Saturday, 10 September 2016


Examiner (Launceston) Friday 10 February, 1911.
Depositions were read to-day, fromwhich the following are extracts:
Mr. Harris, chief engineer of thesteamer Harlow:-
"On July 27, 1909, when off the African coast, I saw two lights, one a red light, apparently thoseof a steamer. I afterwards noticed largevolumes of smoke and a glare, afterwhich the lights disappeared. Therewere bush fires on shore. I expressed anopinion at the time that if that werea steamer, she was on fire. "The smokemight be attributable to bush fires."
Much has been said about Captain Bruce's account of the 'large steamer astern of the Harlow'. But Chief Engineer Alfred Harris' account was succinct and highly convincing. Not only this it mirrored Bruce's description of events - despite the simple fact that bush fire mirages are in the eye of the beholder and unlikely to present the same images to multiple eye witnesses. The reference to a 'glare' is interesting in itself and could have related to a fire on board. However, witnesses on the Californian, the tramp steamer within visual distance of the sinking Titanic, commented that they could see the masthead light of Titanic with a 'glare' aft. This confirms that if a large steamer with many deck lights was viewed from a distance at night head on, i.e. bow pointing towards the vantage point of observers,  these decks lights would be seen as a 'glare'. This would have applied to the Waratah astern of the Harlow. The large volumes of smoke could have been attributed by a fire on board but the glare might not have been similarly associated with flames on deck. It is also interesting to note how much confusion existed on the Californian as officers on watch witnessed numerous distress flares. Interpretations varied and ultimately the Californian did not go to the aid of the Titanic - such a similar situation to the Harlow account.
Food for thought....
SS Californian.

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