Boat 1 (starboard) Edit

The lowering of Boat 1 at 1:05 am[1] subsequently became one of the most controversial episodes of the disaster, both because it was lowered with just twelve people aboard and because of the behaviour of two of its occupants, Cosmo Duff-Gordon and his wife Lucile. The boat was one of the two emergency cutters with a capacity of 40.[2] Of the twelve people aboard, seven were Titanic crewmen and the remaining five were all First Class passengers.[3]

Its composition was a notable departure from Murdoch's "women and children first" directive. Duff-Gordon had been standing with his wife and secretary watching Boat 3 being lowered. As Boat 1 was being prepared, he asked Murdoch if his party could board. Murdoch assented and also allowed two Americans, Abraham Solomon and C.E. Stengel, to enter. He also instructed a group of six stokers to board along with a lookout whom he put in charge of the boat. As it was being lowered with its twelve passengers, Greaser Walter Hurst remarked, "If they are sending the boats away they might as well put some people in them."[4] The occupants included:

  • Cosmo and Lucille Duff-Gordon
  • Laura Francatelli, secretary to the Duff-Gordons
  • George Symons, lookout, in charge[2]

The boat had room for about another 30 people but, as with almost all of the others, its occupants showed no willingness to return to rescue those in the water after Titanic sank. Fireman Charles Hendrickson told them: "It's up to us to go back and pick up anyone in the water" but found no support.[5] The Duff-Gordons were subsequently widely criticised for what was interpreted as their callousness in the face of the disaster. As Titanic sank, Lady Duff-Gordon told her secretary: "There is your beautiful night-dress gone." Fireman Pusey told the Duff-Gordons that the crew had lost all their kit and their pay would be stopped from the moment of the sinking (as indeed it was). Sir Cosmo, seemingly irritated, retorted: "Very well, I will give you a fiver each to start a new kit!" He did as he promised, writing the seven crewmen aboard a cheque for £5 each. He was later accused of effectively bribing the crew not to return to the scene of the sinking and his reputation was all but ruined as a result.[3] To add to the appearance of a lack of empathy, once the survivors from Boat 1 were aboard the Carpathia, Sir Cosmo organised a group photograph on Carpathias foredeck with all those involved wearing their lifejackets for the camera while the rest of the survivors watched incredulously.[6]

Notes Edit

  1. Wormstedt & Fitch 2011, p. 137.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Eaton & Haas 1994, p. 152.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Butler 1998, p. 144.
  4. Butler 1998, pp. 110–1.
  5. Butler 1998, p. 143.
  6. Butler 1998, p. 167.