Ismay's escape


Parker Bourne

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i think that Ismay was a coward for not going down with the ship he was a coward for jumping into the lifeboat and not staying on the ship
 

Parker Bourne

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May 12, 2011
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Also my great grandfather knew Ismay personally and tells stories about him all the time. The only reason I dislike him is he didn't go down with the Titanic.
 
Jan 27, 2011
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If Ismay wouldn't have got on Collapsible C he would have just been another number as found in the inquiries. There was a boat with space on it, no women and children around, Ismay took the oportunity.
 
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>> he would have just been another number as found in the inquiries

And he wouldn't have given the information that he was able to give at the inquiries.

And by several reports, he didn't get in maliciously. He was offered a seat by Wilde (along with WH Carter) provided he row.

I don't see how accepting a seat when one was offered is cowardly.

Further, if you're great grandfather told stories about him, then he probably relayed what type of person Ismay was. Therefore, you'd know that in reality, he wasn't the heartless villain that he's portrayed as in films and documentaries.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Therefore, you'd know that in reality, he wasn't the heartless villain that he's portrayed as in films and documentaries.<<

Indeed he wasn't. He still remained active with some charities, even as a recluse, and if his response to the lifeboat issue was any indication...he ordered boats for all long before anybody made a law of it...the lessons learned stuck in a very profound way.
 

Mark Baber

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He still remained active with some charities, even as a recluse

Not just charities, Mike; the following are some notes I've compiled of Ismay's business involvements, social appearances and at least one vacation after he left White Star (in 1913) and IMM (in 1916). Granted that many of these items involve the same companies, this listing (which I am sure is not complete; it's based solely on what I've been able to find in The Times) still demonstrates (at least to me) that JBI remained active and visible until his health began to decline in the mid-1930's. "Ismay as recluse," I submit, is myth.

8 December 1898: Bruce Ismay is elected to the board of the Liverpool and
London and Globe Insurance Company. He will remain a member of the board
until 1930; see 28 January. (Source: The Times (London), 9 December 1898.)

26 June 1916: The Excess Values (Liverpool and London) War Risks Insurance
Association, Ltd., is registered for the purpose of insuring against war and
other risks the vessels in which its member companies are "interested ... as
owners, managing owners, mortgagees, agents, or otherwise." The list of
initial subscribers reads like a Who's Who of the shipping industry and
includes Cunard chairman Sir. Alfred Booth, P&O chairman Lord Inchcape,
Asiatic Steam Navigation Co. director Bruce Ismay, Royal Mail Steam Packet
Co. chairman Sir Owen Philipps, and White Star chairman Harold Sanderson.
The eleven-member management committee includes three past, present or future
White Star chairmen in Ismay, Sanderson and Philipps. (Source: The Post
Magazine and Insurance Monitor, 16 July 1916.)

20 June 1919: Retired White Star chairman Bruce Ismay attends a luncheon of
The Associated Newspapers, Ltd., at London's Savoy Hotel during which
Secretary of State for War Churchill presents Capt. J. Alcock and Lt. A.
Whitten Brown, with a £10,000 prize for making the first direct
transatlantic airplane flight and announces the "immediate award “of the rank
of Knight of the Order of the British Empire to the two. (Source: The Times
(London), 21 June 1919.)

10 May 1921: Retired White Star chairman Bruce Ismay is re-elected as a
director of the Liverpool and London and Globe Insurance Co., Ltd. (Source:
The Times (London), 11 May 1921.)

16 December 1922: The Times reports that retired White Star chairman Bruce
Ismay has been appointed to the first board of directors of the newly-formed
London, Midland and Scottish Railway. (Source: The Times (London), 16
December 1922.)

4 July 1923: Retired White Star chairman Bruce Ismay, chairman of the
Liverpool and London War Risks Association, Ltd., presides at the
association's annual meeting at Liverpool. He calls on the government
to provide statutory authority for the establishment of a permanent war
risk insurance scheme like the one employed during World War I.
(Source: The Times (London), 5 July 1923.)

13 May 1924: Retired White Star chairman Bruce Ismay is re-elected as
a director of the Liverpool & London and Globe Insurance Co., Ltd. (Source:
The Times (London), 14 May 1924.)

21 March 1926: General Sir John and Lady Maxwell arrive at the Semiramis
Hotel in Cairo where, among others, retired White Star chairman Bruce Ismay
and his wife Florence are staying. (Source: The Times (London), 29 March
1926.)

