Men who were offered but turned down a lifeboat place

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I've read many stories of Women who where offered lifeboat spaces but refused - either to get in a later boat - or indeed stay on the ship and perish, but are there any accounts of MEN who where actually offered a place but turned it down, either because they did'nt believe the ship was sinking or because they did'nt want to go before the other men etc - We all know about the famous account of Mr Srauss Being offered a place in Boat 8 - but turning it down - any others?

Doni McLerran

Former Member
Ellen Mary Mockler remembered a sailor twice begging Father Byles to take a seat, and that he refused. There are similar reports about Father Peruschitz. How accurate these reports were, I can't say, but it is probably safe to assume that if they were offered a seat on a lifeboat, they would have thought it their duty to God and man to stay aboard the ship instead.
Lightoller mentioned a couple of crew members who turned down the chance to get away in a boat - Sam Hemming and himself.

Frank Goldsmith recalled his last sighting of Alfred Rush, who was just turned 16:

And so then Mother and I were permitted through this gateway and Mother looked round quickly for Alfred, and he was standing back there where Dad and Mr Theobald were and the officer had his hand on his arm trying to jerk him through the gateway. And what did young Alfie say? "No, I'm staying here with the men". And that's the way it was in those days, fellows, when you became sixteen you didn't want to be classed as a kid.
Also, Messrs Case, Davidson, Roebling, Hays, and Warren are often credited with passing up opportunities to board boats. I THINK Captain Crosby and Mr Ostby were separated from their female relatives and so it isn't known if they were in the vicinity of the starboard boats.

Doni McLerran

Former Member
Could you count Officer Moody, since he gave up his spot and let Officer Lowe take it instead? (Do I have that story right?)

Inger Sheil

Must have missed this one earlier.

Unfortunately we don't really know why Moody didn't get into "some other boat". There's a suggestion that Lowe even told him to do so - Scarrott recalled him speaking to another officer on deck and saying "All right, you go in that boat and I will go in this." "That boat" was Boat 16.

Moody may have intended to do so, but might have been instructed by a senior officer to assist on the starboard side. He might have been reluctant to leave without orders from an officer more senior than Lowe. He may have made a very conscious decision not to get in a boat in fulfillment of what he saw as his duty. There might have been an intention to send him away in command of Collapsible A. Or he may not have thought too much about it at all, being so focused on getting boats away.

But yes - he could have responded in the affirmative to Lowe's question. He had at least one chance we know of to save his own life - and he decided not to take it, instead remaining to help save the lives of others.
One wants to believe that he was brave and dutiful, which he probably was indeed.

But he was also a very young man, and such people tend to think they are indestructible. Which, of course, is one reason why we send young people to war. Older people have very good reasons not to do any such thing - wives and children depending on them, lack of natural youthful fitness, and - most tellingly - an understanding that they are not indestructible.

As Inger says, Moody probably just made a series of brave decisions. Maybe also feeling invulnerable due to his youth - and got it wrong.
Yes young people do tend to think that they will live forever though I think also that Moody was just too busy with loading the boats and trying to get Collapsible A free. Too Caught up in the moment. I think that something happened and it was sudden. Which tends to happen to young People. He was only 24 years old.
There must be personality differences, of course. I'm trying to imagine my eldest (nearly Moody's age) believing he's indestructible. Although I think he probably does feel that way, I can't quite imagine him having the same sort of confidence as my youngest (22), who would have been hurling children into boats, leaping about, and thinking to himself that he'd manage somehow. Sea can't be that cold, fit, good swimmer, stuff to do etc. etc. They might both have done the job, but I think the elder would have had far more misgivings.

Mind you, the younger one told me yesterday that he has given up bungee-jumping after an experience at the weekend when he thought his eyes were falling out of their sockets. I've spent years telling him not to do this as we have a history of retinal detachment in the family - to no avail, of course. So, he's got away with it again. He's decided on his own not to do it again, and hasn't gone blind, lucky lad. And he's reluctantly decided that the extreme sports, which resulted in broken bones and torn ligaments, should be abandoned in favour of golf, parachuting, and diving. The latter, of course, requiring repaired teeth. Which brings me back to Moody, aged 24. I'm sure I remember Inger telling us he had simply terrible teeth problems, not that would have had any bearing on the night.
I'm sure I remember Inger telling us he had simply terrible teeth problems, not that would have had any bearing on the night.

