TITANIC-TITANIC.com | Your Work: Paul Michael
This is an English assignment by Paul Michael, who would like to hear what others think about his epic piece which centers around Lightoller's questioning at the American Enquiry.
It is a cloudy morning in the large city. People are busily moving about, getting on with their lives. There is a newspaper boy standing in the street trying to sell papers to those who pass by him. ' Extra, extra read all about it. Titanic inquiry continues today. Read what has happened so far,' yelled the boy encouraging bystanders to purchase a paper from him. From the side of his vision the newspaper boy notices a man coming his way. ' Hey mister, buy my paper and read about the Titanic and the inquiry into its sinking,' stated the boy.
The man stopped just in front of the boy, still standing on the busy road. 'Son, I am quite aware of the situation concerning the Titanic and the events that surround it,' explained the man. The man looked around him and saw that everyone else was taking no notice of the newspaper boy. 'But I will however buy a paper for the sports,' said the man.
The boy looked at the man with excitement. 'Gee thanks mister, this is the first paper that I have sold all day,' said the boy with happiness. He quickly began to burrow through his sack in search of the paper. He removed one crisp paper and handed it over to the man. 'Here you go mister one New York Times'.
The man took the paper from the young boy and gave him the money for the document. ' Here you go son, and there is a bit extra there just for you,' explained the man.
'Why thank-you very much sir. I shall spend it wisely,' assured the newspaper boy.
The boy quickly left the man's side and continued trying to sell newspapers to those people who were busily trying to get to there source of employment.
Charles Herbert Lightoller was in no rush to get where he was going. He at the moment had been relieved from his duties from where he was going. He was taking his time but he could not put off the reality. In front of him lay the building that would play a part of one of the most significant events in his life. The entrance to the building was only a matter of metres in front of him. He was about to enter into the lavish building when he heard a voice call out to him.
Charles turned and saw a man approaching him in a rather expensive suit. ' Mr. Ismay. I thought you would be inside already,' said Charles.
Lightoller heard what the man had just said and then dropped his head to look at the sidewalk. 'I know sir, but I have been trying to put off bringing back all the memories from that faithful night.
Mr. Ismay felt quite uneasy about this conversation he had now brought up with Mr. Lightoller. 'I know it is hard, but you must do this so that it may not occur again in the future,' explained Mr. Ismay. Now let us go and face those Senators.
The two men entered the building side by side, the foyer was filled by those who had came to the inquiry intrigued by the whole situation. Almost instantly the heartless media bombarded Mr. Ismay and Lightoller, their only concern was to get the big story that would score them a front-page location.
The first man through the pack was a rather large man who used his size against his colleagues. The questions just flowed from the mouths of the reporters, without a break for Mr. Ismay or Lightoller to answer. Even if they did give them a break Lightoller still would not give the reporters the satisfaction.
The two shrugged the bloodthirsty media aside and continued on their journey down the corridors towards the conference centre to where the inquisition into the disaster was being held.
The two men replied the gesture to the young men. 'Good morning.'
The young man continued, 'Mr. Lightoller I am Senator Smith's assistant. If you would like to come this way the session may begin.'
'Of course. Lead the way, I am at your full disposal,' replied Lightoller.
The young man gestured the way in which Mr. Lightoller and then he turned back to Mr. Ismay. ' I am sorry Mr. Ismay but you will have to go to the public gallery for this hearing session,' instructed the young man.
Mr. Lightoller was about to move in the direction that he was instructed to follow, but he turned to see Mr. Ismay. 'Before you go sir, I would like to thank you for your comforting words,' Lightoller said.
Mr. Ismay replied with a nod before he turned and headed in the opposite direction towards the public viewing gallery.
The young assistant motioned for Lightoller to follow him and he did just that. As he walked through the crowd of public servants he could not help feel that he was the focus of everyone's attention, with their eyes glued to his actions.
He soon left the group of people as he came into a large room that was being temporally being used by the US Senate to hold the inquiry.
'Mr. Lightoller if you would kindly sit in that chair there, I will then swear you in so that you may give you testimony,' instructed the assistant.
Lightoller obeyed the instruction given to him by the young man and took his seat. The chair was rather uncomfortable and really quite irritable. ' Gee I wonder how long they are going to keep me here in this chair,' Lightoller said to himself.
It was not too long until all the other people in the room took their seats and the sound of voices and the general buzz coming from the crowd began to decrease until it was non-existent. Then once again the young assistant approached Lightoller, but this time with the Holy Roman Catholic Bible.
He came up to the seat where Lightoller was seated and held it out just in front of him. 'Mr. Lightoller would you please place your right hand on the Bible so that you may be sworn in,' instructed the assistant.
Lightoller in due course raised his hand and placed it on the Bible.
'Do you swear to tell the truth, not to mislead this inquiry, so help you God,' asked the assistant in a loud voice for everyone in the auditorium could hear.
'I do,' replied Lightoller.
And at that the assistant left the centre of the floor, to allow another rather old man to take the floor. He like the assistant approached Lightoller, however unlike the assistant he kept a certain distant.
He took up his position and then paused there for a moment as to think about what he was about to ask.
Lightoller of course knew that this was just an act and that this man would fire the questions at him for quite a while and he would not back down.
'What is your name?' the man asked as he broke the silence between that had engulfed the auditorium.
'Charles Herbert Lightoller,' he replied in a strong bold voice so not to allow the Senators to think that they could intimidate him.
'Mr. Lightoller, where do you reside?' asked the Senator
'Netley Abbey, Hampshire.'
'England?' the Senator asked the obvious.
'Yes sir that is correct, England.'
'How old are you?' inquired the Senator.
At that very moment Charles began to feel as though he was on trial. But never the less he had to answer all the questions to the fullest, no matter how dumb or pointless they seemed.
'Thirty-eight.' Replied Lightoller.
The Senator paused at that moment and walked back towards a desk that was designated for his use. 'What is your business?'
'Sir I am a seaman and I have been in this source of employment for thirteen years and three months,' replied Lightoller.
The Senator moved back from his desk back over to near where Lightoller was situated. 'And tell me son, during you service at sea what positions have you held? Asked the Senator.
The Senator nodded to show that he understood. ' So you are quite an experienced sailor,' stated the Senator. ' What position did you hold during your service with the Titanic ?' inquired the Senator.
'Well sir when I boarded the ship in Belfast, I was the first officer. However later on in Southampton before we left on the maiden voyage there was a reshuffle amongst the officers and I was dropped back to second,' said Lightoller as he repositioned himself in the very uncomfortable chair.
'Hmm I see,' the Senator sighed to himself as he scratched his chin, a sign that he was deep in thought. ' Could you please tell me when you boarded the ship,' questioned the Senator.
