My opinion on the officer suicides


Adam McGuirk

Member
May 19, 2002
567
2
183
Hello, this is my first post since my suspinsion so I would like to apologize to the wrong doing that I was accussed of. I am writing on my opinion on the officer suicides which are very controversial much like the Californian that could cause firey debates and even hurt feelings. Thats NOT my intention with this. This is just an opinion that I have on what I think is a very interesting Titanic mystery. There were 5 people who could have done it that night becuase they were wearing officer uniforms and thats what people say the shooter wore. Captain Smith, Chief Officer Wilde, First Officer Murdoch, Sixth Officer Moody, and Purser McCelroy. McCelroy's body was found with no notings of gun wounds so that already rules him out. Heres my opinion on why each could of or could not have committed suicde. I won't go in to McCelroy because I think he can be definitely ruled out.
Captain Smith--------Smith meets about 4 different endings. He goes down with the bridge as in Cameron's. He jumps off just as the icy waters are submersing the bridge, as did Harold Bride said, he gives a baby to a lifeboat then says..."Goodbye Boys", I am following the ship! Or he shoots himself. I don't think it was Smith. Smith's old boyhood friend said there is no other way he would rather die than to be on the bridge of a ship as it is sinking. And I think thats true. I think Smith believed in the Captain goes down with the ship thing, not I shoot myself at the last minute. In my mind it wasn't Smith.
Chief Officer Wilde........people say that Wildes grief over the loss of his wife may be a reason that he shot himself if he did. I disagree. I don't thank Wilde, moments before a ship would sink, would shot himself over his wifes loss in 12/1910. He could just wait in the water and freeze to death, you know what I mean? I just find it a little crazy that he would all the sudden shoot himself when a ship was about to sink over his wifes loss.....BUT he could have been the officer that shot passnegers and then himself. But I don't think he did because, if the shooting was during was during the moments of the loading of a and b then no one DEFINITELY can place Wilde there. I think something happened to Wilde before the shooting took place. I don't really buy the Wilde hypothesis of being the shooter.
First Officer Murdoch---------In my mind if anyone was the shooter that night it was Murdoch. I was reading a passengers letter to his sister where he said that he even saw the first officer raise a gun to his head. Murdoch was seen buy a and b and there is credible evidence that he did it based on what other passengers said. I think what happened was basically what happened in Camerons movie, accidently shot a passenger, felt guity, and shot him self.
Sixth officer Moody----------Outside of McCelroy I think Moody is the last person who could have done it. For one reason he didn't even have a gun!!!!!!! I think Moody was sucked under in the final plunge.

I hoped you all enjoyed this and I know some will disagree. If anyone did it I think it was Murdoch. I hope none of them did. I would like to think they all died heroically.
Adam McGuirk
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Feb 9, 1999
5,343
67
398
Sorry Adam - I find your arguments rather flawed in your attempt to promote Murdoch as a candidate above other suggestions. Take this statement:

I was reading a passengers letter to his sister where he said that he even saw the first officer raise a gun to his head.

Can you please cite your source on this? If you're referring to the Daly letter, he does not identify the rank of the officer - the man in question is simply an officer. Given passenger and even crew confusion over the ranks of the senior officers, even when a passenger does identify an officer as 'chief' or 'first' it is wise to treat this specific allocation of rank with caution. However, the Daly letter does not identify rank - if indeed this is the material you're referencing.

Murdoch was seen buy a and b and there is credible evidence that he did it based on what other passengers said.

Murdoch was not seen by B. What 'credible evidence' are you referring to, based on 'what other passengers said'? Please cite your sources.

I think what happened was basically what happened in Camerons movie, accidently shot a passenger, felt guity, and shot him self.

Can you please cite a specific source that identifies any officer, Murdoch or not, who shot a passenger accidently? What basis do you (or Cameron) have for suggesting that any shooting was accidental? What sources I have seen that refer to any shooting taking place put such an incident in the context of the need to maintain order - if it did happen, the evidence suggests that it was a necessary action in response to a situation.

