1. Welcome to Encyclopedia Titanica
    or subscribe for unlimited access to ET! You can also login with , or !
    Dismiss Notice
  2. We use cookies to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners who may combine it with other information you’ve provided to them or they’ve collected from your use of their services. More information
    Dismiss Notice

Behe's Titanic Tidbits

Discussion in 'Web sites' started by Phillip Gowan, May 18, 2002.

  1. Phillip Gowan

    Phillip Gowan Member

    Earlier in the week I popped over to George Behe's website (Titanic Tidbits) for the first time in awhile and found three new pages worth checking out--about Astor, Phillips and the Californian. Apparently George added the pages back in February so if you haven't visited since then, it is worth taking a peek.

    http://ourworld.comp userve.com/homepages /Carpathia/


    [Moderator's note: As of February 2010, George Behe's web site can be found at http://home.comcast.net/~georgebehe/titanic/. MAB]
  2. Thanks Phil,

    I've just looked in over there and have read the Astor piece which is very good. And it's so true what George says: an "undisputed fact" is the first thing for a researcher TO dispute! And to determine if indeed it IS a fact at all. I never realized there were accounts which claim that Astor's body was NOT crushed upon recovery. How did that rumor get started anyhow?

  3. Does anybody know what the story is with George anyway? He hasn't been here in awhile.

    Thanks for the heads up Phil on the update. I'll have to be certain to check it out.

    Michael H. Standart
  4. Thanks for pointing us to these updates, Phil! I'm especially happy to see the Astor piece, as it updates a very old e-mail regarding this, from George to one of the mailing lists.
  5. Tony Sheils

    Tony Sheils Member


    Thanks for drawing our attention to "George Behe's Tidbits" - I for one was unaware of them.
    As you suggest they are well worth a read through.

  6. All,

    I am likely late to the updates on George's site so if the three "new" articles I am going to mention have already been mentioned on another thread, my apologies.

    If not, I thought I'd direct readers to Behe's Titanic Tidbits (http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/Carpathia/)to read the thought-provoking article on Jack Phillips, a very thorough but concise run-down of the ever-contested positions of Titanic-Californian (aided by great graphics from Bev Crowder), and an original (if controversial) take on the officer suicide issue by Susanne Stormer.

    George as usual offers up the best kind of reading - the kind that gets mind-wheels turning and sparks debate.

    Thanks George!

  7. Inger Sheil

    Inger Sheil Member

    I've had a look at Susanne Stormer's comments re the suicide question, and am quite surprised - I thought she knew more about the Titanic's officers, and about James Moody in particular. I realise that her intention is to deflect speculation away from Murdoch as the suicidal officer, but to attempt to seriously put forward Moody on the grounds she has suggested is gobsmacking. I'm particularly disapointed to see that my name was mentioned in connection with one of her supporting 'arguments' - I certainly don't want to be associated with this work in any way.

    I'm very tempted to do a point-by-point rebuttal. As Stormer has not done as much work on Moody as she has on Murdoch, she may be genuinely in error. However, I have to question the objectivity of a researcher who rejects no less than three sightings of Moody on the starboard side on no better grounds than that they don't fit her theory of a suicide at 14-16 (a point that is extraordinarily contentious in and of itself).

    Take, for example, just one of her points - her suggestion that Rheims reported the officer who shot himself as having saluted first. She argues that this could possibly the clincher, because Moody had training along RN lines aboard the Conway, whereas Wilde and Murdoch did not have RN training.

    It may indeed be the a definitive point, but not in the way that Stormer proposes. James Moody attended HMS Conway from 1902-03...he was 14-16 when he attended the training ship, and had left it nearly nine years before he joined the Titanic. After that, Moody had no further contact with the RN. Any references to the Navy in his correspondence tend to be light-hearted.

    Murdoch and Wilde, while they may not have been in the RN, were active members of the RNR - their ranks entailed RN training, and the RNR was important enough to them that these ranks were incorporated onto their headstones. Is there a record of an RNR officer serving in the merchant service saluting? Yes. In a ceremony in 1912, Harold Lowe - although he was then wearing his WSL uniform - gave what was described as a 'smart naval salute'. Although he, like Wilde and Murdoch, had never been in the RN, he was trained in the RNR.

    Moody, contrary to some sources, never joined the RNR.

