The Gleicher Timeline
In Chapter 4, "Departures", and Chapter 5, "Like Wild Beasts Ready to Spring" the author lays out his examination of the lifeboat lowering times. We will restrict our examination of his times to these two chapters which deal specifically with the lifeboats (and comments he has made regarding the launch sequence elsewhere) as it is not our purpose to inquire into the other conclusions he reaches involving the sinking.
The Early Lifeboats - 6 and 8, 3 and 5 and 7
In his book, Gleicher makes almost no mention of the boats mentioned above and appears to accept the sequence given by the British Inquiry at face value - #6 before #8 on the port side, and #7 before #5, and #5 before #3 on the starboard side. The only significant point of divergence between British Inquiry and himself has to do with the times these lifeboats left the ship. Gleicher moves the starboard boats (#3, #5 and #7) earlier to suit a launch time of 12:25 a.m. for boat #7. This theorized earlier launch time for the first lifeboats will be discussed later in this article.
However, Gleicher does mention one oddity on these earlier boats, specifically #6. On page 124 of his book he says "We know on the port side that Lightoller and Sixth Officer Moody moved aft once they had loaded and lowered and launched Lifeboat 6". However, there is no absolutely no evidence that Moody participated in the loading and lowering of #6. During the early stages of preparing the lifeboats, Moody was seen uncovering some of the aft boats by Third Officer Pitman5, and was seen back at boat #16 by Fifth Officer Lowe just before it lowered6. Any suggestion that Moody was involved in the loading of #6 is pure speculation and not something that we "know" based on existing eyewitness accounts.
On page 120, in a discussion regarding many of the starboard boats, Gleicher states "It was in line with much circumstantial evidence that Murdoch went aft after lowering 7, 5 and 3 had been launched and been supervising preparation of the boats there prior to directing that Lifeboat 9 be loaded around 12:50." This statement suggests that Murdoch was not present or involved in the loading and launching of #1. Gleicher goes further, though, specifically stating on page 143 that "Murdoch was not on hand at the loading and launching of Lifeboat 1".
In other words, Gleicher discounts both Lookout Symons and Able Bodied Seaman Horswill's statements that Murdoch was at boat #1, although he begrudgingly admits "he may initially have sent the two ABs there." However, this is *not* what the two eyewitnesses said. Symons7 says that Murdoch not only ordered people into the lifeboat, but that Murdoch ordered the boat away. Horswill8 described being ordered into #1 by Murdoch, and he was specifically questioned as to how he knew it was Murdoch. His reply was "We have been together long enough, we ought to know each other" 9. Supporting circumstantial evidence that Murdoch was involved in the loading of boat #1 comes from First Class passenger Laura Francatelli, who in a private letter expressed her belief that the officer who loaded this boat did not survive.
These kinds of eyewitness statements make it very hard for objective researchers to discount Symons' and Horswill's testimony, but Gleicher chooses to do so, since their comments aren't consistent with his own theory that Murdoch was working on the aft starboard boats at the time #1 lowered away.
Fifth Officer Lowe, in all of his Inquiry testimonies and his affidavit, also claimed to be working at boat #1, and says that he was "giving directions as to the filling" of that boat and the lowering of it10, before heading aft and across the ship to appear at #14, because "they seemed to be busy there"11.
Fireman Hendrickson says that when he was ordered to #1 by Boatswain Nichols and started to uncover it, "I knew the boatswain was there and an officer, and at the time the officer started firing rockets"12. Later in his testimony, Hendrickson said "this officer - I do not know who the officer was - called out, 'Are there any more women here?' and there was no answer, and he started lowering away"13. Gleicher claims that the only officer Hendrickson saw at #1 was Fourth Officer Boxhall, but a careful reading of the testimony shows he reached this conclusion solely on Hendrickson's comments about the officer firing rockets. Hendrickson's second reference to an officer could be just that - a second unique officer who lowered the boat away, as he doesn't specify that there was only one officer at this boat, and certainly doesn't mention Boxhall's name.
In any event, there is no evidence, other than Gleicher's interpretation, that Boxhall was in charge, or heavily involved in the loading of this boat. Gleicher, on page 137 admits that Boxhall's own testimony indicates he wasn't in charge of the loading of #1. He points out that when asked about his involvement in the loading of the forward starboard boats, Boxhall stated that he had assisted "to get people along there, but I was not standing at the side of the boat, lifting them in, actually"14. Gleicher interprets this to mean that Boxhall was involved in the loading of #1 in some small way, and that this "goes some way to accounting for the confusion."
