There is one piece of evidence, given as testimony, that proves that at least one crew member was drinking aboard Titanic -however he was not deck crew. Charles John Joughin was the Chief Baker on the Titanic.
Joughin testified that he was off duty, in his bunk, when the collison happened and that he sent his bakers up with over 50 loaves of bread to provision the lifeboats and returned to his room for a drink. He then went up to the boat deck to get to his assigned lifeboat (no.10) on the port side of the ship. He helped to put women and children in the boat but did not get in himself. After the boat was launched, Joughin went back to his room and had a drop more liquor before returning to the boat deck.
On Day 6 of the British Inquiry, he said:"I went down to my room and had a drop of liqueur that I had down there." He was then questioned over this:
Mr. Cotter: Drink of what? Joughin: Spirits. The Commissioner: Does it very much matter what it was? Mr. Cotter: Yes, my Lord, this is very important, because I am going to prove, or rather my suggestion is, that he then saved his life. I think his getting a drink had a lot to do with saving his life. The Commissioner: He told you he had one glass of liqueur. Mr. Cotter. Yes. (To the Witness.) What kind of a glass was it? Joughin: It was a tumbler half-full. Mr. Cotter. A tumbler half-full of liqueur? Joughin: Yes.
By the time he emerged, all the boats had gone. He then went down to B deck and started throwing deck chairs overboard. As Titanic started listing heavily he made his way to the starboard side of the poop deck and on to the outside of the rails of the ship. When he was lowered into the water, Joughin claimed he simply swam away and was in the water for several hours without getting his hair wet. He was later helped onto collapsible lifeboat B. When he arrived aboard the Carpathia he was placed in a warm oven to thaw him out, or as he expressed it “they popped me in an oven like one of me own pies!”
While his survival in the water is often attributed to his drinking, the accuracy of his account has been called into question with it now well known that it is a myth that alcohol keeps you warm, as in reality it provides a false impression of warmth.
3. Twelve key Issues with the drinking theory
There are 13 key issues with the Garvey/Blum letter and Klein story which casts doubt on the credibility of the asleep/drinking evidence:
1. White Star Line had very strict rules regarding drinking
Despite what the Garvey/Blum letter and Klein stories would have us believe there were very strict rules and penalities for drinking aboard a White Star liner as prestigious as Titanic which would make it highly unlikely for an officer of the watch to take such a risk.
In the International Mercantile Marine/White Star Line rulebook published in 1907 under which Titanic's crew worked, paragraph 3.[c] it states:
“[c] No wines, spirits, or liquors of any description are to be brought on board by Officers or any member of the Crew. A search for same must be made the heads of the respective departments as soon as possible after the ship leaves port, and any found must be confiscated and thrown overboard; and the proprietors of same logged. Particulars of these searches, with the result, must be entered in the Log Book.”
“4. Sales of Wines and Spirits to Crew. – Except with special authority of the Management no sales of wines or spirits for cash is to be made to any member of the ship's company...”
It should also be noted that it was simply not logistically possible for the captain and his crew to gather together as described to drink, as they worked on alternating shifts, four hours on and hours off. Not to mention there is no evidence this ever occured. They were Royal Navy Reserve men who adhered to a code of strict discipline. Their qualifications were authorised by the UK government. Even the slightest abberation during their duity could end their career and chances of employment.
2. Garvey/Blum letter - No evidence Hichens was ever a harbourmaster in Cape Town
According to Titanic researcher and Irish Daily Mail journalist Senan Molony, who visited Cape Town in March 1999, when he took an opportunity to visit the harbour master's office and checked what he described as a "golf-club type gold nameboard up of all the Harbour Masters" he discovered "Hichens’ name is not there... Whether or not Robert Hichens was ever in South Africa is unclear, but it is known that his brother William lived around this time in Johannesburg. In 1917 a fellow Titanic survivor (possibly Edith Haisman) claimed to have run into Robert there." (8.)
Subsequent enquiries and requests for information by local groups have found no evidence of Hichens ever being in Cape Town let alone being the harbourmaster. Phillip Gowan in his article entitled "Whatever happened to Robert Hichens?" explains further:
"There were rumours that the White Star Line shipped him off to Cape Town so that he could not be questioned further about the events surrounding the Titanic sinking and it was even alleged that he once served as Harbourmaster at Cape Town. However, these claims have not been verified.
