|To find out more details about my new paperback book on the Titanic and the Californian, including ordering details, please look here.|
Note: This article originally appeared on Rob Kamps' website, and was taken down shortly before the publication of his book "The Titanic and the Californian". As you will gather, Mr.Kamps' opinions of researchers is not based on whether their conclusions are sound, but on their personalities and methods, surely an irrelevance? I have expanded this article with comments of my own, in red; The poor html is Mr.Kamps's fault, not mine. Paul Lee 4/9/2007, updated 28/8/2014
Ref: VIEWPOINT - The Lordite authors, Voyage 28, the quarterly journal of the Titanic International Society, Inc. (pp. 188-190) In this issue, Dave Billnitzer and Eric Paddon, the authors of the article, set forth their conviction that the most prominent defenders of Captain Lord of the Californian abused the process of presenting information to the readers in the effort to clear Captain Lords name, a ludicrous and utterly stupid accusation, as I will explain in the article below. I knew Leslie Harrison, Captain Lords staunchest defender, personally for almost a decade as a scrupulously honest, fair and competent man. The examples below may prove illustrative of the ruthless techniques which anti-Lordite writers utilize to present their viewpoints. It is an extremely sad and dreadful tale that shows how any significant progress in the campaign to clear Captain Lord has been effectively frustrated by them in the past forty years.
they never pulled any punches, neither will
'The Ship That Stood Still' - Judgement Days
Who was Leslie Reade?
Who is E.P. de Groot?
De Groot's Copyright Infringement
Lord Mersey's Judgement
In the High Court of Justice, London
SHIP THAT STOOD STILL - JUDGEMENT DAYS
1978 Mr. Edward P. de Groot, a journalist from the Netherlands, wrote
an article in a Dutch magazine concerning The Ship That Stood Still, an
unpublished manuscript on the Titanic/Californian controversy, prepared
by Mr. Leslie Reade. In his article, Mr. de Groot said that, had Mr.
Reades work been published as planned, it would have been a blockbuster
in shipping circles, both in Britain and abroad. The work was meant to
silence that controversy once and for all. The manuscript, however,
reached only page proof stage as publication was nipped in the bud in
1975. Mr. de Groot complained bitterly, and went to great lengths to
tell why, in his view, production had come to a standstill () by
accusing the defenders of Captain Stanley Lord (master of the
Californian, held responsible for the 1,500 lives lost in the Titanic
disaster) of highly dishonest practices. This was the first time the
reviewer read an article by Mr. de Groot on the Californian controversy
and he considered it to be very unfounded, badly written and biased
beyond belief. More on this issue followed in 1987 when a book on the
Titanic story was published for the Dutch market only which was
composed by Mr. de Groot. Again, he had left no stone unturned to point
out Capt Lords alleged culpability and to make a mockery of the
campaign by the Mercantile Marine Service Association (of shipmasters)
and of its former General Secretary Mr. Leslie Harrison in particular,
to clear Lords name. Mr. de Groot referred to Mr. Reades manuscript as
a devastating enquiry into and a revealing dissertation about the
events on board the Californian during the night the Titanic sank. His
book turned out to be a mere amalgamation of more than a dozen works
published about the Titanic so far.
Mr. Reade died in
1989 and it was up to his friend to edit and try to bring out the
blockbuster. His success in doing so at long last is typical of the
trend by which defamation of an innocent man is so much more financially
rewarding than the mere presentation of the truth.
de Groot has had no help on his navigation matters and his glaring lack of
experience in this respect betrays his incompetence. This is the main reason
why The Ship that Stood Still is fatally flawed on a number of counts.
Nowhere is an attempt made to explain why, if as is claimed the
Californian was indeed within ten miles of the Titanic throughout her sinking:
Why no distress signals were fired from the Titanic until nearly an
hour after she struck the ice;
Why only eight distress signals were fired out of the 36 she
The key question (on the front flap of The Ship That Stood
Still): Could the Californian have gone earlier to the
rescue?, in other words: was it humanly possible for Captain Lord to have
saved 1,500 lives? It appears that he was first informed of rockets by
Second Officer Stone at 1.25 a.m.; the Titanic sank at 2.20 a.m. How in the
intervening 55 minutes could the Californian have been taken ten miles in the
dark through an ice field in time to rescue 1,500 people?
If the Californian was in sight from the Titanic immediately after the
collision, why did the Titanic not attempt to steam towards her?
If they were in sight of one another right away: why did the
Titanics lookouts insist at both enquiries there were no ships in sight?
If the discovered wreckage of the Titanic places her over 22 miles from
the Californians position, why do Captain Lords (and Leslie
Harrisons) critics still claim the ships were close together?
Since Captain Lords estimate of the wreckage position is so close to
the discovered hull of the Titanic, why is his navigation still doubted by his
Why have the only professional navigating officers to have written on
the Californian incident, Leslie Harrison and Peter Padfield, both come down
unequivocally on Captain Lords side? (Mr. Padfield never met Captain Lord)
Reade considered the times to be in doubt, then it is surely up to Mr.
Groot to set out in purely practical, simple terms, how the Californian should
have set about the rescue operation, and how long he estimates it might
have taken. Since Mr.
de Groot fails to even attempt to answer this question, it
invalidates the whole of the book. It has proved to be absolutely
impossible to try to face up to Mr.
de Groot and other critics of Captain Lord
(quoted on the back flap) to this simple fact that there were only 55
minutes between Capt Lord being first told of rockets and the
Like Mr. de Groots
1978 article, The Ship That Stood Still is biased beyond belief.
Evidence in favor of the Californian is belittled, ridiculed or brushed aside
with peculiar, often silly arguments. What is particularly irritating is the
number of times witnesses, several of them having testified on oath, are
dismissed as having been mistaken where their evidence does not support Mr. Reades theories: Boxhall, Fleet, Beesley, Gracie, Stone, Gibson, RostronOn
the other hand, several uncalled Californian witnesses and a London lavatory
maker are given full credit, simply because they had something to say against
Capt Lord, which, of course, was exactly what Mr. Reade needed for his work.
The book also creates the impression of being 80-90% based on hearsay,
inadmissible as evidence in a court of law, and much of which was elicited
from elderly people 40-50 years after the disaster. The rest of the book is
fantasy, such as the allegation by Sir Ivan Thompson (President of the MMSA)
about a statement by Capt Rostron and his officers of the Carpathia that the
Californian was in sight at dawn ten miles away, as is Sir Ivans alleged
reason for resigning from the MMSA Presidency. Time and again, the reviewer
had to put the book aside, not only because he found it to be barely readable,
but also because he often wondered whether Mr. Reade really believed his own
concoctions. It is to be hoped that his impartial reader does likewise.
In view of the
enormous copyright infringement Mr. de Groot committed in 1987, and numerous
other deliberate distortions of the truth on that occasion, one wonders with
what right this editor dares to accuse Capt Lord of having lied to the Boston
press and at the two enquiries, maintaining that Lord initially appeared to
have got away with it, but finally had to admit that the rockets
sighted were distress rockets (Question 6944). Mr. de Groot repeated
these allegations at the book launch and he is also dismissive on the part
played by the Mount Temple, claiming that the witnesses from that vessel told
lies too. Over the years, the reviewer has also learned that the words new
evidence have become a standard expression on Mr. de Groots part. The
latter used them in 1978 and again in 1987. At the launch of The Ship That
Stood Still, a summary of new material was distributed that contained
no less than 15 proofs of evidence, most of which can be discredited
instantly as nonsense.
Top of the list is
the admission by Second Officer Stone of the Californian that he was
always sure that distress rockets were being fired one more statement
based on hearsay. In the early morning hours of 15 April 1912, the only way
Capt Lord could know there was something wrong was if Stone told him, quite
apart from going down himself to awaken him, which Stone afterwards claimed he
would have done in an emergency. He did not mention any urgent
problem on the voice pipe, nor did he tell Gibson, the apprentice, to give
anything other than a routine report. The simple reason why the
Californian heard no report from the Titanics rockets was due to the great
distance between the two ships. Certainly at least two other small, hitherto
unidentified vessels, [X]
and [Z], were in between and Titanics rockets were probably visible
against the background of the one Stone and Gibson were watching confusing
both men. Capt Lord told the truth when he claimed that his vessel was at
least 19 miles away from the Titanics CQD-position that night.
