Captain Smith

May 8, 2001
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I have been looking at a photo of Captain Smith in a crisp dark colored suit, with gloves in his left hand, in a book called "Titanic Voices". (For those of you who have the book, it is on page 94.) I am drawn to two different items in this photo that maybe one of you could answer.

#1. He has two medals on his left breast (I believe the same ones worn in the picture with him standing next to Lord Pirrie on Olympic in 1911, except that one he has a white cap on.)(pg. 63) What were the medals for?

#2. The said photo (pg. 94) claims to be on the boat deck of Titanic, but it appears that on the deck there are leaves or trash he's standing on, and he is standing next to a square window. Does anyone know if it really IS Titanic?
Many thanks.
Colleen
 

Tracy Smith

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Apr 20, 2012
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I can't really answer your questions, but I've seen that picture with what appears to be trash behind him and I've always wondered why it wasn't swept up before they took the picture.
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Hi, Colleen!

> What were the medals for?

In 1903 Captain Smith was presented with the Transport Medal with the "South Africa" clasp for his command of the SS Majestic transporting troops to the Boer War. In 1910 he was awarded the Royal Naval Reserve Long Service Medal. (He joined the Royal Naval Reserve in 1888.)

Looking forward to seeing you soon, Colleen. :)

All my best,

George
 
Dec 2, 2000
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On the trash behind Smith, if this photo was taken on the Titanic while fitting out (Or the Olympic during a refit or yard availablity.) then trash would have been a pretty common problem. I've done several refits and two major overhauls and I learned the hard way that the yardbirds don't give a flying F word where they heave the rubbish. It's all the unlucky crew can do to keep up with the mess.

Still, for a photo, it does seem rather odd that nobody bothered to pretty up the area a bit.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Joshua Gulch

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Mar 31, 2001
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Colleen,
That's good ole E.J. on Titanic. You can tell by the sidelight behind him, the little window near the deck behind his leg. They served as skylights to the cabins below. Titanic's were circle, Olympic's were oval. The rubbish is due to the ship still being fitted out.

Josh.
 
May 8, 2001
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Thank you Josh! I was looking at the "skylights" in the picture and wondered about their purpose. Interesting to know that they were used to properly identify him on board Titanic. This book does not give times, dates, or who took the picture, to figure when it was taken, furthering my confusion.
I'd come across a photo of some men on a smoke stack that was the exact one Phil Hind had posted here and they claimed that it was Titanic too, so I had reservations about this pictures authenticity.
Captain Smith looked very sharp in his dark suit. When did he wear the white uniform? The live footage of Smith on Olympic, he is in his "Summer whites" IS THIS PRACTICE STILL IN EFFECT CAPTAINS???
Thank you again. Hope your 2002 is better than Geoffs has started...
smile.gif

Colleen
 

Erik Wood

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Apr 10, 2001
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Colleen,

For the most part all officers now where whites year around. Although some of the older Captains still where the black shorts and white shirts sometimes. Cunard officers still go by the same uniform standards that they did back in the 30's. Whites in summer, and "working" uniform the rest of the year.

Erik
 
May 8, 2001
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It is called a "working uniform"? I never heard it mentioned what it was called. Thank you! This may seem like a trivial question, but, when do the officers get to change from their working uniform to the summer whites? Does the area, weather, or geographical location have any bearing on what they are allowed to wear, is it the captain's discretion, or is there a specific date?
Have a good 2002
Colleen
 

Erik Wood

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Apr 10, 2001
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All of what you mentioned Colleen has a bearing on it. For the most part the whites are worn by all officers in a carribean climate while the blacks are used on a North Atlantic trade in the winter.

