Mrs J Stuart Whites dislike of the crew


James Hill

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Feb 20, 2002
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Having read her testimony its obvoius she had a degree of hatred for the crew.Although its useless now if Mrs White was here today I would tell her this.
QM Perkis and fifth officer Lowe returned to the disaster site.
Steward Hart led many 3rd class woman and children to the boat deck.
Second officer Lightoller kept most of collapsible B`s occupants alive
Also she is forgetting that these men`s wages were not very high aka a steward`s wages £3.15s.They had to support their families with this pay.Compared to her rich lifestyle.In fact had it not been for the stokers and engineers who kept the pumps,electricity and lights going many more might have perished.Sorry to anyone who disagrees with me but I had to get this of my chest.
 

Inger Sheil

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Feb 9, 1999
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Hallo James -

I think 'hatred' might be perhaps too strong a word, but she was obviously frustrated, angry and perhaps somewhat resentful that some of the crew, whom she saw as incompetant, had been saved, whereas passengers that she knew and respected had perished:
quote:

Mrs. WHITE. For instance, before we cut loose from the ship two of the seamen with us - the men, I should say; I do not call them seamen; I think they were dining-room stewards - before we were cut loose from the ship they took out cigarettes and lighted them on an occasion like that! That is one thing that we saw. All of those men escaped under the pretense of being oarsmen. The man who rowed me took his oar and rowed all over the boat, in every direction. I said to him, "Why don't you put the oar in the oarlock?" He said, "Do you put it in that hole?" I said "Certainly." He said, "I never had an oar in my hand before." I spoke to the other man and he said; "I have never had an oar in my hand before, but I think I can row." Those were the men that we were put to sea with at night - with all these magnificent fellows left on board, who would have been such a protection to us. Those were the kind of men with whom we were put out to sea that night.
and again:
quote:

I never saw a finer body of men in my life than the men passengers on this trip - athletes and men of sense - and if they had been permitted to enter these lifeboats with their families the boats would have been appropriately manned and many more lives saved, instead of allowing the stewards to get in the boats and save their lives, under the pretense that they could row, when they knew nothing whatever about it.
She did relate negative impressions of what she experienced of crew conduct that night, but she also related at least one positive observation:
quote:

Senator SMITH. Did you have any difficulty in getting into the boat?

Mrs. WHITE. None whatever. They handled me very carefully, because I could hardly step. They lifted me in very carefully and very nicely.
She was certainly very blunt, and that can provide a useful counter-view to others who spoke, for example, of the courage of the men on board:
quote:

Nobody ever thought the ship was going down. I do not think there was a person that night, I do not think there was a man on the boat who thought the ship was going down. They speak of the bravery of the men. I do not think there was any particular bravery, because none of the men thought it was going down. If they had thought the ship was going down, they would not have frivoled as they did about it.
It's important to have as wide a range of viewpoints as possible. Of course, there are two sides to every story (we know, for example, what Lightoller thought of Mrs White's attempts to 'help' with her electric light in the cane). Those who have researched her have made some interesting observations on her personality! It's all part of piecing together the story, and her evidence about the lack of boat handling skills and the tensions in the lifeboat are important. As ever, we also need to keep in mind that this is simply one person's subjective viewpoint.​
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Mrs. White wasn't the only first class lady to speak out against the actions of some of the crew. Dorothy Gibson was very vocal about the incompetence (her word, not mine) of the crew in her lifeboat while Lucy Duff Gordon, who otherwise praised the heroism of the captain and his officers, said she felt they were nonetheless to blame for keeping the passengers "in ignorance" of the ship's fate.

I think there are other accounts of passengers criticizing the crew.

Gibson's comments were some of the most scathing I have read - she even quoted an unnamed surviving steward as saying that if more of the crew had realized sooner that the ship was doomed, there would have been fewer passengers saved. Pretty strong words there but we have to realize these people were still in a state of shock in the days just after the disaster. A high level of emotion is always bound to find expression in anger.
 

James Hill

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Feb 20, 2002
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The daily sketch on Tuesday 16th April 1912 had the quote
"Splendid behavior of the crew"
survivor Mr Paul Chevert told the same paper on the 20th
"I take off my hat,to the brave British seamen who went down with the ship and to the men who manned the lifeboats.Every man of them was a hero."
Thats a survivor who was not upset with the crew.
 

Inger Sheil

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There was quite a range of opinion on crew behaviour - not surprising, as there was no doubt a range of crew behaviour! We are talking about hundreds of people - it would be unrealistic to expect them to conduct themselves either uniformly well or uniformly poorly.

Some passengers had specific complaints (such as those concerning the lack of crew with rowing skills) and some had complaints of a more general nature. Others, however, had praise or neutral comments on the crew.

Sometimes a crewman could be viewed in different ways by different passengers - Daisy Minahan had specific complaints about Lowe's conduct in the boats. Others, such as Sarah Compton and Rene Harris, categorically praised his conduct and gave examples to support their remarks.

Peuchen had criticism for Hichens, but also positive remarks about other crewmen:
quote:

Maj. PEUCHEN. Among those of the crew that I saw working, such as loading the boats, lowering the boats, and filling the boats, the discipline could not have been better.
There were many eyewitness, many viewpoints and a vast range of human behaviour, interpretation and emotion in the mix.​
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Rene Harris' public praise of Lowe was matched by her vehement criticism of Smith and Ismay for allowing the ship to race through ice fields and for ignoring iceberg warnings, actions she equated to "murder" in one of her earliest interviews. She obviously separated their behavior from those of the officers like Lowe who loaded and launched the lifeboats.

Certainly Lowe's sense of duty was not greater than any other officer's but his actions in boat 14, despite complaints from some for his earthy manner and language, stood far apart and were justifiably labeled heroic. Rene thought so, as did almost every woman in that boat. Rene still thought so 20 years later when she thanked him in deeply emotional words (not at all her usual style) in an anniversary magazine article.

Turning from the actions of officers, I thought I'd share a very moving passage, honoring the heroism of Titanic's firemen, from Helen Churchill Candee's lesser known article.

"...A line of boats swung on davits at deck level. The black cloud of firemen still waited the command to jump in, faces set. The order came on the clear, cold air: 'Down below, men. Every one of you, down below!" And without a sound they wittingly turned from life and went to death - no protest, no murmur, no resistance, a band of unknown heroes..."

Probably those who witnessed their exodus actually didn't know how profound the incident was at the time but what a sobering memory it must have been to those like Candee who lived to recall it.
 

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