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22 May 1859, Edinburgh M.D., Kt, D.L., LL.D., Sportsman, Writer, Poet, Politician, Justicer, Spiritualist Crowborough, 7 July 1930

Life-Saving in Men-of-War

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Life-Saving in Men-of-War is an article written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in the Daily Mail and in The New-York Times on 5 january 1915.



Editions


Life-Saving in Men-of-War (Daily Mail)

Daily Mail (5 january 1915, p. 4)

From Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

To the Editor of The Daily Mail.

Sir, — At an early period of the war you were good enough to give publicity to a letter from me in which I contended that some life-saving apparatus was absolutely necessary aboard our warship that if boats were really impossible then rubber floats which could be inflated by the sailors' breath and could always be carried about with them should be used.

Immediately afterwards such a device was actually introduced into the Navy. I am quite prepared to learn that it was post hoc' and not propter hoc, but none the less the coincidence encourages me once again to address you upon the subject in the hope that through you I may arrest the attention of someone who can influence such matters.

It is clear that we have not done enough. The floats may save a man upon a summer sea, but he had better die at once than perish slowly drifting about in a winter gale. Something else must be done — and that something can only be collapsible boats. We have to remember, that the objection to boats was that they were inflammable and to some extent in the way in a surface fight. No doubt that is true. But we have learned now that a hundred men perish from mines and torpedoes for one who dies in a fair action, and therefore we must cease to provide for what is exceptional, and we must take precautions for what is usual. It is always easy to jettison the boats in a surface action. It is no exaggeration to say that had our ships been provided with collapsible boats we should have saved the vast majority of the seamen for whom we mourn. No one is to blame for this. The conditions were new and the lesson had to be learned.

But now the lesson is learned, not a day should be lost in getting boats for the ships, making first provision for those, like the Zeebrugge blockaders, which are in most peril. We can spare and replace ships; we cannot spare men. They must be saved, and this is how to save them. They must be saved and this is how to save them. I trust, Sir, that you will yourself use your great influence to this end, even to the extent, if advisable, of calling upon the public for funds to hurry the matter up. There is nothing so urgent as this. We can view all future disasters with equanimity if the ship's company has only a fair chance for its life.

Arthur Conan Doyle.
Windlesham, Crowborough, Sussex.


To Save Sailors' Life (The New-York Times)

The New-York Times (5 january 1915)

Sir A. Conan Doyle Wants Collapsible Boats for Warships.

Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES.

LONDON, Tuesday, Jan. 5. — Writing to The Daily Mail, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle urges that measures be taken to minimize the fearful loss of life entailed by such naval disasters as those of the Bulwark and the Formidable. He suggests the use of collapsible boats.

"We have to remember," he says, "that the objection to boats was that I they were inflammable and to some extent in the way in a surface fight. No doubt that is true; but we have learned now that a hundred men perish from mines and torpedoes for one who dies in a fair action, and therefore we must cease to provide for what is exceptional and we must take precautions for what is usual. It is always easy to jettison boats in a surface action.

"It is no exaggeration to say that had our ships been provided with collapsible boats we should have saved the vast majority of the seamen for whom we mourn. No one is to blame for this. The conditions were new and the lesson had to be learned: but now the lesson is learned, not a day should be lost in getting boats for the ships, making first provision for those, like the Zeebrugge blockaders, which are in most peril. We can spare and replace ships; we cannot spare men. They must be saved, and this is how to save them."






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