Messrs Reade and de
Groot preach holy moralities that, according to them, should have been
observed by Capt Lord, whereas they practice unholy monstrosities against an
innocent man. A more restrained approach, and more nautical expertise on their
part would not have resulted in a more credible account, however. Mr. de Groot
and associated believers, no doubt, are convinced that the blockbuster
has had the desired effect, but to the reviewer, in fact to all discerning
readers, it is a dud that has missed the mark completely. It might have been
more acceptable as a work of fiction and as such probably deserves a place on
a shelf alongside such works as Alice in Wonderland and Gullivers
Travels. ( Rob Kamps, 1993)
I must also comment on allegation of copyright infringement. The copyright for many of the pictures of the Titanic had long since expired. In an effort to stifle the publication of "The Ship That Stood Still", Kamps sent an 81 page document to Haynes (the publishers) with demonstrated the nature of the copyright infringements. As he himself said, "[these pages] of illegally acquired material would have made ample justification to take steps against this man ... de Groot should answer for his countless misdeeds and scurrilous remarks."
As far as I can see, only one picture, taken in the mid 1980s, has a possible dubious source. Questions marks hang over the others, but nearly all are free of copyright. But as Haynes says, if de Groot failed to acknowledge help from other books, "then he can be accused of being an ill-mannered author, but that is all."
Also, Mr.Kamps has been pursuing Mr.de Groot in this vendetta since 1978
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
The above review was
published in the Summer 1993 edition of Titanic Signals News of White
Star Publications and in the Atlantic Daily Bulletin no. 4, 1993 issue,
the journal of the British Titanic Society - the author.
As a long-time friend
of both Leslie Harrison and Stanley T. Lord, Captain Lords son, both of
whom are no longer here to defend themselves, I am utterly dismayed by the
unbelievable nonsense displayed by Messrs Billnitzer and Paddon. Apparently
they never read, or chose to ignore, the book Defending Captain Lord/A
Titanic Myth Part Two of 1996. I wonder how many more of Captain Lords
critics suffer from this disability? In this work, Mr. Harrison, a retired
master mariner and a technically qualified expert who really had all
the facts concerning the Californian at his fingertips, dealt with Mr. Reade
and The Ship That Stood Still in chapters 9, 10 and in an Appendix.
Regarding the events on board the Californian that night, Messrs Billnitzer
and Paddon show an acute lack of knowledge and they are obviously completely
ignorant of the actions of Leslie Reade and his devotee E.P. de Groot as well.
Being a countryman of the latter, I am well-informed of the mans
particularly unethical activities in this and other respects.
WAS LESLIE READE?
This man first came
to Mr. Harrisons attention when he read an article, The Ship That Stood
Still (!) in the London Evening News, ostensibly by Judith Ashe, who
turned out to be Reades wife. I am in the possession of a note Mr. Harrison
later prepared giving his impression of Mr. Reades attitude to Captain
Lords case, and of a memorandum he prepared for his solicitors to help them
in preparing an action for possible breach of copyright were Reades book
The Ship That Stood Still to be published. Patrick Stephens, Ltd. had
reached an advanced stage in such a project. I have a written extract from
Reades TV film Atlantic Night, and a videotape, illustrating his
fanciful approach to the Californian incident. I also have a copy of the
original manuscript of the book.
Despite the de
mortuis nihil nisi bonum injunction, Mr. Harrison was unable, even after the
most careful consideration, to do other than describe Leslie Reade as a vile
man, whose actions were malevolent and dishonest. His influence over Lawrence
Beesleys daughter, Mrs. Laurien Wade, was manifest; he also
controlled the Lightoller family, Herbert Stones son and Groves
brother, and Mr. Harrison had every reason to believe that Reade influenced
Henrik Naesss family (of the Samson) against him. Reade is also reported to
have had an extraordinary knack of winning other peoples confidence.
However, John Oldham, author of The Ismay Line, who was normally an
imperturbable and courteous gentleman, had met and knew Reade well. He used to
describe him as a shit the only occasions on which he was ever heard
to use a four-letter term of abuse.
Let me backtrack slightly. Kamps describes Reade as
having "had an extraordinary knack of winning other peoples
confidence". The same, it must be said, is true of Harrison. Sometimes
using charm (eg John Carrothers) and sometimes using his influence as
of the Mercantile Marine Service Association (eg Bisset's book),
he managed to get the necessary changes in people's attitudes or their
failures were Walter Lord (who, while cordial with Harrison, ignored
all the technical
points raised in the latter's letters), Geoffrey Marcus and Leslie
Reade. Indeed, at about
the time the first petition was submitted to the Board of Trade to
Lord's plight, Harrison took Reade to dinner; this was no mere
act of kindness, for, as Harrison said, it would be a great
piece of publicity to convert a sceptic to a supporter. Relations
between the two men
evaporated shortly afterwards.
One final point in this section. Herbert Stone died in September 1959; Captain Lord aproached
Harrison in 1958. Had Harrison be so inclined, he could have traced Herbert Stone to find out
what had happened. As he said in his 1986 book, "I made no attempt to trace Stone".
Why? Well, in his book, Harrison reproduces a newspaper feature in which John [sic]
Stone described Lord as being too drunk to heed the information about the rockets. Harrison writes
that in view of this demonstrably inaccurate article, he had no wish to be embroiled in any
controversy with Stone. Harrison had also been told by a friend that, as a child, he had overheard
Stone describing how Lord was drunk on the settee. Obviously, with an inaccurate newspaper article ("John" Stone?)
and the decades old memory of a friend (and fellow-Lord supporter), Harrison had the excuse he needed
to justify not tracing Stone. This simple act, while defending
Stanley Lord, removed forever the possibility of Stone telling his
own side of the story. We were left for Stone's son, Robert, to fill in the gaps some 50 years later.
Herbert's grandson, John, knows of nothing extra than was published in "The Ship That Stood Still".
One final point in this section. Herbert Stone died in September 1959; Captain Lord aproached Harrison in 1958. Had Harrison be so inclined, he could have traced Herbert Stone to find out what had happened. As he said in his 1986 book, "I made no attempt to trace Stone".
Why? Well, in his book, Harrison reproduces a newspaper feature in which John [sic] Stone described Lord as being too drunk to heed the information about the rockets. Harrison writes that in view of this demonstrably inaccurate article, he had no wish to be embroiled in any controversy with Stone. Harrison had also been told by a friend that, as a child, he had overheard Stone describing how Lord was drunk on the settee. Obviously, with an inaccurate newspaper article ("John" Stone?) and the decades old memory of a friend (and fellow-Lord supporter), Harrison had the excuse he needed to justify not tracing Stone. This simple act, while defending Stanley Lord, removed forever the possibility of Stone telling his own side of the story. We were left for Stone's son, Robert, to fill in the gaps some 50 years later. Herbert's grandson, John, knows of nothing extra than was published in "The Ship That Stood Still".
