Who Sank the Titanic? The Final VerdictPosted on Tuesday 17th April 2012
1.00 am Monday, 15 April 1912
Upper deck of RMS Titanic
Dead reckoning position: 41° 46' N, 50° 41' W
North Atlantic Ocean
He said, ‘Lower away! Lower away! Lower away! Lower away!’ I told him, ‘If you will get to Hell out of that, I shall be able to do something.’ He was, in a way, interfering with my duties, and also, of course, he only did this because he was anxious to get the people away and also to help me.
I said, ‘Do you want me to lower away quickly? You will have me drown the whole lot of them.’ He did not make any reply. He walked away and went to No. 3 boat.
Combining Bruce Ismay’s testimony to both the American and British inquiries builds up a detailed picture of his actions that night. The millionaire ship-owner consistently claimed that all he wanted to do was save as many lives as possible:
'I assisted, as best I could, getting the boats out and putting the women and children into the boats. I do not think I ever left that deck again. We simply picked the women out and put them in the boat as fast as we could. The natural order would be women and children first; as far as practicable.
I put a great many in. We took the first ones that were there and put them in the lifeboats. I rendered all the assistance I could. All the women that I saw on deck got away in boats. They were swung out, people were put into the boats from the deck, and then they were simply lowered away down to the water.'
Ismay’s critics, however, took a different view of his actions. He was one of the few people on board who knew the terrifying truth: that Titanic was inevitably going to sink that night. How convenient then was Ismay’s self-appointed role as an unofficial, junior lifeboat assistant? It gave the ship-owner the perfect reason to stay close by the boats; and the perfect means of saving himself should the opportunity arise.
'I presume the impact awakened me. I lay in bed for a moment or two afterwards, not realizing, probably, what had happened. I really thought we had lost a blade off the propeller. I went along the passageway out of my room and I met a steward. I asked him what had happened; he told me he did not know. 'I went back to my room, put a coat on and went up on to the Bridge, where I found Capt. Smith. I asked him what had happened, and he said, "We have struck ice." I said, "Do you think the ship is seriously damaged?" He said, "I am afraid she is.’"'
Ismay subsequently attempted to justify his actions throughout repeated question-and-answer sessions with Senator William Alden Smith, the Chairman of the US Senate Hearings. He defiantly explained how and why he escaped with the women and children, just before Titanic finally slipped beneath the waves:
‘No one, Sir.’
‘Why did you enter it?’
‘Because there was room in the boat: she was being lowered away. I felt the ship was going down, and I got into the boat. I was immediately opposite the lifeboat when she left. The boat was there. There was [sic] a certain number of men in the boat, and the officer called out asking if there were any more women, and there was no response, and there were no passengers left on the deck. And as the boat was in the act of being lowered away, I got into it.’
‘At that time the Titanic was sinking?’
‘She was sinking.’
‘Was there any attempt, as this boat was being lowered past the other decks, to have you take on more passengers?’
‘None, Sir; there were no passengers there to take on.’
‘And that at the time there were no other persons around; no women, particularly?’
‘Absolutely none that I saw, Sir.’
‘Was that the last lifeboat, or the last collapsible boat, to leave?’
‘It was the last collapsible boat that left the starboard side of the ship. It was not filled to its capacity. I should think there were about forty women in it, and some children. There was a child in arms. I think they were all Third Class passengers, so far as I could see.’
‘Were all of the women and children saved?’
‘I am afraid not, Sir.’
‘What proportion were saved?’
‘I have no idea. I have not asked. Since the accident I have made very few inquiries of any sort.’
Who Sank the Titanic?
(Hardback - 224 pages)
by Robert J Strange
Designed as the technological marvel of her age, RMS Titanic claimed to be the largest, strongest, safest ship of the early 20th Century; a triumph of centuries of Great Britain’s unrivalled shipbuilding expertise. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. The 1500 American and British victims of RMS Titanic went to their watery graves never knowing that much of the ship was imperfectly forged from cheap and recycled scrap-iron and that the tragedy was caused by a chain of gross negligence and greed.
Crime investigator Robert…
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