Murdoch Lowe and Lightoller at Boats 13 14 and D


H

Holly Peterson

Guest
I am writing a story which involves some of the main characters getting away in these three lifeboats: boat 14, boat 13, and Collapsible D. First, the main character's brother, who is about 10-12 years old, is rejected by Lowe at lifeboat 14. However, I've read that Lowe escaped in Lifeboat 14 himself. The last thing I want to do is tarnish the reputations of some of the Titanic's crewmembers, least of all the officers, who seem to hold a high position of respect on these boards, and so I was wondering if Lowe said or did anything that would make it clear he was just going into the lifeboat to man it (if he was.) Sorry if this doesn't make any sense, but I don't want to make it seem as if Lowe is a coward, refusing a young boy a seat in a lifeboat and then jumping in himself. Specifically, does anyone know anything that Lowe said or did when launching this lifeboat? That applies to Murdoch and Lightoller with their boats as well, because I want to make the story as accurate as possible.

Next, the main character takes her brother to lifeboat 13, where he is allowed in by Murdoch, who I've read was there to lower this lifeboat. I've read that Murdoch allowed those who were considered 'men' into this lifeboat, after the women had gone in. However, Daniel Buckley's ET page makes it seem like Murdoch was taking out men who tried to jump into the boat. Again, any info regarding Murdoch's behavior etc. at Lifeboat 13/15 would be very much appreciated.

I've pretty much got enough info on Lightoller at Boat D, instructing the crew to make a circle around the boat and saying 'Not Damn Likely' when some guy told him to go into the boat. Is there anything else recorded that he said or did here? My main character escapes in Boat D and, again, I would like the story to be as historically accurate as possible.

Any help would be very much appreciated. I am sorry if the lenghts of my posts have been bothering some people lately, as I've tended to only get responses to the shorter ones.
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
60
308
I don't know if Lowe would reject a boy of 10-12 years old, Holly - there's no historic evidence that he did, beyond Collyer's account of him ejecting at gunpoint an individual she said was a "young lad" who was "hardly more than a school boy." Others at 14 (even Daisy Minahan, who was otherwise critical of Lowe) refer only to men who attempted to enter the lifeboat, and Collyer's account seems to have undergone some journalistic enhancement. There have been some attempts to identify who this individual might have been (one suggestion is nineteen year old Joseph Charles Nicholls), and if you go back over previous threads you'll see some discussion on the issue of who attempted to enter Boat 14. If the boy in your story looked older than 10 - 12, it's a possibility he might have been rejected.

You'd be aware of Lowe's comment to Moody, that he had seen several boats go without an officer, and that he thought one should go in the aft port boats (and Moody's response to Lowe, telling him "you go" and that he, Moody, would find some other boat). If you look at the situation developing around those boats, with crewmen Scarrott and Poindexter referring to the difficulties of keeping people back from the boats (and Scarrott informing Lowe of his use of a tiller to keep them back when Lowe arrived at 14), I think you have a possible indication of why Lowe felt it necessary for an officer to accompany these boats. I have wondered if Moody thought Lowe the better candidate because he was armed, but that is purely in the realm of speculation.

There are quite a few things Lowe said specifically when loading Boat 14 - in addition to the exchange with Moody, Lowe himself recalled preventing at least one first class man who made repeated attempts to enter the boat from doing so (finally threatening him with the gun and telling him to "chase himself around the deck"). Collyer recalled that during the loading: "Mr. Lowe was very young and boyish-looking; but, some how, he compelled people to obey him. He rushed among the passengers and ordered the women into the boat. Many of them followed him in a dazed kind of way; but others stayed by their men."

Scarrott recalled Lowe arriving at Boat 14 when the loading was already well underway:

Mr. Lowe came in our boat. I told him that I had had a bit of trouble through the rushing business, and he said, "All right." He pulled out his revolver and he fired two shots between the ship and the boat's side, and issued a warning to the remainder of the men that were about there. He told them that if there was any more rushing he would use it. When he fired the two shots he fired them into the water. He asked me, "How many got into the boat?" I told him as near as I could count that that was the number, and he said to me, "Do you think the boat will stand it?" I said, "Yes, she is hanging all right." "All right," he said, "Lower away 14."

In Boat 12, Clench recalled that as they went down "we had instructions when we went down that we were to keep our eye on No. 14 boat, where Mr. Lowe, the fifth officer, was, and keep all together as much as we could, so that we would not get drifted away from one another."

I can dig out a few other accounts if you'd like me to elaborate further? As an aside, Lowe had been noted from childhood as having been a physically courageous character.

There is no direct evidence that has Murdoch personally loading Boat 13, although he was in overall charge of the aft port quarter lifeboats. I'd suggest that the evidence indicates that it was Moody who was in direct charge. If you look at the list of survivors who are believed to have been in Boat 13, you'll find a number of male passengers were rescued in the boat - one of whom was Lawrence Beasley. You may want to read his account for an idea of how he came to be in this boat.

