Lightoller's Bravery During the Early Hours of 15 April 1912


May 1, 2004
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It seems to me HM's Gov't in 1912 was remiss in allowing Lightoller's decisive actions and behaviour to go unrecognized officially. I may be wrong but wasn't it Lightoller who extracted the order from Capt. Smith to begin the evacuation? It seems to me also that Lightoller more or less fell into taking charge of the evacuation from the uncovering of the boats to the heave-hoing of Collapsible A from the roof of the Officer's (?) quarters.

But what has resonated for the past few days is that those who survived the sinking and were able to stand on the upended Collapsible B until they were transferred to another lifeboat, owed their lives to Lightoller.

So my question is why wasn't he honoured w/an MBE or an OBE? It beggars belief.

My apologies if my facts of who did what are incorrect. It's not that I am too lazy to look up the information, but that I spent the better part of 5 days searching for a CDR that I had in my hands a matter of weeks ago & have been unable to locate it. I know, I know... 'typical guy excuse..."
 

Jim Currie

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It seems to me HM's Gov't in 1912 was remiss in allowing Lightoller's decisive actions and behaviour to go unrecognized officially. I may be wrong but wasn't it Lightoller who extracted the order from Capt. Smith to begin the evacuation?
Don't think so Johnathan.

According to Lightoller, he went round the port and starboard sides of the boat deck and saw to it that the crew were uncovering boats. He then went to the port side and stayed there for the duration. He said he received the order to load boats from Captain Smith while they were still uncovering boat number 4 on the port side. If so, then he must have returned to number 4 and made her ready; swung her out and lowered her to A deck.
He then left 4 without filling her with people and went to to number 6 to swing it out and lower it ready for embarkation.
After, he went to boat number 8 and repeated the procedure.
According to Table 2 Launch Times Re-Examined., Boat 8 was the first boat Lightoller launched full of people. It was the first boat to be launched on the port side and the fourth boat to be launched. According to the same source, boat number 7 was the very first boat to be launched and this was 20 minutes before 8.
In fact, the first three boats to launch were all on the starboard side; they were 7, 5 and 3.
However it is obvious that there had not been a general order given to fill boats when the first or second boats were launched because 3rd Officer Pitman had to go Captain Smith to get an order to fill number 5 with people. This from Day 13 of the British Inquiry:

15001. And after you had got out to the level of the boat deck, what did you do with regard to passengers?
- Mr. Ismay remarked to me to get it
[lifeboat number 5] filled with women and children, to which I replied, "I will await the Commander's orders." I then went to the bridge, and I saw Captain Smith, and I told him what Mr. Ismay had said. He said, "Carry on."

From the foregoing, it seems that if Lightoller got the order to embark lifeboats while they were still getting them ready,then he either lied or disobeyed that order by delaying its execution for at least 20 minutes. On the other hand, he may just have received the order while number 8 was being prepared... not number 4. In that case, he simply had a slip of memory.

It seems to me also that Lightoller more or less fell into taking charge of the evacuation from the uncovering of the boats to the heave-hoing of Collapsible A from the roof of the Officer's (?) quarters.

No Jonathan. Lightoller went round both sides of the boat deck to ensure that the hands were at work uncovering all the boats on both sides. He then went to the forward end of the port side of the boat deck and stayed there until boat 6 was made ready and lowered to the boat deck edge. After that, he went aft to help Moody with 12, 14 and 10 before returning forward to launch number 4.
As for the collapsibles: he did no more than did Murdoch and Moody. When "B" and "A" were being released, Murdoch would have been in overall charge.

But what has resonated for the past few days is that those who survived the sinking and were able to stand on the upended Collapsible B until they were transferred to another lifeboat, owed their lives to Lightoller.


Sorry to be a kill-joy again, Johnathan but if 5th Officer Lowe had not rigged the sail on number 14 and spotted these guys standing on the upturned boat, Lightoller would have been just another casualty.

So my question is why wasn't he honoured w/an MBE or an OBE? It beggars belief.

99.9% of Titanic's crew behaved in a heroic manner... placing themselves in harms way to save those less able than they were. Principal of these being Titanic's engineers of whom very little mention is made, yet to a man, sacrificed that which is most dear to all of us on behalf of others.
If any crew member had to be singled-out for any award, my choice would have been 5th Officer Lowe... the man who organised survivor distribution between boats in pitch darkness then sailed among the wreckage looking for living survivors. Following that he towed a helpless boat full of people while under sail in a lifeboat, broke off to save Lightoller et al then tow his boat load down to Carpathia. A fine bit of seamanship.