Family members do recall that he spent time in Durban and Johannesburg and that he was always able to obtain money from some source related to Titanic -so it is quite possible and plausible that some sort of remuneration did occur in the years immediately following the disaster. (Whatever happened to Robert Hichens? By Phillip Gowan website)
In startling new evidence published for the first time on this website, Senan Molony has uncovered documentation that he writes "should form a requiem for the preposterous Blum story. All the actual evidence is against it. There is not a scrap in support of the Garvey testimonial. Conclusion: it’s poppycock." To see the multiple lines of evidence that brought him to that conclusion please refer to the article New Evidence: Hichens Was Not in Capetown in 1914.
3. Garvey/Blum letter - Hichens did not have the qualifications to become a harbourmaster.
Hichens did not hold a master or extra-master’s certification and so it is very unlikely he would have been given the position he is claimed to have held.
According to Senan Molony "Robert Hichens did not even possess a second mate's certificate, let alone Master or extra Master cert. In the absence of such qualifications there is no way in the wide world that Hichens could possibly have been appointed Harbour Master anywhere on the globe, particularly in such a sensitive place - which the Royal Navy regarded as stratregically sacrosanct, and which would, come 1914-18, become a major base. The idea that White Star, whose concentration was on the North Atlantic, had the necessary clout to get an unqualified black sheep appointed Harbour Master at Cape Town, then a major staging post of Empire, is beyond a joke." (8.)
4. Garvey/Blum letter inaccuracy- harbourmasters do not meet ships in person
According to the Garvey/Blum letter Hitchens, as the Cape Town harbourmaster, came aboard the visiting British ship. However, it is commonly accepted that harbourmasters do not routinely meet ships but are in charge of overall port traffic and tariffs. (8.)
5. Garvey/Blum letter inaccuracy Titanic never had a 'bow' lookout
Unlike what the Garvey/Blum letter would have us believe, the Titanic never had a 'bow' lookout. If they had, officers Lightoller and Boxhall would have jumped on the fact to show that Captain Smith had in fact taken all reasonable effort to look out for ice.
6. Garvey/Blum letter inaccuracy- Quartermaster would never leave the wheel
According to the Garvey/Blum story Hichens leaves the wheel to try and wake the first officer -an act which in itself would have been a severe dereliction of duty. Nilsson herself acknowledges this, despite still believing in the authenticity of the letter:
"What I found most extraordinary about the letter was that it implied Robert had heard two separate warnings of ice ahead, one from the crow's nest and one from the bow, instead of just the call from the crow's nest as I had read in the Inquiry testimonies. Even more worrying was the claim that Robert had then found the first officer lying unconscious on a lounger at the rear of the pilothouse — which was a separate cabin in front of the wheelhouse. The only way Robert could done this, and have shouted in the first officer’s ear to try to wake him up as the letter suggests, would have been for him to leave his position at the helm in the wheelhouse and walk/run into the pilothouse to discover the officer. At this pivotal moment there had been no one else in the bridge area. Testimonies show that the two officers who should have been there were absent at this crucial time and the standby quartermaster was performing a duty amidship." (51.)
7. Garvey/Blum letter inaccuracy - no lounge in the pilot house exists
There is no evidence of there ever being a lounge in the 'pilot house' on Titanic. According to author David G. Brown "The Hichens story about Murdoch curled up in a lounge at the back of the wheelhouse is...well...just short of preposterous. First, there was no "lounge" built into Titanic's wheelhouse or bridge. So-called "lazy benches" are common in tugboats and such, but there was nothing of the sort in Titanic." (8.)
8. Quartermaster Olliver saw Murdoch at the watertight door switch
On Day 7 of the Senate Inquiry Quartermaster Alfred Olliver states quite clearly under oath that he saw First Officer Murdoch closing the watertight doors as he entered the bridge at the time of the collision with the iceberg.
Mr. OLLIVER: The first officer closed the watertight doors, sir. Senator BURTON: When? Mr. OLLIVER: On the bridge, just after she struck; and reported to the captain that they were closed. I heard that myself. Senator BURTON: How did you know they were closed? Mr. OLLIVER: Because Mr. Murdoch reported, and as I entered the bridge I saw him about the lever.(25.)