I don't thank Wilde, moments before a ship would sink, would shot himself over his wifes loss in 12/1910. He could just wait in the water and freeze to death, you know what I mean? I just find it a little crazy that he would all the sudden shoot himself when a ship was about to sink over his wifes loss.

You've misunderstood the arguments on this score - I don't think anyone has suggested that if Wilde committed suicide he did so solely because of his wife's death. Rather, it has been suggested that this was a factor contributing to his state of mind, and the catalyst for action was the sinking.

But I don't think he did because, if the shooting was during was during the moments of the loading of a and b then no one DEFINITELY can place Wilde there. I think something happened to Wilde before the shooting took place.

This problem underlines the difficulty of attempting to draw conclusions based on the flawed and incomplete nature of our data on what was happening in the final moments before the shipo sank. As I've already pointed out before when this topic was discussed, we've only been able to place Moody at A through the evidence of one witness - if Hemming had died, we'd be as in the dark about him at the end as we are about Wilde.

I think Moody is the last person who could have done it. For one reason he didn't even have a gun!!!!!!!

Be cautious of making definite statements such as this. You might argue that it is 'unlikely' that Moody had a gun, but it is not beyond the realms of possibilities that he was handed one by a senior officer who did not survive. You can't make a flat statement that he did not have one.

Re McElroy - I wouldn't even go so far as to rule him out with absolute certainty. The fact he was buried at sea indicates the body may have been in very poor condition when it was recovered. There have also been unverified, hearsay reports that crewmen alleged some bodies were recovered with gunshot wounds.

I remain firm in my conviction that far from the 'credible evidence' that Murdoch was the officer in question, such evidence as there is (which is often, as a perusal of Bill Wormstedt's site reveals, very problematic) does not allow the advocacy of one single candidate above the others. Indeed, what you have completely ignored in your summation is the fact that Murdoch was specifically ruled out as a candidate by one man who both knew him well enough to identify him with certainty and who was in the right position to see what he was doing at the very end - Charles Lightoller stated very categorically that Murdoch did not shoot himself. Perhaps not definitive evidence, but certainly not material that should be ignored, particularly as no eyewitness has yet been identified who can counter his observations on Murdoch's end.

~ Inger
 

Adam McGuirk

Member
May 19, 2002
567
2
183
Inger, notice that I said my OPINION(can someone tell me how you can write in Italics so I don't have to use caps?). It is my opinion that I think Murdoch could have committed suicide, I am not declaring it as a fact. Notice I never said William Murdoch definitely commited suicide that night. It is my opinion that I think he could of, which is as legitimate as anyone elses. My mistake on the Daly letter. I thought the letter said he saw the first officer but didn't know who the letter was from so I couldn't go back and make sure what I said I was right, so I just guessed. I did go back and check Daly's biography and that is the right one, because I remember it was a 30 is 3rd class man. I think what Daly said (in my OPINION), can basically some up that someone did shoot someone. I don't see why someone would do it for attention.

Inger you brought up a good point in that Moody could have got a gun from a senior officer could have given him one. I had never thought of that before. This may sound crazy but I think it could have happened.......Someone I can't remember who, said they saw Moody with a head wound. So if Moody got a gun from an officer that didn't survive that means he could have shot himself and there is evidence that he was spotted with a head wound. The more I think about it the more Moody becomes a legitimate suspect.

Heres a statement I had a problem with.............
"Charles Lightoller stated very categorically that Murdoch did not shoot himself. Perhaps not definitive evidence, but certainly not material that should be ignored, particularly as no eyewitness has yet been identified who can counter his observations on Murdoch's end."