Lightoller paused for a moment to think of the exact date. ' Let me see now sir, I would have boarded the ship on the 19th or the 20th of March. I am sorry sir the exact date I could not be certain of,' explained Lightoller. Lightoller could see that the old Senator was getting tired already and he was right because in a few seconds her left the spot where he was standing and returned to his desk where he sat down. Lightoller could not help notice the seat he was sitting on. It was a nice, comfortable leather chair. From there on in he would ask the remaining questions from his chair.
'Did or did you not make the trial trips with the ship?' questioned Smith. ' And if you did what did those trials consist of?'
'Yes sir I did make the trials and during such trials we conducted turning circles and adjusting the compasses, amongst many other things,' explained Lightoller.
'And in what waters did these trials take place in?' inquired the Senator Smith.
'The trials took place in Belfast Lough sir,' answered Lightoller.
'Do you know these waters very well Mr. Lightoller?' Smith asked.
'No, not quite sir I have only passed through it a few times. But that was a long time ago,' replied Lightoller.
'I understand Mr. Lightoller. I don't mean to carry on with this matter Mr. Lightoller but for the record we must see that the tests that were carried out were quite sufficient and that the area that they were carried out in is suitable to situations of the open sea. So if you could to the best of your ability, tell me the size of the water?' asked Smith.
'I could not say for certain without the aid of a map or a chart but I guess it may be about 15 miles long and then if widens out from a few miles to maybe 7 miles. But that is only an approximate sir,' Lightoller explained trying to sound confident in case his integrity was questioned. But he knew that some time or another it would and he would not only have to defend his own actions but as the ranking surviving officer he would also have to defend the Captain, officers and the entire crew body.
'So it is a rather large amount of water is it not?' queried Smith.
'Yes sir it is a large amount of water and that is why it is commonly used for these such trials,' replied Charles.
Senator Smith paused and took a sip of water that had been supplied to him on his desk. He then placed the glass back down and once again refocused his attention to Mr. Lightoller. ' So Mr. Lightoller in your opinion the waters where the trials were conducted was sufficient for these manoeuvres and exercises,' requested the interrogator.
'Yes sir that is quite correct,' replied Lightoller.
'I think we shall let that matter rest now sir. I would now like to move onto the weather conditions during the trials and right up to the time you were picked up by the Carpathia. What was the weather like Mr. Lightoller?' questioned Smith.
'I see sir. I would now like to jump back a bit to the Trials.
Of what did the trials consist of?' the Senator asked.
'Turning circles,' stated Lightoller.
'I am sorry Mr. Lightoller but could you elaborate a bit more on that. For the record we need to get the exact details, not just some words,' demanded Smith in a critical tone.
It was obvious to Lightoller that this Senator had no idea about ships or the sea and he wondered why such a man would have been appointed to such an important inquiry into one of the seas greatest accidents. But he would not hold any grudge against the Senator and would continue to do what was asked of him. ' Sir we conducted turning circles under various speeds and the arcs of the circles would vary from large to small,' answered Lightoller.
'Thank you sir, that is the information that I required,' replied the Senator who still looked rather tense. At that moment Senator Smith once again began to go through his papers.
Lightoller sat there in silence. However by now he could feel the dryness in his throat and he decided to ask for a glass of water. ' Excuse me Senator Smith.'
The Senator immediately looked up from his pile of papers to the man he was interviewing. ' Yes Mr. Lightoller?' asked the Senator.
'Sir I was wondering if I would be able to get a glass of water?' inquired Lightoller in his most polite voice he had used all day.
'Here we go so, one glass of water,' the lady said as she placed it down on a side table next to the chair in which Lightoller was seated.
'Thank you miss,' Lightoller said in gratitude for the liquid in which he could use to cure his dry throat.
After taking one sip Lightoller noticed that the Senator was ready to continue with the questioning so he placed the glass down and gave Senator Smith his full attention.
'Now continuing on with the questions before Mr. Lightoller. Can you tell if the ship was tested at her maximum speed during the trials?' the Senator asked still seated at his desk.
'I am sorry sir but I could not say if she were or not,' replied Lightoller.
'Hmm I see. What was the maximum speed for that particular vessel,' the asked Senator Smith.
'Sir once again I am not quite sure, however I believe it may have been around 21/22 knots,' Lightoller replied.
'And how did you manage to come to this conclusion?' questioned the Senator.
'Well sir it was just from general talk with the deck officers and the engineering officers,' answered Lightoller.
'So we will say that her maximum speed was to be around 22 knots,' stated Smith.
'Yes sir, but that is only approximate,' suggested Lightoller.
'Yes quite,' At that the Senator shifted in his seat and looked towards his colleagues the other Senators. ' Do any of you gentlemen wish to ask Mr. Lightoller any questions at this moment?' inquired Smith. There was no reply from any of the Senators so Smith continued on with his questioning.
'There were a great deal of people aboard the ship during her sea trials. Nut I do know of the officers there was the Captain, Mr. Murdoch as Chief Officer, myself as first and Mr. Blair as second officer. Then there was Mr. Pitman as third, Boxhall as fourth, Lowe as fifth and Mr. Moody as Sixth officer.
'And could you tell me as to who was the Chief Engineer?' asked the Senator.
'On board the ship the Chief Engineer was Mr. Bell, Mr. Ferguson was second along with Mr. Hesketh,' answered Lightoller.
'And how many other crewmen were there on board the ship during these sea trials in Belfast?' asked the Senator.
Lightoller looked at the Senator in haze,' Sir if you are speaking of the deck crew there were about 70 in all including the deck officers,' replied Charles.
'So in your opinion Mr. Lightoller these tests were quite sufficient?'
'Yes sir I believe they were.'
Once again after that questioned had been answered the Senator dove back into his papers. Obviously searching for information for his next round of questions.
'After the final test, what was done with the boat?' inquired the Senator.
Senator Smith seemed to be intrigued by this latest answer. 'Mr. Lightoller could you tell me what was taken on board and what was taken off before you proceeded to your next port?' queried Smith.
Lightoller rubbed his chin and thought about his latest request. 'Let me see sir, so far as I know, requisites down in the galley, cooking apparatus, a few chairs, and such things as that.'
'Was there any lifesaving equipment moved about Mr. Lightoller?' interrogated Smith.
'No sir nothing like that,' answered Lightoller.
'Was the life-saving equipment complete?' Smith asked the man.
'Yes sir. There was a life preserver for every man, woman, children and crew members on board.'
The Senator was interested in this new matter and got up from his chair and approached Mr. Lightoller. 'So you are saying Mr. Lightoller that there were enough lifebelts for everyone on board. The right number of lifeboats required by the board of trade. Tell me was there any testing of the lifeboats and the gear, including lowering them down?'