As author David Brown concludes in a message board discussing this issue, "How did a man Hichens could not awaken manage to be up and at the switch moments later?" (8.)
9. Drinking conspiracy would have to be much larger
Between the hours of 10pm and 2.20am there would have been hundreds of people in close contact with First Officer Murdoch would have very quickly been able to detect intoxication inhibiting his ability to perform his duties (especially considering he loaded more boats than any other officer that night). However other than Hichens (allegedly) and Klein (who was almost certainly not a crew member) there is no other report. If Murdoch was that drunk he was asleep then how was it he loaded all the starboard boats (and one port boat) without one person mentioning his condition? The White Star Line would have had to pay off and keep quiet an unestimable number of people (potentially up to 700) to keep this story quiet, and in many cases most of whom would have no reason to co-operate in a scheme that would have had to take place within days to ensure the story was straight before the Senate Inquiry.
However, despite the numerous opportunities no passenger ever colloborated any story of the officers drinking or even partying. For example, First Class passenger Mr Elmer Zebley Taylor, aged 48, and who was rescued in boat no.5, was quoted in the Atlantic City Daily Press of Sunday 5 May 1912: "I do not believe there was any dinner party on the ship such as has been reported. I saw no indication of it on the part of the ship’s officers nor aything [sic] like it at any time during the trip."
Most notable among those who denied that drinking took place or could have taken place is John Hardy, a 36 year old Second Class Steward who swore under oath that any of the crew were drinking. It is most notable because Hardy also remembered talking to Murdoch, when the first officer told him "I believe she is gone, Hardy" and was "the only time I (Hardy) thought she might sink." If Murdoch had been drinking Hardy would surely have known. However during his evidence on Day 7 of the United States Senate Inquiry he is quite emphatic:
Senator Smith: Was there any drinking among the stewards or any portion of the crew that night? Hardy: Not to my knowledge, sir. In the first place, the crew could not afford to buy drinks. There is no other means of getting it but to buy it, so a man would not be in a position to do it if he drank. Smith: You did not see any members of the crew under the influence of liquor? Hardy: That is impossible to think, that is impossible to suggest, that men drink while at sea; because in the first place, if it was possible for a man to want it he could not afford to buy it; and there is no hope for him to get it, because he would not be served, anyway.(25.)
10. Lack of any collaborative evidence or any detail to base research on
It must be remembered that the letter was written by someone who heard a story from somone who had allegedly been in contact with Hichens. The connection is tenuous at best. And the lack of any detail is disturbingly sparse. For example, we do not know who Henry Blum and Thomas Garvey were or when Garvey wrote the letter, or when Blum relayed his story. And we do not even know the name of the ship Blum was serving on, all of which means that the letter cannot be verified. But even if the letter and the author of the rumour could be verified, that does in itself make the rumour true.
11. Klein's identity -not on any crew lists and not identified
According to the New York Times of May 22 "Klein made his charges in Ohio, and was brought here as a witness, though he had no papers to show that he had ever served on the Titanic, and could not speak a word of English."
In recent years the passenger and crew lists have been refined and now as accurate as one could hope they could ever be, however there is no evidence at all of any Hungarian named Luis Klein (or alternatively Lewis, Louis or Luis Klein) having ever been on any of the crew lists despite his statement that he signed on in Liverpool. He is not accounted for among the names of surviving crew (which thanks to exhaustive research into lifeboat numbers has been set at a rather conclusive/accounted for number of 712 -not including Klein). Additionally, there is no evidence he was ever paid by the White Star Line after the sinking (which he would be entitled to if he had worked aboard Titanic).