Inger, wheres Lightollers evidence of this?? Did he actually see Murdoch sucked under an enormous way or have any other way of death...I don't think so. This is not a credible statement at all, and the biggest problem I had with it is that you say there is no eyewitness to Murdochs end, but then you take someones statement who also did not witness Murdochs end but you call that credible evidence. Lightoller saying that does not mean Murdoch didn't kill anyone or himself. Inger thank you for correcting me on a few flaws, especially that McCelroys body could have been buried at see because it was beyond regognition even though I don't think thats the case, you are obviously a knowledgeable person, but I did have a couple things to debate with what you said.
Adam
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Feb 9, 1999
5,343
67
398
Inger, notice that I said my OPINION(can someone tell me how you can write in Italics so I don't have to use caps?). It is my opinion that I think Murdoch could have committed suicide, I am not declaring it as a fact.

Adam, if you look at the top of your screen under 'Topics', you will see 'Formatting' listed. Select this, and you will find html tags and instructions that should enable you to italicise and use other text enhancements.

I am quite aware that what you have stated is your opinion, and naturally - as this is a discussion board - I am entitled to counter your opinions with my own, presenting my own views on why I disagree with pointing the finger at any one candidate and identifying what elements of your argument that I find problematical. This is what I was doing in my above post - not attempting to deny you your right to express an opinion, but explaining why I have problems with the arguments you advanced in support of that opinion.

I think what Daly said (in my OPINION), can basically some up that someone did shoot someone. I don't see why someone would do it for attention.

There was recently some more fascinating material re. Daly and the question of shootings / and officer suicide published in the White Star Journal, and if you're interested I recommend you try and get your hands on a copy of the article. I certainly never suggested that he was fabricating material 'for attention.'

Inger you brought up a good point in that Moody could have got a gun from a senior officer could have given him one. I had never thought of that before. This may sound crazy but I think it could have happened.......Someone I can't remember who, said they saw Moody with a head wound. So if Moody got a gun from an officer that didn't survive that means he could have shot himself and there is evidence that he was spotted with a head wound. The more I think about it the more Moody becomes a legitimate suspect.

The problem here is that you're working from sources you half-remember without attempting to assess their reliability (as with the Daly letter, when you were citing a source when you couldn't remember the details correctly). This furphey was discussed just recently, and I outlined where the material on 'Moody with a headwound' came from. This is a past- life 'memory' - purportedly a story Harold Bride related to his wife. It was introduced on the internet by a young woman claiming to be the reincarnation of Lucy Bride. This same young woman, I might add, also fabricated extracts of a diary by Cyril Evans in order to support some of her other claims. The story about Moody with a head injury has no contemporary historical support - to reiterate what I have stated on other threads, Moody's family attempted to find out what had become of him, contacting survivors etc., and in spite of their best efforts found out little more than what was revealed at the inquiries.

Inger, wheres Lightollers evidence of this?? Did he actually see Murdoch sucked under an enormous way or have any other way of death...I don't think so. This is not a credible statement at all, and the biggest problem I had with it is that you say there is no eyewitness to Murdochs end, but then you take someones statement who also did not witness Murdochs end but you call
that credible evidence.


Here is what Lightoller had to say on the matter:

"I saw the First Officer working at the falls of the starboard emergency boat, obviously with the intention of overhauling them and hooking on to the collapsible boat on their side."
(from the British Inquiry).

In a letter to Ada Murdoch dated 24 April, 1912 he wrote the following:

"I deeply regret that I missed communicating with you by last mail to refute the reports that were spread in the newspapers. I was practically the last man, and certainly the last officer, to see Mr. Murdoch. He was then endeavouring to launch the starboard forward collapsible boat. I had already got mine from off the top of our quarters. You will understand when I say that I was working the the port side of the ship, and Mr. Murdoch was principally engaged on the starboard side of the ship, filling and launching the boats. Having got my boat down off the top of the house, and there being no time to open it, I left it and ran across to the starboard side, still on top of the quarters. I was then practically looking down on your husband and his men. He was working hard, personally assisting, overhauling the forward boat's fall. At this moment the ship dived, and we were all in the water. Other reports as to the ending are absolutely false. Mr. Murdoch died like a man, doing his duty."