    Susanne's arguments for ignoring Wynn's evidence for Moody being on the starboard amounts to suggesting that Moody had ordered him over to a starboard boat from the portside - an argument I find highly unconvincing. Likewise, she attempts to obfuscate Lee's description of the officer loading 13 by suggesting vaguely that it could have been someone else - even, bizarrely, Harold Lowe. Not only is there a lack of evidence to support the idea that Lowe was ever at the starboard aft boats, to answer her question about Lowe's height, he was recorded at either 5'7" 1/2 - 5'8" and was described by those who saw him as 'small' and 'dark'...a far cry from the description by Lee of the officer he saw at 13. Lee's description is a spot-on verbal sketch of James Moody. Lee had his height correct to within an inch, described him as having a 'fresh complexion' (the fair-skin, blue eyed and light-haired Moody had often suffered from sunburn with his fair skin), very spare (Moody's slenderness is evident in both descriptions and full length photographs I've seen of him) and was the 'fifth or sixth officer' whom, as far as Lee knew, was drowned.

    Nor do we need to rely on Lee or Wynn to place Moody on the Starboard side - Hemming puts him there by name. Stormer's sole basis for doubting Hemming boils down to this: they had not known each other long enough for Hemming to identify Moody. I don't buy this at all. Hemming doesn't hem or haw or say he 'thinks' it was Moody. He names him very matter of factly. Moody had spent much of the time since joining the ship in Belfast overseeing stores coming aboard. Hemming was in deck as a lamptrimmer. The two would have had a good deal of contact since joining the ship, and there is no reason to doubt Hemming's ability to identify Moody.

    Stormer also attempts to place a gun in Moody's hand - although there is absolutely no evidence that he had one - by suggesting that as Lowe had a private weapon aboard, Moody might have had one as well. This betrays Stormer's lack of knowledge about these two men.

    Lowe was a lifelong weapons enthusiast and gun officiando, to the point where he had received invitations to officially compete. Moody had absolutely no such interest. In going through Moody's correspondence spanning the whole of his short life, I have seen only two references that I can recall to guns or shooting. One was a mention in a letter that some of the crew (not he himself) had shot seabirds during a crossing in sail. The other was a comment on a rifle his brother had sent him. Moody found the fact he had been presented with a gun both hilariously funny and quite bemusing. It had been passed on from another branch of the family when they moved, and - as Moody said - he had absolutely no earthly use for it and intended to sell it at the earliest opportunity. In all his letters, when he describes his activities from caving to swimming to reading magazines and getting a decent panama hat, he shows no interest in or inclination to own or use a gun. While it is hard to prove a negative, there is no reason to suppose he carried his own private weapon aboard the Titanic, and to do so would be out of character.

    Then there is Stormer's quite surreal argument that his fellow officers didn't like Pitman (part of her attempt to explain how he doesn't fit into her 'Oceanic'/'Adriatic' schism, which is another point I dispute very strongly). The only evidence she can muster for this is a rather idiosyncratic reading of a query Boxhall made as the identity of a call he received from the stern (he asked if it was the third officer). From this absolutely flimsy point, she has extrapolated a scenario that Pitman was the odd man out. I'd disagree with this, pointing not only to lack of evidence suggesting such (one can't take the Boxhall comment as seriously indicating Boxhall harboured any ill feeling towards Pitman), but also to indicators that Lightoller relied on Pitman's support aboard the Carpathia (it was with Pitman he visited at least one first class passenger, and it was with Pitman that he went over the lifeboats that were brought aboard).

    There are so many holes in Stormer's argument, so many tenuous arguments built on flimsy grounds, that one hardly knows where to begin. Essentially, though, it boils down to a suggestion that Moody was the suicidal officer because she believes the suicide took place at the loading of 14/16, and that no one saw him alive after that point, therefore it must have been the sixth officer. In order to even accept this much, we must adopt the highly contentious argument that the suicide occured at 14/16, and we must dismiss Wynn, Lee and Hemming. This is in spite of the fact that there is no evidence whatsoever that Moody even had a gun and no eyewitnesses that suggest he shot anyone.

    I'm busy at the moment, but I think that - for the sake of historical clarity, if nothing else - Stormer's obfuscating, muddy arguments must be countered. I'll begin compiling a detailed response. Stormer, in her latest book, is critical of those who have argued for the Murdoch suicide, and talks about mythologising. She's subjecting Moody to the same treatment here. She's also scathing about Lightoller, and suggests (without a convincing argument, I might add) that he edited out Wilde's role at loading lifeboats. I contend she has done exactly the same thing here to Moody - by having him kill himself and denying evidence that he assisted at the starboard boats, she has edited him out.

    The last time we see Moody is through Hemming's testimony, when he was working at A. I think it does him a tremendous disservice to try and edit him out of the role he took in saving lives - and to do so on such flimsy grounds as Stormer's arguments is bordering on the risible.
  8. George Behe

    George Behe Member

    Hi, Randy!

    Thanks for your kind words about the various articles on my website -- I appreciate it very much.

    Hope you're well, old chap.