By his own admission he said he "had no papers to show that he had ever served on the Titanic" (New York Times May 22 1912)
He could not speak or write a word of English which would be very unlikely for a White Star Line employee (during the coal strike the White Star Line would have no issues getting English speaking crew from Southampton, so why would they need some Hungarian who cannot speak English... from Liverpool?). On this point author Tom McCluskie notes: "If as reported Klein couldn't speak or understand English there is no way on God's earth the British Board of Trade would have issued him a seaman's' discharge book which was a licence to work on any British registered vessel. This book was marked at the end of each voyage by the ships master and recorded the conduct etc of the person. It's simply ludicrous that White Star would employ someone who couldn't communicate with other crew members and who apparently didn't have a discharge book. The whole scenario is quite simply preposterous." (Titanic Historical Society forum)
Titanic author George Behe is the first person mentioned in Nilsson's acknowledgements section of her book, she stating that he "spent a considerable amount of time sending me information and advising and sharing his huge knowledge of Titanic." However regarding Nilsson's allegation that Murdoch was asleep/drunk during the collision and the inclusion of Klein, Behe wrote: "While Sally was still writing her book I made it clear to her that I strongly disagreed with that premise. I also pointed out to her that Louis Klein was not listed on the Titanic's crew roster and that - unlike Titanic's legitimate crewmen - he was never paid for his alleged service on the ship (for good reason.)" (Titanic Historical Society forum, August 05, 2012)
Interestingly, during the United States Senate Inquiry Day 9 Lightoller was recalled to answer questions regarding Klein's identity:
SMITH: Mr. Lightoller, are you familiar with the ship's crew of the Titanic when she left Southampton, and at the time of the accident? LIGHTOLLER: You are speaking of the seamen, are you, sir? SMITH: Yes. LIGHTOLLER: Yes, sir. SMITH: Have you ever known Luis Klein? LIGHTOLLER: Not amongst the seamen. SMITH: Was there such a member of the crew of the Titanic? LIGHTOLLER: I am given to understand that there was one man named Klein, who was a second class barber. That man is personally known to me. He is the only Klein who was on board so far as I know. SMITH: Did he survive? LIGHTOLLER: He did not.
................... SMITH: But you are positive that the only Klein in the crew did not survive? LIGHTOLLER: He did not survive, to the best of my knowledge and belief. SMITH: Did you see a man here in my office this week who claimed to be Lewis Klein, a surviving member of the crew of the Titanic? LIGHTOLLER: I believe that I did, sir. Senator SMITH: Had you ever seen him before? LIGHTOLLER: Never. (25.)
Senator Smith who spoke personally to Klein, never recalled him after his mysterious disappearance, despite the serious allegations he was making, indicating he did not believe his story and that it was dismissed without warranting any further investigation.
Finally even the newspapers -normally always ready to print a sensational story and who had first reported the allegtions - later reported he was an imposter: "The report of the alleged Hungarian sailor is discredited here. It is pointed out that even if it were conceivable that on a ship of the Titanic's type such lax discipline could prevail, there is absolutely no other testimony to bear it out." (New York Times Monday 22 April 1912 ). And later in New York Times May 22 1912 under "DROP TITANIC DRINKING STORY" describes the fact that Klein was the only one to bring "a charge of intemperance brought against any of the officers" and the "facts concerning the dinner party given by the Wideners of Philadelphia that evening, at which the Captain was present" were going on the record as it "exonerates Capt. Smith of the Titanic from any suspicion of drinking on the evening of the disaster."
If it is true as Nilsson suggests that Klein was shortly thereafter "running a concession, described as an entrepreneur, a theatrical production about Titanic" on "Winward pier in California", should this not ring alarm bells in the mind of any researcher? An "entrepreneur" seems an apt description for what he was doing wasting everybody's time with his first theatrical production in Ohio and Washington. Proving that Luis Klein existed and lived in California making money off Titanic does not prove that he was ever aboard Titanic or provide any support to his story.
12. Klein's account multiple inaccuracies
Klein's account was analysed by author Dave Gittens in his book Titanic: Monument and Warning, concluding that "Klein condemned himself. His statement is patently stupid." He writes:
Even to those familiar with the Titanic story, Luis Klein remains a shadowy figure. His main achievement was to cause Senator Smith’s officers to waste a good deal of time on a wild goose chase. It began with a press report in which scandalous accusations were made.
Klein’s story was published in the New York Herald on 22 April. By then, he had been arrested by Senator Smith’s agents and was being held in Cleveland OH, pending his transport to the Washington hearings. His tale is worth quoting as a classic example of the extravagant nonsense that was being foisted upon the public.
"The night the ship went down I was doing patrol duty on the promenade deck, starboard side. I took the watch half past nine o’clock and was to have kept it for six hours.
There was a ball following a banquet of some sort going on down below and the captain and the officers were there with many of the passengers. I thought the company was connected with it somehow.
