How much was Lightoller thinking of the steerage women & children


Richard Paola

Member
Nov 17, 2001
74
0
146
I always wondered what among the many thoughts that ran through Lightoller's mind as he was supervising the loading of lifeboats...as disciplined as he was to ensure women & children first, does anyone know if he took any aggressive measures to seek out steerage women after all "deck women" were exhausted ? was he even aware of them ? who was coordinating the "decks below" ?
 
Dec 6, 2000
1,480
3
221
Hi Richard,

Are you aware when you say all "deck women" that that excluded the stewardesses?

Lightoller is on record as saying: "Excepting the stewardesses. We turned several of these away." - Senate Hearings page 75.

Lester
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,612
652
483
Easley South Carolina
G'Day Richard. I really don't believe Lights gave it a lot of thought if any and he was hardly in a position to do so. His concern was to load the boats and get them away, and he had to go swimming to catch the last one. If there was any co-ordination at all (Doubtful, but who knows for sure?) it would have been a task left to others.

I've been reading Lightoller's Senate testimont today, and from what I can see, he had his hands full from the time they started lowering boats until the ship sank.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Richard Paola

Member
Nov 17, 2001
74
0
146
I wasn't aware of that Lester...i guess "excluding steerage" can also be added to that statement. Michael, i would have to agree with you - what Lightoller did that night was nothing short of miraculous. Still, it's sad when you read about officers yelling "lower away", when there still ARE more women & children. In the 1997 movie, they portrayed stewards guarding the steerage gates..this actually happened in a coordinated effort ??
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,612
652
483
Easley South Carolina
Ah...what steerage gates? Gaurded by who? There was an article in the Titanic International Society's latest issue of Voyage which indicates that the stories cannot be reconciled with the actual layout of the ship. The only "locked gate" that I know of would have been at the top of the ladder going from the aft welldeck up to B Deck on the ship's superstructure.

I'll have to look into this more when I get the chance, but I have to wonder if the "locked gates" being gaurded by crewmen were more sea story then reality.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Don Tweed

Member
Mar 30, 2006
590
11
111
Richard,
I do know that Steward John Hart led 3rd class passengers to the safety of the boats.
He made two trips from the 3rd class stairway on E deck to the boat deck saving some 55 women and children, nearly half of those saved from 3rd class!!! It is said that the route was pre-determined for there were stewards posted along the way to "nudge them along".
When he arrived on the boat deck with his second group of passengers only boat #15 was left in the davits. He put his people in the boat and an unamed officer directed Hart to get in also.

He earned his place in a lifeboat that night.
Steward John Hart, a true hero, in my opinion.

All the best, Don
 
Dec 6, 2000
1,480
3
221
Don,

With regard to your comments about Steward John Hart have you read the paper:
John Edward Hart: Dubious Hero; by David Gleicher. It is on this web-site.

Lester
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
5,041
296
353
I think that David Gleicher overstates his case a bit but essentially he's right. Hart's story was regarded with some suspicion in Lord Mersey's court. At the most, he seems to have brought up his first group and left them to their own devices. They might have ended up anywhere. Then he brought up another group and left with them. And on his own evidence he took ages to do it all. Lord Mersey remarked on the tendency of the witnesses to exaggerate the number of passengers put into boats (especially the women and children) and to minimise the number of men and crew. Hart was no orphan!
 
S

sharon rutman

Guest
Good grief give Lights a break! His main concern was to fill up the boats under his supervision with whatever women and children were already on deck. The man isn't psychic--how was he supposed to know what was going on in steerage?
 
Nov 22, 2000
1,458
9
223
He may not have been psychic, but as a senior officer he knew that there were insufficient places in those boats for all aboard, and yet still sent them away woefully empty. The new Murdoch book, due out later this year, is very critical of Lightoller's actions that night and subsequently.
 
R

Rachel Walker

Guest
In the 1997 movie, Titanic, gates were locked, trapping 3rd class people, even women and children, in the lower decks and they were never released. Did that really happen? Were hundreds of people really locked in the sinking ship?
Rachel
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,612
652
483
Easley South Carolina
>>Were hundreds of people really locked in the sinking ship?<<

The short version is "No." This doesn't mean there wasn't a lot of confusionor attempts by some of the crew to keep people down below by some of the crew, but the hundreds seen coming up late in the sinking make it rather difficult to suggest that they were locked below.

Titanic has a lot of myths and this one is the most enduring, and most of it centers around the Bostwick style scissors gates often portrayed in the movies. The problem with this is that of the two known to exist, one was way up forward and couldn't have been as factor as this area was flooded early on. A second set was in a crew only area. The locked gates spoken of in the inquiries were waist high gates at the top of the stairwells leading up to B deck from the Well decks and nobody seemed to have a problem getting over them. If you have Powerpoint in your computer, you may wish to go to This Webpage and then click on "Cathy's Powerpoint presentation" for some of the latest research into this one.

 
May 14, 2007
9
0
71
As most of you are aware, Lights was strictly interested in getting as many people off of Titanic, as quickly as possible, while still sticking to his Captains orders. In his autobiography (the odyssey of C H Lightoller) Lights totally felt guilt about those who he was not able to help up until his death on December 8th, 1952. I think that Lights was a hero, he did his job and lived to tell the tale.
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,044
87
308
UK
Lights' autobiography was Titanic and Other Ships, which covered his life up to the period just after the Great war. Patrick Stenson's 'Odyssey' was written long after his death so it does cover the whole of his life and is an excellent biography, but if you want to read Lights' story in his own words the earlier book is the one to look for.
 
Jan 10, 2006
95
0
86
In the 1997 movie, Titanic, gates were locked, trapping 3rd class people, even women and children, in the lower decks and they were never released. Did that really happen? Were hundreds of people really locked in the sinking ship?

Rachel,

I've written a long book--The Rescue of the Third class on the Titanic--that attempts to give answers to the questions you asked. Here's some conclusions I reached.

Gates were not necessarily locked, but the main entry points to the upper decks on the afterend were manned by Masters at Arms and other unknown crew members who restricted men from getting to the boats beginning some time between 12:45 and 1AM.

Women and children were not restricted, but by about lAM those women and children who died were amongst over three hundred men, mostly Third Class, down in the stern of shipt. No attempt was made by the officers to bring them up to the lifeboats. Lightoller was oblivious to all this as he was to much of what was going on.

By the way, the depiction in the movie of the Third Class is a blown up version of a story testified to by the Thrid Class passenger, Daniel Buckley, which was at most a minor incident unrelated to what happened to the Third Class in general.

DG
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
5,041
296
353
I think one of the best points in David's book is his insight into the chaos created when several hundred third class men went aft and mixed with the third class women and children. There must have been a hopeless mixup in a confined space.

As David says, Lightoller would not have known what was going on. Note also Gracie's surprise at the numbers that came from below decks in the last minutes.
 

Julie Goebel

Member
Feb 24, 2007
50
0
86
If Lightoller did realize that he didn't see many third class women and wanted to see if they were having trouble finding their up to the top (like he said may have become a problem) I'm sure him leaving his duties on the boat deck to find them would not have been appreciated. Also, he probably would have been lost.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,612
652
483
Easley South Carolina
>>I'm sure him leaving his duties on the boat deck to find them would not have been appreciated.<<

You're right, it wouldn't have been. An officer's job is not to tend to details like that. He was needed at the boats to superintend their loading and launching. The victualling crew were the people who were tasked with mustering the passengers.
 

Similar threads

Similar threads