What grounds do you have for stating that this is 'not a credible statement'? What eyewitness account can you produce from someone who was in the right place at the right time who knew the officers well enough to distinguish them and who counters Lightoller's version of events? Where did I say that 'there is no eyewitness to Murdoch's end'?

Lightoller saying that does not mean Murdoch didn't kill anyone or himself.

I have already factored in a caveat regarding Lightoller's statements when I made the following observation:

Perhaps not definitive evidence, but certainly not material that should be ignored, particularly as no eyewitness has yet been identified who can counter his observations on Murdoch's end.

You have offered no grounds for your flat, unsupported statement that Lightoller's comment 'is not credible at all', and I find quite troubling the cavalier manner in which you treat statements from the only eyewitness thus far identified who was in the right place at the right time, knew the men involved, and made a definite comment on the issue. I don't demand that you or anyone else accept Lightoller's word on the subject as definitive, final proof eliminating Murdoch as a candidate. However, until when (if ever) evidence is produced that counters his statement regarding the First Officer's final moments on the boat deck, I don't expect him to be airily dismissed, either.

The unfortunate fact is that, in spite of the best efforts of many researchers, the definitive account that would enable us to lay this matter to rest remains as elusive as ever. If anything, the more material that emerges the muddier the waters around this issue become. If I seem to be actively resisting Murdoch as a candidate, be assured I would play devil's advocate if anyone decided to push Wilde, Murdoch, McElroy or anyone else forward above the other suggestions.

~ Inger
 
J

Jamie Michael Angus

Guest
Hi folks. This is my first posting so please go easy on me. It seems to me that the officers suicides is one of the most volatile of all Titanic discussions. I had originally thought that the whole thing was tabloid gossip, so I was flabbergasted a few years ago when I read Walter Lord's excellent "The Night Lives On" and discovered that there was a small but solid body of evidence in favour of the officers suicide theory. I can well understand why people cling to Murdoch as the likely candidate. He was on the bridge at the fatal moment and it is entirely on the cards that he blamed himself in no small part for the catastrophe. I may be being naive but it seems to me that Murdoch has been tried and convicted of suicide on this basis alone. But it's not enough evidence to convict. Not nearly enough.

Inger, I am completely in agreement with the vast majority of your comments. It's obvious you know what you're talking about. The only slight niggle I had was on your stressing of Lightollers evidence about Murdoch's final moments. I think it extremely likely that Lightoller was telling the truth, but let us suppose for just a moment that Murdoch did shoot himself and Ligtoller saw it. In this event, I think it is in the realms of possibility that Lightoller would have at least attempted to cover it up. He would surely have had no desire to see Murdoch's memory tarnished in any way. It would also have been far easier on Murdoch's widow. There is no way that Lightoller would have trumpeted Murdoch's suicide to both inquiries unless he absolutely had to. I think he would have tried to preserve the mans honour and the honour of his family. So I'm always weary about taking Lightollers testimony on this issue. I would have rathered it if an uninterested party (i.e. a passenger) had viewed Murdochs final moments. Maybe there is such a passenger. I'm really not sure.

That said, I still feel it is safer to assume Murdoch didn't kill himself unless we get far stronger evidence to the contrary.

I think Walter Lord was spot on when he said that Wilde was the enigma of the night. Where the hell was he?! In the 10 or 15 books I've read on the disaster, I find that one is pretty hard pressed to find any reference to him at all, at least beyond the information that he was the Chief Officer. I don't recall many passengers talking about him. He seems almost invisible during the sinking. Has anyone got any ideas/info about what he actually did do that night? Did he help load the boats? If so, you'd think people would recall him more frequently.

I seem to be drawing this thread away from the suicide question so I apologise in advance!

Best wishes,

Jamie
 
Mar 18, 2000
1,384
21
313
Evidence exists in the Inquiries that Wilde helped load a number of lifeboats - he was involved with four lifeboats on the port side (#8, #14, #2 and Collapsible D) and one on the starboard (Collapsible C).