After the party, the stewards served the champagne and other wines that were left over to the crew. I knew that many of them were drunk.
A passenger standing at the rail of a sudden saw something dead ahead, or maybe a little bit to starboard.
‘Look quick,’ he said, ‘see the hill over there. I followed his arm as he pointed and saw it was a big iceberg.
I ran to the bridge. The third officer saw me coming and yelled at me. I ran to the spar with the crow’s nest on it and shouted to the lookout. I knew it was up to them to give the alarm.
Not a word did I hear, so I started up. It was less than a minute before [sic] I left the promenade deck that I got to the top of the spar and found the lookout sound asleep. I rang the alarm bell myself."
The mention of the watch that began at 9-30 and lasted six hours was obvious proof that Klein was no seaman. It is hard to see why Senator Smith spent time on such palpable twaddle. In the event, Klein was escorted to Washington and held in a hotel from which he easily escaped. In spite of an extensive search ordered by Senator Smith, the imaginative ‘sailor’ disappeared into the obscurity from whence he came. (Titanic: Monument and Warning by Dave Gittins )
To summarise, the major errors in Klein's story are:
1. Inconsistency in accounts -in one he mentions only the lookout being asleep; in the other the officer of the watch being asleep.
2. He said Titanic had six hour watches that began at 9.30pm (they were actually four hour watches).
3. The captain and his officers were never at a 'ball down below with many passengers' There is absolutely no evidence of this and also logistically almost impossible due to their shifts/watches. If there were 'many passengers' then why are there no passenger accounts of this?
4. He said the third officer was on the bridge at the time of collision -Third Officer Pitman was actually off-duty, asleep in his bunk in the Officers' Quarters. Interesting point on this...why would he name the third officer, rather than just "officer"? Interestingly, Third Officer Pitman survived so could be questioned about Klein on this, while the actual officers on the bridge at the time (Murdoch and Moody) did not survive. So this is a telling error quite clearly revealing a complete lack of knowledge regarding the crew -either aboard Titanic at the time of collision and afterward.
5. It is highly unlikely that a passenger would see the iceberg before the bridge/lookouts spotted it (in fact evidence suggests Murdoch saw the iceberg perhaps before the lookouts... and it wasn't the first).
6. It is logistically impossible for Klein to have been in all the places he said he was during the timeframe of the collision (promenade deck - then bridge - then crow's nest, all within 'a minute').
There is no evidence that Hugo E. Varga, Austro-Hungarian vice consul who cross-examined Klein or any others he spoke to in Ohio or Washington ever followed up Klein's story after his mysterious disappearance. Surely they would if he had critical, verifiable evidence.
Not to mention that Klein's story if true would involve a conspiracy of at the very least dozens of surviving passengers and crew who all would have had to been kept quiet in the very short time before the Senate Inquiry.
In fact Sally Nilsson seems to presently be the only Titanic author/researcher who believes Klein's story to be true as it helps support the content of the Garvey/Blum letter; every other serious researcher I have come across has done what Senator Smith did at the Senate hearings - investigated and then upon hearing the improbable story promptly dismissed it without wasting any further thought.
13. Two Irish Newspaper accounts by Hichens do not mention it
The Leitrim Observer, Saturday July 29, 1933 and The Kerryman, Saturday May 11, 1935 carry interviews with Hichens which have no reference to either being in South Africa in such a prestigious position or of officers being asleep or drunk at the time of the collision. According to Molony these accounts "suggest he had no intention of revealing a navigational or helm error as the cause of the Titanic foundering. His big secret, if it ever existed, may have been confirmation of an officer’s self-despatch" (The Titanic Commutator edition No 202, 2013). To read the 1933 article which includes a reference an officer suicide in full please see Suicide Witness: Robert Hichens
Written at a time when when Hichens is at the lowest point in his life, destitute, and later having attempted suicide after trying to murder someone, and in prison for the crime, this was an ideal opportunity to finally get the 'secret' off his chest -to a non-English newspaper nonetheless. However in referencing the time of the collision he states:
"“I was due off in half an hour when the gong on the bridge sounded three times - ‘Something ahead.’ The man in the crow’s nest had sighted the iceberg. Mr Murdock [sic], the first officer, gave me the order ‘Hard a starboard.‘ I flung the wheel over. A few seconds later, at 11.40 p.m., the ship struck. The whole boat suddered [sic]. Then I heard the plates ripped away as the iceberg passed down the side. The ship took a list. There was a sudden silence on the bridge. Captain Smith rushed up."(Leitrim Observer, Saturday July 29, 1933, courtesy of Senan Molony)
According to Molony this account is "The article is noteworthy for spelling Hichens’ name correctly and for using the same language the helmsman himself used at the inquiries. The Cornishman is practically unique in that he described the striking of the bell in the crow’s nest, to signal an obstruction dead ahead, as “three gongs,” using this phrase in both Washington DC and London. There can be little doubt that Hichens was indeed interviewed as described. This is his authentic voice." (The Titanic Commutator edition No 202, 2013). However it does not contain even the slightest hint of an officer being asleep or drunk. The 1935 account is as follows:
I WAS AT THE WHEEL OF THE TITANIC
AGONISING DISASTER I LIVE AFRESH EVERY NIGHT
By Robert Hitchens
Here, Mr. Robert Hitchens, who was quartermaster of the Titanic and was actually at the wheel when she struck the iceberg, tells the thrilling story of the great vessel’s last moments.