Harrisons personal acquaintance with Titanic survivor Lawrence Beesley was
limited to only two hours on 13 December 1962, and during that time he put his
one and only question: did Mr. Beesley see any rockets fired after no. 13
lifeboat left the Titanic? Mr. Beesley was absolutely sure he didnt, which
confirmed the time before which the last rocket was fired. Stanley Williamson,
a BBC feature producer, was with Mr. Harrison, interviewing Mr. Beesley about
his experiences during the Titanics sinking for the rest of the time. It
was Mr. Williamsons occasion. A very friendly meeting, with the exception of
Mrs. Wade, who seemed very reserved. She was consequently a push over for
the tactics of Leslie Reade in putting his words into somebody elses mouth
and worming himself into her confidence after he had first approached her by
letter on 20 January 1963, and she was thus manipulated by him to indulge in
quite extraordinary fantasies. He told her in February 1963 that her
fathers affidavit regarding the simultaneity of the firing of the last
rocket and the lowering of his lifeboat, no. 13, wasnt true. I do
have a photocopy of a letter by Mr. Beesley to Mr. Harrison in which he
expressed that he stood by every word of what he had said earlier. No pressure
of any kind was (or could be) exerted on Mr. Beesley to sign an affidavit. This
document states categorically that any details in his 1912 book are the same
as would have been given in evidence by him had he been called as a witness at
any of the subsequent official inquiries. The allegation that Mr. Harrison
exerted pressure on Mr. Beesley was conduct of an improper and unprofessional
nature completely out of character. He had not kept him up after his
usual bedtime. Messrs. Harrison and Williamson both left Mr. Beesleys home
by 6.30 pm. Reades statement on page 318 of his book, about wearing
down an old man with talk, etc., was obviously accepted by his editor
without question and one major reason for Mr. Harrison to sue the publisher. It
sounded the death-knell for The Ship That Stood Still. Mr. Harrison
anticipated that de Groots edition would repeat the easily refutable charge
that he coerced Lawrence Beesley into signing an affidavit he knew to be
The other reason for Mr. Harrison to sue Patrick Stephens Ltd./Haynes was the allegation that he had
withdrawn permission to use material which he had unconditionally
supplied to Leslie Reade. I have copies of two most significant letters,
one from the MMSAs solicitors to Leslie Reade, with a copy to PSL, stating
unequivocally that the loan of the Captain Lord tape (pages 13 and 343,The
Ship That Stood Still) was conditional, for Reades personal use
and as a guide to Captain Lords character only. Bearing in mind that The
Ship That Stood Still opens and closes with that unconditional
allegation, Haynes disregard of this warning was blatant and cynical. The
other letter was sent to the United States Naval Institute Press. John C.
Carrothers, another well-known Lordite-author, and a chief engineer in the
U.S. Merchant Marine, visited that publisher in 1975. Mr. Thomas Epley, the
editorial director, wanted to know what Carrothers interest was, to which
he replied: To throttle these pseudo-experts! Mr. Epley said that there
was legal action concerning the book and that for the moment production was at
a standstill. He then pointed to a glossy photograph of a persons head on
the wall and asked Mr. Carrothers if he knew who it was. When the latter
replied in the negative, Mr. Epley said, while picking up a dart on his desk
and firing at the picture, Thats Leslie Reade, the S.O.B., and I wish we
had never heard of him. Mr. Carrothers examined the photo and noted at least
a hundred dart holes in its face. Mr. Epley said that they often received
letters from him that bordered on the abusive, since Reade refused to return
his cash advance and wanted his material back. As a needle Mr. Carrothers
reminded him that the Naval Institute is dedicated to the advancement of
literary, technical and scientific knowledge in the Navy and that he could
not understand how garbage such as The Ship That Stood Still
contributed to any place of the Institutes dedication. Mr. Epley told him
that if the Naval Institute could get out of its obligation they intended to
In the early 1970s
Capt Lords son had lent some photographs and related material to Leslie
Reade in what he afterwards realised was a misguided attempt to help him
into his research of the Californian incident, but he failed to return them.
In May 1992 Mr. Lord received a phone call from E.P. de Groot, asking his
permission to use this material in a book he was writing based on Reades
De Groot was told
most emphatically that in no circumstances whatsoever would he be granted such
permission and Mr. Lord subsequently wrote to the Haynes Publishing Group to
confirm this refusal. Through them, he requested de Groot to return to him his
property which had come into his possession after Reades death. The request
was ignored and the pictures were published. It is remarkable to read in the
book that All illustrations are from the collections of the author and
editor unless otherwise stated. There is no reference to Stanley T. Lord
regarding photo credits. Obviously the staff of the Merseyside Maritime
Museum, custodians of Mr. Lords papers and photographs, stood most to
benefit from their recovery. It was up to them to pursue any return or
recompense for their misuse. Stanley T. Lord authorized Mr. Harrison and his
solicitors on his behalf to challenge the supply and the use of his fathers
photographs used as frontispiece, and the 1926 civilian-suited one.
Mr. Lord asked de
Groot why he was pursuing this vendetta against his father. The reply was that
he was merely telling the truth about the Californian incident.
Two and a half months
afterwards, on 31 July 1992, just after the launch of the second edition of
Leslie Harrisons book A Titanic Myth, I happened to be chatting with
Stanley T. Lord on a bench outside the Merseyside Maritime Museum of
Liverpool. De Groot interrupted our conversation and asked Mr. Lord for an
autograph. I had already warned Mr. Lord that his fathers arch-enemy was on
the premises. Mr. Lords reply was such that de Groot did not press the
point. The elderly gentleman was devastated by such rudeness. Had he given him
an autograph, I would certainly have intervened, with most unpleasant
consequences for my countryman.
IS E.P. DE GROOT?
Well, he is most
definitely NOT the esteemed Dutch journalist and also one of Europes
most articulate and respected Titanic historians, having written his own
definitive study of the sinking some years ago, as described by his close
friend John Maxtone-Graham in the Spring 1998 issue of The Ocean Liner
Of course, de Groot
wasnt pleased at all by the review I wrote for White Star Publications. In
an angry letter to that organization, he threatened to sue the editor for
libel unless a correction and apology, equally as prominent as Mr. Kamps
article was published, the wording of which should be agreed with me in
advance. If I have not heard from you to this effect within the next 7 days,
you will leave me no alternative but to consult with my layers [sic] with a
view to hearing from you. De Groots letter was acknowledged with the
argument that before the review was published it was considered necessary
"to establish the basis on which Mr. Kamps made his allegations of
copyright infringement. Copies of correspondence from him and several other
sources led [the editor] to believe that his comments were justified. De
Groot was given the opportunity to comment on my allegations in a future issue
of Signals News, but the editor would consider it incumbent upon him
then to also publish the correspondence from the other parties concerned.
De Groot telephoned
the editor of White Star Publications on 27 October 1993, hoping that we
might resolve matters over the telephone. The reply was that serious
matters must always be replied to in letter form and that [the editor] would
be writing to him during the course of the next few days. De Groot appeared
a little taken aback.
In his next letter to
White Star Publications, dated 22 November, almost two months after his own
seven-day term had expired, de Groot sneered that he now understood "that
Mr. Kamps review was only published in [a leaflet] supplied free to
customers. Mr. Kamps allegations have been doing the rounds for years, they
have been looked at by professionals and regarded as nonsense, which of course
they are. I see no use in arguing with amateurs over absurdities in a leaflet
free to customers.
One wonders who these
man is an acute pathological case and a congenital liar who must be
suffering from illusions of grandeur. Being far from a rational thinker, he
has all the finesse and subtlety of a thump in the eye. I wondered how much
resolve there actually was behind his attack.
Mr. Maxtone-Graham had
obviously changed his views in favor of, or conveniently forgotten about the
obscure activities of this esteemed Dutch journalist. In a letter to me
dated 11 August 1990, he said: I have long been aware that [de Groot] or
his publisherss art department adapted the sketch of Titanics
near-collision with the liner New York I made for Ocean Liners of the
Past(for publication in 75 Jaar TITANIC, that definitive study
of the sinking), obviously without permission. In that same letter, Mr. Maxtone-Graham said he had discussed the piracy of that sketch amicably
with de Groot after he had decided that he was not going to pursue the matter.
On the back flap of The Ship That Stood Still, however, he even praises
him and Reade for having written a meticulous, articulate and ultimately
devastating tour de force. It will, one hopes, obviate any further
dispute about Californians proximity to the doomed Titanic. Bravo Reade and
Bravo de Groot!
One last point: Patrick Stephens Ltd, who published "Ocean Liners of the Past" say that de Groot's use of Maxtone-Graham's sketch was OK, as it had been re-drawn.
Words fail me to
comment on this arrant nonsense.
A prominent American
Titanic author wrote to me that he was shocked at [de Groots] cavalier
attitude regarding photo credits. He brazenly announced to a friend and me
that he felt they were a waste of space or some such nonsense and he
couldnt be bothered with them.
replied to my inquiry with the words: I was rather intrigued to find what I
believed to be several of our unique photographs in his pages.
I have checked
with my colleagues and can confirm that at no time has this gentleman
contacted us for permission to use copyright material in his work, said
someone on behalf of a public record office.
We checked various
sources in the [National Geographic] Society who might have received a request
from Mr. de Groot for permission to use certain photographs, but we find no
record of such a request.
does not surprise me that de Groot has written such an account. I met him
only once at a THS-function, and he seemed to want to know more about the
negative side of things than the positive. I dislike that sort of character
and took an instant dislike to his manner.
