Captain Edward John Smith

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Christopher C. Butler (Ccb2000)

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I have seen Cameron's movie and have read many books. Did Captain Smith really go into the bridge and just wait till the ship went down ? I read a crazy rumor that he jumped into the water and saved a drowning baby then went under the water again. Also, was he the scapegoat for the whole disaster given the fact that he sped up the Titanic even after he got the ice warnings ? Please explain. Thank you very much.
 
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Jeffrey Kern (Jeffrey)

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There are several stories that surround the whereabouts of Captain Smith. One man even claims that Captain Smith had survived, and that in years later he talked to him, but this was obviously not the case. So many different stories...which one is correct? We may never know that answer. Some rumours have it that Captain Smith shot himself, others that the Captain just stood, crossing his arms, while the water engulfed him (where Cameron got his view, probably, for the Captain closing himself inside of the bridge and waiting for his inevitable fate). Who knows which story is true, and I am certain other historians on this forum have a clearer viewpoint than I do about some of these stories.
Captain Smith, out of all of his years at sea, knew that the speeding the ship faster to get to New York (for Ismay's purposes) would be a risky business, and in the end he must have thought, 'Why was I so thick headed to have listened to a man who has had no experience at sea, as opposed to my experience'. Ismay was that man, and Ismay was hoping to get to New York by Tuesday night to attend a dinner party. Ismay was the general scapegoat to the public, at least, in America, however the English praised him. (One of their general scapegoats, at least that I have read about, was Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon, who, in a lifeboat of twelve with two women only, capable of carrying over 40 people, did not go back. This seemed too obvious for the inquiring English public.) I hope I have helped you out in some form in understanding some other rumours about Captain Smith and his whereabouts on that fatal night.
 
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George Behe (Georgeb)

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Jeffrey wrote:

>There are several stories that surround the whereabouts of Captain
>Smith. ...... So
>many different stories...which one is correct?

Hi, Jeffrey!

The account that has always carried the most weight with me is that of Harold Bride. Bride wrote an account of his Titanic experience for the Marconi Company in which he told of seeing Smith dive off the bridge while Bride and his mates were still messing around with the collapsible.

> Ismay was that man, and Ismay was hoping to
>get to New York by Tuesday night to attend a dinner party.

Could you please quote your source for saying that Ismay wished to attend a dinner party on Tuesday night? (I've never heard that before.) Thanks, old chap.

All my best,

George
 
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Jeffrey Kern (Jeffrey)

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I need to retrace where I read that Ismay was planning to attend a dinner party, but it was, I believe, from some book. (I need to start keeping a note of some sources.) I will try to find which book I read that from, for do you think it is true?
 
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George Behe (Georgeb)

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Hi, Jeffrey!

I have serious doubts that Ismay really had plans to attend a New York dinner party on Tuesday evening. In the first place, Ismay always denied wanting Titanic to arrive in New York on Tuesday evening; more importantly, though, it's unlikely Titanic could have reached New York much earlier than about 11 p.m. on Tuesday night (which would have been pretty darned inconvenient for whoever was supposed to be hosting the dinner party that evening.) :)

If you find your source for that allegation, though, I hope you'll share it with us. Thanks.

All my best,

George
 
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Jeffrey Kern (Jeffrey)

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Good reasonings there, George. : ) I could have sworn, however, that I had read he wanted to attend a dinner party, but I could not be sure. I will, again, try to retrace my sources. You have a Merry Christmas!
 
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Gary Truscott (Garyt)

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My thoughts on Capt. Smith are as follows. I accept Harold Brides testimony that he saw Capt. Smith jump into the water from the bridge. Bride also gave evidence that this was five minutes before the the Titanic sank. It was also stated that Capt. Smith was NOT wearing a life preserver.
So here we have Capt. Smith swimming for his life, fully clothed and relying on his pure swimming ablity to stay afloat. Remember also that the water is very very cold. Much colder that most of us can imagine.
A few minutes after Capt. Smith entered the water the bow of the Titanic suddenly plunged downwards creating a giant wave that washed a lot of people off the decks. At about this time Collapsible B floated free from the Titanic. It was in an overturned position. About thirty men eventually clambered aboard Collapsible B. These included Bride, Lightoller, Col. Gracie and one Walter Hurst. I will return to Walter Hurst shortly.
In Col. Archibald Gracie's excellent book " The Truth about the Titanic" he describes in detail his experience on the overturned Collapsible B. If you have a later publication of Gracie's book ( Alan Sutton Publishing Inc) (( titled Titanic.....A Survivors Story)) read pages 89/90. Here it refers to a swimmer, a powerful man with a deep voice who asked for assistance from those on Collapsible B. He was refused on the grounds that " one more would sink us all." Before this brave man swam away he wished those aboard boat B good luck and gave them his blessings. When I first read this I wondered whether this could have been Capt. Smith. Don't ask me why, I just had a hunch.
I return to Walter Hurst. He is mentioned in Walter Lords supberb book " A Night To Remember". On pages 116/117 of this book the incident referred to above is mentioned again albeit from a different viewpoint. Walter Hurst apparently held out an oar to help this " strong and authoritive" man in the water but it was to late. The witness , Walter Hurst was sure it was Capt. Smith.
In the end you have to believe something and I have accepted the word of these witnesses. After all they were there.
George Behe would have forgotten more about the Titanic than I will ever know. George, I would like your opinion.
Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year to you all.
Regards
Gary Truscott
 
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George Behe (Georgeb)

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Gary Truscott wrote:

>My thoughts on Capt. Smith are as follows. I accept Harold Brides
>testimony that he saw Capt. Smith jump into the water from the >bridge.