20 May 1926: Retired White Star chairman Bruce Ismay is re-elected as a
director of the Thames and Mersey Marine Insurance Co., Ltd. (Source: The
Times (London), 21 May 1926.)

17 May 1927: Retired White Star chairman Bruce Ismay is re-elected as a
director of the Liverpool and London and Globe Insurance Co., Ltd. (Source:
The Times (London), 18 May 1927.)

8 May 1929: Retired White Star chairman Bruce Ismay is re-elected as
a director of the Thames and Mersey Insurance Co., Ltd. (Source: The
Times (London), 9 May 1929.)

29 May 1929: Retired White Star Chairman J. Bruce Ismay is elected to the
board of directors of the Royal Insurance Company. (Source: The Times
(London), 30 May 1929.)

28 January 1930: Retired White Star chairman J. Bruce Ismay retires from his
directorships in the Liverpool and London and Globe Insurance Company, the
Royal Insurance Company and the Thames and Mersey Maritime Insurance
Company, due to their board meetings' not fitting in with his other
Liverpool engagements. Ismay has been a director of the Liverpool and London
firm since at least 1903, of the Royal since 1929 and of the Thames and
Mersey company since 1924. (Sources: The Times (London), 15 February 1924,
30 May 1929 and 29 January 1930; Oldham's The Ismay Line.)

27 February 1931: Retired White Star chairman Bruce Ismay is re-elected as a
director of the London Midland and Scottish Railway Co.(Source: The Times
(London), 28 February 1931.)

22 July 1934: The Liverpool and London Steamship Protection and
Indemnity Association announces that retired White Star chairman Bruce
Ismay, a member of the association's committee since 1899, has resigned
as its chairman. (Source: The Times (London), 23 July 1934.)

29 July 1934: The Asiatic Steam Navigation Company announces that
retired White Star chairman Bruce Ismay, an Asiatic director for almost
35 years, has resigned as Asiatic's chairman and as chairman of its
affiliate, the Delta Insurance Co. (Source: The Times (London), 30 July
1934.)

21 January 1935: Retired White Star chairman Bruce Ismay, accompanied
by his wife Florence, attends the memorial service of Viscount Knutsford
(Arthur Holland-Hibbert) at Aldenham. Both men have been directors of the
London Midland and Scottish Railway Co. since its creation in 1923. (Source:
The Times, 22 January 1935.)

3 March 1935: Retired White Star chairman Bruce Ismay and his
wife Florence attend the memorial service for Lady (Lionel) Fletcher at Holy
Trinity Church, Kensington. (Source: The Times (London), 4 March 1935.)

1 April 1935: Bruce and Florence Ismay are among those who attend a private
showing of the London Portrait Society's seventh exhibition, at the New
Burlington Galleries, Burlington Gardens. (Source: The Times (London), 2
April 1935.)
 

Adam Went

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The issue was and is that in Edwardian society, perception was everything. At the time Ismay jumped into that lifeboat he wasn't doing a thing wrong - nobody else was boarding and as others have pointed out before, he would almost certainly have simply been another statistic had he not done so. But when it came to be known just how many others died, particularly women and children, while Ismay sat safely huddled in a lifeboat and watched it unfold, it sparked public anger against him that would never really subside....but he wasn't the only one who suffered. The Duff Gordon's suffered similarly from what was seen as Sir Cosmo's "bribe".

The fact that Captain Smith and Thomas Andrews went down with the ship only made matters worse for Ismay - despite the fact that Ismay himself wrote a letter of sympathy to Andrews' widowed wife after the sinking.

I don't necessarily think Ismay was the greatest of people either but he should not be judged by that sole instant of getting into the lifeboat, it's a bit of an historical injustice.

Cheers,
Adam.
 
>> while Ismay sat safely huddled in a lifeboat and watched it unfold

He didn't watch. He said this in the inquiries.

>> it sparked public anger against him that would never really subside

That's not true.

1) It was William Randolph Hearst who ordered his papers to start printing negative items about Ismay's survival. That sparked some public outrage, but only in America...because we Americans like to get fired up about silly things. It's our true national passtime. The British weren't as anti-Ismay.

2) Why would people hold a grudge against someone that they didn't know for years and years and years? By World War I, the Titanic was pretty much forgotten about. Ismay really only got the role of the villain dumped on him after the 1943 film. Before that, people could really care less.