'Yes sir all the gear was tested and then under my orders all the boats were uncovered and swung out. Then about six were lowered into the water, whilst the rest were only lowered about half of the way down the ships hull,' replied Lightoller.
The Senator all of a sudden broke out in a slight outrage. 'Only six were lowered down all the way. Mr. Lightoller what good are boats that only go down half the way on a rapidly sinking ship!' bellowed the Senator.
Lightoller felt insulted by this latest remark coming from a man who had no idea of what he was talking about and he felt that it was his duty to defend himself and not take this crap. 'Sir if you had any knowledge of boats you would know that it is only the gears that we test as we know that the lifeboats would work.'
That answer seemed to hit the Senator fairly hard, as after this instance the Senator returned to his seat we his face blushing. The US Senator who had just been embarrassed in front of his colleagues and some of New York's cream of society by some sea lover soon changed the topic matter. After another drink of water from his glass the Senator seemed to be a camel requiring a large amount of water to survive. 'Mr. Lightoller could you tell this panel at what time and of what day you and the ship arrived in Southampton? Now if you could sir, please give the most specific answer,' instructed the Senator who had now composed himself.
'Once there sir the ship was heeled for stability. Oh I am sorry Senator you perhaps may want some more detail then that. The builders knowing the exact weights on board, additional weights are placed on each side of the ship. To get an accurate reading a pendulum is suspended in the most convenient place in the ship with a plumb on the end of it, and a method of registering the difference with the plumb line. Then a number of men then transfer the weights from one side of the ship to the other, bringing all the weight on one side and transferring the whole of it back again; and with this, I believe the builders are able to draw up a stability scale. All of this is done from the C Deck that is in the upper part of the ship. Of course the pendulum is suspended from about the centre of the ship,' explained Lightoller. He shifted in his chair before he explained what else was done while they were in port. ' We also loaded the ship with coal, provisions, cargo and then also the British Board of Trade conducted there tests and survey. And during which time I accompanied him for a great period of time.'
'Who was this officer of the British Board of Trade Mr. Lightoller,' inquired Smith.
Senator Smith seemed to have found his new target and he was not about to let it down. 'How much time did this British Board of Trade spend on board the ship Mr. Lightoller?'
'Did this Mr. Murdoch survive the accident?' asked Senator Smith.
'No Senator he did not.'
At that the Senator suddenly stopped. Perhaps he had realised that this inquiry was to prevent further loss of life and not to further his own political career back in Washington. But his remorse and dignity did not last long before he began again. 'Mr. Lightoller do you know to whether any other officer accompanied the British Board of Trade Inspector?'
'Well sir I should think that Captain Steele, the White Star Line marine superintendent at Southampton would have overseen the ship with the British Board of Trade officer for the entire inspection,' replied Lightoller.
'Tell me Mr. Lightoller, had you ever been on a ship that this particular British Board of Trade officer had inspected?' Senator Smith asked.
'Yes sir a numerous amount of times. As a matter of fact we call him Captain nuisance because he is so strict. He would make us bring out all the life preservers throughout the ship, all the boats turned out, uncovered, all the tanks examined, all the breakers examined, oars counted, boats turned out, rudders tried, all the davits tried - there was innumerable detail work. Then all the boats were lowered into the water and then raised again. If for some reason he was unhappy he would make us lower the boats a second time. Also all the ship's ropes and chains were checked and tested. So as you can see he was a perfectionist at his job,' explained Lightoller.
After Lightoller had finished explaining he looked around the room and saw that Senator Smith was seemingly jotting down a few notes. After a few seconds his head popped back up and he was ready to proceed.
'Mr. Lightoller you say that Captain Clark made you bring out every single one of the ship's life preservers. I was wondering where about on the ship you would find them?
'Sir on this particular ship you would find life belts in every room, in every compartment, where, as we say, there was habitation, where a man could live. That also includes steerage and crew's quarters,' clarified Lightoller. By now Lightoller's back was hurting and if he shifted and fidgeted any more the Senators and those other spectators may have thought that something was wrong with him. But there was something wrong, he had a very uncomfortable chair and perhaps if they noticed it they may offer him another one. What to do Lightoller could not decide. But it was too late; the next question was about to come.
The Senator had risen from his seat and had once again approached Lightoller, however still keeping a certain distance.
With his right hand in his pocket the Senator stood there in the middle of the room for everyone to see. 'Mr. Lightoller I was wondering how exactly these life belts are made and how they work, now please it is very important that you explain it carefully in intricate detail,' instructed Senator Smith.
Lightoller reached out from his chair towards a pen and paper and drew a diagram of the life belts, whilst at the same time explaining it to the Senator who had now come much closer to Mr. Lightoller.
'Senator Smith each consists of a series of pieces of cork. A hole is cut up near the top for the head to go through and the two sides fall over the front and back, and then there are tapes from the back then tied around the front. It is a new idea and very effective, because no one can make a mistake in putting it on. The arms of the person who is wearing the belt are absolutely free. As the belt is tied tightly around the person's body, when in the water the belt does not adhere or extend, keeping the head of the person well clear of the surface of water,' explained Lightoller.
'You speak of personal experience Mr. Lightoller?' inquired Smith.
'Yes sir I was in the water for about half an hour till an hour after the ship sank beneath me,' answered Lightoller.
'So you were on the deck of the ship until the end, were you Mr. Lightoller?'
'That is correct Senator.'
Senator Smith still located near Mr. Lightoller paced back in fourth. 'I wish you would tell us whether the suction incidental to the sinking of this vessel was a great deterrent in making progress away from the boat?'
The Senator had decided to return back to his desk, but first he briefly conversed with one of his colleagues. After his conversation was complete he sat at his desk and continued on with his line of questioning. 'When you left the ship were there any boats remaining on the ship?' instigated the old Senator.
'Yes sir there was one boat left in the tackles that many men were trying to get over. It was the third boat to be lowered by the same tackles so there was a slight delay.'
The Senator had a puzzled look on his face after this last answer from Mr. Lightoller. ' Mr. Lightoller I do not mean to be bold or to criticise the methods of you and your fellow officers, but if there was a boat remaining, would it not have been an idea to load it with women and children,' proposed Senator Smith.
'Sir, sure your idea may sound good but it could not be done. These boats were stored 4 feet and 6 inches above the boat deck. Under the direction of First Officer Murdoch the men were endeavouring to get it over the bulwarks, outboard; swinging it; getting it over the bulwarks. When it was over the bulwarks, they would have hung in the tackles, and until it was hung in the tackles it was impossible to put anyone in it. But there was not enough time and they were unable to get it over the bulwarks.' Lightoller felt proud of the answer he had just given. The Senator had just tried to pull down his colleagues, but he told the truth and there was nothing anyone could say about that.