There are also many accounts refering to the "Chief Officer", which may be refering to Wilde, though his name is not specifically mentioned.

Another case of the 'general belief' of things not being born out by the evidence.
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Feb 9, 1999
5,343
67
398
Hallo Jamie -

I agree with Bill's comments about Wilde's activity. I know Lord stressed the idea that Wilde was an engima that night, and some later writers have even suggested he did not move far from the bridge and forward area of the boat deck...statements I don't believe are born out by testimony at the inquiries. This was discussed a little while back on the board, and you may be able to find the thread if you do a search.

I think it extremely likely that Lightoller was telling the truth, but let us suppose for just a moment that Murdoch did shoot himself and Ligtoller saw it. In this event, I think it is in the realms of possibility that Lightoller would have at least attempted to cover it up. He would surely have had no desire to see Murdoch's memory tarnished in any way.

I see where you're coming from, which is why I included the caveat above in my initial post - that it was Perhaps not definitive evidence. I've qualified my observations with that statement, as Lightoller's specific observations on Murdoch's end are not directly corroborated or contradicted by any other witness thus far identified who was both in the right position at the right time and who knew the senior officers well enough to distinguish them. However, while I'm not claiming Lightoller's statement as definitive proof on the matter, he shouldn't be summarily dismissed either as 'not creditable'.

As a side note - for anyone who hasn't already done so, check out Bill's site:

http://home.att.net/~wormstedt/titanic/shots/shots.htm

This is the most comprehensive compilation of evidence regarding the question of a suicide on the boatdeck available online.

By the way - welcome to the board, Jamie. I hope to see more of your contributions
happy.gif


~ Inger
 
Dec 13, 1998
295
3
263
Hello everybody. Am I right in assuming that the only two people who actually said they saw an officer shoot someone/himself were George Rheims and Eugene Daly? What if they somehow got confused what with the shootings at boat 14 and/or C? Daly was near No 14 (and I still have a feeling he might have sneeked into that boat with the two Irish girls he helped into it)and his recollections after helping the two Irish girls are somewhat hazy. I don't say he lied about it, only that it is a possibility that he got slightly confused. If this were the case, we are left with Rheims as the only actual eyewitness.
I must admit I never really believed in fatal shootings; the only confirmed shootings were non-fatal as far as I am aware. But then again, I wasn't there, and I can't say what is right or not.

Best regards,

Peter
 
Mar 20, 2000
3,107
33
323
Peter,

Some have contended that Mabel Francatelli witnessed Murdoch's shooting. Her rather emotional letter to a friend in which she mentions the incident has been used to support this claim. But it's my opinion that the reference has been taken out of context. However, I do think "Franks" heard gunshots, most likely those at boat C, during the scuffle which has been well established.

Lucy Duff Gordon afterwards also said she heard what she called "pistol shots." From their position in boat 1, which was afloat nearby, the women would have probably heard the gunfire quite clearly. But I doubt they saw anything. Franks was in a nervous state and Lucy was extremely ill so I don't think either lady was in a very observant frame of mind.

I think it's more likely that they merely were told on board Carpathia the story of an officer's suicide and made the conclusion that the shots they heard were of that alleged incident. In some badly researched book, I think one of Pellegrino's, and on a website or two, both Franks and Lucy are listed as "eyewitnesses" to the "Murdoch suicide." I think it's a great stretch to claim that. And personally I don't believe they saw any shooting.

For what it's worth, I'm of the opinion that there was no officer suicide. It just seems far-fetched. Surely none of those men were that mad.

Randy
 
Dec 13, 1998
295
3
263
Hello Randy, thanks. There is no doubt people heard gunshots; the question is when did they actually hear them?? Miss Francatelli in boat No 1 must have been quite a far way away from the sinking liner when there were gunshots heard, having left the Titanic some 20 or 30 minutes prior to the incidents in/near/at No 14. I don't understand how she could have seen shootings.
I must say I agree with you; I don't think anybody shot himself (or anybody else, for that matter).