>> The fact that Captain Smith and Thomas Andrews went down with the
>> ship only made matters worse for Ismay

No. It just gave Hearst an excuse to continue his smear campaign of Ismay in an attempt to get even with him for being rude to Hearst at a party 15 years earlier. Hearst was the Patron Saint of Jerks. He was the worst kind of publisher because he used the press for his personal vendettas and personal friends. With that power, he shaped history and created myths. And he ruined many many lives for no reason other than he felt like it.

Hearst is the villain here. Not Ismay.

>> I don't necessarily think Ismay was the greatest of people

How do you know this? You've seen the examples above of what he did after leaving White Star. Plus his behavior during the time of the event:

1) He saw to the comfort of his fellow lifeboat occupants (which a snobbish heartless businessman would not do).
2) He wanted more lifeboats than was required by regulation.

Just two examples.

Aside from those facts (which should speak volumes about the man), how can you tell what he was like as a person?

The fact of the matter is that William Randolph Hearst tarred and feathered him. Then writers, filmmakers and documentarians have jumped on the band wagon to create Ismay the myth, and ignoring Ismay the man.
 
Jan 27, 2011
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>>He didn't watch. He said this in the inquiries.

If I recall, he actually sat with his back to the ship.

>>I don't necessarily think Ismay was the greatest of people

I suggest doing a little research before making that assumption. Again as stated above, Ismay did a lot throughout the rest of his life and even right after the Titanic disaster, both he and his wife.

Again, Ismay did the best as any gentlemen would do that night during the sinking. He stayed close with the crew and the lifeboats while instructing women and children into the boats, including even telling the stewardess who was instructed to get in but said that she was just a stewardess. Though Ismay told her that she was a woman and to take her place in the boat.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I suggest doing a little research before making that assumption....<<

Uhhhh, putting it in context, guys, the whole of what Adam said was
quote:

I don't necessarily think Ismay was the greatest of people either but he should not be judged by that sole instant of getting into the lifeboat, it's a bit of an historical injustice.
...and whether one agrees with it or not, Adam does have a valid point there. One that I think you guys agree with.​
 
Jan 27, 2011
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>>...and whether one agrees with it or not, Adam does have a valid point there. One that I think you guys agree with.

I do think overall that we agree on how Ismay shouldn't be judged by him getting in the boat, but to what kind of person Ismay was, of course everybody is entitled to their own opinion. I just don't happen to agree with Mr. Went.
 

Adam Went

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Jeremy:

"He didn't watch. He said this in the inquiries."

Because public opinion payed a lot of attention to what he said at the inquest, didn't it? As I made very clear at the start of my post, the public perception of him following the sinking, rightly or wrongly, was not a positive one...

"because we Americans like to get fired up about silly things. It's our true national passtime. The British weren't as anti-Ismay."

Yes, evidently you're quite right there!

"No. It just gave Hearst an excuse to continue his smear campaign of Ismay in an attempt to get even with him for being rude to Hearst at a party 15 years earlier. Hearst was the Patron Saint of Jerks. He was the worst kind of publisher because he used the press for his personal vendettas and personal friends. With that power, he shaped history and created myths. And he ruined many many lives for no reason other than he felt like it."

Much of the same could be said for W.T. Stead and his days with the Pall Mall Gazette. He also went down with the Titanic - would you hold the same views about him?

As for the last portion of your post, i'm a little surprised by it to be honest, and can only point to what Michael's response was.

Michael:

Are you sure you're not confusing Ismay and the stewardess with Andrews and Miss Sloan?

Cheers,
Adam.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I just don't happen to agree with Mr. Went.<<

Then I would suggest that you take off the mental filters and read the whole of what Adam said, and which I quoted in context, whilst underlining the part you left out.

The first part of his opinion was that Ismay wasn't the greatest person in the world.

Okay, he wasn't. BFD. That's not an indictement and much the same could be said about any of us. Ismay was a human being and every bit as complex and flawed as the rest of us.

The second part of what Adam said was very much the same point you were making so I really don't see the difficulty here.
 
Adam -

I'm not sure if you're agreement with my bit about Americans was a agreement or a dig.

>> Much of the same could be said for W.T. Stead and
>> his days with the Pall Mall Gazette

I don't recall WT Stead owning and publishing papers in every major city and moderate-sized town in America. They don't compare.

>> i'm a little surprised by it to be honest, and can only point to what Michael's response
>> was

Which Michael? Mr. McGuffin seems to back my contention that Ismay was not the odious villain of the evening. And Mr. Standart doesn't seem to have replied to anything that I said.
 