People like de
Groot ought to be shot, but Im afraid there are many like him.
The less said
about him, the better. Hes a constant pain in the butt (the director of
a maritime museum in the Netherlands).
critical remarks about Dr Ballard are often unfounded (G. Raven; translator
of the Dutch edition of The Discovery of the Titanic).
Hes a dreadful
man. Even more evil than Leslie Reade.
GROOTS COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT
And so on. The list
is a long one and I could go on almost indefinitely. Not one remark is
complimentary. An extremely painstaking investigation undertaken by me some
time after publication of 75 Jaar TITANIC revealed that de Groot had
plagiarized 22 other Titanic books. It became clear that, among other things,
81 sections of text in Haas & Eatons Triumph and Tragedy had been
borrowed almost literally for use in his own book, 174 sections from
The Night Lives On and 125 from A Night to Remember, books written
by his close friend Walter Lord, 27 from End of a Dream by Wyn Craig
Wade and 22 from The Full Story of a Tragedy by Michael Davie, to name
but a few of the most prominent. When he appeared in radio and TV programs
after publication of his book, it also struck me time and again that many of
his answers were almost literal quotes from books by befriended authors; he
omitted the quotation marks, however, thus creating the impression that his
statements reflected the findings of his own research.
When someone serving
as a photographer for the Titanic Historical Society wrote to his Dutch
publishers to say that she resented the use of the plaque photo (i.e. the
plaque that was afterwards placed on Titanics stern) without de Groot
contacting her and to ask them and their author why [they] felt [they]
could take liberties with material that wasnt [theirs] to use without
asking permission and how [they] could copyright a book with photos that
[didnt] belong to [them], de Groot replied rather meekly: Rest
assured. I did not use any pictures from any of the issues of the Titanic
Commutator for my book and all pictures that were not mine, where [sic]
properly credited. He went on to say that the plaque, I respectfully
credited to the club. I had gotten the picture from a friend who told me it
was an other press release. Not until I saw your letter that I learned it is
yours, in abominable English. The Commutator issue that has the picture
of the plague [sic] at the back, I have never seen before your mailing to my
publisher and didnt even know the picture was in color as well. These
are blatant lies. Not a single copyright holder of the 316 photos and other
illustrations in his book had been credited, and, with the exception of only
15 photos, I was able to trace all the owners. About two dozen wreck pictures
of the Titanic, the owner obviously being the Woods Hole Oceanographic
Institution, had been lifted off the pages of the Commutator without
permission. WHOI is not credited anywhere for the unauthorized loan, nor
is the Titanic Historical Society. As a result, the latter organizations
officers were fully justified in their decision to completely ignore The
Ship That Stood Still, as they were familiar with Reades obscure
activities, and those of his editor, from the outset. So were several leading
figures within the Titanic International Society.
And precisely what does "obscure activities" mean?
I would not be making
these serious accusations if they were untrue. My research yielded seven
sizeable volumes of evidence and I will use them against him should the
need arise. I do not fear him, as the results are absolutely irrefutable and I
have also written proof of all my other arguments put forth in this long
article. It is also a retaliation for the many sleepless nights he has caused
It is certainly most
unusual for a reputable publisher not to insist on appropriate
acknowledgements being paid by an author to the holders of the copyright of
any illustrations or texts he may reproduce.
From the Fall of 1987
onwards, I have been pestered by countless of hang-up phone calls, several of
them made at night, that can be attributed to de Groot with absolute certainty
following an interview I had with Mr. den Ambtman, a journalist, about the
plagiarized book in question in August of that year. This resulted in the
publication of a full-page article in a national newspaper on 5 September.
There was no official reaction to my accusations
in that story, neither from the author, nor from his publisher. Despite Mr. den Ambtmans promise that he would not hand out my unlisted phone number
to anyone else, he obviously had done so to de Groot at his request and the
situation got out of hand to such an extent that I was forced to apply for a
new number. I was not bothered again. In 1990 I moved from Amsterdam to
Maastricht. Being unaware of de Groots presence at Mr. Harrisons press
conference on 31 July 1992, I wrote down my new address and (unlisted) phone
number in the guest book. I saw de Groot copy them after the speech and
the mysterious calls resumed not long after my return to Holland; they have
been going on ever since. When asked by a reporter to comment on this, he
replied that I was either unstable or insane (indeed: saying such
things or ignoring my very existence is his only option to avoid a direct
confrontation). I also received several threatening letters; one from him, two
from his publisher. The latter stated in no uncertain terms that legal steps
would be taken against me on the grounds of copyright infringement (!) if I
intended to prepare and distribute an English translation of the book in
question without permission from him or from the author, a curious distortion
of the facts. A literal translation would, naturally, expose their extensive
fraud. Yet another mysterious, nocturnal phone call during the weekend of
13/14 October 1989 had preceded this warning by registered mail (dated 16
October) and the link was thus established. De Groot must have consulted with
his publisher on the 15th. The call was obviously made to check whether I
still resided at the same address and the letter must have been drafted and
sent by the publisher the following Monday. Another one by registered mail
followed on 1 November 1990. A third letter, this time composed and mailed by
de Groot himself, arrived on 7 July 1991, just before I was to appear on
national TV, but it wasnt accepted by me and returned. The notion that I
might divulge his Big Secret to a large audience must have disturbed him
considerably and he obviously also enjoys harassing his opponents by stalking
them. I could tell the reader far more about the mans incredible insolence
and rudeness, but space simply prevents me from doing so.
One can hardly expect
to hear the truth about the Californian from this individual.
What I consider
particularly humiliating, so typical of de Groots arrogant and
condescending technique, if that is an appropriate word for his
sickening style of writing, is his remark on page 340 of The Ship That
Stood Still about one inarticulate and insignificant Lordite who, after
reading the Report [of the Department of Transports 1990-1992 Reappraisal],
and with growing dismay, obstinately announced: I shall appeal this! I
have no doubt that here Leslie Reade would have instantly quoted from Laurence
Sternes Tristram Shandy, Tis known by the name of perseverance
in a good cause, - and of obstinacy in a bad one. And so sum up the whole
sorry case for the Californian and her captain.
and insignificant Lordite de Groot was gunning for was Tom Williams and I
have a video-recording of the People Today- item (A Titanic Myth?)
in which the latter said those very words. I had formed the impression that Mr. Williams is an honest person (I dont like injustice of any sort, and
this is a grave injustice, he said). It is particularly insulting to blame
someone for his accent - Mr. Williams is an Irishman. Moreover, it is striking
that de Groot, of all people, should quote one of the greatest writers in
English literature to lecture a person while he is quite incapable of
writing even the simplest of letters himself. Over the years I have obtained
several copies of correspondence written by him, both in Dutch and in English,
that are riddled with grammatical and spelling mistakes. One Dutch letter he
wrote to me in 1978, consisting of twelve lines only, contained just over a
dozen slips of the pen that any ten-year-old child would have been
taught to avoid. I recall vividly that the immediate impression I got was that
he must either be a complete idiot, illiterate or an incredibly careless man.
