Alfred Olliver

Mr Alfred Olliver

Image
Alfred Olliver in 1915
Photo: Bob Olliver

Mr Alfred Olliver, 27, was born in St. Ouen, Jersey on 2 June 1884.

Olliver had been a sailor since he was 16, and served 7 years in the Navy.

When he signed-on to the Titanic on 6 April 1912, he gave his address as 38 Anderson's Road, (Southampton). He had transferred from the Olympic. Olliver, was a Quartermaster on the Titanic as was his brother-in-law Walter Perkis. His monthly wages amounted to 5.

On the night of 14 April 1912, Olliver had been at the ship's wheel until 10:00 p.m. at which time he was relieved by Robert Hichens. He then was running messages from the officers and was just returning to the wheelhouse when the collision occurred.

As he was coming up, he heard three bells ring out from the crow's nest. He looked out but did not see anything.

"I happened to be looking at the lights on the standing compass and was trimming them so that they would burn properly - then I heard the report...and was just entering the bridge when the shock came." He heard a 'grinding sound and then saw the berg, which he later described as "...about the height of the boat deck; if anything, just a little higher. It was almost alongside the boat. It was not white...it was a kind of dark blue hue."

He remembered the Officer giving an order to "hard aport" as he entered the wheelhouse and Sixth Officer Moody standing next to Hichens to make sure the order was carried out. Questioned at the U S Senate Hearings regarding this, one Senator asked if he meant "hard astarboard" to which he replied, "No, hard a'port was the only order he heard given." However, he did not know anything of what had transpired before his arrival.

Olliver also testified that the watertight doors had been closed at the bridge.

"The First Officer closed the watertight doors...just after she struck and (he) reported to the Captain that they were closed. I heard that myself."

Right after this, the order was given to stop the engines. Olliver was then ordered to go find the carpenter and have him take a draft of the water. When he found the carpenter, on E deck, he was already doing it.

He then took a message to the Chief Engineer in the engine room who told him to tell Captain Smith he would 'get it done as soon as possible'. By this time, the stokers were coming out of the stoke rooms into the alleyway. Olliver then delivered the message to the Captain. It was right after this that the Chief Officer sent him to the boatswain to tell him to uncover the lifeboats and make them ready for lowering.

After carrying out these orders, Olliver then went down to lifeboat 5, where Third Officer Pitman was in charge and was ordered in the boat. He recounted that there were about 40 in lifeboat 5; other crew members, besides himself and Pitman, were two firemen, two stewards and a sailor, the rest were women and children. Olliver tried to make sure the plug was in the boat but all the passengers kept getting stepping on him - he had to beg them to make way. "If not for that, the boat would've been swamped."

The water line of the Titanic was, by his account, about 15 to 20 feet at the bow by this time. After the lifeboat was in the water, Olliver took an oar and helped row. Testifying later at the U.S. Senate Hearings, Olliver backed up Pitman's story that the Third Officer wanted to go back for survivors but "the women passengers implored him not to go because they reckoned it was not safe."

As the ship went under, the Titanic "was well down at the head first...and to my idea she broke forward, and the afterpart righted itself and made another plunge." He then heard several small explosions, which he reckoned were the bulkheads giving away. By this time, he estimated they were about 500 yards off and began to hear cries and screams people in the water - this lasted for about ten minutes. Later, he recounted that their lifeboat was the fourth or fifth picked up by the Carpathia.

It is thought that after the disaster Olliver continued to work for the White Star Line but never worked at sea again.

He died in St. Saviour, Jersey on 18 June 1934.

Available Documents
Crew Particulars of Engagement

Inquiry Testimony
(Courtesy of the Titanic Inquiry Project)
United States Senate Hearings, 25 April 1912, Testimony

References
Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
United States Senate (62nd Congress), Subcommittee Hearings of the Committee on Commerce, Titanic Disaster, Washington 1912

Contributors
Pat Cook, USA
Chris Dohany, USA
Bob Olliver, UK (grandson of Alfred Olliver)
Bill Wormstedt, USA

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    (2014) Alfred Olliver Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #1362, accessed 19th September 2014 08:48:47 AM)

    URL : http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/alfred-olliver.html