Jan 27, 2011
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>> Are you sure you're not confusing Ismay and the stewardess with Andrews and Miss Sloan?>>

Jeremy, I had posted that statement in a earlier post so Adam might be asking me. In response to that question, that was two different situations that night and in fact Ismay indeed saw a woman and told her to get in the boat, she hesitated and said that she was only a stewardess, Ismay then told her that she was a woman and to take her place in the boat.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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The main problem with Ismay is the risible statements from him and, apparently, Carter that there was no one else around when they got into the boat. It clashes with Wooler and Steffanson helping to eject the male 'cowards" who had rushed into C, the reports by Rheims and the other fellow of guns being drawn as people attempted to rush C. It makes no sense that a group of passengers, and most likely crew, who were bordering on mob behavior would not only calm down but would walk away in such a manner that neither Ismay nor Carter ever saw them.

Ismay, at the very least, was a man who saw other men, and possibly women, struggling for their lives, possibly held at bay at gunpoint, who stepped around them and got into a boat. Mobs do not suddenly vanish, no less disperse easily. He HAD to have seen those people. He lied.

The invitation of Ismay and Carter into the boat reduces the actions of Woolner and Steffanson to manslaughter, since it resulted in the deaths of people who, by the Ismay ruling, had every right to be in the boat. The officer in charge did not prevent the ejection of lesser male passengers than Ismay from the boat....but did not apply the same logic to Ismay. Even if Ismay did not use his...position....to remain in the boat, I have little doubt but that him position saved him, since he was not grabbed and ejected like the other cowards.

>>"because we Americans like to get fired up about silly things. It's our true national passtime. The British weren't as anti-Ismay."

>Yes, evidently you're quite right there!

Yes...the English press and public have historically stuck exclusively to sober, dignified, subjects like the Cottingley Fairies, Victoria Beckham, and "If my services displease you, whip me." The London daily press, much of which is worse than the Weekly World News, is printed just to fill space on the new stands...no one actually reads it
 
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Lord Mersey's view on the matter is the correct one . . .

I'm not aware of Ismay having seen anybody held at gunpoint . . . where does this stuff come from?
 

Adam Went

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Michael S:

Thank you.

Jeremy:

"I'm not sure if you're agreement with my bit about Americans was a agreement or a dig."

Indeed it was a dig at your very much OTT reaction to my first post.

"I don't recall WT Stead owning and publishing papers in every major city and moderate-sized town in America. They don't compare."

Stead was involved in just as much controversy as anybody, especially in the 1880's. But here's the thing - they are newspaper editors. They are writers. Journalists. In the days before TV and internet "social media" and all the rest, the newspaper was the social barometer. It is their JOB - it is their livelihood - it is where their pay packet comes from to write stories and sell papers which are going to interest the public.

So for Hearst and anybody else who published negativity about Ismay after the disaster, no, it might not have been entirely accurate, but the simple fact is that by his entering a lifeboat and surviving when so many others died, he left himself wide open to those negative perceptions both in public and in the press. I don't necessarily agree with it but you can't really blame people who get payed to do it for seizing such an opportunity.

You can bet that if Ismay had died and Thomas Andrews had survived, he would have been the victim of similar criticism - despite Andrews being a perfectly decent fellow.

It was the same in 1912 as it is now, Jeremy - "juicy gossip" news sells.

Michael M:

Thanks for clearing that up.

Jim:

For once I believe we are somewhat in agreement. It just reeks of BS that Ismay jumped in because there was not a soul elsewhere in sight, nobody else he could have told to get into the boat within shouting distance.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I'm not aware of Ismay having seen anybody held at gunpoint . . . where does this stuff come from?<<

He didn't and that's not really what Jim was saying. He was pointing out that there was a high probability that a number of male passengers may have been prevented from getting into the boat by way of gunpoint. Ismay wasn't armed but it's a known fact that revolvers were issued to the officers in case they were needed.

>>You can bet that if Ismay had died and Thomas Andrews had survived, he would have been the victim of similar criticism - despite Andrews being a perfectly decent fellow.<<

You're probably right about that, Adam, but I think it would have depended on how he managed to survive. If Andrews rode the ship down and was fished out of the water alive, he would still likely have been seen as a hero who took his chances like a man and got lucky.

Had he got into a boat whilst others went swimming, I think he would have been bent, folded, spindled, mutilated, demonized, villainized and made out to be the world's worst blot on humanity then the eeeeeevile Fu Manchu.

Make of that what you will.
 

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