Fully comprehending what had just heard Senator Smith felt that there was no reason to continue with that matter at the particular matter and decided that he would pursue another serious concern, involving the Chairman of the White Star Line Mr. Ismay. 'Mr. Lightoller at the time you left the ship or when that other boat was being attempted to be lowered, did you see Mr. Ismay on the deck of the ship?' asked Smith.
'No sir, I did not see him at that time,' replied Lightoller.
Senator Smith continued. ' If you did not see him then, did you at any time after the collision had occurred see him?'
'Yes sir I saw him once about twenty minutes after the collision. I was looking after the men who were uncovering the boats. He was on the deck by himself, at the time there were no passengers around. However even if there were, he would still have stood out to me as I have known Mr. Ismay for many years now.'
Senator Smith seemed to be concerned Lightoller thought. Perhaps he had just said something that would make him go that way.
'Mr. Lightoller you just stated in your latest answer that there were no other passengers around when you saw Mr. Ismay. Had they not been alerted to the situation or perhaps were they being restrained at the stairwell?' inquired probed Senator Smith for an answer that he was looking for, but that was not going to be said.
'Passengers had every right to be on that deck and they were informed, no I should say they were ordered to the Boat Deck to where we were readying the lifeboats. Normally steerage had no right on that deck, but Senator this was an entirely different matter. The ship was sinking and everyone was free to go where they pleased.'
Senator Smith was satisfied and he thought he would leave that matter for the time being. If Mr. Lightoller had been where he had, then he would not have any knowledge to the events that went on below. 'Mr. Lightoller do you know where Captain Smith was at during that period when you saw Mr. Ismay up on the Boat Deck?' examined Smith.
'Well sir at that moment I did not see him. However about three minutes after impact I saw him on the Bridge. I then left and returned to my cabin, as there was no call for me to be on deck. And at that moment I did not think that the ship was in any kind of danger,' responded Lightoller.
'Mr. Lightoller, you say that at that moment you did not think that the ship was in danger so you returned to your cabin. What was the force of the impact like?' pried Senator Smith.
Lightoller recalled into his memory for a moment to recall the exact details of the impact. 'Senator Smith when the impact occurred I was just falling asleep. There was a slight vibration that started at the head of the ship and seemed to be running along the side of the hull. So I jumped out of bed and with just my overcoat on and went up to the Bridge to see what was going on. There was no reason for me to be there, so I returned to my quarters which is just near the Bridge,' replied Mr. Lightoller.
Senator Smith took this latest piece of evidence and wrote it down in his own personal log. By the end of this inquiry he would use it to write up his own personal report in which he would send to the President of the United States of America to read, as he was quite concerned about the accident. After had jotted down a few notes he leaned back and whispered to one of his assistants.
The assistant soon left the Senator's side to set about his task. Senator Smith then resumed with another question for Mr. Lightoller. 'Mr. Lightoller can you tell what you did next?' Senator Smith asked.
'Senator since no alarm had been risen I began to return to my cabin. On the way I ran into Third Officer Pitman. We discussed about what had happened, we presumed we had perhaps collided with ice; as we were in the vicinity of the Grand Banks which is known for its countless number of icebergs which swamp the shipping lanes during this time of year. We also assumed it was ice as the temperature was very cold and the air was dry,' explained Lightoller.
At that the Senator looked at Mr. Lightoller from his desk in an almost sense of excitement. 'Mr. Lightoller you raise a very good point there, temperature. Were there any tests taken in regards to the water temperature?' Senator Smith called for this information from Mr. Lightoller.
'A test of the water temperature is taken every two hours from the time a ship left port until she returns to port. On this ship it was of course no different. Every two hours a canvas bucket is lowered down the side of the hull into the water and some surface water is gathered. Then it is placed in a thermometer back on deck and the temperature is then read and written down in a log,' responded Lightoller.
'On the Sunday who was in charge of the ship?' Senator Smith questioned.
'Every officer keeps their own watch sir, me in particular I keep the watch from 6 o'clock until 10 o'clock and that is in the morning and at night.'
'And during that time two tests should have been made of the temperature of the water for the purpose of ascertaining whether you were in the vicinity of icebergs?' Senator Smith continued with the same topic.
'No sir, these tests were made regardless, they were routine and they are made every two hours except when we are going through narrow stretches or when we are in river or harbour.' By now Lightoller was getting tired of this same question over and over again. He wished that the Senator would just drop it. In the mean time his chair was really starting to bother him.
'Does the temperature of the water indicate anything?' asked Senator Smith.
'Not at all, it merely states the temperature of the water. That has no relevance to the presence of ice. For instance the temperature on Sunday night was just above freezing, but that still would not indicate ice.'
Senator Smith paused for a moment and took another sip of his water. He thought for a moment, before he carried on. 'Mr. Lightoller I feel that we have covered that issue enough and I feel that we should move on. Did you know of the wireless message form the Amerika to your ship, warning you that ice lay ahead and that you were heading towards the vicinity of ice?' inquired Senator Smith.
Lightoller changed his position before he answered the Senator's question. 'I did indeed see a message warning us of ice but which ship she came from I could not tell. The message that I received included the longitude of the icebergs ahead.'
Senator Smith rose from his seat and paced towards Mr. Lightoller. 'From whom did you receive this information from sir?' quizzed Smith.
'At about one o'clock I was relieving another officer for Lunch, so I was on the Bridge. The Captain was with me there and he handed me a message warning us of ice ahead.' Lightoller answered back to Senator Smith who was now only a matter of metres away from where Lightoller was seated.
'So from the time this communication came to you, you were not in charge of the ship until 6 o' clock that night. Mr. Lightoller could you please tell me who succeeded you as officer of the ship at 10 o' clock at night, on the Sunday evening?'
'At that time I was succeeded by First Officer Murdoch,' replied Charles.
Senator Smith continued by extending the context of his previous question. ' So when he relieved you, did you communicate with him that the Captain had given you on the Bridge so that he would know that the ship was approaching possible ice?' Senator Smith inquired.
'Yes sir I told exactly what the message said.'
Senator Smith approached Mr. Lightoller and stood very close as to intimidate him. 'So Mr. Lightoller are you saying that the Captain advised you of ice ahead, in which you told the First Officer, who was in charge of the ship?' demanded Senator Smith.
' Yes sir I am,' said Lightoller.
Lightoller was beginning to feel quite uncomfortable. The Senator was quite close and laying the pressure on quite thick and he knew that he could not let himself outburst like he had before. 'Senator we knew of ice, but we did not know that she was right ahead of us in our tracks. As regards to your question about the speed of the ship, I think she was doing about 21 to 22 knots,' replied Lightoller barely managing to keep his cool.