Jim C.
 
May 1, 2004
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Jim, FACTS are never a kill-joy. I tap-tap-tapped out as much of a finished thought as I could. And thanks for putting things in order. I can now stop thinking about this. Maybe you should the *BE from HM's gov't in the New Year's Honours...?
 
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Jim, I totally agree the biggest candidate for the heroism award out of the officers would be Harry Lowe, as he was the only one to come back.... Lights´"flaw" was that he allowed women and children ONLY into half filled boats, while Will Murdoch allowed men in, too.
 
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If it weren't for 4/O Boxhall getting those green flares put into boat #2, it is likely that nobody would have been rescued since rescue vessels were headed to a position 13 miles away from where the ship sank; a so called "corrected" position that was worked up by Boxhall himself.
 

Jules934

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Jim, I totally agree the biggest candidate for the heroism award out of the officers would be Harry Lowe, as he was the only one to come back.... Lights´"flaw" was that he allowed women and children ONLY into half filled boats, while Will Murdoch allowed men in, too.
If Lights had put any more passengers into those half-filled boats, they would have been more women and children.
 

Jules934

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It seems to me HM's Gov't in 1912 was remiss in allowing Lightoller's decisive actions and behaviour to go unrecognized officially. I may be wrong but wasn't it Lightoller who extracted the order from Capt. Smith to begin the evacuation?
...........................According to Lightoller, he went round the port and starboard sides of the boat deck and saw to it that the crew were uncovering boats. He then went to the port side and stayed there for the duration. He said he received the order to load boats from Captain Smith while they were still uncovering boat number 4 on the port side. If so, then he must have returned to number 4 and made her ready; swung her out and lowered her to A deck.
He then left 4 without filling her with people and went to to number 6 to swing it out and lower it ready for embarkation.
After, he went to boat number 8 and repeated the procedure. ....................

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< Lightoller lowered #4 to A deck, planning to load it from there, but the windows protecting 1st Class strollers from ocean spray were locked with no way of opening them. He went to 6 while a crew did what they could to get them open. When that was accomplished, he returned to 4 only to realize that a sounding spar was in 4's lowering path, and that had to be hacked away. Unfortunately there was no fireaxe just around the corner. (There always is in the movies but there never is in real life and death.) Just more examples of how woefully unprepared the ship/officers and crew was for their ordeal. His crew was working on that while he went on to another boat and returned to 4 to finally get it launched.

Jules>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 

Jim Currie

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I'm curious abut your "sounding spar" observation Jules. I presume you mean the boom used to deploy the wire of the patent sounding machine? If so, then this would not have been any hindrance to the lowering of a boat if properly stowed which it would most certainly have been when at sea.

Jim C.
 

Jules934

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I'm curious abut your "sounding spar" observation Jules. I presume you mean the boom used to deploy the wire of the patent sounding machine? If so, then this would not have been any hindrance to the lowering of a boat if properly stowed which it would most certainly have been when at sea.

Jim C.
It may have been in The Night Lives On -- I'm sure Lord talks about Captain Smith ordering #4 loaded from the promenade deck, forgetting about Titanic's windows and the delay getting them "Opened". It just mentions a " sounding spar" which had to be cleared away. I took that to be along the lines of what you described. Lifeboat lowering being a somewhat delicate process, if there were any chance of interference, it would have been safer to clear it rather than spill the passengers.

I'll see if I can track it down. Thanks for the comment.

Jules
 

Jules934

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Sounding Spar in the way of lowering Boat 4

I'm curious abut your "sounding spar" observation Jules. I presume you mean the boom used to deploy the wire of the patent sounding machine? If so, then this would not have been any hindrance to the lowering of a boat if properly stowed which it would most certainly have been when at sea.

Jim C.
I've been lookiing for the source of my statement last month, and finally found it. In A Night To Remember rather than The Night Lives On, as I said a couple of weeks ago, Lord writes:
Pages 66 ----- Only two more boats. One of them, No. 4, had been a headache all night. Over an hour ago, Lightoller lowered it to A Deck planning to load it from there, but the windows were all closed. Then someone noticed the Titanic's sounding spar was stuck out directly below the boat. Seaman Sam Parks and Storekeeper Jack Foley went down to chop it away, but they had trouble finding an ax. ...​

Lightoller moved on while the ax was being found and chopped away. He returned to No. 4 at 1:45 to begin the loading.

That's all I have on it.

Jules
 

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