If Lightoller perished with the Titanic

Seumas

Seumas

Member
One thing people have to understand about "A Night to Remember" and the 50's "Titanic" for that matter was they were more of a vehicle for the actors of the day. Kenneth More, who portrayed Lightoller, was one of the biggest stars, of course he was going to have a meaty role.

That's perfectly true though there was also a bit more to it.

In the documentary on the making of ANTR, MacQuitty and Lord mention how before the screenplay was written they decided it would be for the best to have that one pivotal character who was likely to interact with the everyone and be in the thick of the action. So they chose Lightoller - Walter Lord agreed with this so long as the incidents portrayed were still based on reality.

As a result, Lightoller is part of all these scenes based on documented reality but which happened to the other officers:

The boats are being prepared and Ismay starts to annoy the crew but is brushed off (Pitman)
Ismay interferes in the lowering of one of the first boats to be lowered and is told in no uncertain terms where to go (Lowe)
Brief panic at Boat Fourteen and shots fired in the air (Lowe)
Collapsible D is lowered (Wilde)
With the assistance of Moody, trying in vain to get Collapsible A off the deck (Murdoch)

Don't know why they never gave Murdoch a Scottish accent in ANTR. Could have cast a young Sean Connery in the role :cool:
 
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Michael Shakesby

Michael Shakesby

Member
I'm totally agree with Aaron_2016. Lightoller was not the "hero" that last longs in the Titanic history, but the "zero" we all know he was. I never met that guy for I was born 22 years after his death, but I know I wouldn't have liked him at all! He lied about many things in the Inquiry and was stubborn and seem to have been arrogant and "nose in the air". I'm preferring Murdoch much more : he seems to have been more human managing the lowered of the boats; he seems not to have panic like Lightoller did, and keep a cool head during the sinking. Incidentally, it could drive us on another question of the kind George asked : "What if Murdoch had survived"...

We must be thinking of different Lightoller's.

James Cameron s fault that. ;)

To be serious for a moment,

In the days before his movie if you talked about Titanic and her crew most would agree that although mistakes were made, her crew did everything possible to save as many lives as they could. However after his movie (which in my opinion portrays the crew in a very dim light) you would be hard pressed to find anyone out side the community with a good word to say. His writing of Lightoller is to be fair ridiculous, he is shown as a man on edge, almost on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

I have read the account s of many and have never in any of them read of Lightoller behaving in such a way. In fact all the one s I have read that name him say the complete opposite. So what's up with the movie?

Enter Ghosts of the abyss. Cameron goes out of his way (to rightly) show Murdoch in a positive light, he has to do this because of his portrayal of him in his movie. Poor bribe taking, passenger shooting, suicide committing Murdoch. I believe to that the studio sent money to Murdochs home town in ways of an apology. All of this starts the turn of opinion, if Murdoch was doing so well what was the other guy doing?

To be fair Lightoller did never portray himself as a hero, he never pretended to have never made a mistake. He admitted to his gaff regarding boat 4, and to his misplaced trust in the fact that he thought Titanic would stay afloat. He always comes across to me as having been a very funny down to earth guy who always spoke his mind.

I would always recommend reading his life story, he lived it to the full.

All the best

Michael

P.s I would like to thank James Cameron for the amazing exploration of the Titanic wreck and his continuing work to keep the story alive. I don't like his movie though. :) mind you the sets are pretty good..... I'll stop now.
 
Tim Gerard

Tim Gerard

Member
I'll go in a completely different direction, as this actually is something I think about sometimes when I let my mind wander on Titanic-related topics.

If Lightoller didn't survive, I don't think we'd be talking that much about him at all. His claim to fame was being the most senior member of the crew to survive. If he doesn't survive, then that becomes 3rd Officer Pitman, and we spend 100+ years talking about him the way we've been talking about Lightoller. I do think the theory that the ship sank intact still holds up since Pitman also testified to that at the US Senate Inquiry. The way we talk about Chief Officer Wilde today (which is to say, not much at all in comparison to Lightoller and Murdoch), I think that's how we'd be talking about Lightoller.
 
A

Aly Jones

Member
. His claim to fame was being the most senior member of the crew to survive.
Lightollers claim to fame was due to him having an out going personality and willing to tell all what happened. He loves being centre of attention, that's who he is; a Very out going person. Very interesting one at least.
Other things that help him be the most famous living officer is that it helped by having 3 quiet surviving officers that were not that interested in being in the lime light. Also how he survived was unusual. Compared to the other three taking charge of a lifeboat, he stayed to the end. He suppose to go down with the ship but he didn't. He just survived by the skin of his teeth, That gets people talking too.

I've read that the surviving officers questioned how he got off the ship? Could it be the publicity he was getting? They think he lied? I've read this before but can't remember by whom or where this was posted.
 
Kyle Naber

Kyle Naber

Member
I'll go in a completely different direction, as this actually is something I think about sometimes when I let my mind wander on Titanic-related topics.

If Lightoller didn't survive, I don't think we'd be talking that much about him at all. His claim to fame was being the most senior member of the crew to survive. If he doesn't survive, then that becomes 3rd Officer Pitman, and we spend 100+ years talking about him the way we've been talking about Lightoller. I do think the theory that the ship sank intact still holds up since Pitman also testified to that at the US Senate Inquiry. The way we talk about Chief Officer Wilde today (which is to say, not much at all in comparison to Lightoller and Murdoch), I think that's how we'd be talking about Lightoller.

