Alfred White

Paul Lee

Hi all,
Do people place much credence in the story as related in "Ghosts of the Titanic" relating to Alfred White (his miraculous escape etc.)?

Best wishes


Paul, I have seen a few different interviews with Alfred White, and I don't really know exactly how he escaped. In one interview he hints at being one of those picked up by boat 4, in others it is difficult to tell what he means. He said he was in a lifeboat which was quite full and there were five firemen in this boat. My, admittedly far-fetched, theory is that he might have been one of the many firemen/trimmers in boat 15. On the other hand, he may well have been the eighth, hitherto unknown, person picked up by boat 4.

Best regards,

Peter, it does seem most likely that White was in boat 4 but his manner of arrival is questionable. Craig Stringer's bio of White has him climbing down the falls. Hemming spoke to the unidentified man taken from the water, and had no doubt that he was a 3rd Class passenger who spoke perfect English but with an accent that Hemming didn't recognise. That would rule out White, who was born and raised in Southampton and would have spoken with an accent very familiar to Hemming.
Bob, that's the point. I don't think Alfred White climbed down the falls - at least he didn't do it at the same time as fellow greasers Scott and Ranger. I am still undecided as to what boat he was in - No 4 is an option, certainly. On the other hand, so many men wanted to 'justify' their survival afterwards and being picked up from the sea was perhaps a more heroic thing to say than to state that they just entered a lifeboat without further ado. I believe 2/3 of the surviving male crewmembers entered a starboard boat.

Best regards,

Flicking through Charles Pellegrino's Ghosts of the Titanic last night, I came across a passage about the survival of Alfred White. I read that he escaped by climbing up the inside of the fourth funnel just before the Titanic broke in two and that he rolled into the sea with the funnel as it broke away. He was alleged to have suffered permanent memory loss from an impact injury at this point as he had no recollection of how he managed to get into a lifeboat, although it has been determined he was pulled from the sea into the same boat as Rhoda Abbott.

Also, he mentions that several survivors saw a man hanging off the rudder as the Titanic's stern rose to a height of one hundred feet just before the final plunge.

Are these stories true or is Pellegrino spinning another good yarn?


Hello, Iain. Alfred White gave several interviews but it has to my knowledge never been established how he in fact escaped the ship. He says he was in a lifeboat with 70 people in it, including five firemen, in one interview which perhaps is a bit less dramatic than other ones he gave. I do not believe he was in boat A.
Alfred White is my grandmother's brother....I never knew him ...he died before I was born, I do however have his family history as I am a genealogist.....I'll be in Southampton soon and will update the info for anyone who may be interested...hoping to see his grandchildren while there.
Jill Kirby....Duarte California
I'd be interested to hear how he got off the Titanic. It has been suggested he climbed up the inside of the fourth funnel and rolled off the ship into the water when the funnel broke away.


>>It is amazing.<<

It would be indeed, if it happened that way. Unfortunately, "It has been suggested" is a long way away from "We know this for sure." Since he was a greaser it's not outside the realm of possibility. If he was trapped down below, stack 4 may well have been the only way out.


Former Member
I wonder what would have been in the 4th funnel? Obviously it was a dummy and had nothing, but I mean in the way of climbing ? Why just have a ladder when it would have been A) so large and B) such a climb from the bottom of the ship c) surly safer not to... Must have been more than a ladder - no ? I would not fancy climbing up if that is all there was. Do we know what the way from the bottom of the ship up threw the dummy funnel was like or is this down to logical guess work ?
>>Why just have a ladder when it would have been A) so large and B) such a climb from the bottom of the ship c) surly safer not to... Must have been more than a ladder - no ?<< A ladder is about all that would have been there and about all that was needed. Keep in mind that these people were in very good physical shape and had to be. They just wouldn't have lasted very long otherwise. Also, that stack was more then just a ventilation uptake for the engine room. It also served as a trunk for flue gasses from the galleys.
When you are on a sinking ship and your only escape route is a ladder going up almost 200 feet, it looks better than drowning. Even if it would be an exhausting and difficult climb.
There was nothing very unusual about using stairs and ladders beneath the dummy funnel as a route from the engine room to the upper decks. On the way up there were exits at various levels. That was the means used by another greaser, Thomas Ranger, to get to the boat deck after he had finished his work of switching off all the electric fans. The last of these were actually inside the dummy funnel (or in the casing beneath it), but I can't think of any reason why anybody would have needed to continue up into the funnel itself as a means of escape.