'Was that her maximum speed sir?' Senator Smith wanted to know.
'No sir it was not her maximum speed. As a matter of fact we did not know what her maximum speed exactly was. We could only use the figures form her sister ship the Olympic.
We expected her to go faster than that when she was tuned up. Even during her trials, we did not even attempt to reach full speed, and it is for this reason that we were all very interested in her full speed. Along with our interest brought anxiety to see her tested, but it looks like we will never no her full speed will we Senator.'
Senator Smith was paused now in his stance, hanging off every word that came out of Lightoller's mouth.
'I see Mr. Lightoller, so you were not doing full speed,' said Senator Smith back to Mr. Lightoller to make sure he had got all the right details. 'Mr. Lightoller could you tell this committee what you did after you turned the ship back over to First Officer Murdoch at around 1 o' clock when he returned from lunch?' Senator Smith asked of Mr. Lightoller.
Lightoller quickly took a sip of water before he began to give Senator Smith his answer. After he placed the almost empty glass back on the table he began. 'At about one o' clock after First Officer Murdoch returned from having his lunch, I then went and had mine. From there I went below to my berth or as we call it quarters. Once inside there I saw another officer and we conversed for a minute or two, the topic totally unrelated to what the Captain and I had discussed previous up in the Bridge. After I left him I went to my room, but I was in and out about three or so time along the duration of the afternoon. As the later half of the afternoon approached I laid down on my bed for a while, before I got up and wrote some letters. As six o' clock came about I was back on the Bridge as Officer of the watch. With me on the Bridge was a quartermaster at the wheel and two junior officers going about their various tasks. At about five minutes to nine the Captain came onto the Bridge.'
Lightoller's mind when blank for a moment or two. 'Oh I would have relieved Chief Officer Wilde as his watch was from two until six. From when I took command of the watch I did not leave the Bridge until ten o' clock,' replied Lightoller.
Senator Smith still standing came over to where Mr. Lightoller was and placed in front of him a piece of paper with the various shifts written on it. Highlighted were the names of the men on duty during the night of the accident. 'Mr. Lightoller do you know whether these men were at those posts during that night?' Senator Smith asked so that he could get the full view of the picture concerning what happened that night.
Lightoller looked at the list and read the names that Senator Smith had highlighted. ' Yes sir they were all at there posts; two men up in the crow's nest, one man at the wheel and one man standing by, along with the two junior officers performing there various tasks,' answered Lightoller.
Senator Smith retracted the piece of paper form in front of Mr. Lightoller and returned it to his desk, before he returned to the centre of the room. ' Sir what was the condition of the weather and how did it make you feel about the possibility of icebergs?'
'And you felt that there was not reason to increase the official lookout?'
'Yes sir that is correct,' replied Mr. Lightoller.
Senator Smith still in the centre of the room walked over to a spare bench and leaned against it, to support his body. 'Did the Captain of the vessel ever come onto the Bridge during your watch apart from when he came in at 5 to 9?' Senator Smith required Mr. Lightoller to answer.
Lightoller turned his head and fixed his attention to the Senator's new position. 'Senator Smith I was on the Bridge during my entire watch, and in that time I did not see him enter it at all,' noted Lightoller.
'Say he only came onto the Bridge when you say that you saw him, in that time what was said between the two of you?' inquired Smith.
Lightoller rubbed his chin, trying to recall what was exactly said between himself and his late commander. 'Perhaps when he entered the Bridge one of us would have said Good evening. Then during the course of the conversation we spoke about the weather; calmness of the sea; the clearness; about the time we should be getting up toward the vicinity of the ice and how we should recognise it if we should see it - freshening our minds as to the indications that ice gives of its proximity. We just conferred together, generally, for about 25 minutes. During that time Captain Smith made a remark that if it was in a slight degree hazy there would be no doubt we should have to go very slowly. If we slowed up I would not know, unless the Captain told me. If we were to slow down he would have to send a message to the Chief Engineer to reduce her by so many revolutions. After we finished talking he left the Bridge, but before he left he told me that if I was in the slightest degree doubtful, let him know,' explained Lightoller.
Senator Smith seemed deep in thought, listening to all the details as they came out of the mouth of Mr. Lightoller. 'Mr. Lightoller can you kindly continue with what happened that night and the events that occurred?' requested Senator Smith.
'Well sir after the Captain left I did not see him until after the impact. However between then I continued on with my watch until 10 o' clock when Mr. Murdoch came on to relieve me. When I finished my watch we roughly judged that we should be getting toward the vicinity of the ice, as reported by that Marconigram that I saw, so we should have roughly reached the ice area at about 11. When he took over from me, before I left we discussed the weather and on how cold and sharp it was, the calmness of the sea. We remarked the distance we could see we could see such a long distance that we could see the stars setting down the horizon.
That was the last time I spoke to First Officer Murdoch, I did however see him on the Bridge after impact talking to the Captain, I did not speak to him later because he was getting the boats out on the starboard side. The last time I saw him he was attempting to get the last boat off, but then I went into the sea. Now referring to Captain Smith I saw him about the boat deck two or three time, however I did not speak to him, as I had no occasion to. The last time I saw the Captain, he was crossing the Bridge which extends right across the width of the ship.'
At that Senator Smith left his position where he was leaning against the table and approached Mr. Lightoller. 'I am sorry to disturb you Mr. Lightoller but I would like to stop you there and continue with some more individual questions,' Senator Smith Said.
Lightoller simply nodded towards the Senator, agreeing to his wishes.
'Mr. Lightoller what was the condition of the ship after impact? Was there any ice on deck? Was there anyone who was injured during the impact?' Senator Smith proposed these few questions to Mr. Lightoller.
'Sir when I came out on deck there was no ice on the decks, and as far as I knew there was no one who was injured due to the impact of the iceberg,' responded Lightoller. Charles looked down at his glass and was about to take a sip when he saw that it was empty. He motioned to Senator Smith, who was still nearby, if he could have his glass of water refilled. After his request was met, he took a drink of water from the fresh glass. After he placed the glass down he looked up and saw Senator Smith, once again resting against the bench, ready to proceed with the questions.
'Mr. Lightoller when you saw the Captain, during the period when you where going about your duties of lowering the boats with passengers in them, did he seem to be giving any orders?' Senator Smith inquired.
'Sir I was about 50 feet away from the Captain, so if he did give any orders at that time I did not hear them. The last order he gave me was when I asked him, 'Shall I put the women and children in the boats?' for which he then replied, 'Yes; and lower away.' They were the last orders that I ever received from Captain Smith. We had this discussion abreast No. 6 boat, at, well I am only guessing at about a quarter to 1. That is after impact with the iceberg.'