100%
 
H

Haashir Ahmad

Member
I'm totally agree with Aaron_2016. Lightoller was not the "hero" that last longs in the Titanic history, but the "zero" we all know he was. I never met that guy for I was born 22 years after his death, but I know I wouldn't have liked him at all! He lied about many things in the Inquiry and was stubborn and seem to have been arrogant and "nose in the air". I'm preferring Murdoch much more : he seems to have been more human managing the lowered of the boats; he seems not to have panic like Lightoller did, and keep a cool head during the sinking. Incidentally, it could drive us on another question of the kind George asked : "What if Murdoch had survived"...
Lightoller did lie about some things in his testimony but he knew that if he told the truth about everything the reputation of White Star Line could be ruined along with all its employees, it is likely White Star Line would have to be shut down or pay big fines if Lightoller told the truth, lets suppose he did then White Star Line's workers would all be without work from 1 man and his testimony!
And Lightoller wasn't that much of a zero, he probably saved more people and did a better job then anyone of us could ever do. Has anyone ever asked "What if I was in his position with his pressure", we would probably not even know what to do in a situation like that, and think what if you were a poor worker at White Star Line who has a family to feed and this is the only work you can do! So please think to yourself what if I were those people or in that position because it is a lot more easier to talk about stuff then it is to do! Every officer probably made a fault in the disaster because we are human!
 
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Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Lightoller did lie about some things in his testimony but he knew that if he told the truth about everything the reputation of White Star Line could be ruined along with all its employees, it is likely White Star Line would have to be shut down or pay big fines if Lightoller told the truth, lets suppose he did then White Star Line's workers would all be without work from 1 man and his testimony!
And Lightoller wasn't that much of a zero, he probably saved more people and did a better job then anyone of us could ever do. Has anyone ever asked "What if I was in his position with his pressure", we would probably not even know what to do in a situation like that, and think what if you were a poor worker at White Star Line who has a family to feed and this is the only work you can do! So please think to yourself what if I were those people or in that position because it is a lot more easier to talk about stuff then it is to do! Every officer probably made a fault in the disaster because we are human!
Hello Haashir.

I am intereted in your observations and would not normally b***-in (2 tees?) .However, I see elsewhere, that this site is being used by schools to teach about Titanic. Since I am an avid seeker of the truth. I must point out the following;

A: If you are going to accuse someone of lying, then you must be prepared to back up your accustations with proof.

B: British Merchant Seamen back in 1912 and for many years after were either Company Men or Pool Men. The former were usually Officers and on short term contracts. The latter added their names and ranks to a Pool of potential employees and would go to
"The Pool" to seek a berth. All major ports in the UK had a Pool of some kind.
No matter Contract or Pool, none had any true loyalty to an employer and would think twice about lying to a BoT Inquiry or Shipping Master because only they had the power to cancel their qualififcations.

C: If you want to ask a question, try this:

What do you think the story would have been had 4th Officer Boxhall not only given the wrong distress position, but had not thown a box of green flares into safety boat number 2?

Regards.
 
N Alison

N Alison

Member
If Lightoller didn't survive, I don't think we'd be talking that much about him at all. His claim to fame was being the most senior member of the crew to survive. If he doesn't survive, then that becomes 3rd Officer Pitman, and we spend 100+ years talking about him the way we've been talking about Lightoller. I do think the theory that the ship sank intact still holds up since Pitman also testified to that at the US Senate Inquiry. The way we talk about Chief Officer Wilde today (which is to say, not much at all in comparison to Lightoller and Murdoch), I think that's how we'd be talking about Lightoller.
I doubt we would be talking about Pitman the way we talk about Lightoller. Pitman left in one of the first lifeboats and didn't participate much in the evacuation whereas Lightoller stayed until the end and had a much more perilous escape to safety on collapsible B. His story was simply more interesting coupled with all of the questions about his role in the loading of the boats. The fact that he was more willing to talk afterwards helps as well.

If he had died we would have a lot less information about the loading of the boats on the port side as well as some of the last moments of some of the victims. On the other hand it is true that the break-up theory might have been taken more seriously without him there to refute it.
 
Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

Member
I don't know that the breakup wasn't taken seriously. It doesn't appear to have been by the U.S. Senate even though they had all kinds of testimony and affidavits attesting to it.

My personal opinion...meaning I suspect but can't prove it...is that the Mersey Wreck Commission knew very well that it happened. Check out the transcripts some time and what you see is an immediate change of the subject if a witness answered "Yes" to the question "Did you see the ship sink." They tried way to hard to avoid the subject.

Edward Wilding was no dope. He knew the Olympic class quite literally better than anybody alive. He did a lot of number crunching which turned out to be nearly bang on the money such as the effective area of the hull breeches being twelve square feet instead of the infamous 300-foot-long gash. That much made it into the public record.

What didn't and which we'll likely never be able to prove is a conversation which would have taken place in that smoke filled back room. One which started as "My lord, we need to talk." after Wilding did some more number crunching.

So why not own up to it?

Simple, in that day, the superpower competition was between Great Britain and Germany with the possibility of war being seen as a very real possibility. With a potentially hostile power looking on, admitting that your biggest, bestest liner made of your finest battleship steel broke up when it sank was something that would have been very unappealing for some pretty obvious reasons.
 
Kate Offerty

Kate Offerty

Member
I doubt we would be talking about Pitman the way we talk about Lightoller. Pitman left in one of the first lifeboats and didn't participate much in the evacuation whereas Lightoller stayed until the end and had a much more perilous escape to safety on collapsible B. His story was simply more interesting coupled with all of the questions about his role in the loading of the boats. The fact that he was more willing to talk afterwards helps as well.

I agree. In addition to Lightoller's heavy involvement during the sinking and him surviving by the skin of his teeth, to borrow another commenter's usage of the idiom, his personality plays a big role. He seems to have been a rather bold, extroverted individual, which shines through in his autobiography as well as some of his inquiry responses. Naturally this catches people's attention.
 
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