Loading the rear boats


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Inger Sheil

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Thanks for that very helpful input to the discussion, Sam, particularly on the inspection.

I suppose it would have made sense to spread the officers around the ship to get boats prepared for loading and launching - the reason Lowe said he crossed to starboard was because the port boats were being well attended, with "officers" (he didn't name which ones) passing up and down as the boats were being worked on. With Lightoller and Wilde at the forward port quarter, it would have made sense for Moody to go aft and start work there. I've always thought it interesting that Lightoller did not recall seeing Moody at all during the evacuation, although at various points they must have been in fairly close proximity (Lightoller even comments that he learned later that Moody was on the roof of the Officers' quarters and must have been quite near him at the end). It's possible he was in error, but I wonder if Moody was responding primarily to orders from Wilde as the Chief Officer (or even from the Captain)?
 

Tad G. Fitch

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Thanks for the input about the inspections Sam.

Inger, I share your thoughts about Moody probably responding to Wilde given that he apparently wasn't receiving orders from Lightoller, and wasn't on the same side of the ship as Murdoch the whole time. Lightoller even commented about how he missed Moody at Collapsible A. If Hemming hadn't mentioned Moody's presence there, we would be left wondering where he went after working on A-deck during the loading of the aft starboard boats. It makes me wonder whether Wilde might have been on the scene at the time as well and was similarly missed.

George, as far as Charlotte Collyer, I am also very familiar with her comments regarding Murdoch in that account. I will disagree, because even if you take her account at face value (and we unfortunately can't, more on that in a second), she doesn't specify that she was at #14 when she supposedly saw Murdoch. She mentions seeing him after they were "herded towards the nearest boat deck," and subsequently discusses the order for the boats to lower away, then describes the first and second boat leaving the ship, and says she was in the third one.

She mentions Murdoch again later, but only to say that Lowe was in charge of her area of the deck, and that Murdoch had moved to the "other end" of the ship. Even at face value, this isn't really evidence that Murdoch was at #14.

As I said, it is very hard to put much stock in Collyer's account since there are so many apparent embellishments or creative touches added to it, probably by an editor rather than by her.

Just some of these include the contradiction between her daughter and her account, and others in #14 about the actions subsequent to the sinking and returning for the survivors, her claim to have seen Murdoch place guards to prevent wounded stokers from coming up on deck coupled with the suicide rumor, when in fact, Wilde would have been doing the inspection, the colorful and lurid story of the stoker coming up with his fingers cut off and spurting blood on his face and giving her information that the ship was doomed at a point when even Lightoller did not believe it was, her claims to have seen icebergs towering over them as soon as #14 hit the water which nobody else mentioned, her claim to have seen Father Byles standing tall on the deck after she left the ship, her claims to have heard "Nearer My God to Thee" when others in her boat claimed to have been unable to hear any music, the ship shooting off millions of sparks when it broke in half, her claims to have rowed to the Carpathia with no mention of Lowe having put up the sail, etc. The list is even longer than this one, but this is enough to illustrate how little stock can be put into her account. Many of the details appear to be ripped right out of the headlines of accounts that appeared around April 19th and 20th, 1912, early after the survivors arrived, many of which were just rumors, or factual stories told in extremely exaggerated form.

Collyer didn't even know Murdoch by sight to begin with, as earlier in the account in question she mentions her husband talking to either Lowe or Murdoch, and she didn't know which. It makes it implausible that she could not recognize Murdoch in one breath, then shortly after this in the account, claims that she had met him and knew his physical appearance. Lowe and Murdoch looked nothing alike, and we know that she knew what Lowe looked like since she was rescued in the same lifeboat as him. The fact that her subsequent identification of Murdoch is tied to the suicide rumor makes me further question the validity of it, based on the other rumor-based statements that made there way into the published piece, whether by Collyer's doing, or an editor. In any event, her description is too vague to pin down that she was claiming Murdoch was at #14, and her account is much too flawed to be relied upon.
 

George Jacub

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Tad....I am flabbergasted and very, very disappointed at your latest post.

You have challenged me for days with the argument that only one person claimed to have seen Murdoch at Boat No. 14.

And now you admit that you knew---all along--- that wasn't true, that you are entirely familiar with Charlotte Collyer's account of seeing Murdoch.

Why the attempt at deception? Why argue there was only one disputed witness when you knew there were two?
 

Tad G. Fitch

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George,
I am puzzled by the tone of your response and your accusation of deception.