It is almost pitch dark in mid-Atlantic and the huge hulk of the Titanic was slithering mysteriously through a black, listless sea.
Up on deck we are straining anxious eyes ahead, for there is something in the atmosphere tonight that keep us on the alert.
Promptly, at 10 o’clock, I took up my position in the wheelhouse to steer the great ship. Although I had 30 years’ experience of the Western Ocean, I felt a peculiar thrill at handling this wonderful vessel on her first voyage across to New York.
Little did any of us imagine that in a short time the gaiety below, the singing, music and laughter, would be quickly transformed into scenes of indescribable terror.
THREE GONGS - AND
THEN - DISASTER.
At 11.40 p.m. I suddenly heard three gongs from the crow’s nest, which indicated something right ahead. Then the silence which followed was split with a harsh shout: “Iceberg right ahead, sir.”
Immediately came the order: “Hard a-starboard,” and I flung the wheel hard over.
The ship gallantly answered the helm, but she had only swung around two points when the air was rent with a sickening crash, followed by a ripping noise as the iceberg tore the plates off the side of the liner as though they were strips of fragile tin.
For the moment I was mentally stunned with the terrible tragedy which had overwhelmed us with such suddenness. I knew that the ship, the proud £3,000,000 46,000-ton Titanic was crippled, and in mind’s eye I saw all the pitiful scenes which I knew would soon be played out by the terrified passengers.
By this time people were swarming on to the deck.
Down in the cabins there were hundreds of people, including all the children on board, asleep in their beds. Many of them were hurled to the floors by the impact and were sitting about dazed, not knowing a thing about what had happened until stewards came round to break the news.
HEROES WHO JOKED
Some of these stewards were heroes in their own way. They talked reassuringly, even cheerfully, about what had occurred. They dispensed kindliness among the children and often joked to stem the awful terror assailing them and threatening to cause a stampede in the corridors and stairways.
Above on the deck were scenes which have been burned into my brain. The blaring siren, the scream-rockets, the harsh commands of the ship’s officers, the trembling cries of women and whimpering of children blended in a horrible cacophony which was unforgettable.
There were about nine millionaires on board whose combined bank balances must have amounted to about £120,000,000. But money did not count that night, Money could not buy life. Millionaires stood shoulder to shoulder with ordinary men, gazing at the sullen water that appeared ever nearer as the ship’s list grew more pronounced.
One of them was Mr Isidor Straus, who with his wife became known to everybody on board as “Darby and Joan.” It was their proud boast that during all their married life they had never separated, even for a day.
They were standing on the deck, held affectionately in each other’s arms. They were not afraid. They were only waiting with calm resignation to see what would happen. An officer asked Mrs Straus to get into a boat, but she refused.
Later on they were found huddled together, calmly awaiting whatever fate was in store for them, and were content to go down with the ship, so long as they went down together.
A last plea was made, but Mrs Straus only kept repeating that she meant to remain with her husband. She did - and nothing more was heard of them.
For a moment I spoke to another famous millionaire, Colonel Jacob Astor, who was standing beside his pretty young wife. They were also very devoted to each other, and the life and soul of the ship before disaster overtook us.