I don't know Monica. It could of made him concentrate more on his job and made him more work oriented. Myself when I was 23 and living in Laramie, Wyoming I had bronchitis which went into walking pneumonia which just about ruined my teeth. I remember being really keen to work to afford the Dentist and to take my mind off the pain. Nothing was worse then being stuck at home doing nothing with aching teeth.

Inger Sheil

I do think his youth could have been a factor, Monica - the fact he was a strong swimmer and water confident might have been lurking somewhere in the back of his head. If he thought that far ahead, he might have hoped that, if worst came to worst and he wound up in the water, he could make it to a boat or wreckage. As it was, I think George is probably right - I think he was killed in the turbulent, debris laden waters when the forward end of the boat deck plunged under. We can't be confident that he, like Gracie and Lightoller in a similar position, had a lifejacket.

He had faced perilous situations before in his career - I've written about his first crossing to NY in an ET article, and one of his ships was once given for lost after the screw shank on the steamer broke and they drifted without power before they were finally able to make land and get word back to the shipping office that they were still alive. He wrote laconically of one extremely bad passage through the Magellan Straits in vessel laden with explosive material that it was a "good job" his will was made out.

His laconic voice may in part have been to either impress or play down the danger for those he was writing to, but the fact that the master of the ship took an early opportunity to promote him to acting Chief Mate and left him in complete charge of the vessel for days at a time in port to deal with both crew and owners indicates that Moody had shown some impressive qualities.

When he last mentioned the teeth he was intending to get them all seen to when he when he could find a decent dentist - hopefully he did so! He doesn't mention them in his last few letters. What he was, however, was exhausted, even before sailing. He wrote of only getting four hours broken sleep between Tuesday and Thursday of the week they arrived in Southampton. Given that he had been on a four-on four-off +dog watches schedule since leaving port, and he was almost at the end of his watch when the collision occured, I wonder just how physically strong he was when he hit the water. Adrenaline would have charged him through those final couple of hours, but there was physical work involved on a cold night - it must have sapped him.

Hmmm...perhaps I should give up the bungy jumping, given that my father is blind in one eye due to a detached retina! Most I felt was a bit of pressure around the ankles where they were bound, but there wasn't even any bruising. I joined with a couple of blokes in our circle who have jumped to give my brother a razzing and challenge him to join the club. He didn't bite - told us bluntly that he liked his retinas attached, thank you very much, and he was confident enough in his masculinity not to feel the need to jump of a bridge to prove it.
>>I wonder just how physically strong he was when he hit the water. <<

Perhaps not very, and the cold would have robbed him of whatever he had left fairly quickly. Watch schedules at sea can be brutal, even today, and in port doesn't always offer any relief. With all that had to be accomplished to get ready for sea, he may well have had more sleep at sea then when tied to the pier.
When he last mentioned the teeth he was intending to get them all seen to when he when he could find a decent dentist - hopefully he did so!

I hear poor Moody on that. Luckily my sister's Dentist felt pity for me and made out a payment plan so I was able to save my teeth. I had five fillings put in at one appointment. I felt like a character out of Stephen King's Tommyknockers who swore she was able to pick up radio waves.

Hopefully fillings were in general use or Moody would of had to have any bad teeth pulled. Although Moody was young so they couldn't of been that bad I hope.

I too, Inger and Michael wonder how strong Moody was when he hit the water and the adrenaline was gone.

Inger, did any of the people in Collapsible A mention seeing Moody in the boat after the Titanic went down. I don't think he'd made it that far but I wonder what his movements and if anybody recalled seeing him. Although the passengers wouldn't have known his name they would have recognized an Officer.

He didn't bite - told us bluntly that he liked his retinas attached, thank you very much, and he was confident enough in his masculinity not to feel the need to jump of a bridge to prove it.
Clever fella!

Inger Sheil

His biggest dental problems were back in 1908, judging from his correspondence - back when he was largely working the South American run. He refers to "lots" of them "rotting", and needing to get them stopped but suspecting he wouldn't have time to do it locally. He also opined that four were "quite gone" - which suggests he might have needed to have at least those ones pulled.


I always think of things like this when folks start thinking about the good ol' days, and why they'd like to live in the Edwardian age!

He might have had a chance to catch up on some sleep, Mike, but not much - as you know, juniors were often called up even when off watch to oversee little tasks like accompanying crew to the hold to fetch those bits of luggage marked "not wanted on voyage" that were wanted after all. When you're getting less than 4 hours sleep at a stretch, it's no wonder that when they slept, they "died". Although Moody had been on the Atlantic run since late the previous year, so was probably as adapted as possible to the broken sleep.
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