What Gleicher doesn't say is that Boxhall testified that he did not see them in the act of lowering the emergency boat, did not know how many or what proportion of passengers were in the boat, and "did not notice who was filling" the boat. The only involvement of any sort that Boxhall had was to clear people away from the boat before firing a rocket15. Hendrickson's account of what he saw the officer at boat #1 doing does not match what Boxhall himself described as his role with that boat. Certainly, Boxhall didn't search for more women and children to board this boat, or started lowering it away as Hendrickson recalled. This indicates that the officer he saw was someone else.
Another part of Hendrickson's testimony is misinterpreted by Gleicher on page 144. The fireman testified that "I assisted in five boats, getting people into them and lowering them"16. Gleicher asks us to accept that this means "he was talking about letting some early passengers into boats on the port side aft and the 'lowering' to the deck in preparation for loading more people into them". Gleicher refuses to accept that Hendrickson meant that he put people into the boats while the boats were hanging level with the boat deck and that the boats were then lowered to the water. Why would anyone attempt to put passengers into a lifeboat before lowering the boat so that the gunwales were level with the deck? First, it would be difficult and dangerous for the passengers (especially ladies) to climb up and over the four foot plus sides into the lifeboat, and second, having passengers in the boat prior to swinging it out would make it harder for the crewmen to do so. (This doesn't even take into account the fact that not a single survivor ever mentioned having entered a lifeboat in that awkward and difficult manner.) Gleicher's explanation for this just doesn't match the standard operating procedures for loading the lifeboats as described by the ship's surviving officers and crew.
Why does Gleicher discount Symons and Horswill's testimony that Murdoch was at #1? Why does he mention the added confusion of Hendrickson apparently saying Boxhall was the only one there? The only reason we can see, is because Gleicher's launch times dictate that Murdoch had to be aft working on #9 at this time, to fit the rest of his timeline. This appears to be a case of the conclusions driving the evidence, rather than the other way around.
There is another issue relating to boat #1. On pages 144 and 145, Gleicher asks "What was Officer Lowe doing in the half-hour between the launch of Lifeboat 3 around 12:30 a.m. and his arrival at Lifeboat 1 around 1 AM, when he ordered it lowered?" Gleicher correctly claims "According to Lowe's testimony, the next thing he did after Lifeboat 3 departed was go to Lifeboat 1. If this was true, Lifeboat 1 would have departed ten or so minutes after Lifeboat 3". This 10 minute gap between #3 and #1 is listed as part of both the British launch timeline, and our own timeline. Gleicher is the only one who claims the time frame between the two boats is as much as 30 minutes, and *invents* the idea that Lowe must have been the unknown person who Lightoller sent down to A Deck to open the windows at the forward end of the deck, to enable Lightoller to load #4 later on. There is absolutely *no* evidence that Lowe did this. Lowe himself did not say it, as mentioned above, when he was asked what he did *next* after #3, he said "I went to the emergency boat"17. In his affidavit, Lowe does not mention being involved in the lowering of the windows either. Lightoller himself said he "instructed two or three, I think they were stewards, to find the handles and lower the windows"18. Lightoller did not claim that he went to the starboard side, much less that he asked Lowe to do this. Lowe made no claim to go to port between #3 and #1, where Lightoller might instruct him to do this. We find Gleicher's supposition of Lowe lowering the windows on the port A Deck to be completely baseless, and this claim was central to his contention that there was a 30 minute gap between #3 and #1.
Gleicher's timeline printed on page 118 has #1 lowering at 1:10 a.m., and #14 lowering at 1:20. However, he doesn't take into account or mention that Lowe stayed by #1 until it reached the water. As it was being lowered, #1 was hung up below B Deck on what was described as a "wire guy"19 or a "painter." A crewmember had to be sent to chop this wire away before the boat could be lowered the rest of the way to the water. Lowe couldn't possibly have gotten aft to #14 and still had time to finish loading it even close to 1:20 a.m., if #1 had really begun lowering at 1:10. Additionally, Gleicher does not even mention the accounts from Fireman Threlfall, Greaser Scott, and Trimmer Dillon, who all indicated that they were released from below around 1:20. Threlfall stated that after being relieved, he went right up on deck and had time to board #14 before it lowered away. This further anchors # 14's launch time, and indicates that this boat could not have lowered away as early as 1:20 like Gleicher claims.
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