>In Col. Archibald Gracie's excellent book " The Truth about the >Titanic"
>he describes in detail his experience on the overturned Collapsible >B. .....
>Here it refers to a swimmer, a powerful man with a deep voice who
>asked for assistance from those on Collapsible B. He was refused >on the
>grounds that " one more would sink us all." Before this brave man >swam
>away he wished those aboard boat B good luck and gave them his
>blessings. When I first read this I wondered whether this could have
>been Capt. Smith. Don't ask me why, I just had a hunch.

>Walter Hurst apparently held out an oar to help this " strong and
>authoritive" man in the water but it was to late. The witness , Walter
>Hurst was sure it was Capt. Smith.

Hi, Gary!

I think you've made an excellent circumstantial case that Smith might have been the swimmer in question. We'll never know for *certain*, of course, but I think your theory deserves to be placed right alongside the other theories about Captain Smith's end and that it should be given serious consideration by interested researchers.

Whoever that swimmer was, though, he was a man worth knowing.

>George Behe would have forgotten more about the Titanic than I will >ever
>know.

That isn't the case, old chap, but thanks for your kind words. (Rest assured, though, that I'm forgetting more and more information about the Titanic all the time.) :)

Take care, Gary. I hope that you and everyone here will have a wondeful holiday season.

All my best,

George
 

Tad G. Fitch

Member
Dec 31, 2005
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Hello Gary,
In addition to the evidence which you and George have already discussed, there are a few other witnesses who claimed to have seen Captain Smith, and their versions of events fit those of the other witnesses already described. Second class passenger William John Mellors corraborated Harold Bride's claims about Captain Smith jumping overboard just before the bridge rail submerged. In a press interview given shortly after the disaster, Mellors claimed to have seen Smith, without a lifebelt, jump overboard.

Fireman Harry Senior also claimed to have seen Captain Smith leap overboard, and is one of the crewmen who claimed that Smith actually reached Collapsible B at some point. Cook John Maynard also claimed to have seen Smith in the water alongside B, and went so far as to say that Smith handed him a child before turning away. As you are already aware, Walter Hurst claimed to have seen Smith in the water alongside B. A few others also mentioned this.

Of interest is the fact that some of the crewmembers believed that Captain Smith had reached Collapsible B, and that he was the man who exclaimed 'God bless you, good-bye," in an powerful voice when told that if he climbed aboard, they all would sink. The unknown swimmer's words were recalled independently by Lightoller, Thayer, Gracie, and Eugene Daly amongst others. Did Colonel Gracie know Capt. Smith? In his book, Col. Gracie says that he would have known who the swimmer was if he was acquainted with him, due to his powerful voice. Lightoller described Captain Smith as having a powerful voice. Is it possible that Gracie was not acquainted with Smith? In his book, it becomes clear that he did not know who Lightoller or Murdoch were until after the disaster. He only learned Lightoller's name after he saw him on board the Carpathia following the rescue, and recognized his voice as that of the officer who had been on B with him. He also did not know see or know that Murdoch was one of the officers working at Collapsible A. He learned this 'afterwards.' Maybe the man that Gracie and the others heard was Smith.

Gracie recalled hearing crewmen sitting behind him on Collapsible B discussing the Captain's fate, and he stated that he heard them say that the captain had been aboard briefly. This eliminates the possibility that the story of Smith being at B originated in the press. Thayer also recalled men onboard Collapsible B discussing 'the chief's' fate, and stated that he saw one of the life-rings from the bridge alongside Collapsible B when it was morning. Perhaps Smith really did survive the sinking and did briefly reach Collapsible B before the cold claimed him. In light of all the conflicting statements we'll probably never know for sure, but this explaination seems to be one of the most plausible in my opinion, and does have a quite a bit of evidence to support it.
Best regards,
Tad Fitch
 

Jan C. Nielsen

Senior Member
Dec 12, 1999
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There's some concrete evidence that Captain Smith made it to Collapsible B. In particular, Jack Thayer, who survived on Collapsible B, says in his essay "Sinking of the S.S. Titanic": "I do know that one of the circular life rings from the bridge was there when we got off in the morning. It may be that Captain smith was on board with us for a while. Nobody knew where the "Chief" was."
 
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Kelly Rousseau

Guest
I HAVE A QUESTION PLEASE! =)
I'm doing a report for one of of my classes and I need some feedback please.
Do you feel Captain Smith sunk the ship? Do you think he could have done anything more to prevent the ship from hitting the iceburg?
Feedback would be greatly appriciated, Thanks!!
If you can, e-mail me, if not, Just post it!
 