As I said in my last post, we are all familiar with Collyer's account, which is not credible and is ridden with creative touches likely added in the editing process. Both Inger and I have given you specific reasons why it is not reliable and specific examples of the exaggerations and factual errors in it.

Furthermore, Collyer's article does not even specify that Murdoch was at #14 when she allegedly saw him, so she is not a second witness as you suggest.
 

Inger Sheil

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George, I honestly don't think there's been an attempt on anyone's part to deceive you.

The Collyer account is very widely known thanks to the frequency of its republication (not just Titanic Voices but other works have used it, and at one point the entire article was included on ET. Marjorie Collyer even sent a reprinted copy to Harold Lowe many years after the disaster). It's widely known among Titanic researchers, as are its flaws - as I said, I've even published my own thoughts on her mention of Murdoch years ago, and I believe it has been discussed before in this forum. There would be nothing to be gained by deliberately concealing the account - indeed, I rather assumed you were already aware of it. I referred her once in this thread when I mentioned passenger accounts, including her own, that referred to Lowe working at loading Boat 14. As you didn't ask any questions, I thought you must already be very familiar with Collyer's article.

Tad, your points are very valid ones about reading the article. Collyer is frustrating as there is clearly factual material in there that can be corroborated from other sources - for example, a piece of her hair been torn out after being caught in an oarlock. That some sort of incident occured during the lowering of Boat 14 that involved Lowe threatening a male with a gun and Marjorie asking him not to shoot also finds independent corroboration, but here, too, there seem to be exagerated elements. Boat 14 *did* pick up an Asian passenger, but the whole story, given in as an apparent first hand account of something she witnessed, is problematic for several reasons.

I think there is a kernal of truth in her sighting of a senior officer that she had seen before. The detail of having met him during the inspection fits with what we know of shipboard operations. However, the specific Murdoch identification is problematic, both in terms of who would have been conducting the inspection and the physical description, both of which fit Wilde.

The phrase "connective tissue" was used by a Civil War General, an extremely literate and precise man, regarding an article he wrote for a popular periodical at around this time. He was horrified to find that material had been added to "enhance" his story (even though it was dramatic enough), which had the effect of exagerating his role and distorting the truth. Sadly, he lost the regard of at least one former colleague who thought that his commander had deliberately lied. This sort of editorial ghosting is something we need to be aware of in period sources.

I've wondered about whether Wilde was there as they tried to launch the last of the collapsibles as well, Tad, as we've discussed in the past. Lightoller knew Moody well, but even so didn't see him there in those last moments. I also wonder what sort of contact Wilde and Murdoch had, particularly towards the end, and whether they conferred at all. Unravelling the communications/orders that took place is difficult - one sometimes gets the impression of officers acting autonomously (e.g. Lowe), but I suspect that unless they were specifically asked they didn't think to expound on their interactions. For example, when Lowe saw Lightoller, did they or did they not speak?

I've just had a thought on what might be another useful piece of the after boats launch order, but I need to recheck the source...will do so next week.
 

Tad G. Fitch

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Inger, very good points about Collyer's account. As you say, it is frustrating because there are factual elements to it, along with the embellishments. I would be willing to bet that you know this better than any of us here given your extensive work on Fifth Officer Lowe, the events around #14, the research for your book, etc. I know that you have investigated and cross-referenced many of the accounts that are related to Lowe's actions that night.

George, what shouldn't be lost in all of this is that Collyer's account doesn't even say that Murdoch was at #14. This is why I find it even more curious that you accused me of being deceptive.

Collyer describes going from her cabin to the promenade deck, seeing the mangled stoker come up from the gangway, and this is where she describes seeing Murdoch, and the article alleges he placed guards at the gangway to keep other men like the stoker from coming up, a detail I find extremely dubious. I highly doubt any of the officers were placing guards to prevent crewmembers from reaching the upper decks.

In any event, Collyer then describes being herded to the nearest boat deck, the order to lower the boats being given, then seeing two boats lowered, at which point she specifies that the officer in charge at that time was Lowe, Murdoch already having gone to the "other end of the deck." She then describes seeing a third boat being loaded, and being compelled to board it once it was half full.

As I said previously, this in no way supports the idea that Murdoch was involved in the loading of #14. As Inger said, Collyer's name came up previously in this discussion. Sorry to dissapoint you, but there has been no attempt at all to conceal or hide this account or any other information from you.

Inger, I am looking forward to seeing the account you mentioned in your last post.
 
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