It was Wilde who was reported to have instructed Lightoller to leave in Boat D (to which Lightoller records he responded "Not damn likely"). The loading of Lifeboat D is one of the more interesting and controversial sets of events during the evacuation. Among those who survived in this boat were Irene (Rene) Harris and Lily May Futrelle. If you look at the lifeboat page on the ET main site and follow through links, you'll find some survivor accounts. I'm assuming you've already read the testimony of Lightoller, Woolner and Hardy for example?

Sorry that my post isn't a more comprehensive treatment of your questions - there's a lot of ground to cover, and a more detailed account of what was said and done at the loading of each of these boats would take up quite a bit of space. Perhaps this can start some discussion on the subject, and I can add some more when time allows.
 
H

Holly Peterson

Guest
"Sorry that my post isn't a more comprehensive treatment of your questions"

On the contrary, Inger - your post was very helpful and informative, and came much sooner than I had expected! Thanks for all the useful information. I will certainly check out the survivor accounts of those saved in Lifeboat D, if I have time - I am working on quite a number of projects at the time.

I previously asked another ET poster, Allan Wolf I believe, if a 10-12 year old might be rejected, and he said that it was not unrealistic at all, particularly if the boy looks a bit older than he actually is. I am basing the character, who is 10, off a c. 1930 picture I've seen of one of my great uncles. He is about 12 years old there, and 12 can easily be seen as 13, which was the age at which officers usually wouldn't let a boy in a boat.
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
60
308
Glad it was of some use, I don't know whether it could be said that officers usually wouldn't let a boy in a lifeboat at 13 - there isn't that much data on the question. It is often (incorrectly) suggested that it was Lightoller who initially blocked 13 year old Jack Ryerson's entry into a lifeboat (until his father pointed out that the boy was only thirteen), but in fact the evidence is that it was Steward Dodd, misremembered by Mrs Ryerson as being named "Stout." At any rate, I don't think we can take this as a general rule for the actions of officers controlling access to the boats. I don't think there *was* a hard and fast rule, adhered to by all. As in other matters of loading, it seems largely have been left to the subjective opinion of the crew in charge.
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,043
87
308
UK
'Subjective opinion' is right. Nobody was showing birth certificates. Snap decisions were made as to whether a boy seemed capable of 'looking after himself', and those decisions were made by men who'd been looking after themselves at sea since the age of 12 or 13.
 

Tad G. Fitch

Member
Dec 31, 2005
579
6
111
I agree with what Inger said above about Murdoch and Moody at the aft starboard boats.

Murdoch seems to have superintended and oversaw the loading of #9, #11, #13, and #15, but the latter three were then lowered to A-Deck and loading was largely done there.

There is evidence that Murdoch was at #13 and #15 initially, but then crossed over to the port side to work at #10 after ordering them lowered away (they stopped and took on many passengers on A-Deck first), the last remaining boat there, after those two boats were lowered to A-Deck.

Sixth Officer Moody was on-hand on A-Deck during the loading of #13 and #15, and oversaw and finished the loading of them there. He was seen on the Boat Deck during the loading of #9, and I suspect he probably went below to A-Deck to help finish the loading of #11, although this is speculation on my part based on the fact that he was seen at #9, then on A-Deck for #13 and #15, indicating he never left the scene in between #9 and #13. Someone had to be overseeing the loading of #11 on A-Deck, and I think it was likely him.

If you're interested Holly, in our article on the lifeboat lowering sequence and timeline, there is a good deal of information on the officer movements. It is contained largely in the combined sequence portion near the end of the article, although other information is peppered throughout:

Titanic:The Lifeboat Launching Sequence Re-Examined

Kind regards,
Tad
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
60
308
I agree with what Inger said above about Murdoch and Moody at the aft starboard boats.
Thank you for tactfully not pointing out that I meant "aft starboard quarter" when I said "aft port quarter" above, Tad - particularly given how much general discussion there has been on this point! Of course, I should have written *starboard*. I agree with your other comments as well.
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,043
87
308
UK
You won't be the first, and you won't be the last! Boxhall at the BBC: "All the lights were burning, and you could see that she was going down. You could see that her stern was getting pretty low in the water." :)
 
Mar 22, 2003
6,132
1,480
383
Chicago, IL, USA
www.titanicology.com
And that's what happens when you get old(er). Starboard/Port, Stern/Bow, Night/Day, Down/UP, Her/Him, ...

At least you have a 50% chance of getting it right, or is that left?
happy.gif
 
Jan 28, 2003
2,524
15
223
When I was a child, my grandmother ran through the names of everyone in the family, including the pets, before she eventually hit on the right one, much to our youthful merriment.

To my great distress I now find ......
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,043
87
308
UK
Similar problem at my Gran's house when she was serving tea, Mon. I got mine while it was still warm, but it was stone cold by the time she got to my Grandad Zebediah.
 

Similar threads

Similar threads