Titanic Lifeboat 2
Lifeboat 2 was an emergency lifeboat kept on the port (left) side of Titanic, near to the bridge; it was kept permanently swung out, so that in an emergency, such as, for example, if someone fell overboard, it could be quickly lowered away. On the night of the sinking, it was commanded by Titanic’s Fourth Officer, Joseph Boxhall, and was the very first lifeboat to be spotted by Carpathia, the ship that rescued Titanic’s survivors.
It is said that 2nd Officer Charles Lightoller noticed a group of men, crew and passengers, inside Lifeboat 2, causing him to threaten them with his gun to leave the lifeboat, and to tell them (according to Elisabeth Walton Allen): "Get out of there, you damned cowards! I'd like to see every one of you overboard!" Unknown to those in the boat, his gun was not loaded. The boat was then filled with women and children, and was prepared to be lowered away, under the supervision of Chief Officer Wilde.
Standing nearby Lifeboat 2, just before it was lowered, Captain Smith, ordered Titanic’s fourth officer, Joseph Boxhall – who had been busy firing Titanic’s distress rockets – to go away in the lifeboat. Inside the lifeboat when it was lowered away at approximately 1.45am, along with Joseph Boxhall, were three other members of crew, a seaman, a steward and a cook, joined by women and a few children. A man, 3rd class passenger Anton Kink, was also in the boat; he had jumped in as it was being lowered, after his wife and daughter – who were inside the boat – had cried out for him.
Those in the boat gave a maximum estimate of there being a total of 25 to 30 people inside when it was lowered away; we only know, however, of there being 17 people believed to be confirmed as being in the boat, and 17 seems to be considered the accepted number, which is far below the boats maximum capacity of 40 people; during the night Joseph Boxhall had tried to count the number people in the boat by getting them to count, but due to some of the people in the boat being unable to speak English this was abandoned.
Once in the water, Lifeboat 2 rowed a distance away from the ship, and then, with difficulty due to there being only two people in the boat who seemed to have the knowledge to handle a boat, they started to row around the stern to the starboard side, where they intended to try to get more people on board; at the British Titanic Inquiry, joseph Boxhall said that he heard someone on Titanic, with a megaphone, ordering some of the boats to come back, and to the best of his recollection they said to go to the starboard side. Once on the starboard side, they appear to have feared the suction and the danger of the situation, and it was decided to abandon the idea; when Titanic sank they were perhaps around half a mile away from the ship.
Joseph Boxhall helped with the rowing, while 1st class passenger Mrs Mahala Douglas steered the boat. During the night, the survivors aboard Lifeboat 2 said that they could hear water breaking against nearby icebergs.
Fortunately, prior to being ordered into lifeboat 2, Joseph Boxhall had told someone to put some kind of green lights/signals into the lifeboat; he used these lights to, unsuccessfully, try to gather all the lifeboats together. It was because of these green lights that Carpathia, the rescue ship, first noticed the survivors.
While trying to avoid ice, Carpathia headed for the green lights. Just shortly before Lifeboat 2 reached Carpathia, her engines had been stopped and she had just had to take action to avoid crashing into an iceberg. When lifeboat 2 was so close that they could be heard by Carpathia, Joseph Boxhall shouted out that he only had one seaman in the boat; realising that they were having difficulty getting to Carpathia, the ship was maneuvered towards the boat.
At 4.10am (Carpathia’s time) Lifeboat 2 become the very first lifeboat to come alongside Carpathia; the first passenger to climb up the ladder to board the ship was 1st class passenger Elisabeth Walton Allen; Joseph Boxhall was the last to leave Lifeboat 2. The next lifeboat to arrive at Carpathia was around half an hour later. Lifeboat 2 was taken to New York.
Crew believed to have been aboard lifeboat 2:
Joseph Boxhall (Fourth Officer), John Bertram Ellis (Cook), James Johnston (Steward), Frank Osman (Able Seaman).
First class passengers believed to have been aboard Lifeboat 2:
Elisabeth Walton Allen, Malvina Helen Cornell, Mahala Douglas, Emilie Kreuchen, Berthe Leroy, Georgette Alexandra Madill, and Elisabeth Walton Robert.
Third class passengers believed to have been aboard Lifeboat 2:
Neville Leslie Coutts (3 years old), William Loch Coutts (9 years old), Winnie Coutts, Anton Kink, Luise Gretchen Kink-Heilmann (4 years old) and Luise Kink-Heilmann.