    All my best,

  9. Without any reflection on my friend George who has given us a most interesting alternative view of the issue through Miss Stormer's paper, I do have a great deal of trouble with the argument that Moody was the suicide. The problem with Stormer's work (particularly her Murdoch biography) in my opinion is that she teeters far too near the edge of logic in her conclusions which tend to be based merely on estimations and assumptions. She fills in the holes with likelihoods, not documented facts. Supposition and "guestimating" can't be entirely avoided in any account of history but when it's unavoidable it ought to be presented as such and not as fact.

    I can't go into the specifics as Inger has done because I am not at all familiar with the life of Moody but I agree that Stormer is stretching events and testimony to suit an already defined agenda. That agenda in my opinion is to remove the suspicion of suicide from Murdoch. To point the finger at Moody doesn't occur to Stormer as unfair. So long as her purpose is served, it doesn't matter if another's reputation is besmirched. It is a means to an end - the goal being to acquit Murdoch.

    All the years of speculation about the suicide of an officer is, to my mind, victimization in itself anyway. That Murdoch has taken the brunt of suspicion is a sad fact but I don't see the point in creating another victim in Moody just to deflect the rumors.

    Still I want to thank George for inviting Stormer to present her views. It's a good show of fair play and that's essential to the game.

    I also much enjoyed the play by play format of the Californian article. For me (being a technical dunce) the visuals really help. It is a very well crafted piece and I agree with George's points straight through.

  10. Inger Sheil

    Inger Sheil Member

    She fills in the holes with likelihoods, not documented facts.

    Often not even likelihoods at all, but Stormer's extremely tenuous and controversial 'interpretations'.

    It's a good show of fair play and that's essential to the game.

    I don't think it's really a show of 'fair play' to give someone a platform to present their extremly bigoted and one-sided attempt to put the responsibility for the suicide on one candidate, without offering any rebuttal or opportunity to rebut this monstrous editing of history.

    This represents a tremendous slur upon the memory of a man who gave his life during the sinking of the Titanic after turning down the chance to leave in a lifeboat. It is done in defiance of the bulk of evidence, and it is allowed to go unaddressed, unchallenged, unimpeded.

    Whatever injustice Stormer feels has been done to Murdoch, she has repaid it tenfold upon an innocent man.
  11. George Behe

    George Behe Member

    Hi, Randy!

    >Still I want to thank George for inviting Stormer to present her views.

    You're quite welcome, old chap.

    >I also much enjoyed the play by play format of the Californian article.

    I'm glad you found the article worthwhile, since it concerned a topic that had never been thoroughly explored before (which -- when it comes to the Californian controversy -- is quite a rarity.) :)

    All my best,

  12. Inger,

    >>I don't think it's really a show of 'fair play' to give someone a platform to present their extremly bigoted and one-sided attempt to put the responsibility for the suicide on one candidate, without offering any rebuttal or opportunity to rebut this monstrous editing of history.<<

    I have agreed with you that Moody is served abominably in Stormer's account but who better to dispute her claims than yourself? Who has done the research, the real homework to know the essential Moody? You have. What better venue than this for you to give the facts as you've discovered them? You have done so beautifully.

    We had spoken some time ago about your desire to challenge Stormer's assessment which we both agreed was heinous. However much a "Pellegrino" she is in my opinion, I have to accept that others revere her (as they do him). It is only right that platforms are provided for all points of view.

    You are much closer to this issue than I. Your heart, as much as your mind, is in the story of young Moody, just as mine has been in Lucile's story. I could sprout horns and hooves when I see her criticized because I am far too close to accept that others just don't understand her as I do. They couldn't possibly. Likewise, no one can know the meaning of Moody's tale in quite the same way as you know it and feel it.

    We are both attempting to breathe life into shadowy, shattered figures. It seems the world doesn't see - and maybe it will never fully see - what we have seen.

    But it doesn't stop me from trying to set the record straight whenever I have a chance. I repeat myself, I know, in my arguments but I can't be silent. That would be worse, to say nothing. I state my defense of my subject in the hope that someday what I have learned will open others' eyes, too.

    That is what you must remember in your own struggle to tell the truth about Moody. What you have said above in defense of Moody is just what people need to hear.

    I wanted you to have an opportunity to speak about the Moody you have uncovered - the one I "meet" when we talk of him, his family, his hopes and plans for a different life, the life he never got to live. It is that life - the dream life that never was - to which you are paying equal tribute while setting down the facts of the very real life that ended so tragically premature.

  13. Inger Sheil

    Inger Sheil Member

    If you think this is about a sentimental attachment to Moody, you're incorrect.

    Yes, he had dreams, a life and ambitions that were all quashed. But this isn't about them. I don't expect you, Behe or Stormer or anyone else to give a toss about who and what he was (and it's evident that many don't).