I never responded. Curiously, his 1987 definitive study of the sinking [JM-G]
was also crammed with printers errors, contradictions, outright deceptions
and plain errors of fact that his publishers editorial staff apparently
didnt even care to correct. A joint action by the (literally dozens of)
injured parties against this author and his equally suspicious Dutch
publisher might have hit him where it hurt the most (in the money belt),
silenced him for a long time, and would undoubtedly have dealt the silly anti-Lordite
faction a serious blow. In that case, de Groot might not even have endeavored to edit and try to publish Reades work. Had such a joint action attracted
maximum publicity, The Ship That Stood Still would most probably not
have gained any credibility whatsoever. Instead, this arrogant bungler and
swindler presented himself as Captain Lords devils advocate and even had
the nerve to launch outright vitriolic and scurrilous attacks against Leslie
Harrison, a man whose absolutely unique standing, great integrity and
expertise will forever serve as an example to us all. This cannot be said of any
of his, and Captain Lords, detractors. They accuse him and other Lordite
writers of resorting to such extreme selectivity in choosing which evidence
to present to their readers (former THS Vice-President George Behe) and
that Harrison fails to present his readers with the most damning testimony
against the Californian that was provided by several key witnesses at the two
government inquiries (also Behe). What, then, about Reades and de
Groots malpractices? They are beyond doubt swept under the rug, ignored as
though they didnt exist. An example might be that my countryman even went
so far as to make Behe believe that several years prior to 1992 [the year
when A Titanic Myth was reissued], Harrison had granted Leslie Reade
[unconditional] permission to utilize some of his material in his upcoming
book. Copies of letters by the MMSAs solicitors to Reade and PSL that I
have at my disposal, and photocopies of the relevant pages in Mr. Harrisons
diary and personal papers tell a completely different story. Mr. Behe is a
specialist in vermin control in daily life, and another self-appointed
technical expert in matters maritime during his spare hours, who, judging from
his insulting remarks in his outrageous, utterly nonsensical and suggestive
website The Californian: A Manufactured Mystery, thinks he can ride
roughshod over Leslie Harrisons long years of professional and practical
experience at sea. Fortunately, a high-ranking official in Mr. Behes
organization confided to me that the then Vice Presidents contributions on
this issue contain a lot of gibberish. Another one with practical
experience at sea referred to Mr. Behes Titanic Tidbits 2 (The Bridge
Paid No Attention To My Signals) as quite the most ludicrous
dissertation on any aspect of the Titanic disaster which [he] had ever
read. In his article about the Californian, Mr. Behe went on to describe Mr. Harrison as an intolerant man towards others who countered his defense of
Captain Lord, but then, again, it must be said that his opponents were
technically unqualified. As a practical seaman, I am left speechless!,
he told me on several occasions. Mr. Behe, who is so obviously ill-informed of
the activities of the antis - and, therefore, prejudiced against Captain
Lords defenders, clearly has a verbatim transcript or a duplicate tape of Mr. Harrisons press conference of 31 July 1992 at his disposal, and it
stands to reason that he must have obtained a copy from de Groot. The latter
recorded the speech. So did I. There is absolutely no doubt that de Groot and
Behe are in this together.
The Harrison correspondence
is obviously strained ... and looking through Leslie's existing notes, one can see why. In the early 1990's
George Behe wrote a lengthy letter to the Commutator providing another viewpoint on the Californian
saga. Harrison didn't like this. As he grumbled to Lord's son in a letter, "Who does Behe think he is?"
I too have had my experience of Harrison's selectivity during my short (1988-91) correspondence with him. Here
are some examples:
He always insisted that the rockets were fired and done with before Boat 13 left the crippled White Star Liner.
When I pointed out that observers in boats 13 and 15 (launched a few minutes after 13) noted rockets going up,
Harrison retorted that "the timings of the lowerings of the lifeboats are subject to a great degree of uncertainty".
True, but the lowering order wasn't. This destroys Beesley's 50 year old belated evidence as used in 1968 by Harrison.
When I said that I disagreed with his conclusion that all 36 rockets would be
fired to attract
the attention of a stationary "mystery" ship (Boxhall and Rowe, in charge of their deployment, were ordered
to man lifeboats, thus fixing the time of the last rockets fired, and negating the
specious conclusion that the rockets were dispensed with because they were ineffective),
Harrison merely noted "I disagree".
Finally, in a statement that truly describes a glowing example of how this man picks and chooses his evidence,
I asked why Harrison
was so sure that the Titanic had finally stopped on a westerly heading. He simply said that Boxhall in his evidence,
and Beesley in his book had said so. This is absolutely false. Boxhall's evidence indicated that he did not
know the heading and Beesley noted that the Titanic had stopped, not heading west, but NORTH-west. But whats
the omission of one word when the good name of your sea captain, Lord, is maligned?
Let us also mention another of Harrison's failings: duplicity. When he issued his petition in 1965, he omitted mention
of the Samson or the Beesley evidence. The former evidence was specious, and the latter had been requested not to be
used until after his death. With the petition issued and being considered by the British Government, Harrison secretly wrote
to the Board of Trade and offered them these new pieces of evidence. He was told that they could only be considered if they
were part of the petition and would be like to re-issue it? Of course, the cat would be out of the bag and Harrison refused.
I too have had my experience of Harrison's selectivity during my short (1988-91) correspondence with him. Here are some examples:
He always insisted that the rockets were fired and done with before Boat 13 left the crippled White Star Liner. When I pointed out that observers in boats 13 and 15 (launched a few minutes after 13) noted rockets going up, Harrison retorted that "the timings of the lowerings of the lifeboats are subject to a great degree of uncertainty". True, but the lowering order wasn't. This destroys Beesley's 50 year old belated evidence as used in 1968 by Harrison.
When I said that I disagreed with his conclusion that all 36 rockets would be fired to attract the attention of a stationary "mystery" ship (Boxhall and Rowe, in charge of their deployment, were ordered to man lifeboats, thus fixing the time of the last rockets fired, and negating the specious conclusion that the rockets were dispensed with because they were ineffective), Harrison merely noted "I disagree".
Finally, in a statement that truly describes a glowing example of how this man picks and chooses his evidence, I asked why Harrison was so sure that the Titanic had finally stopped on a westerly heading. He simply said that Boxhall in his evidence, and Beesley in his book had said so. This is absolutely false. Boxhall's evidence indicated that he did not know the heading and Beesley noted that the Titanic had stopped, not heading west, but NORTH-west. But whats the omission of one word when the good name of your sea captain, Lord, is maligned?
Let us also mention another of Harrison's failings: duplicity. When he issued his petition in 1965, he omitted mention of the Samson or the Beesley evidence. The former evidence was specious, and the latter had been requested not to be used until after his death. With the petition issued and being considered by the British Government, Harrison secretly wrote to the Board of Trade and offered them these new pieces of evidence. He was told that they could only be considered if they were part of the petition and would be like to re-issue it? Of course, the cat would be out of the bag and Harrison refused.
The lies multiply and
breed upon themselves in this fashion. Had Mr. Harrison still been alive, his
indignation would almost certainly have resulted in yet another libel action,
this time versus George Behe. Every Titanic aficionado seems to be an expert
nowadays, but certain people ought to be taught once and for all how to stay
where they belong. Most disturbing is their utter lack of respect for
professional judgment. How clever do they think they really are in doing so?
offered a formal apology to Mr. Harrison in the High Court of Justice, London,
on 19 December 1995 for the obviously false statements in the book pertaining
to him, and agreed to pay him a substantial sum of damages in compensation,
including the reimbursement of his legal costs, de Groot had obviously not
learned anything at all. In his TITANIC (1996; 50,000 copies sold
according to a Dutch weekly, mainly
due to the impact of the recent movie, severely criticized by him
(naturally!), and, again, no photo or other credits anywhere!) he referred to
Reades 384 pages of turgid rubbish as a classic on the subject, but
did not spend one word on the action for libel against his own British
publisher and the subsequent withdrawal of that book from sale, or on the
plain fact that he had edited it. He repeated the defamatory statements
about Leslie Harrison which were the subject of the action heard in London a
few months earlier. Had de Groot not been resident in the Netherlands, he would
have joined in this action as co-defendant with his publisher. It was indeed a
pity that this man was - and is - outside jurisdiction of British courts.
The Ship That Stood Still is the classic demonstration of the
stupidity of an inexperienced writer venturing to pontificate on technical
matters about which he knows nothing. An example might be his comment on the
two signal flags on the Californians main mast between pages 160 and 193:
The hoist, first pendant or code flag over the J flag,
conveys the signal I have a headway. The half-masted house flag, seen
here also on the main mast, which supporters of Captain Lord choose to
identify as the coal basket in which AB Ben Kirk was hoisted to spy for the
sunken Titanic. Code flag over J means: I wish to communicate by
semaphore, as, in fact, was done. As to flying the house flag the size of a
blanket from the mainmast at half-mast (presumably to indicate death), this
would be a nonsense. In any event, a half-masted priority flag would be the
ensign, flown from a staff at the stern, and this just isnt so in the
illustration. Another example can be found in 75 Jaar TITANIC: on
several occasions he proved to be absolutely unable to tell port from
starboard. Mr. Harrison and I co-operated closely and I am very pleased that I
turned out to have a large share in the ultimate banning of Leslie Reades
book. His evil legacy is still very much alive, unfortunately, as de Groot
remains a very great nuisance. It is rumoured that he is working on yet
another book based on survivors accounts supplied to Reade. Non floreat de
Grootia, I hope!
