Writing the date here at work, I noticed that we’ve ticked around to the 21 August again - the 116th anniversary of the birthday of James Paul Moody in 1887.
It seems appropriate to note the date, given the recent calumny he has been subjected to based on shoddy research, methodology and speculation, and deliberate attempts to edit him out of the proactive role he took during the latter stages of the evacuation. Those responsible for this distortion of history are people who have never made the slightest effort to research or understand his background - a pity, as had they done so, they might then have realised how outrÃ© some of their claims or speculation about his past and mindset are.
But to take a more positive note…James Moody - Jim to his shipmates - was a man who had faced early setbacks in life that had never diminished his natural optimism or resilience. He was remembered long after his death for his mischievous sense of humour, and he exhibited throughout his life a great tenacity and dedication to duty. Although the career he pursued was not of his own choice, he commendably said that he was proud to be doing honest work, and would have rather ‘gone crossing sweeper’ (and some of you know what that job was!) than sponge off his family.
I’ve seen it suggested elsewhere that men did not celebrate their birthdays in the Edwardian age. Not so in the case of James Moody, who wrote cheerfully from one of his ships that, as his birthday was flanked by those of one of the other mates and an engineer, they were expecting a lively few days of celebration.
There are many lively, engaging characters that emerge from the Titanic disaster, but none more so, IMHO, than the youngest of the deck officers. The character he demonstrated throughout his life, and not just during the sinking of the Titanic until he was last seen at A still working at the lifeboats, are inspirational. In spite of the sadness of his early end, and resisting the temptation to maudlin sentamentality, there's something very uplifting amidst all the poignancy of his premature death.
And to think - he should have been in Paris when the Titanic sailed, kicking up his heels with his American friend. 'We can't have big ships and holidays', he wrote with a smile.
"What a lot has happened since then, and what a distance I have covered." - JPM, 1908