Mike Herbold

Member
Feb 13, 2001
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Yes, he could have done something -- slow down!! There were plenty of Marconigram ice warnings, even if all of them didn't get to Captain Smith. In his book, "Titanic -- Safety, Speed, & Sacrifice," George Behe even makes the case that Titanic was passing by ice as early as a half hour before the collision, and still didn't slow down. Other ships in the area, like the Californian, actually stopped for the night. Say what you will about Captain Lord not coming to the rescue, but at least none of the people on Californian drowned.
 

Jan C. Nielsen

Senior Member
Dec 12, 1999
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Mike:
I was reading, as I recall, Captain Moore's testimony (he was captain of the Mount Temple). He mentioned that there were plenty of indications of the approaching ice danger, even aside from the marconigrams. For example, the water temperature and air temperature plummeted. According to Moore, this was evidence that the Titanic was approaching an ice field. Just prior to the collision with the iceberg, Lightoller even asked that someone check the water reserviors in the forward part of the ship to see whether they would freeze. The officers must have known of the danger. Yet Smith, Lightoller and Murdoch maintained top speed. I don't buy Lord Mersey's explanation that everyone did it so that's okay. Frankly, what you have here is a very spineless group of men, wholly concerned with their careers, unconcerned about passengers' safety, and lacking the wherewithal to stand up to the senior management person, Ismay . . . for which many others had to pay with their lives. I don't see the officers as heros at all. This kind of conduct is very ordinary, i.e., taking orders, keeping your mouth shut, and hoping everything works out for the best. I see it all the time in the work I do. The really courageous people say or tenaciously demand something of management before a disaster happens. These people are truly rare, and of course, nonexistant in the context of the Titanic story. But in other contexts, I have had the good fortune to meet several such people.
 
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Theodore Moraitis

Guest
After my 25 years study of Titanic's story I have
made my own conclusions (which may be wrong) about Capt.Smith's actions and behaviour before and after the collision. If any one is interested to discuss with me this subject, please email to :
tmoraiti@mms.gr
 
May 12, 2005
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I have always forgotten to mention that, when visiting the Duff Gordons' grave at Brookwood Cemetery during my last visit to England (April), I found the graves of Captain Smith's widow and daughter, located not more than ten yards from the Duff Gordons' gravesite!
 
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Scott Blair

Guest
Hi Randy,

I knew that Eleanor and Helen were buried
there.Did you happen to take photographs?
Are the inscriptions interesting?

I am doing research into their lives post
Titanic.

Were the graves tended? I say this because
as you perhaps know Helen outlived her
husband and twin children.She had no
grandchildren and I surmised that unless
her husband's family looked after things
the graves might not be in good order.

The coincidence of the Duff-Gordons is
amazing given the sheer size of Brook-
wood !

Scott Blair
 
May 12, 2005
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Hi, Scott,

I did take photographs but they aren't as clear as I'd like which is why I haven't sent them to Phil Hind. I was there in the late afternoon and the light was fading which must account for the less than perfect pictures.

The inscription on Mrs. Smith's gravestone I believe read rather conventionally, something like "Widow of Captain Edward J. Smith, Commander of the Titanic," etc. I can't recall if his dates were included. I will get those pics out and send you copies if you'd like but I warn you the inscription is barely readable. Email me if you want copies.

Yes, the graves seemed tended to but the ground is uneven and they are nearly hidden between some trees. One should be careful walking toward them -they can be seen from the little road - as there are holes and such on the way.

This road by the way is St. Margaret's Avenue. The graves face toward a mausoleum in the general vivinity. The Duff Gordons' grave is on this same road but further along closer to the mausoleum. Years ago when I first visited the DGs' grave, there was an old sign identifying the road as St. Margaret's but I believe it is long gone or else hidden by the shrubbery now.

The historic section of Brookwood is very well kept for the most part and there's a quaint chapel not for from the Smith and DG sites. A chaplain came out and watched me while I was meandering around out there and I'm sure I should have said something about my mission as I passed by him on my way out - he might have found it interesting if he didn't already know about those graves.

Oh, I should mention that there was a simple mason jar with fading daffodils in front of Mrs. Smith's stone. I thought it was sweet to see that and I wondered who else had recently visited.

Randy
 
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Cátia Lamy

Guest
Hi!
I believe I read on Walter Lord "A night to remember" that some people saw Capt. Smith on the bridge and, after the ship sink a man saw him try to climb to the upside down collapsible but someone said that there was no room for him and he said something like this "Good luck for you good men".

Now I believe that I've read on that same book that this witness that told that the swimmer was Capt. Smith reached the collapsible AFTER this happen, and the witness got place on the boat (who knows why!!). Whatever, like everyone knows there's always the myth that the good captain swom to a lifeboat with a baby on his arms and, after someone grab the baby, he sunk. Which one is truth???? I don't know but there's always the chance of any of these teories be truth and the Capt., like many others crewmen and passengers, just sunk, anywhere on the ship. maybe he was one of those many who got killed when the ship spilt. I don't know!

Sincerely,

Cátia Lamy, Portugal