Although The Ship
That Stood Still did not meet its publishers financial targets, there
are other books critical of Captain Lord which did, such as A Night to
Remember and The Night Lives On. Author Walter Lord (no relation), a
committed sceptic of everything in Captain Lords favor and also a close
friend of Leslie Reade and de Groot, never ever bothered to reconsider what he
had said about his unfortunate namesake and his first book about the disaster,
made into a most successful film a few years after publication, branded
Captain Lord mercilessly as a negligent coward. Who cares if the facts dont
fit the story? At least the characters are dead and past caring and the better
the film, the greater the abuse of truth. Nothing swept under the rug or
ignored as though it didnt exist, Walter Lord commented on the back flap
of The Ship That Stood Still, thereby accusing Californians defenders
once more of dubious practices, and, at the same time, turning a deaf ear to
any criticism on Reades and de Groots outright obnoxious activities. The
former was said to enjoy almost guru status among students of the
disaster, the latter is referred to as a real Sherlock Holmes in
The Night Lives On. Elsewhere, A special salute goes to. Edward de
Groot. In the eyes of so many people, author Lord has certainly shown
extreme lack of character throughout the years to even admit that there
were serious doubts as to Captain Lords guilt, particularly when
the disclosure of the exact location of Titanics wreckage in October 1987
proved that the Californian was even further away that night (22.8 instead of
19.75 nautical miles). The wreck would also have been found much sooner if
Captain Lords estimates of the disaster site had been relied upon. It was
found in a position that is barely six miles away from his calculations. As
Leslie Harrison said in Defending Captain Lord, Walter Lord has a vested
interest (obviously a financial and a prestigious one) in perpetuating the
Californian legend. I suppose he is too proud, has too much at risk to recant,
and I am almost tempted to believe that Reades book was concocted with the
ulterior purpose of protecting this interest. Imagine the huge cost involved
of having to rewrite the crucial sections dealing with the Californian in A
Night to Remember. Correcting these pivotal parts in a book that has been
sold well over a hundred million times worldwide would undoubtedly rip its
heart right out, to say nothing of the loss of face of the author having to
admit that he has been wrong all along, thereby losing his friends of many
years. It would have been equal to high treason. Since the Titanic disaster is
big business, it might be for this reason that the doyen of all Titanic
authors has associated himself, perhaps unwittingly, with some so-called
friends whose unscrupulous, even criminal activities helped him to maintain
that status. In an interview de Groot boasted that he is on very close terms
with Walter Lord and this was undoubtedly a great asset during his
negotiations with PSL/Haynes Ltd. in his endeavours to publish Reades book
for the second time. The Ship That Stood Still is a unusually desperate
attempt to demonstrate Captain Lords guilt at all cost. There
was absolutely no consideration or respect for the navigational aspects of the
affair that do exist in his favor. The truth with regard to Captain
Lords case, however, is on record in A Titanic Myth and in
Defending Captain Lord. All the anti-Lordite authors are self-appointed
experts, laying down the law about technical matters on which they are not in
the least qualified to speak, accepting second- and even third-hand accounts
of alleged statements as providing reliable evidence blatantly. Their judgment on matters of fact and shipboard routine angered professionals
like Leslie Harrison, a master mariner, former navigation instructor to the
Royal Air Force (decisive factors that have been steadfastly ignored by his
opponents), Secretary of the Officers Federation, British government delegate
at two international conferences on safety of life at sea and an associate
with the Technical Committee of the British Institute of Navigation, and Peter
Padfield, second officer in the merchant marine and author of The Titanic
and the Californian (1965), all along. Both have been treated like
brainless muppets in a jargon-ridden book composed and appraised by downright
pig-headed, silly amateurs who write about ships, but who so obviously do not
have an iota of nautical expertise or any practical experience at sea at their
disposal. They are clearly lacking in technical fields of knowledge in which
they claim to be experts, and, therefore, have no ability to put forward a
correct reconstruction of events. Their aim has not been achieved for this
very reason - it could not possibly have been. A noted author found it
truly astonishing that these people can waste so much time and energy
attempting to destroy the reputation of a man long since dead. They are to be
pitied. Sadly, the book had Walter Lords blessing from the outset. He
was very anxious to see Reades lifes work come out and is reported to
have been really depressed when production was halted in 1975; moreover, it is
said that he could have had it brought out in a considerably shorter
version by another publisher all set to go ahead years ago, which would
have sold many more copies. Reade refused to cut it down any further, although
he had combed through the entire manuscript earlier in order to delete any
really outrageous and offensive passages. He had two strokes, which may
have slowed up his mental processes and de Groot took over. Walter Lords
own role in the entire affair during the last four decades has certainly not
been a very nice one. His contempt for Californians supporters is also
displayed elsewhere in The Night Lives On: The defenders.are
entitled to their say, too. They have written bushels on the subject, a
remark particularly hurtful to Leslie Harrison, who was in fact incomparably
better qualified to judge the technical aspects of this case than Mr
Titanic (Mr. Harrison: I have so often been humiliated by him). The
latter is a man whose only real merit is that he has been the first successful
writer about the Titanic since the disaster (and with that: the resurrection
of the Californian incident), and who, apparently for this reason, has been
praised time and again by several societies throughout the years as the one
who started the hype.. The respect and great admiration that I once had for him has vanished completely, however, and, yes, I am
genuinely incensed and embittered by such an attitude. Captain Lords
misfortune has been the commercial exploitation which has followed Walter
Lords original tapping of the gold mine. An interesting question poses
itself: How would the author of A Night to Remember have treated
Californians luckless master in his book if the latter happened to have
been his own father?
recent book, Blue Riband The Quest For Speed Across The Atlantic
(1999), is dedicated to Walter Lord, fellow trustee, colleague, historian par
excellence and dear friend.
It is plain to me
that Walter Lord has commercial reasons for a continuance of the current
situation with regard to the Californian that surely affects his outlook on
this historic non-event.
In Voyage 6, Mr. Lord
blamed me for having launched a personal invective against him. He was
probably unaware of the fact that his own Sherlock Holmes, de Groot, has
been doing the very same things to Leslie Harrison ever since he wrote his
first anti-Californian article in 1978; scandalous attacks so far from the
truth that it was almost impossible to consider drafting a detailed criticism
of them. Since I utterly despise foul means in such a delicate matter,
especially by lowlives, I decided to do something about it. Unfortunately, de
Groot seems to get away with it time and again and he obviously also enjoys
Walter Lords protection. When asked through an intermediary for an opinion
about the fact that one of his closest disciples had plagiarized his two
bestsellers about the Titanic, Mr. Lord replied: My books are in the public
domain now and anyone can use them. I do not believe that his publishers
would agree with this viewpoint. De Groot apparently does not lack influential
friends to support him, and he seems to be quite clever at manipulating the
If the sole purpose
of The Ship That Stood Still was to prove that Captain Lord killed 1,500
people, which he obviously didnt, then what useful purpose did it serve? It
is curious to note the amount of detailed research which has been devoted to
his case, when all the time there is so much simple straightforward evidence
proving that he could never have done anything to help. So much time is being
wasted over details of the Californian incident, when surely the whole case is
resolved in the simple answer of Stones to Lord Merseys hectoring
attempt to get him to confess that he knew he had seen distress signals: A
ship that is in distress does not steam away from you, my Lord. As
President, Lord Mersey was entitled to accept or reject evidence put before
him as he decided, without giving any reason. An appeal by Captain Lord, if
properly presented, could have embarrassed him, however. As so many have done,
Isaacs and Lord Mersey were united in their early conclusion that only the
Californian and Titanic could possibly have been involved, and that no further
time need be wasted in listening to arguments contesting this view. Throughout
the British inquiry, there is a clear impression that all concerned had agreed
that the Mount Temple was not to be criticized, and Mr. Harrison was quite
confident that this attitude could justifiably be called a cover-up, although
he did not consider that the Mount Temple ever became close enough to the
Titanic to be mistaken for a ship acting as did [Z].
