Edward John Buley was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England on 20 June 1885. He was the son of John Buley (1858-1922) and Mary Ann Pope (1864-1914). His father was from Tonbridge, Kent and his mother from Portsmouth and they had married in Portsea in 1882.
Edward was one of fourteen children, five of whom died in infancy. His known siblings were: Rosetta May (b. 1884), Percy Arthur (b. 1888), Sidney Caleb (b. 1890), Nellie Beatrice (b. 1892), George Richard (b. 1894), twins Maurice Frederick and Thomas Henry (b. 1899), Lily (b. 1901), Walter Stanley (b. 1904) and Doris Winifred (b. 1905).
On the 1891 census Edward is listed as living with his family at the Coastguard Station in Bexhill, Sussex where his father is listed as a boatman for H.M. Customs. On the 1901 census Edward's family are living in Sholing, Southampton, Hampshire. He is absent, perhaps already having started a career in Royal Navy. On the 1911 census Edward, his parents and siblings are listed as living at 12 Brittania Road, Northam, Southampton and he is described as unmarried and as serving as an able-bodied seaman in the Royal Navy.
The Titanic would be Buley's first trip in the mercantile marine. He had been serving in the Royal Navy aboard H.M.S. Dreadnought as an A.B. seaman and seaman gunner, but so that he might "better help his mother" he bought his discharge from the Navy and joined the White Star Line as an able seaman. As such, he earned £5 a month.
Buley was sitting in the mess, reading, when the collision occurred and felt a 'slight jar'. Not long after, First Officer Murdoch ordered the seaman to uncover boats which took about 20 minutes.
Buley worked the starboard side, assisting the boats, then went port side. In his own words, "Chief Officer asked who I was and I told him and he said 'Jump in and see if you can find another seaman to give you a hand'. I found Evans and we both got in the boat" (lifeboat 10). He remembers between 60-70 in the boat, mostly women and children. Some of the women had to be literally thrown into the boats because they didn't want to get in themselves. "One lady slipped and they caught her by the foot on the deck below."
Their lifeboat was, by his estimate, about 750 yards from the Titanic when it went down. He was one of the few that stated that the Titanic 'snapped in two' and then went into great detail about seeing her 'after part' float for about 5 minutes. After about an hour in the water, Lowe came by and redistributed the passengers. Buley went with Lowe in boat 14 and stated they picked up 4 people from the water.
Upon return to England Edward returned to the sea. Following the outbreak of war in 1914 in Europe, Edward returned to Naval service. He was on board the destroyer HMS Partridge when she was torpedoed and sunk by German destroyers in the North Sea on 12 December 1917. Edward lost his life, aged 32 (service number 213566). He is remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.
In his Senate testimony, he refers to Murdoch as Chief Officer Murdoch.
References and Sources
United States Senate, Washington 1912. n° 806, Crew List
United States Senate (62nd Congress), Subcommittee Hearings of the Committee on Commerce, Titanic Disaster, Washington 1912
Wreck Commissioners' Court, Proceedings before the Right Hon. Lord Mersey on a Formal Investigation Ordered by the Board of Trade into the Loss of the S.S. Titanic
Gavin Bell, UK
Pat Cook, USA
Chris Dohany, USA
Bill Wormstedt, USA