How much was Lightoller thinking of the steerage women & children


Status
Not open for further replies.
Apr 27, 2000
95
0
236
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.

Michael,

There is no evidence at all that I know of that stewards or any other crewmen were organized to bring Third Class women and children out of the stern after 12:30 AM or so, and before that these passengers were generally told to stay in their rooms.

The only organized effort undertaken on the lower decks of the ship with regard to the Third Class passengers was the massive movement of Third Class men from the forward end to the stern begun within fifteen minutes or so after the accident. Several stewards (including the famous Steward Hart) testified to this effort.

What you refer to as a "detail" most likely cost the lives of almost every woman and child that died on the Titanic. No, it wasn't Lightoller's responsibility because the truth is he played an extremely narrow and ineffective role in the rescue effort altogether (for much of the time he wasn't on the Boat Deck at all, but on A Deck at the forward end of the ship).

It does appear however that Smith (which he most likely communicated to Wilde and even perhaps Murdoch and Lightoller as well) made a decision at some point not to send stewards or any other crew, down in the stern--where there were hundreds of Third Class men--to try and bring up the women and children there.

I believe the authorities on the Titanic, in general, viewed the Third Class men as dangerous, and rather than risk anarchy on the ship they chose to limit the rescue of the Third Class women and children to only those who somehow made it on their own up to the boats.

DG
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,655
854
563
Easley South Carolina
>>There is no evidence at all that I know of that stewards or any other crewmen were organized to bring Third Class women and children out of the stern after 12:30 AM or so, and before that these passengers were generally told to stay in their rooms.<<

And I didn't say that there was an organized effort, did I? What I'm pointing out was that this matter was not Lightoller's concern. His concern was dealing with the lifeboats.

That the victualling crew may have dropped the ball on this...or were class selective about who they got into their lifevests and got to the boat deck....doesn't really take away from their responsiblity to carry out the job of mustering the passengers.
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Mar 16, 2000
5,055
339
433
"I believe the authorities on the Titanic, in general, viewed the Third Class men as dangerous."

It may be heresy to say it, but I've long thought that some of the third class men were 'dangerous'. Sixty of them survived and practically all of them were unattached men from the forward berths. How many third class women and children lost their places in the boats to these men?
 
Apr 30, 2007
64
0
96
Dave. I don't think the fact that 60 3rd class mostly unattached passengers surviving provides the justification for labelling some of them as 'dangerous'. Approx 41 got away in the starboard boats, boats in which men were being allowed in by the officers.(If surplus women & childen had been on the boat deck at that time I'm sure the officers present would have assured them seats.) Approx 9 others survived by being lucky enough to be near the 2 collapsibles that floated off. The balance somehow managed to escape the boot of Mr Lightoller on the Port side. The majority appear therefore to have got away fair & square. I believe what made the 3rd class potentially dangerous was the high percentage of foreigners amongst them. My reasoning for this is as follows. Good manners and fairplay were strong principles for the English speaking gentleman of that era and the concept of standing back and taking one's turn was second nature to most. But the majority of foreigners would not have been very familiar with this concept nor possibly the principle of 'women & children first' . Even today people from some non British countries find the British trait of automatically queuing for everything rather quaint if not bizarre. It is no surprise therefore to find that the vast majority of the 60 3rd class men who ensured they manoeuvered their way to the boats were in fact foreigners. Any mass rush for the boats, had it happened, would have been more likely to have come from this group making the foreign third class passengers the potentially dangerous ones.
 
Apr 30, 2007
64
0
96
I don't think David G's comment on Lightoller should go without comment. I have been quite taken aback to find that the second officer suffers so much negative criticism. When David states "...he played an extremely narrow and ineffective role in the rescue effort..." I wonder if the description has been made relative to the "performance" of others, not just those on board but all mariners who had a duty to do all in their power to save souls at sea that night. Capt Lord and his crew for example! Lest we forget that even in bitterly cold weather Lightoller had to take off his coat due to perspiration such was his workmanlike all round efforts in the absence of sufficient deck crew to help him. There's only so much one man can do. Meanwhile Lord was tucked up warm in his bed whilst his inept watch crew were enjoying the 'firework display'. I have read much of the work both for and against these men but the figures speak volumes. Lightoller gave his all, almost going down with the ship and managed to assist in the rescue of approx 300 of a possible 542 (approx capacity of the 9 port boats launched)- an approx 55% success rate. Lord and his crew rescued 0 out of a possible 1496 - a 0% success rate. If Lightoller's role in the rescue was "ineffective" what word could possibly describes Capt Lord's?
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,655
854
563
Easley South Carolina
I'm not sure any of the U.K nationals traveling in the 3rd Cabin would have been regarded as "Gentlemen" even by themselves, and in regards the notion that they might have been seen as dangerous, there may be some merit to that regardless of nationality.