'I am not quite sure sir as I did not have my watch with me and it is now on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. However what I have heard from other officers we collided with the iceberg at about 12 o'clock and she sunk at 2:20, which is what I was told.'
'Well sir after I was given the command, I carried out the order. That is on the port side only, as that is the side in which I was in command of. I lowered all the boats with the exception of one, the last boat, which was stowed on top of the officers' quarters. We had not enough time to launch it. As the ship went down this boat just happened to float off, with a men or two on it. It was still upside down as that is how it was stored on top of the officers' quarters. After I went into the water I found this boat with no one on it so I used it as a refuge from the sea. It was very unstable and as a result we were thrown off a couple of time. At first I was hanging onto the side and merely floating with it, however eventually 30 of us got into it whilst it was still overturned. We never did turn it over. By now the ship was sinking rapidly and the forward funnel soon fell just missing the boat, about 4 inches clear of it.
When it fell it would have killed or badly injured anyone who was on the other side of the boat. As I got onto the boat I noticed some men that I knew; they were Mr. Thayer, a first-class passenger; the second Marconi operator Harold Sydney Bride, Colonel Gracie and the rest were mostly firemen that I could tell. Unfortunately there were two or three that died on the boat during the night, including the senior Marconi operator; from the cold and exposure. The boat had about 30 people on her. She was packed standing from stem to stern by daylight. During the night we took on so many people, however we were not swamped because we were at least half a mile from the main pack of people in the water. It was so dark we could not see any more boats around us, the only thing we saw was wreckage that floated off the ship as she went down. As the ship went down I saw many people with life preservers on, from all classes still on the deck of the ship.' From that sentence Lightoller stopped, his eyes were becoming moist and he did not know how longer he could hold it together. He looked up and saw that everyone was looking at him, he could only imagine what they were thinking to themselves.
The room remained in silence for 3 or 4 minutes. Senator Smith was the first to break the silence that had descended onto the inquiry. 'Mr. Lightoller I realise this must be hard for you, but the faster we continue, the faster you can put all of this behind you. Now Mr. Lightoller I would like to know how people were chosen to board the lifeboats? And then what happened after that?' asked Senator Smith as though he was there for Mr. Lightoller.
Before he began to answer Lightoller removed a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his eyes. After placing it back into his pocket he began to answer the question that Senator Smith had asked him before, only a few moments ago. 'On my side of the ship which I was in charge of we took any women and children that we could see, no matter what class they were from. However we did turn away several stewardesses and other female employees. During the night some women unfortunately refused to enter a boat for one reason or another, I can not exactly tell you the reasons as I was to busy at the time to even worry about them. Of course during the night one or two asked if their families would be able to enter a boat, but to my knowledge none ever got in. The nineteen out of twenty lifeboats that made it from the ship were all accounted for when we reached the Carpathia, except the one which I was in as it was badly injured. Before we reached the Carpathia myself and the other people that were on the upside down boat were transferred to another lifeboat, which by then had 75 people in it, not including myself. It was a risk we took doing that, as if the seas had been any rougher the boat would have definitely buckled under us.'
Senator Smith moved himself from his leaning position against the table and moved back towards his desk where he sat down. 'Mr. Lightoller could you tell me what loading procedures you used and by that I mean which boats you loaded and how many people you put in each?' Senator Smith requested of Mr. Lightoller.
'Well Senator I loaded all of the boats on the port side except for two. On that side of the ship I decided how many people went into each boat by my own judgment of the strength of the tackle. In the first boat I placed in 20 or 25 women and children, no men and two seamen. I should have perhaps put more seamen into the boats as a result I know of many women who rowed for hours, but we needed the men up on deck, to lower the boats away. There were 16 oars in a boat with its full equipment and all of these boats were full. However you could manage the boat with six oars in the water and one man steering at the back, as it was in the boat that I was rescued in; after I was picked up from the overturned boat.'
Senator Smith made a kind of coughing noise with his mouth to interrupt Mr. Lightoller. 'Sir if you would not mind, but you are going off course here. Could you please go back to telling us about the loading of the boats,' Senator Smith instructed the witness.
'I apologise Senator. After I had loaded the first boat to what I felt a safe capacity we lowered it and she rowed away. Whether she returned after the ship went down, I could not tell you Senator. You may be wondering why I only filled it half full, well because at the time I did not know the urgency of the problem. If I had known differently I would have still used my judgment, but I would have also taken more risks. The men that I put in the boat I do not know their names; as I simply saw them standing nearby, so I ordered them into the boat.
Then after we finished the first boat we moved to the second boat. In this we put in about 30 or so women, once again no men and two seamen to control the boat.
After we had lowered her and sent her away we moved onto readying the third boat, however by now I was aware of the seriousness of the current situation. Like all the others this boat took us from 15 to 20 minutes to fill, lower and clear it away.
Seeing that Mr. Lightoller had conformed to his request, Senator Smith lowered his hand and began to put forth-another query of his towards Mr. Lightoller. 'Sir why is it that you took command of the boats on the port side?'
'Senator I took command as the Captain was on the Bridge, Chief Officer Wilde was supervising the evacuation of the entire ship, First Officer Murdoch had charge over the boats on the Starboard side and so I was the next ranking officer. Therefore I got command of the boats on the port side,' responded Lightoller.
'I see Mr. Lightoller. Could you tell me what you did with the third boat?'
'As I said by now I was becoming aware of the seriousness of the situation and began to take more risks. I filled this boat to her full capacity as I could and then put two seamen into her. After she was ready I lowered her away. So in the end there was about 35 or so people in her. Would you like me to continue with the fourth boat Senator?' asked Lightoller.
Senator Smith nodded to give Mr. Lightoller the go ahead to continue. I filled her the same as the last, tough this time I was coming short of seamen. I needed two in the boat, but it is absolutely necessary to have a seaman on each fall because no one else would know how to lower a boat away.
After I had loaded this boat and put two seamen there was not enough men to man the falls. I began to call out for a seamen as I needed to lower the boat as fast as I could; and one of the seamen in the boat jumped out of the boat and started to lower it away. When the boat was half way down a woman called out and said that there was only one man in the boat. I had only two seamen and could not part with them, as I was in a rather fix I did not know what to do, when a passenger called out and said, ' If you like, I will go. I looked up and saw that he was a first class passenger and since then I have later found out his name to be Major Peuchen, of Toronto. I asked him if he was a seaman to which he replied, ' I am a yachtsman.' I then told him, ' If you are sailor enough to get out there you can go down.' He of course afterwards proved himself to be a brave man as to his conduct later on in the lifeboat and I thank him for it.
When all the dramas with the fourth one was solved we then moved to the fifth boat and all the conditions were the same as the past two. We filled most of the boats without any concern. However with the last boat there was hardly any women about.'