Erik
 
May 8, 2001
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I just noticed yet another picture of Captain Smith, (with McElroy I believe) on the back cover of Captain Brown's book. He must have proudly worn those medals!
Thank you Cap'n Wood for clearing up the uniform issue. It had been thought that those working tropical climates wore white. (Well they all did in the movie "Out To Sea" with Walter Matthau & Jack Lemmon. I bet you even know the captain on board when they filmed that, & heard stories!
proud.gif
)
Have a fun and safe trip. How long is this proposed cruise you are assisting with?
Sincerely,
Colleen
 

Erik Wood

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I didn't hear any stories about Out to Sea but I heard more then a few about the failed sitcom Love Boat (the new addition that lasted a couple of weeks). I would wear those medals proudly as well. I only have four.

1 is for Maritime Service to the U.S. in the Gulf War. 1 is for plucking 3 fisherman out of the drink off the coast of Texas. 1 is a award the company gives out. Last but not least is my command ribbon.

The only time that I would wear those medals is during formal dinners sometimes I wear them on my dress coat in the ribbon form. Rarely!

Erik
 
May 8, 2001
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As a side note here, I was able to get a close look at the "Titanic Casino Game" the other day, (I make sure I play 3 quarters while there doing my audit) and this very same picture, trash and all, is on the banner. I just had to smile.
Colleen
 
C

Cassandra Crowther

Guest
Four medals? Wow!

I am a great fan of Captain Smith and enjoy learning more about him, so maybe one of you will know the answer to this question. Was he going to retire after TITANIC's maiden voyage or was he going to stay on until GIGANTIC came into service?
I've heard it both ways over the years.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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The nearest thing to documented evidence on Smith’s supposed coming retirement that I can find is an item in The New York Herald of April 11h 1912. It mentions that a month earlier it had been rumoured that he was to retire after Titanic’s maiden voyage. On April 10th the New York office of White Star issued a denial and said that he would remain captain of Titanic until the line commissioned ‘a larger and finer vessel’.

Note that the new vessel was not named. White Star always denied that the new ship would be called Gigantic, though the name was mentioned in papers of the time. The well-known poster of Gigantic is not a White Star publication and the ship shown on it is in Cunard colours, so it’s hardly a reliable source.

Personally, I’m inclined to believe the White Star denial, because it was issued before the disaster. I think that the idea of the maiden voyage being Smith’s last was later used to add irony to the tale. You know the sort of thing. ‘Triumphant Farewell Turns to Disaster’. The original rumour may have been sparked by the Olympic/Hawke collision. It may have been thought the White Star would arrange for Smith to honourably retire after the accident, regardless of who was at fault. Some were surprised that he wasn’t sacked. It’s just possible that the idea came from the fact that he had retired from the Royal Naval Reserve and is therefore listed on the crew list as ‘Retired Commander’.
 
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Cassandra Crowther

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Dear Dave,
Thank you very much for the information. Interesting, too that it was issued before the disaster, and does lead me to suspect you are right. Again, thank you
 

Mark Baber

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Dec 29, 2000
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Hello, Dave---

Rumors of Smith's retirement had appeared in New York some months (at least) before Titanic's sailing; in fact, an article about it appeared in The New York Times on 6 June 1911, shortly before Olympic's maiden voyage. Then, the Times reported that "it is understood" that Smith was going to retire by the end of the year "as he will have reached the age limit" and that he would be succeeded as White Star commodore---a rank Smith never actually held---and Olympic's captain by H. J. Haddock, who was then commander of Oceanic II. Titanic, "it is said", was to be under the command of Bertram Hayes---who in years to come WOULD actually hold the title of "Commodore"---or Henry Smith. This is the earliest New York reference to Smith's retirement that I've come across so far.

Several months earlier, though, Bruce Ismay had come to New York on Mauretania. "When asked who would command the new ships, he replied that Capt. E. J. Smith, Commander, R. N. R., of the Adriatic, would probably have the Olympic, and Capt. H. J. Haddock, Commander R. N. R., of the Oceanic, would have the Titanic." (The New York Times, 4 November 1910.) The rumors, then, would seem to have originated in the first half of 1911.

MAB