In his 1998 book
The Lusitania Controversies (Book One), author Gary Gentile describes
Lord Mersey as follows: [His] expertise lay in creating scapegoats and
whitewashing events, in which respects he knew no mercy and out brushed the
adventures of the eponymous Tom Sawyer. Lord Mersey handled [the Titanic and
Empress of Ireland] investigations with great incompetence and evident
In the Titanic case,
he completely exonerated Captain E.J. Smith for traveling at full
speed.despite repeated warnings of field ice ahead..Mersey blamed the
high number of fatalities on the master of the Californian, Captain Stanley
Lord, who had nothing to do with the collision, who was more than twenty miles
away at the time it occurred, and who was wise enough to heave to until
morning when he could see how to steer his ship safely through the pack ice
which surrounded his ship.
In 1914, he
exonerated the Empress of Ireland for turning into the path of the Storstad on
a fog-shrouded night in the St. Lawrence Seaway. The Empress of Ireland sank
with the loss of more than 1,000 lives. Mersey blamed the Storstad for not
getting out of the way of the veering Empress of Ireland.
predictable, for everyone knew where his allegiance lay. He was
quintessentially British. The purpose for holding the 1915 hearing was to
blame Germany for sinking the Lusitania and to absolve British hands of all
responsibility for contributory negligence. Lord Mersey saw to it that these
goals were achieved at least in the eyes of loyal British subjects and
bitter American citizens.
Lord Mersey later
commented on the Lusitania affair: It was a damned dirty business.
The purpose for
holding Captain Lord responsible for the 1,500 lives lost in the Titanic
disaster was to exonerate the Board of Trade (which Lord Mersey represented)
for having failed to equip the Titanic and other large British passenger
liners with sufficient lifeboat accommodation. It is clear that Captain Lord
never had the slightest chance at the hands of Lord Mersey and his Attorney
General, Sir Rufus Isaacs, whose treatment of the master of the Californian
was hostile from the very beginning. This policy could be described as a
damned dirty business too with justification.
relentless cross-examination to which also Stone and Gibson were exposed, it
was a shame that Captain Lord was so naive as not to realize the significance
of the two statements they wrote for him, long before any idea of any official
inquiry had been mooted. Production of the statements, which confirm their
story as told in the witness box, could well have played a most important part
in the proceedings, going a long way towards establishing the truth of their
recollection of events.
Now over, albeit
briefly, to a few points raised by Messrs Billnitzer and Paddon about some
aspects of Reades book that displeased the Lordite writers in his
examination of their inconsistencies:
The issue of the
rockets Leslie Harrison wrote the 1962 Merchant Navy Journal article under
great difficulties; the wonder was that it contained only the one major
error seized on so gleefully by Leslie Reade, and quoted on page 93 of his
book: It is impossible to escape the conclusion that some, or all, of the
rockets Stone and Gibson saw originated from the Titanic. Was Mr.
alone among the whole host of others held by de Groot and Reade to have been
mistaken in an original opinion to be denied the right to change his views in
the light of more leisurely research?
Sighting of a
ships light by Captain Lord apart from his obviously mistaken impression
that he saw a green light in the east, only a red light was seen on the
nearby ship [X], and not both sidelights. He discussed it with Groves,
the 3rd officer. The light was seen at 10.30 pm on 14 April 1912,
displayed from the ship which later stopped at 11.40 alongside the
Californian. Unquestionably this ship came up from astern, from the southwest,
showing a red (port) sidelight, as testified to by Groves, Stone and Gibson.
Captain Lord, firmly believing that it had come from the east, but observing
her only casually (without binoculars), formed the impression that she was
showing a green (starboard) sidelight. Had he been a liar, and anxious to
fabricate the best possible case for himself, he would soon have realised the
incriminating nature of his error, and taken steps to adjust his story. In
fact he made no attempt to do so, and not only gave his account in his sworn
evidence at the British and American inquiries, but also included it in the
affidavit he made in 1959.
Quote from The Case for Captain Lord (Lieutenant Commander Craig
McLean, NOAA, and David L. Eno); Naval Institutes Naval History, vol.
6, no. 1, Spring 1992, pp. 26-29: Four deck officers observed the unknown
ship to the south of the Californian. Three saw her to be a medium or small
steamer, and one saw her to be a passenger vessel. In 1912, only 12 ships in
transatlantic trade exceeded 20,000 tons. The vast majority of ships were
within the range of 5,000 to 7,000 tons, including the Californian (at 447
feet). Captain Lord described the ship he spotted as a medium sized
steamersomething like ourselves. Even to Groves, the amazing loom of the
Titanic would have looked like a city ablaze, not merely a passenger
steamer. She was the largest man-made object afloat, clearly beyond a
casual description. Captain Lord was the only man on board the Californian who
had seen the Titanics virtually identical sister ship, the Olympic, and at
a range of five miles. When he saw the unknown steamer approaching his vessel,
he clearly recognized that she could in no way be the Titanic. He was the only
one aboard qualified by experience to have offered this opinion.
Thats no Titanic, Captain Lord said, pointing out the ship,
after having asked his wireless operator with what ships he had been in
communication (I think the Titanic is near us, was the reply).
Shes not big enough and she hasnt enough lights. Having concluded
that the approaching steamer was a ship similar in size to his own vessel, and
having noticed that she carried oil lights, therefore had no electricity and,
hence, no battery power for a radio set on board, Captain Lord instructed his
third officer to call her up on the Morse lamp. It is obvious that, in order
to approach a ship the size of the Titanic, Lords first - and only -
thought would have been to use the radio. The idea to resort to the Morse lamp
only after seeing the largest vessel in the world would certainly never have
crossed his mind.
What Stone and Gibson saw could not be qualified as distress signals
since they produced no sound. Distress signals
had to be effective in all weather conditions, defined in 1912 as fog,
mist, falling snow or heavy rain
Jac Weller may be an authority on the Napoleonic era, but he also knows a lot about modern rockets as used in the Vietnam war. Weller also worked for the Small Arms Systems Agency of the US Army. Kamps' description therefore seeks to belittle his considerable knowledge of pyrotechnics.
Gill probably never appeared on deck as he was wearing his pyjamas,
allegedly watching rockets go up from
the ship he could not see, quietly smoking cigarettes for several
minutes in freezing temperatures.
The other ship in the area issue My friend David Eno, an
investigator for the U.S. Government,
researched the whereabouts of the Samson that night for 13 years and he
and his co-operator are convinced that
she fits the role of ship [Z], seen from the Titanic. Quote from The
Washington Post of 30 June 1991:
disputed dates in April, Eno says, displaying affidavits from port
authorities, were actually the recorded
Naval History, by McLean and Eno: Amateur historians have attempted
to discredit the Naess statements about the Samson by suggesting port visits
to Isafj dhur on 6 and 20 April according to a
recovered Icelandic document. These dates would not allow a transit
from port to the area where the Titanic sank and back. Additional port records recovered in Iceland
verify that the Samson did arrive when Naess said she did,
and Lloyds List does likewise.
(At the start of the
Eno-McLean press-conference about the possible involvement of the Samson
during the THS-Convention at the Boston Copley Plaza Hotel in April 1992,
Walter Lord left the room)
There is a most
interesting footnote on page 132 of the second edition of Titanic: Triumph
and Tragedy: While sailing to Titanics position in 1993, the authors
[Charles Haas and Jack Eaton] easily identified with unaided eyes a fishing
trawler as to its size and type. Radar then determined that it was 8.3
nautical miles away, precisely the alleged distance between Californian and
Titanic. At this distance, the authors found, it would be impossible
[emphasis mine] for a tramp steamer and Titanic to have been confused,
lending credence to the possibility that another ship was within
Apparently, this did
not serve as an eye-opener to any anti-Lordite author.
Signals of Disaster [John Booth and Sean Coughlan], page 155: If the
ship seen from the Californian from 11 pm onwards was the Titanic, then the
Californian would also have been visible to the Titanic. Since the Californian
maintained its position [emphasis mine], it could not have been the
ship seen by the Titanic, because the mystery ship [Z] was under steam,
becoming visible and then disappearing from view.
(Actually, [Z] wasnt seen approaching the Titanic by 4th Officer Boxhall and others until about 12.30 am. He was able to discern her red port sidelight, green starboard lamp, and, subsequently, several lit portholes, without binoculars. It was judged that that ship was between four to six miles distant at this time. At about 12.55 [Z] turned away, and, by 1.25 am, the mystery vessel was only showing her stern light. Between 12.30 and 1.25, Titanic fired eight distress rockets, and flashed Morse lamp signals, to attract her attention. There was no need to send the other rockets left in the box, 28 in all, up into the air as the mystery ship was leaving the scene.)