'Yes sir that is correct. I still dared not load them to their water capacity of 65. Instead I was loading them to about 40 - 45 people in them. If I may sir I would like to state that there was one boat to be lowered from A-Deck which I had directed as I thought it may have been easier to get people into the boats from there. However the windows were closed so we left that boat and went back to another one. Yes the one on A-Deck would have been the fifth boat as there was one that was lowered after end by Chief Officer Wilde. When we returned to that boat that was on A-Deck from lowering the 4th boat, the windows were opened so we proceeded to load the boat and then lower it away. From there we went to the Berthon boat, which was the last boat to be lowered on the port side, except the collapsible.'
Senator Smith made a personal note of what Mr. Lightoller had just said in his log. 'Mr. Lightoller did you take the same course when it came to loading the collapsible or the surfboat as some call it?' inquired Senator Smith.
'Oh good Lord, no sir. These boats are much smaller and less stable than those normal lifeboats. However it did not matter when it came to manning it as I still put two men in it. But this time as seamen were coming up short I put in one seamen and a steward. In this boat there was about 15 to 20 people in it, but I had great difficulty in filling it,' explained Lightoller.
'So after you lowered these six boats Mr. Lightoller how long did it take you to lower all of them?' Senator Smith questioned Smith.
'It would have taken me at least an hour and a half and by then the ship was going down quite rapidly. As a matter of fact the last boat that I lowered only had to travel 10 feet before it reached the waters surface. As a comparison when I started lowering the boats, it took them 70 feet before they reached the surface.'
That last fact of information seemed very important to Senator Smith. 'Mr. Lightoller what happened to the next boat?'
'Well sir as I told you before the seventh boat was the overturned boat that floated off the ship and the one that I found refuge on.'
The next question that Senator Smith was about ask was one that would be tuff for him to ask and even harder on Mr. Lightoller to answer. 'Mr. Lightoller I do not mean to sound insensitive or to sound as tough I am asking the obvious, but at the time you must have known that there was not enough room in the lifeboats for everyone on board?'
'Yes sir that is correct.'
Senator Smith did not want to remain on that thought for very long and thought it best if he were to quickly move on.
'Did you see Mr. Murdoch again before the ship went down? And also do you know whether he followed the same course of action concerning the loading of the boats as you did on the port side?' Senator Smith wanted to know so that he could put together how exactly the boats were filled and sent away.
Lightoller looked around the room the room and saw that the number in people in the viewing area of the room had decreased. Perhaps some people came here to view some of the inquiry before they started work. Whatever the reason it did not matter, Lightoller only wished that he could have left with them. Lightoller looked at Senator Smith and noticed that he was staring at him. Oh no he had forgot to answer the question that Smith had asked him. 'When I finished on my side of the boat I went over to the other side to see if I could assist there. As regards to the loading of the boats in that side, I could not say,' responded Lightoller.
'What was the number of the ship's crew?'
'71 seamen,' Lightoller quickly snapped back.
'What constituted the crew besides seamen?'
'Oh, yes. They mustered up something like 800, perhaps a little under, perhaps a little over somewhere around 800. About 800 firemen and stewards; a little less than 800. The crew altogether is about 850 or 860; that is, including seamen, firemen, and stewards,' Lightoller said trying to recall the exact numbers.
Senator Smith seemed intrigued by these latest figures. 'How do you account for your inability to get hold of more than nine seamen to man those lifeboats on the port side?' Senator Smith wondered when there were so many people that were included in the crew list.
'Well sir there is quite a reasonable answer to that. Earlier before I realised that the ship was in any danger, I told off the boatswain to take some men and go down below to open the gangway doors. I didn't say how many, leaving the man to use his own judgment. They were to open the gangway doors in order that some boats could come alongside and be filled to their utmost capacity. He complied with the order, and, so far as I know, went down below, and I did not see him afterwards. That took away a number of men, and we detailed two men for each boat and two men for lowering down.
If I may say, there sometimes may be three seamen in a boat. As soon as the boats were lowered to the level of the rail, I would detail one man to jump in and ship the rudder, one man cast adrift the oars and one man would see that the plugs were in.'
'When we took a head count on the Carpathia there was 43 seamen, 96 stewards and 71 firemen. So overall 210 of the crew were saved. I must say that though there seems to be so many of the crew that did survive, but most of the crew were taken out of the water.'
Senator Smith seemed very confused by this latest statement of Mr. Lightoller.'Sir even if you say that there were 30 or so crewmen on that boat with you, that would mean that there was still 190 crew in these boats that were meant for women and children,' Senator Smith said.
'No sir that is incorrect, because many were pulled from the water when some of the lifeboats went back. Now Senator I can not tell you which of the lifeboats went back as I would only be guessing, but I know for a fact that some of the boats went back because I have spoken to some of the crew who were pulled from the wreckage. As I told you Senator I discriminated entirely in the interest of the passengers, that is the women of children,' Lightoller responded to the expression of Senator Smith.
Senator Smith rubbed his head piecing together the information. He them faced towards the inquiry secretary. 'Mr. Franklin do you have a record there of how many exact passengers - men, women and children there was on board of the ship?' Smith expressed.
Mr. Franklin quickly scanned through the notes of the inquiry and found that he had no record. ' No I am sorry Senator Smith I have no record here of the numbers,' Mr. Franklin told Senator Smith who wished to finish this line of questioning as soon as possible.
A gap had descended on the inquiry. Lightoller was wondering whether he should say something. He decided that he would. ' Senator Smith I assure that there was no women around the deck when I was loading my last boat. I stood in the boat and was shouting out for any more women or children, but there was no reply,' explained Lightoller.
Senator Smith had heard all of this before but he was just going over it again so that he was sure he had not missed anything. 'Mr. Lightoller I wish for you to go through some more details as to the sinking of the ship,' Senator Smith called for.
'As the ship went down the passengers that were still on board did not seem to be huddled together. It seemed that they were still just walking around the ship, of course by then the ship had a considerable tilt to the fore of the ship. It was going down to such extent that the foremast which was the highest point of the ship was level with the waters surface when the Bridge went under.
I am afraid I could not tell you how many were left on board, but there was a great many. It was hard to notice the people left on board, as there was no demonstration of any kind. However I must say that there must have been at least 1800 people still on board, but as all the engineers and the other men and many of the firemen remained below for the entire time which reduced the number of people on the deck a great deal.'
' Excuse Mr. Lightoller I do not mean to interrupt you, but could you please tell us about any explosions on board the ship during the sinking.' Senator Smith suggested to Mr. Lightoller who was willingly to comply with the Senator request.