Keep in mind that the Captain Smith had only six officers to call on and a reletively small number of crewmembers who could truly be trusted in a pinch, and some of them were being sent away in the boats. When you're badly outnumbered (Which they were) and had only six men armed with pistols, things can get really hairy real fast if a cast of over a thousand goes on a rampage. You only have so much ammunition to go around and you'll run out of bullets long before you run out of panic stricken rioters fighting for their lives.

While I'm not certain I can agree with David Gleicher's appraisal of Lightoller's conduct, he has done the research, so I'll stand back and let him explain his reasoning and the evidence which supports that. He may not be as entirely off base as you think.
 
Apr 30, 2007
64
0
96
Hi Michael

I'm really using the word 'gentleman' to describe attitude and fortitude rather than class. These men were products of the late Victorian/Edwardian period where the majority knew their place.

It was only 2 years later that the working class of the nation enlisted in their droves for the Great War demonstrating a general high degree of moral fibre and courage of the period.

Of course there are bad eggs in every basket but I found it curious that approx 85% of the male 3rd class survivors were foreigners.

Maybe this percentage reflects the overall split when looking at the total 3rd class men on board. I'll follow that one up in time.

If there is a significant deviation in percentage then maybe speculation will be required to identify reasons for it.

I think the officers would have been more concerned about the danger of disorder from foreign passengers if only because of the language barriers.
 
Apr 27, 2000
95
0
236
Steve,

I suggest you look at a very recent discussion (last month) in the general thread, Aftermath; sub-section Heroes and Villains, sub-section Was 2nd Officer C. Lightoller Illogical for a thorough discussion of Lightoller's role in the rescue effort.

Quoting what I wrote in one message there, here's the facts based on the testimony, including that of Lightoller himself, in the two inquiries. (The apt comparison is to the other senior officers in charge of the rescue, and certainly not Captain Lord on the Californian, for heaven sake):

"Lightoller was the least effective of the senior officers. He barely managed to supervise the loading and launching of a mere four lifeboats--Lifeboats 6,12,4, and Collapsible D--in an hour and half at less on average than 50% capacity. In the most egregious case, Lifeboat 4, which Lightoller took charge of at about 12:15, the boat did not finally depart the ship until about 1:55.

By comparison, Murdoch loaded and launched seven starboard-side boats--Lifeboats 7,5,3,9,11,13 and 15--at an average capacity of about 70%. And it was Chief Officer Wilde--virtually ignored in popular accounts--who covered for Lightoller, loading six boats--Lifeboats 8,10,14,16,2 and Collapsible C, even as he also directed the coordination and staffing of all the boats!

As for the issue raised by Dave Gittins (who should know better, but I still think he's the most knowledgeable person on the Titanic alive), two other key findings in my book are relevant here.

First, based on an extensive statistical study reported in the book there is no significant relation (controlling for class and all other factors) between a passenger's nationality and his/her likelihood of surviving.

The explanation for Dave's evidence is simple. Most of the sixty men who survived did so because they were quartered on the forward end, and went right up to the Boat Deck rather than moving to the stern. Since only single men were quartered in the forward end, mostly single men survived. More importantly, as Dave knows perfectly well, a mere 4% of Third Class men had children on board, and the vast majority of Third Class men were unattached altogether.

The ideology of 19th century British colonialism/xenophobia certainly dies hard it seems based on Dave's and Steve's comments. Interestingly enough the Third Class passengers can't win either way. Wyn Craig Wade and many others used to argue that the reason Third Class died in such disproportionate numbers was that they were passive compared to the hard-working Brits. Now it seems the argument is that the 'foreigners' were too aggressive compared to the gentlemanly Brits (are we Americans included in this?).

Dave knows full well that the sixty men who survived did not take seats from women and children because virtually all women and children who made it to the upper decks were given a seat. The problem was getting to the upper decks.

The second finding in my book, and as Dave knows one of its major theses, is that there simply is no evidence that the Third Class men were dangerous. If anything the most violent incidents--e.g., the shooting by Lowe--were pre-emptive. They were motivated by a fear of what the men might do, not what they actually had done. And what they did, as any law-abiding person should, I would think, was to do what they were told.

For instance, a crowd of up to a hundred men stayed on the poop deck literally watching the whole time as the boats were being loaded on the after Boat Deck, and did nothing to storm the boats. As Michael himself points out, there was little the authorities could have done if they had acted differently.