    This is about fact, history and the mauling of it. This is about twisting data to fit an agenda. And it's more blatant and unfettered than that which the pro-Californian writers are accused of. It is also presented without anything to counterbalance it. It represents an injustice not only to Moody, but to our understanding of the disaster itself.

    I most certainly will be issuing a rebuttal - one that will probably be too detailed for the ET site, but I may perhaps put up a summary here.

    Btw - photoshopping an image is an interesting approach to illustrating an article, but if you've seen a few photos of Moody, it becomes apparent that his face was asymmetrical. Flipping one side gives a distorted idea of his expression and features, giving him an over quizzical or wistful appearance. But then, that's in keeping with twisting the story of what he accomplished to fit someone else's ends. Murdoch - the object of Stormer's adoration and exultation - would no doubt be spinning.

    I'm away in Wales on research for a couple of days, but I'd be more than happy to debate Stormer or anyone else here on this article when I return.
  14. George,

    I was asked about your new Phillips article and I concur with what you wrote there. The reason why I am writing now is to contribute another piece of the puzzle.

    My own forensic analysis of the wreck turned up an interesting detail...the main switch, on the D.C. panel of the double switchboard, was discovered to be in the open position. That is a deliberate placement of the switch; in other words, it did not open during the sinking. There are spring clips and tension springs to keep the switch closed...its twin on the adjacent A.C. panel is in the closed position. No, the open switch on the D.C. panel in the Silent Room tells me that Phillips deliberately shut down the apparatus before abandoning the space. From this, I am convinced that at the very least, Phillips made it out of the Marconi Room. For the rest, I would be dependent on Bride's testimony and any interpretations thereof.

    Hope this is of some use to you.

  15. George,

    I appreciate your website and all its articles. The mark of a good editor is to present original work and give all a voice.

    The Phillips story is intriguing to me for the ferreting out of the truth of Lightoller's and Bride's memories. I had always wondered how reliable were the accounts of his being seen on collapsible A. It's good to have the stories examined in a new light.

    Thanks again for a top rate site.

  16. Inger,
    I wish you would publish a point-by-point rebuttal to that pack of distortions published by Susanne Stormer. Her insinuations and manipulation of testimony to fuel her conspiratorial theories are ridiculous. That article borders on absurdity and could be harmful to readers who might believe that flack.
    The points you did raise against the article are appreciated and well-received. Thanks for taking the time to rebuke it, as much as you could in this limited forum.
  17. George's computer has fallen victim to a power surge caused by the Big Blackout so he can't contribute for the moment. He is still able to send and receive e-mail from another computer but his internet connection is "fried" for the time being. My computer was temporarily knocked out as well. Even in small town Texas, New York's misfortunes had an affect!
  18. (This message is sent in behalf of George Behe)

    Hi Parks!

    Sorry about my delay in replying to your post -- I've had computer problems ever since the Big Blackout (My thanks to Randy Bigham for forwarding this message to ET.)

    Thanks very much for sharing the Marconi information based on your personal research and your detailed evaluation of Cameron's video and stills. Interesting stuff!

    >>My own forensic analysis of the wreck turned up an interesting detail...the main switch, on the D.C. panel of the double switchboard, was discovered to be in the open position. That is a deliberate placement of the switch; in other words, it did not open during the sinking. <<

    That brings up an interesting question that might be unanswerable (but I'll ask it anyway.) happy.gif

    As you know, the Virginian thought she heard the Titanic send "CQ" at 2:17 a.m., after which the ragged wireless signal ended abruptly. However, I've always wondered whether or not this signal truly came from the Titanic, since my impression of the sinking is that Bride and Phillips probably evacuated the Marconi room considerably earlier than just three minutes before the entire ship vanished.

    Based on your own knowledge and research do you think Phillips would have deliberately switched off his transmitter in "mid transmission" like the Virginian's operator suggested -- and like the switch you've examined would also suggest (if we accept the Virginian account is accurate, that is). If not, do you think it's possible that the Virginian might have been mistaken about the ragged 2:17 a.m. "CQ" having come from the Titanic? (This would of course depend on whether or not the tone of the Titanic's wireless signal had a unique signature that would eliminate it's being confused with transmissions from another ship.)

    If you have any other thoughts about the 2:17 a.m. "CQ" and whether or not you believe Phillips and Bride were still on duty at the time, I'd be interested to hear your ideas (Maybe I'm just wrong in believing that Bride and Phillips left the Marconi room prior to 2:17 a.m.)

    >>Hope this is of some use to you.<<

    Absolutely! Every additional piece of the puzzle that we can glean from various sources will add to our knowledge of the sinking. Thanks for sharing your findings and thoughts with us.

    All my best,