspond to the call for "all hands on deck."
Stopping around midnight would make sense; the CQD giving the Titanic’s position had just gone out.
The final Stop about 12:15 would come just about the time the Captain was meeting with the Chief Engineer.
J.R. McGough said that around 12:10 "the engines had been reversed." Slow astern? This happens just about the time the steam noise abates? Was the ship moved to divert the steam to the engines and so reduce the noise?

And we have important information on the movements of Sixth Officer James Moody.

He was seen at Boat No. 2 when the able seamen were ordered to clear the boats.
He was then seen aft by third officer Herbert Pitman.
He was next seen on A deck, by Boat No.4, stopping Col Archibald Gracie from proceeding closer with the ladies under his care.
And after he was at Boat No. 9.
He certainly traversed the ship. But one thing is absolutely certain. He was not beavering away loading the aft portside boats while Lightoller was loading the forward port boats, a theory postulated by some. That misconception can be dismissed forever.