Like hundreds of other passengers, they believed that everything would turn out all right. How was it possible, they asked themselves, for a modern ship like the great Titanic to founder with loss of life?
When an officer went up to the Astors and asked that Mrs Astor should go into a lifeboat, her husband said: “That’s right. On you go. I’ll be all right.”
Then, as the boat was being lowered, he threw to his wife a flask of brandy with the words: “Good-bye Lottie [sic]. See you in New York.”
The lifeboats were filling up rapidly, each with a full load.
Then came the last boat, and hundreds of people were still on the deck. By this time I had been given charge of a boat and before we were lowered on to the water the scenes among those left on board were becoming wild.
Men, women and children were worked up to a pitch of frenzy. Some people were on their knees praying, while some of them were softly singing hymns.
At last all the boats were lowered and a raft followed. The ship had now taken on a list of seven degrees and those who were still on board were clinging for their lives to the railings.
Ar this stage it was a matter of moments, and precisely at 12.20 a.m. [sic] on that cold, dark Sunday morning there came from the deck of the Titanic a great shout as she up-ended, and with a horrible, sucking noise, slid stern first beneath the black surface of the pitiless Atlantic.
What a sight it was - awesome, cruel, tragic. Perhaps the scenes of people struggling in the water were even more terrible than those which happened on the deck of the ship. Old men and women, middle-aged people, newly-married couples, young men and women newly engaged and little children.
No matter what lies ahead of me in my life, nothing could ever surpass that sight which I was forced to witness in the dark waters of the Atlantic. No matter what age I shall live to, I shall always hear those cries.
Every night I see again the shocking chaos I saw 23 years ago.
Before we were picked up by the Carpathia, several people in the boats and on the raft had died from exposure, for the temperature was about 14 degrees below zero.
MY TRIBUTE TO THE
There is just one other thing I will always remember, too - the great bravery and unselfishness of the men passengers and the crew.
Even when men were asked to go into the boats they firmly refused if there was a woman known to be left.
But everything happened so suddenly that it is not to be wondered at that so many lost their lives.
To-day there are few of my ship-mates alive.
Of those who survived the disaster, some have died through shock, some have committed suicide because of the hell they went through, and there are some who were killed - mercifully, perhaps, for them - in the Great War.
(The Kerryman, Saturday May 11, 1935, p.1, courtesy of Senan Molony)
Once again there is absolutely no mention at all of officers being asleep or drunk at the time of collision. The account harmonises with the 1933 article and also his previous statements at the inquiries. However, upon it being drawn to her attention that these newspaper articles do not fit with her allegations, Sally Nilsson responded with a rather flippant explanation that 'maybe he kept the secret to his death'. But this response reveals that she has fallen foul of her own circular theorising.
According to Nilsson Hichens of course did not keep it secret as he allegedly told Henry Blum in Cape Town in 1914! Otherwise where did the Garvey letter and the ten years of silence come from? Why would he tell Blum such a dangerous story while holding a 'prestigious job' and then not do so 20 years later, when he had nothing to loose and everything to gain? If he was fine about mentioning an officer suicide then there is no reason for him not to add the fact that Murdoch was asleep. The fact is that he did not mention it. Twice. When he had perfect and ample reason to do so.
Rumour? The Heating and the Wake-Up Call
A possible starting point for an unnecessary rumour of Murdoch being asleep during his watch could be due to a simple error in the retelling. According to his testimony at the Senate Inquiry Hichens was ordered by Lightoller to "find the deck engineer and bring him up with a key to open the heaters up in the corridor of the officers quarters, the wheelhouse and the chart room. At least some parts of the officer's quarters would have respite from the Arctic conditions." (53.)
Part of Hichens duties also involved waking up Murdoch 15 minutes before his watch began at 10pm. Hichens states during day 5 of the Senate Inquiry: "At a quarter to 10 I called the first officer, Mr. Murdoch, to let him know it was one bell, which is part of our duty; also took the thermometer and barometer, the temperature of the water, and the log. At 10 o'clock I went to the wheel, sir. Mr. Murdoch come up to relieve Mr. Lightoller."(25.)
Is it possible that in later years Hichens embittered retelling of events made it seem that he woke Murdoch from sleep after having the heating turned on making it seem this was during his watch and not 15 minutes before it began?