RMS Titanic Lifeboat No. 1

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Boat № 1 (front) emergency cutter as shown on a large-scale Titanic model

Titanic Lifeboat No. 1 was the fourth lifeboat launched from the RMS Titanic at approximately 1:05 am, well over an hour after the liner collided with an iceberg and began sinking on April 14, 1912. The lifeboat had a capacity of 40, but was launched with only twelve aboard, the least number of occupants to escape in a boat that night.[1] Most of the occupants of Boat 1 were men, despite Captain Smith's call for "women and children first." First Officer Murdoch, in charge of the evacuation effort on the ship's starboard side, allowed a number of First-Class male passengers to board lifeboats in order to calm the women and move the process along. Murdoch permitted five passengers and seven crewmembers to board Boat 1. The passengers included Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon; his wife Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon; her secretary, Mabel Francatelli; Abraham Salomon and C. E. Henry Stengel. The crewmen were: Lookout George Symons, whom Murdoch placed in charge of the craft, Charles Hendrickson, Samuel Collins, George Taylor, Frederick Sheath, Robert Pusey and Albert Horswill.

Boat 1 did not clear the side of the ship for some time, perhaps not until about 1:15 a.m., owing to a mishap encountered on its descent from the boat deck. A protuberance called a spar, at about the B-Deck level, caught on the boat's gunwales, arresting the lowering process. It was not until the crew used a wire cutter to chop the obstacle away that the boat was freed and able to reach the sea.

Boat No. 1 and its occupants were picked up by the RMS Carpathia sometime shortly after 4:10 am, being the second Titanic lifeboat to reach the rescue ship. The boat's occupants were subsequently photographed as a group on the Carpathia. The boat was hoisted aboard the Carpathia along with other Titanic lifeboats and brought to New York. One of the davits from which Boat 1 was lowered remains upright today on the Titanic '​s wreck in relatively good condition.

Due to rumors that Sir Cosmo had bribed the crew in his boat not to rescue people left in the water after the ship went down, some New York press reports dubbed Boat 1 the "Money Boat".[2][3] The appearance of Cosmo and Lucy Duff Gordon as witnesses at the British investigation into the disaster drew the largest crowds seen during the inquiry. The Duff Gordons were the only passengers to testify at the Titanic Inquiry.

Controversy[edit]

According to the British Inquiry testimony of crew member Charles Hendrickson, he had proposed returning to rescue survivors after the Titanic sank, but "the women objected." Consequently, he claimed, the boat did not go back to pick up swimmers, although he admitted there was "plenty of room for another dozen".[4] It was also claimed during the course of the inquiry by crewman George Symons and others that it was Lucy Duff Gordon who expressed concern that the lifeboat might be swamped if it returned. She denied the charge and her testimony was supported by other crewmembers who revealed they had not heard her objection nor any proposal to turn back.

According to the testimony of Robert Pusey, a conversation concerning money occurred in the boat at about 3 a.m., nearly an hour after the Titanic sank. He claimed the discussion was prompted by a private comment Lucy Duff Gordon made to Mabel Francatelli: "There is your beautiful nightdress gone."[5] Overhearing the exchange, Pusey replied, "Never mind, you have saved your lives," afterwards complaining that he and the other sailors had not only lost everything but their pay had stopped from the time the ship went down. Out of sympathy but also in hopes of avoiding an argument, Cosmo Duff Gordon responded, "I will give you a fiver each to start a new kit."[a][6] On April 16, the day after their rescue by the Carpathia, each Boat 1 crew member received a £5[b] cheque from Cosmo Duff Gordon.[9]

The British inquiry issued a report after reviewing the evidence of their probe, which included sworn testimony from every member of Boat 1's crew as well as an affidavit from Mabel Francatelli.[10][c] The report stated:

The very gross charge against Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon that, having got into No. 1 boat, he bribed the men in it to row away from the drowning people, is unfounded.

The report, however, admonished the occupants of Boat 1 for not making a concerted effort to rescue survivors from the water.[11]

Occupants[edit]

Name Age Class/Dept Notes
Collins, Mr. Samuel 35 Engine Fireman[d]
Duff-Gordon, Sir Cosmo Edmund 49 First Class 5th Baronet[e] Scottish landowner and popular sportsman who was a skilled fencer, competing in the 1906 Olympic Games in Athens (where the British team won the Silver Medal) and serving on the committee for the 1908 London Olympics.
Duff Gordon, Lucy Christiana, Lady 48 First Class Née Sutherland; famous couturier known as Lucile, founder of and chief designer for Lucile Ltd, the first global couture house and one of the most prestigious women's fashion labels from the late 1890s to the early 1920s.
Francatelli, Miss Laura Mabel 31 First Class Lucy Duff Gordon's secretary[c]
Hendrickson, Mr. Charles George 29 Engine Leading fireman[d]
Horsewill, Mr. Albert Edward James 33 Deck Able seaman
Pusey, Mr. Robert William 24 Engine Fireman[d]
Salomon, Mr. Abraham "Abram" Lincoln 43 First Class Owner of a wholesale stationery business in New York.[12]
Sheath, Mr. Fredrick 20 Engine Coal trimmer
Stengel, Mr. Charles Emil Henry 54 First Class Leather manufacturer from Newark, N. J.
Symons, Mr. George Thomas Macdonald 24 Deck Lookout; placed in charge of No. 1
Taylor, Mr. George 24 Engine Stoker; signed on under his brother's name: "James Taylor"[13]