Even after Leslie
Reades work had been officially banned, poor Walter Lords uncompromising
attitude with regard to this moving ship is once again reflected in his
comments on a book by yet another extremely pedantic anti-Lordite author,
published in 1998: A masterful treatment of the Titanic disaster with a new
look at the role played by the mystery ship, Californian. Mr. Lord will take
his secret with him to the grave.
From the Department
of Transports Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB): RMS TITANIC
Reappraisal of Evidence Relating to SS CALIFORNIAN, 1992, Section 7
(Concluding Comments), page 18:
would arrive well after the sinking. It therefore seems clear that (.) the
effect of Californian taking proper action would have been no more than to
place on her the task actually carried out by Carpathia, that is the rescue of
those who escaped. I do not think any reasonably probable action by Captain
Lord could have led to a different outcome of the tragedy [Captain P. B.
Marriott, Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents, 12 March 1992].
Was Captain Lord to
blame, or was he not to blame?
idea, once implanted, is difficult to eradicate
Beesley, Titanic survivor)
BENCH DIVISION TUESDAY, 19TH DECEMBER 1995
LESLIE HARRISON (Plaintiff)
PATRICK STEPHENS LIMITED
HAYNES PUBLISHING GROUP
Alexandra Marzec (Counsel for the Plaintiff):
Lord, in this action for libel I appear for Mr. Leslie Harrison, the Plaintiff
in this action, and my learned friend Mr. Rupert Elliott appears for the
Harrison is 83 years old and a retired Master Mariner. During the Second World
War he was commissioned into the Royal Air Force serving initially as a
Navigation Instructor and later as a Navigator in Coastal Command. From 1956
to 1975 he was General Secretary of the Mercantile Marine Service Association,
the representative organization for British shipmasters. In this capacity he
served as British government delegate at two international conferences on
safety of life at sea. He has also been on the Executive Council and Technical
Committee of the British Institute of Navigation.
1958 Mr. Harrison had been approached, in his capacity as the General Secretary
of the Mercantile Marine Service Association by Stanley Lord, who had been the
captain of the steamship the Californian.
Captain Lord had been condemned by both English and American enquiries into
the disaster of the sinking of the Titanic
as having failed to prevent the death of some 1,500 people during the sinking.
great deal of public controversy had arisen about the role of the Californian
and Captain Lord. Mr. Harrison investigated the evidence. From 1958 he
became the prime mover in the campaign to clear Captain Lords name. In 1986
Mr. Harrison wrote a book called A
Titanic Myth in which he published his reassessment of the evidence
against Captain Lord and conclusion that he had unjustly been made a scapegoat
for the loss of life after the disaster.
1993 the Defendants published a book called The
Ship That Stood Still
written by the late Leslie Reade, a former barrister, author and writer
for BBC radio and television. The book, which attempted to show the
guilt of Captain Lord, necessarily had to appear convinced that the
campaign to clear his name was wrong and misguided. Mr. Harrison, as
the leader of the campaign, thus became the subject of criticism. The
book suggested that Mr. Harrison had unfairly pressurized Lawrence
Beesley, an elderly eye-witness to the sinking of the Titanic, to alter the account of events he had given 50 years
book also alleged that Mr. Harrison had broken his word by withdrawing
permission to use material which he had unconditionally supplied to Leslie
Reade, the author of the book, 11 years earlier
allegations are groundless. In his many years of investigations into the
disaster Mr. Harrison has always been motivated by a desire to uncover the
truth. In his brief personal dealings with Mr. Beesley, which amounted to one
afternoon visit on 13th December 1962, he was very careful to avoid putting Mr.
Beesley under any emotional stress or physical strain, which might have
tainted Mr. Beesleys account. Mr. Beesley did not retract any part of the
account he had given 50 years ago and was happy to swear an Affidavit
verifying it. To the best of Mr. Harrisons belief, the account Mr. Beesley
gave of the disaster on oath was given freely and truthfully.
moreover, untrue that Mr. Harrison had gone back on his word to Leslie Reade. Mr.
Reade was sent material by Mr. Harrison on the basis that it was for his
publication of these allegations, which the Defendants now accept as false,
has naturally caused Mr. Harrison great embarrassment and distress. The
Defendants are here today by their Counsel, to retract the allegations and apologize
to him. They have agreed to pay him a substantial sum of damages in
compensation which will include the reimbursement of his legal costs.
Elliott (Counsel for the Defendants):
Lord, on behalf of the defendants I accept what Miss Marzec has said. The
defendants published The Ship That
Stood Still in good faith. It was never their intention to make any
allegations whatsoever about Mr. Harrison or to cause him any distress. They
are happy to take this opportunity to remedy matters and apologize to him.
Lord, it remains for me to ask for leave to withdraw the record.
Additionally, I must comment on the misdeamenors of Reade and De Groot as alledged above.
So what? I don't care if they are Geoffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy combined. Is their research sound? Have they reached believable, valid conclusions? I believe they have. What they are like as people is irrelevant. Unless you want to perform a character assassination. And why would anyone want to do that, Mr.Kamps?
Incidentaly, De Groot told me, "Our friend Rob Kamps tried by letter to discredit me with his well known arguments at the publisher - who knew me well by then - but were regarded so ridicules [sic] that no attention was given to them at all. It did gave Kamps the nick name "The nut from Maastricht", a name he has also here with the public broadcasters."
Secondly, the book's basis is a lie. It states that Williams unearthed the "new and important" evidence needed to re-open the Californian inquiry. Incorrect. It was Dr.Ballard, and his public disclosure of the position of the Titanic wreck site in 1987 that prompted a resurrection of the inquiry some 3 years later. Therefore, the blurb on the back cover is not only misleading but, I feel, an attempt to drum up sales. I have complained to Tempus publishing and also to the Trading Standards organisation in the UK about this.
Finally, Kamps is extremely generous with his statements. He descibes Reade's work as "a rogue book", simply because its conclusions do not match his own. He also says that Harrison, a Master Mariner, is the only one qualified to pronounce statement on the Californian saga. But let us look at Kamps and Williams. Kamps is a translator. Williams is a journalist. Surely, by Kamps' own standard, they are not qualified to analyse the matter either. And let us not forget Kamps's friend, Senan Molony, author of "The Titanic and the Mystery Ship"; he is another journalist, but you don't hear Kamps bleating about someone who supports his cause. However, many of those on, say, Encyclopedia-Titanica, who do possess the necessary maritime knowledge are dismissed and discredited. David Gittins, for instance, has his own writings dismissed simply because, in Kamps eyes, Gittins has a bad photograph on his website. Kamps heaps praise on Peter Padfield, but we now know that his 1965 book ("The Titanic and the Californian") deliberately edited out a section of testimony given by Captain Moore of the Mount Temple to the US Inquiry in which he said that the Californian was only 8 miles north of the Carpathia on the morning of the 15th April 1912. Obviously such damaging testimony - and only widely reported when "The Ship That Stood Still" (and needless to say, removed from Leslie Harrison's books) - had to be excised. Need I say more?
One final matter. Kamps is proud to say that Reade's book was banned. This is not true; the book was simply never re-printed. Haynes recalled all unsold copies of the book, and replaced the "problem" pages with modified versions. The new copies of the book were distributed again shortly afterwards. But this was not enough for Harrison, who caused trouble at his local library in Heswall demanding that "The Ship That Stood Still" be withdrawn. Haynes heard about and pointed out that this was against the settlement agreement between them and Harrison. Harrison denied that he had demanded this (despite staff at the library stating that it had happened) but agreed to be bound by the legal agreement.
About Rob Kamps:
I have had a keen interest in the Titanic-disaster since 1972 and my views about the 'involvement' of the Californian changed two years later while reading Peter Padfield's book 'The Titanic and the Californian' . I have followed the developments concerning the mystery ship closely ever since, especially after the publication of an article against the Californian and her defenders by a countryman of mine. The nonsense, the lies and the incompetence displayed in this article and of the stubbornness of Captain Lord's detractors in general angered me so much that something should be done about it. Here is the result.