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


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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.          

Since they never pulled any punches, neither will I.                                                                                                                                                                                               


  1. Viewpoint

  2. 'The Ship That Stood Still' - Judgement Days

  3. Who was Leslie Reade?

  4. Who is E.P. de Groot?

  5. De Groot's Copyright Infringement

  6. Threats

  7. Accusations

  8. Incompetence

  9. Walter Lord

  10. Lord Mersey's Judgement

  11. Some Aspects

  12. In the High Court of Justice, London


In 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Groot, a journalist from the Netherlands, wrote an article in a Dutch magazine concerning The Ship That Stood Still, an unpublished manuscript on the Titanic/Californian controversy, prepared by Mr.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.

Mr. 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:

a)      Why no distress signals were fired from the Titanic until nearly an hour after she struck the ice;

b)      Why only eight distress signals were fired out of the 36 she carried;

c)       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?

d)      If the Californian was in sight from the Titanic immediately after the collision, why did the Titanic not attempt to steam towards her?

e)       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?

f)        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?

g)      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 opponents?

h)      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)

Since Mr. Reade considered the times to be in doubt, then it is surely up to Mr. de 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 Titanics sinking.

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)

This last quote is from Dr.Cyril Wecht, in ITV's "The Men Who Killed Kennedy" (1988). Still, who said profound statements have to be original?

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.

I cannot speak for other researchers, but Leslie Harrison's second book, "A Titanic Myth part 2: Defending Captain Lord" reads simply as a damage limitation exercise. In the wake of Reade's books, what else could he do to restore his reputation?


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. 

Not so difficult to understand when one notes that Oldham and Harrison, both pro-Lordite in their views, were close friends. Indeed, in one letter from the latter to the former, Harrison gloats that he had persuaded a local Liverpool newspaper to leave out mention of the Californian from a serialised publication of Commodore Sir James Bisset's "Tramps and Ladies"; furthermore, Harrison also says that he had obtained a promise from the publisher that the book would not be republished without him exercising his editorial control over the Californian chapter. In other words, the probable removal of all material relating to Captain Lord and his conduct.

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 the secretary of the Mercantile Marine Service Association (eg Bisset's book), he managed to get the necessary changes in people's attitudes or their books. Notable 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 re-analyse Captain 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".

 Mr. 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 untrue.

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 withdraw publication.

Having gone through Leslie Harrison's and Stanley T.Lord's archives at the Merseyside Maritime Museum, I can say that Harrison positively gloated at "The Ship That Stood Still" being scuppered in 1975. And I have also had a chance to review Leslie Reade's papers at Haynes Headquarters in Sparkford. Reade was furious that permission had been withdrawn for the photograph of Harrison and the audio recording.

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 poisonous work.

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.  


Since this was originally written, Edward de Groot has passed away.

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 Gazette. 

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 professionals were.

Unquestionably the 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 wonders why, if Maxtone-Graham was so incensed about the whole matter, he wrote such a splendid testimonial for "The Ship That Stood Still"...unless the whole thing is, to coin one of Harrison's phrases, "A tissue of nonsense". I have seen Maxtone-Graham's letter to Kamps, and the text "obviously without permission" in an insertion by Kamps. Maxtone-Graham ends his letter "In other words, I suppose I am saying that I have no interest in joining in a suit against the author or his publisher."

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.

Another author 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.

Ironically, it 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).

Unfortunately, his 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.


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.

This determination to trace all the copyright holders of the photos strikes me as little more than a witch-hunt. Also, the Titanic Historical Society and Titanic International are run by people who are proponents of Captain Lord's cause; indeed, Ed Kamuda (of the THS) was a friend of Leslie Harrison, so it is hardly surprising that any anti-Lordite articles are not accepted; indeed, quite a few have been rejected. During my time with the THS (c.1987-1993), I saw only one anti-Lordite article and many more in favour of the Californian's captain. The majority of photographs in the books mentioned above are well past the expiry of copyright and one wonders why Kamps was so hung up on this matter?

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 (see below).

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.

If Mr.Kamps has "evidence" of malfesance on the part of Messrs.De Groot and Reade, he should attempt to facilitate a prosecution of the former. The fact that he hasn't is significant. But, as Mr.Kamps knows, it is easy to spread lies and calumny. Remember; "mud sticks".

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.

The inarticulate 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.

It should be noted that Tom Williams wrote a book on the Californian saga that was published, having been edited by Kamps. It is obvious that the two are friends and Kamps's opinions should be treated with caution.

When it comes to George Behe, he denies that he is IN cahoots with De Groot, and in fact doubts whether the latter has ever heard of him. And so what if George is a vermin controller? What matters is his research and conclusions, which I, and others, have always found to be of the highest quality. How else could he attain such a high position in the Titanic Historical Society?

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.


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?

Although Haynes 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!

Another piece of misdirection of Kamps, as we shall see at the end of this essay.


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?

In the mid 1950s, Leslie Harrison wrote to Walter Lord asking that several passages in "A Night To Remember" be removed or reworked (one of these was the famous mention of Captain Lord studying the Carpathia's half masted house flag at half mast). Walter Lord agreed only to be horrified that Harrison later used this as ammunition to describe Lord's work as a wholesale admission of fraud.

Mr. Maxtone-Grahams 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 media.


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 prejudice.

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.

Mersey was 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.