' Sir as to the talk of explosions I did not see any myself. However I did hear many people who said that they did see explosions as the ship went down. Some say that the freezing water could have made the boilers explode, but that is an open question. I believe that the boilers may have exploded or any other of the machines that were stored down below. I say this because when I was on top of the officers' quarters, and there was nothing more to be done. The ship then took a dive, and I turned and face forward and also took a dive. When I first went into the water I was sucked down by one of the ventilating shafts and then I was blown to the surface again by something very powerful. I was not the only person sucked down and blown up again, I believe it also happened to Col. Gracie. As I came to the surface that is when I found myself up along the side of the raft.
' Mr. Lightoller one quick question before we let you go now. Who were the other officers that survived, other than yourself?' Smith questioned.
Senator Smith left his seat and approached Mr. Lightoller, within only a few steps form the man he held out his hand to shake it. ' Mr. Lightoller thank you for your time. We may however need to recall you at a later date,' stated Senator Smith.
Lightoller stood to shake the Senator's as he was excused from interrogation for the moment. Lightoller knew that it would only be the end for now and without a doubt would be called back to testify within a few days. For now he was to leave the grand and opulence that was this hotel and much like the Titanic, back to his substandard lodging house that he was staying in, along with the remaining other surviving crew.
His latest stay in the United States had been like none other before. Of course apart from the obvious change, it was now as though he was someone else and everyone knew him. So much attention had been drawn to him in the last few days and it was not something that he was used to. All he wanted to do was to earn an honest wage for an honest days work.
Leaving the room, he was once again conscious that almost all eyes were on him, as well as judging him. Chatter began to rise, and without a doubt so was the speculation about the words that had been spoken by Lightoller in such a short period ago.
With this much attention on him in this closed room, outside would be only far, far worse. If he were to go out the front way it would be like a sheep going into a fox's den. With this in mind Charles pondered the possibility of exiting by another doorway. In the corner of his eye he spotted Senator Smith's assistant conversing with another man. Making his way towards the assistant must have caught his attention, as he quickly turned towards Lightoller with an empathetic look, as though he were willing to do anything.
'Do you need anything Mr. Lightoller?' the assistant asked.
Lightoller came right up close to the man and leant towards his ear. With his hands cupped near his mouth and up close towards the assistant ear Lightoller quietly spoke to him. 'All this media and attention is starting to get to me,' whispered Lightoller.
'Yes sir. I understand that it must be trying times for you,' replied Smith's assistant.
'Please. I don't want your pity. All I want is to get out of here and back to my accommodation, without being hassled by a barrage of reporters.'
The assistant must have sympathised with Lightoller's current situation as he said no more, but simply began to make his way towards a door on the side of the room with Lightoller in tow. But before Lightoller could reach the doorway to his easy exit, he first had to cross the floor again of the busy room. Although there was not any reporters in the room, there were many with their own personal fascination of the events of the past week and would stop at nothing to learn more, as was the craze all around the world.
Lightoller decided that the quickest and less hectic way to leave this place would be to look straight ahead, make eye contact with no one and walk as quickly as possible. With that in mind, it was exactly what he did.
With the Senators assistant in lead, busting through the busy crowd in the room was without mush hassle.
Once at the door the assistant opened it so that Lightoller could exit through it. 'If you continue through this door here sir, and down the hall, it will lead to the workers entrance, that will let you out into an alleyway.'
Lightoller nodded in appreciation and to show that he understood. He felt that maybe perhaps he should thank the assistant for his help, however he was sure that this would not be there last meeting and decided to save those words for another time. So without any further hesitation, Lightoller exited through the doorway and made his way down the hallway. In doing so he found himself passing cleaners and stewards that were employees of the hotel.
These people were in the middle of their breaks, smoking and enjoying their prepared food from home. It was without a doubt that all these people worked hard and at the moment their main concern was their food and each other. Their thoughts were concentrated on nothing else, yet when Lightoller made his way past they instantly looked up, and stared at him. Obviously they had seen Lightoller's picture in one of the many newspapers or tabloids and were fascinated by the story that was following him now and would continue to do so for the rest of his life.
Outside the hotel in the alleyway, Lightoller was alone, or so he thought. Making his way down the way, Lightoller was only a few metres away from the main road and a taxi that would take him back to his accommodation. But then out of the shadows came a voice.
'Excuse me, but aren't you Mr. Lightoller?' the voice queried.
Lightoller stopped in his footsteps. He had two choices, run to a taxi or stop and talk to this man. This man intrigued Lightoller. Who was this man and what was he doing out here. The stranger did not look like as though he worked here for the hotel, nor was he apart of the Senator's group. In any case Lightoller's intrigue had got the better of him and he decided to stay. 'Yes I am Charles Lightoller, may I ask whom you are sir?'
The man came closer to Lightoller, out of the shadows. Charles saw that the man was dressed in a suit, nothing fancy though, working class.
'My name is Thomas Hanya. You don't know me, but my wife's Mother was on the ship,' stated the man in a dull voice.
Lightoller felt bad. He knew exactly where this conversation was going. Lightoller had one question on his mind and he was not sure he wanted to know the answer.
'My wife loved her dearly, I loved her, and everyone loved her. But now she's gone,' the man expressed to Lights.
Lightoller was stunned. He knew that he would have to face a moment like this at one stage, but it was an occasion that he was not looking forward to. As the most senior surviving officer, there was perhaps an idea held out there by some in the community that he should be held responsible. In some ways Lightoller agreed. 'I am very sorry sir for your loss,' said Lightoller. 'I am sorry for all those that lost loved ones that night.'
The man shook his head. 'You should not need to feel sorry, just like my wife's mother need not be dead,' replied the man. 'Perhaps if you and your fellow officers had taken some more care that night and instead of chasing wealth and glory, this would have never happened. But I guess you need not worry about making a decision like that, here you are today high and dry!'
No doubt the media was the source that fuelled this man's agitation. Whether or not what this man was stating was true of not Lightoller could not tell, but for his part he knew the truth.
'Sir, please you have to understand that on the voyage we were not out to break any records or steal the glory from the other lines. In fact it was the exact opposite. We running the engines at a slower pace. We were not out to make a record passage; in fact the White Star Line invariably run their ships at reduced speed for the first few voyages. It tells in the long run, for the engines of a ship are very little different from the engines of a good car, they must be run in. Take the case of the Oceanic [Note: another ship of the White Star Line]. She steadily increased her speed from 19.5 knots in her early days to 21.5 when she was twelve years old. It has often been said that had not the Titanic been trying to make a passage, the catastrophe would never have occured. Nothing of the kind. She was certainly making good speed that night of April 12th, but not her best--nothing compared with what she would have been capable, in, say, a couple of years' time. The disaster was just due to a combination of circumstances that never occured before and can never occur again. That may sound like a sweeping statement, yet it is a fact.' (Lightoller, p. 280)
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