DG
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,655
854
563
Easley South Carolina
>>I'm really using the word 'gentleman' to describe attitude and fortitude rather than class. These men were products of the late Victorian/Edwardian period where the majority knew their place. <<

There may be something to that, but I wouldn't get so cozy with the idea that any of them would have been content to stay in "Their Place" when the alternative would be to end up as dinner for the fish. The prospect of ending up dead has a remarkable tendency to change one's focus, and when one is in survival mode, all bets are off!

Don't believe me? Just take a look at how quickly things started to go to hell near to the very end. These people didn't assemble into a 1500 strong choir stoically singing "Nearer My God To Thee" on the stern as it slipped under. Some fought for life and we know that at Lowe at least fired warning shots to keep the situation under control as one of the boats was being launched. He didn't have to do this because everybody was calm cool, collected and willing to cheerfully accept their fate.

Let's not forget the whole picture overall. The times were changing and staying on one's place was not something that a lot of working class people were as eager to do any more. The rise of the labour unions, and the violence that frequently resulted speaks volumns to that. More and more, the working class was aquiring power and they were willing to use it.
 
Dec 29, 2006
735
14
123
Witney
Although I am a relative newcomer to this site, I cannot help noticing a certain bias in some quarters. In historical studies, revisionist theories can often lead to interesting debate, but I simply do not understand why, in the case of the Titanic, these theories should be so selective. There seems, in particular, to be a particular desire to denigrate the ship’s senior officers, and in this context I am particularly surprised at the accusations which have been made against Second Officer Lightoller. Mistakes were obviously made on the night of the sinking and several users of this site have implied cowardice or incompetence on the part of Captain Smith and his crew - the fact that firemen, etc, found places in the lifeboats has been criticised, although others have pointed out that these men were needed to man the oars and that, in any case, they were only allowed into the boats when no more ladies could be found. Elsewhere, second class men were unable to enter the boats because the places were taken by third class ladies who, naturally, were given preferential treatment by Lightoller and the other officers.

As far as I can see, the conduct of the Titanic’s officers and crew was exemplary — a model of behaviour, not only in 1912, but for people in the modern world. If there is any doubt about this, I suggest that the “selective revisionists” should look very closely at what happened in other shipwrecks. For example, in September 1937 a disturbed crew member (apparently) set fire to the 11,520 ton liner Morro Castle, which burned fiercely within 20 miles of New York Harbour. Having failed to fight the fire, and delayed sending distress signals until the very last moment, the Morro Castle's crew managed to launch about six boats so that they could effect their own escape. These boats should have held at least 408 people but, in reality, they contained only 85, most of these individuals being officers or crewmen. Boat No.2, for example, contained 32 people, only two of these being passengers, while another boat contained 19 crewmen and one passenger.

Passengers complained that seamen had jumped into the boats before the women and children, and several of the crew were charged with neglect of duty. In fact, the subsequent enquiry revealed that crew discipline had collapsed even before the fire had taken hold. Surviving passengers spoke of blind panic among the untrained and ill-disciplined crew, while it is on record that certain other ships in the immediate vicinity refused to assist the distressed vessel.

Even more shameful is the case of the liner Andrea Doria, which was sunk by collision in 1956; incredibly, the crew took to the lifeboats leaving 1,134 passengers aboard the rapidly sinking ship. A few years later, in December 1963, the Greek cruise liner Lakonia caught fire while en route from Southampton to the Canary Islands. Again, many crew members panicked and jumped into lifeboats on top of startled passengers, all of this stands out in vivid contrast to the behaviour of the Titanic's crew. Those who doubt the courage or professional abilities of men such as Murdoch and Lightoller should read the newspaper reports about the Morro Castle, Andria Doria and Lakonia, compare them to the Titanic, and then ask themselves a simple question - who were the REAL heroes?
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,655
854
563
Easley South Carolina
I don't know if I'd call anybody's behaviour truly exemplery, but whatever can be said of Titanic's crew, I'd never make the charge of cowardice. Certainly the engineers who remained down below to keep the generators going almost certainly knew they were signing their own death warrants and the officers stayed aboard until sent away in a boat or the ship sank from beneath their feet.

Competance may be questionable in some respects but that's mitigated by the fact that they managed to get the boats away without serious incident despite being unready for such an evacuation. That was no mean feat! The fact that's a bit sobering is that the level of training and experience they bought to the party...which wasn't really all that great...was pretty much on the same level as what could be found elsewhere. They were hardly unique in that respect. When compared to how other crews conducted themselves in a number of other losses, (Badly!) the officers and crew of the Titanic made a very good showing of it.
 