The Boat[edit]

Lifeboat No. 1 was one of two small "emergency" wooden cutters that were located one on each side of the Titanic; No. 1 was on the starboard side. Although they performed double-duty as lifeboats, their primary purpose was to serve the crew in the event of an emergency, such as a man overboard, and were therefore already swung out from the rail to be launched quickly. The standard clinker-built lifeboats on the ship had a capacity of 64, while the smaller emergency boats' capacity totaled 40.[14]

Boat 1 in popular culture[edit]

In a deleted scene in James Cameron's 1997 blockbuster Titanic, Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon (Martin Jarvis) and Lady Duff Gordon (Rosalind Ayres) are shown seated in Lifeboat No. 1 when Fireman Hendrickson recommends rescuing people in the water. Sir Cosmo looks at his wife, who appears distressed, before replying, "It's out of the question."[15]

In the 2012 television mini-series Titanic, Lady Duff Gordon (Sylvestra Le Touzel) is shown standing in Boat 1, urging her secretary to get in with her, saying, "Don't be a fool Francatelli, this boat isn't sinking, that one is," pointing to the ship. She is later shown telling Officer Murdoch to allow some men to board, including her husband, then ordering him to lower the boat. These scenes represent a grossly inaccurate, and even inflammatory, portrayal of her actions in the lifeboat that night, as well as an unfair depiction of Murdoch.

The loading and launching of Boat 1, and the occupants' decision not to return to the wreck site after the Titanic's sinking, was also portrayed in the 1958 film A Night to Remember, based on Walter Lord's namesake book.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ A sailor's kit generally includes linens, uniforms, related clothing and accessories, and items required to perform their duties[16]
  2. ^ £432.00 in today's currency,[7] one month's pay for a seaman in the merchant service[8]
  3. ^ a b Laura Mabel Francatelli, secretary/personal assistant to Lucy Duff Gordon, referred to affectionately as "Miss Franks"
  4. ^ a b c Stoker on a steam engine
  5. ^ Duff Gordon Baronetcy, of Halkin in the County of Aberdeen; 1813
Sources
  1. ^ Bill Wormstedt; Tad Fitch (2011). "Titanic Lifeboat Occupancy Totals" (PDF). p. 5. Retrieved 11 January 2014. 
  2. ^ Ward, Greg (4 December 2012). "Titanic: the curious story of the 'Money Boat'". MSN News. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  3. ^ "Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon". The Biography Channel. A+E Networks. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  4. ^ "Testimony of Charles Hendrickson, cont.". British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry : Day 5. Titanic Inquiry Project. Retrieved 2 February 2014. . Questions: 5019, 5029—5034
  5. ^ Lord, Walter, A Night to Remember (1977), 148.
  6. ^ "Testimony of Robert W. Pusey". British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry : Day 11. Titanic Inquiry Project. Retrieved 4 March 2014. . Questions: 13119, 13121
  7. ^ UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Gregory Clark (2014), "What Were the British Earnings and Prices Then? (New Series)" MeasuringWorth.
  8. ^ "Testimony of Edward J. Buley". United States Senate Inquiry : Day 7. Titanic Inquiry Project. 
  9. ^ Butler, Daniel Allen (1998). Unsinkable: The Full Story of RMS Titanic. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books. p. 144. ISBN 978-0-8117-1814-1. 
  10. ^ "Firsthand account of Titanic disaster published for the first time". Mail Online. Associated Newspapers Ltd. 1 October 2010. Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  11. ^ "Conduct of Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon and Mr Ismay". British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry Report : Account of the Saving and Rescue of those who Survived. Titanic Inquiry Project. Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  12. ^ "Abraham Lincoln Salomon" (2014) Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #259, accessed 23 February 2014)
  13. ^ George Taylor (2014) Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #1675, accessed 24 February 2014)
  14. ^ Hutchings, David F.; Kerbrech, Richard de (2011). RMS Titanic 1909-12 (Olympic Class) : owners' workshop manual. Minneapolis, MN: Zenith Press. p. 112. ISBN 076034079X. 
  15. ^ "It's out of the question". 
  16. ^ "A Sailor's Kit". Maritime History Archive. Memorial University of Newfoundland. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 

External links[edit]

Witness testimony of Boat 1 occupants, from Titanic Inquiry Project

British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry
United States Senate Inquiry