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?
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 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.
- 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---.
-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?
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?
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
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.