Regarding the 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:

1)      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. Harrison 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?

2)      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. 

3)   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 storms, so far as restricted visibility was concerned. A white rocket by itself would be useless in such conditions; the centuries-old use of guns to attract attention was still very much in vogue in 1912, which is  why the Titanic carried 36 socket signals in lieu of guns. She also carried two Holmes lights, devices which simulated flames on the vessel, as from a burning tar barrel, another distress signal easily available in the majority of 19th century sailing vessels and carried over into the 20th. Leslie Reade and Walter Lord set aside the fact that none of the rocket signals seen by Stone and Gibson were associated with detonations, on the grounds that expert advice they had received minimized the effect of such signals. Jac Weller, Walter Lords expert in The Night Lives On, is an authority on the Napoleonic Peninsula War.

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.

4)    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.

5)    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:

     The disputed dates in April, Eno says, displaying affidavits from port authorities, were actually the recorded dates when [the Samson] had been expected to arrive, and when the Norwegian consul had made an advance payment of half the Samsons harbour fees. The 1912 shipping lists from Lloyds of London place the Samson in Isafj dhur [Iceland] on May 14.  

     From 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.  

Lloyd's records shows nothing of the kind. They show that the Samson was in port for repairs during this time. And nowhere have these port records been described or mentioned. So much for Eno, who was obsessively adamant that he brief UK officials over his "command findings" when the Californian re-appraissal was announced.

(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 Californians view.

Or that the two ships were much further away than Lord Mersey found, confusing observers about their size? If the two ships were only about 10 miles apart, Boxhall's green flares would have been seen from the Californian.

Apparently, this did not serve as an eye-opener to any anti-Lordite author.

From TITANIC 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:

Californian 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?

 A false idea, once implanted, is difficult to eradicate           

 (Lawrence Beesley, Titanic survivor)                                                                                    



QUEENS BENCH DIVISION   TUESDAY, 19TH DECEMBER 1995                                                                 





                          PATRICK STEPHENS LIMITED




                          HAYNES PUBLISHING GROUP (Defendants)                 





Miss Alexandra Marzec (Counsel for the Plaintiff):

My 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 Defendants.

Mr. 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.

In 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.

A 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.

In 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 before.

The 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                .

These 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.

It is, 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 personal use.

The 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.

Mr. Elliott (Counsel for the Defendants):

My 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.

Miss Marzec:

My Lord, it remains for me to ask for leave to withdraw the record.  

So sayeth Mr.Kamps, in an article that would surely have litigation lawyers in fits of ecstasy for years. However, a few facts must be pointed out:
  1. The main point of invoking a legal approach to Mr.Reade's book was simply to destroy an opposing point of view, which Mr.Harrison did c.1975 when he asked the Mercantile Marine Service Association to issue a legal warning to Reade, stating that rights to use certain pieces of work in his book were withdrawn. This stopped the first attempt to published Reade's book. De Groot informed me that Reade was ill at the time and did not fight back. Harrison also spitefully contacted Henrik ("Samson") Naess' son to advise him that a writer who was flamboyant with the issue of copyright was about to publish a book, and asking him to take precautions. As Harrison said later, he managed "to kill" Reade's book. This is not the only time that Harrison did this. He offered his help to Walter Lord in 1986 for "The Night Lives On" by agreeing to allow his research material in the manuscript of his own book to be used; this agreement was reneged upon a short time later. Fortunately, Lord had not read Harrison's manuscript and hence did not use any of the "A Titanic Myth" book. When Reade's book was published in 1993, it simply had to be killed lest it contaminate other minds. Harrison, in a letter to Captain Lord's son, noted that he had invoked the services of a lawyer who had recently won record damages for Elton John. It is impossible to make any further statements on the matter, as Harrison's papers, deposited at the Merseyside Maritime Museum, have very large gaps, which may or not may support Captain Lord's case. For instance, Harrison describes a statement from a QM on the Titanic that the ship stopped heading west. This is a reference to George Thomas Rowe, with whom Harrison exchanged letters via an intermiary. Rowe's existing communications make no such claim, but the recipient of Harrison's letters do not know this. Harrison also dismissed a statement by the helmsman of the Carpathia that the Californian was present at the disaster site in the morning, that is, at daybreak. A letter by Lawrence Beesley from 1962 is missing, as is correspondence with John C.Carrothers, George Behe, Peter Padfied, Leslie Reade, Edward De Groot, Thomas Williams, this author (Paul Lee) - and indeed, Rob Kamps himself ironically. What other incriminating evidence existed that has been removed and, presumably, destroyed?

    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."

  2. I too have come under attack by Mr.Kamps, in an exchange that described Reade's book as "turgid nonsense", without the benefit of any explanation. Instead, Mr.Kamps resurrected a very old, and completely irrelevent argument to discredit me. When Michael H.Standart, the moderator, retorted with the statement that people's conclusions are open to debate and criticism, but the person isn't, Kamps replied glibly "Why not?" Obviously Kamps is someone who is open to launching personal attacks without any substance.

  3. Finally, let us look at the hypocrisy of "The Titanic and the Californian" by Thomas B.Williams and edited by Robert Kamps. Firstly, Kamps gives himself 5 stars and a glowing review on Amazon, until I complained and the page was taken down as it was in clear violation of the Amazon rules that authors cannot review their own work.

    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.

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