Apr 27, 2000
95
0
236
Don't believe me? Just take a look at how quickly things started to go to hell near to the very end. These people didn't assemble into a 1500 strong choir stoically singing "Nearer My God To Thee" on the stern as it slipped under. Some fought for life and we know that Lowe at least fired warning shots to keep the situation under control as one of the boats was being launched. He didn't have to do this because everybody was calm cool, collected and willing to cheerfully accept their fate.

Michael,

The evidence just does not support almost everything you think happened "near the very end." Here's what it does support. Some time around 2:10AM, as the ship was literally beginning to break apart, there was a mad rush to get to the upper decks as the passengers in the stern finally realized the immediate danger they were in.

This was over a half hour after the last of the lifeboats had departed the afterend,including Lifeboat 14, where Lowe's shooting occurred. In fact all the boats other than Collapsibles B and A had departed the ship already. There was no attempt by men to rush Lowe's boat, and he never testified there was. In fact his explanation of the shooting was that he wanted the men around the boat to know he "was fully unarmed."

In any case, those Third Class men that did manage to come from below to the upper decks in those last ten minutes or so before the ship broke apart and went under, did so when the ship's bow was sinking at a steep angle, so that virtually all of them headed aft toward the Poop Deck rather than toward the forward end. And it was from there that virtually all of them went down with the ship and drowned. Hardly "the working class acquiring power and willing to use it."

In short, there was no anarchic rush of Third Class men storming the boats, no shootings, no actual violence on the part of the Third Class men at all. Cameron's Titanic is the last of a long line of popular films and books that have perpetuated the myth that the Third Class men ran amok as the ship was going down, but I'm afraid that does not mean that its true.

DG
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,655
854
563
Easley South Carolina
Did I say that all of this was confined to only third class men?

I didn't.

And to say that there were no shootings flies right in the face of the evidence that there were. That's not to say that any bullets actually hit anybody, but Lightoller didn't threaten anyone with his revolver because everybody was calm cool and collected, nor did Lowe fire warning shots because everybody was gathering in a choral group on the stern to sing hymns and engage in Bible study. This happened because things were starting to get out of hand.

The panic was hardly confined to any one class, and it may not have been as bad as shown in the movie houses, but it was there.
 
Apr 30, 2007
64
0
96
David

I don't think Michael was implying that disorder was the preserve of the third class men only.

I have just finished reading an article called "Shots in the Dark" by Bill Wormstedt and Tad Fitch in which they assess whether or not there had been a suicide by one of the officers.

In the article they collate all incidents of gunfire/shootings/panic etc that are said to have taken place, most of which occurred as the last few boats were being filled & lowered. You state ..."no shootings, no actual violence on the part of the third class men at all."

Are you confident that, by default, all of the references to shootings and disorder are untrue or if true apply to the crew, first & second class passengers only?
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,655
854
563
Easley South Carolina
>>I don't think Michael was implying that disorder was the preserve of the third class men only.<<

Nor would it have been. Think about it a spell. The ship is on her way down, the only way off is to either swim for it...which offered some really lousy chances for survival...or try to get to the two remaining collapsibles that they were trying to get away which offered a much better chance for survival. It was either that or die, and those are the only options on the table.

What would you do?

I have no doubt that quite a few stories were, to put it politely, exaggerated, but they didn't come out of nowhere and they weren't all total fabrications.
 

Aly Jones

Member
Nov 22, 2008
1,174
70
183
Australia
Got me thinking here.In the movie ,it shows a young mum and an infant in her arms frozen in the water. Did that really happend?If so why was this women not offered a seat in a life boat,after all Women and children first exspeicaly with a women with infact. What were the officer's thinking ?

I agree with Michael about when survival comes in to place,Human instinct would kick in and there would be no gentlemen,well at the start there would of been gentlemen.
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,043
107
333
UK
The scene exactly as depicted shows Officer Lowe reacting to that sight. In fact he testified that he saw only men dead in the water. But certainly there were mothers and infants under a year old among the victims that night. There's no short answer to explain that situation, Alyson, but look around the forum and you'll find plenty of threads in which it's been debated in detail.
 

Aly Jones

Member
Nov 22, 2008
1,174
70
183
Australia
Bob.I can't really look for the answer,cause this forum is just to HUGE lol!There's no way i will find the answer,it would be like looking for a needle in a hay stack
happy.gif
 
Mar 18, 2008
2,652
1,153
248
Germany
I think the scene was based on a report by 1st class passenger Johanna Stunke on the Bremen. She described several bodies floating nearby "We saw one woman in a nightdress with a baby clasped closely to her breast. Several of the woman passengers screamed at the sight and left the rail in a fainting condition."
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Similar threads

Similar threads