Best regards,

Peter
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Mar 16, 2000
5,055
339
433
The thing that intrigues me about the stories of gunfire somewhere near collapsible C is this. This boat was later filled almost entirely with women and children, plus the Chinese sailors who supposedly stowed away (a pretty clever feat in a boat with so little room under the thwarts). Then Ismay and Carter came along and hopped in. If there really was all the alleged gunfire, how come the Chinese were not spotted and chucked out at gunpoint? With all the fuss about Ismay's survival, why did nobody make a big deal about him getting into a boat after other men were chased out at gunpoint and actual gunfire? I seems a natural story for somebody to sensationalise, but Ismay's enemies never used it against him. Is it all a fairy tale?
 
Mar 20, 2000
3,107
33
323
Dave,

You point out something very valid. There is something odd about the shots near Boat C and Ismay's apparently simultaneous escape in it. Was the riot actually over Ismay's being allowed aboard?

Peter,

I could well be wrong but I don't believe Boat 1 was very far away at all. Both Lucy and Franks later had fairly vivid recollections of the sinking which, from those accounts, bear out that they were quite close in. But not close enough to discern people; it had to have been extremely dark. I believe the crew of boat 1 rowed out 200 yards, as they'd been instructed by Murdoch, and laid on their oars till the ship went down. Of course the Duff Gordons at the hearings of the Inquiry in London each claimed in their testimony that they were a mile away when Titanic sank. I think they were not. It was their counsels' strategy to make them appear to have been unable to have assisted in a rescue of the drowning. It was by that time a matter of damage control. They were desperate to fight off the charge of bribery which was of course false. Still, boat 1 could and should have gone back to help - as, I think, every boat should have done but sadly didn't.

Randy
 
May 15, 2006
64
1
98
I would not use any of the passenger letters, as a variable refrence, or any of the passenger sightings either, because how would the passengers be able to tell the indivudual officers identities? Also who would people able to tell the officers commiting suicide in a little wooden boat in the freezing north Atlantic ocean 200 yards away from the "Titanic". It could also be anybody in a uniform, like a well dressed passenger or a steward. Also some of the whitnesses were so far away how could they have possibly have distingueshed the person who did it. Also it is even unknown if an officer did commit suicide
 
T

Timothy Trower

Guest
Murdoch or Wilde?

Has it ever been established whether or not that Murdoch and Lightoller removed extra strips from their uniforms after Wilde joined the ship?
 

Tad G. Fitch

Member
Dec 13, 1999
581
14
263
Hi Tim, how have you been? For what it's worth, a photograph of Second Officer Lightoller and First Officer Murdoch in the gangway doors on Titanic reveals that Lightoller still had the insignia on his sleeve indicating that he was First Officer. Unfortunately, Murdoch's sleeve is not visible in the photograph, so there is no way of knowing for certain that he did not change his stripes, although Bill Wormstedt and myself have speculated that he did not.
 
T

Timothy Trower

Guest
Tad,

Aside from a bum shoulder, pretty good!

That is the distinct impression that I had -- after all, Davy Blair was bumped on the 9th by Wilde for just one voyage, so why change stripes for one voyage. I had forgotten about the photo of Murdoch and Lightoller in the gangway doors but remembered doing some reading on this in the archives in the years before I joined the message board.
 
Dec 3, 2006
23
1
73
I found this interesting thing on a website once that suggested how it may have been Sixth Officer Moody. The evidence seems to suggest that it could have been possible for him to have killed himself. But something makes me think it was not him. What would have been his motive?? Where could he have gotten a gun (although maybe he carried his own gun, like Officer Lowe did)??

http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/Carpathia/page15.htm

The article was rather interesting. I read it over a few times, trying to make sense out of it. But, I still don't think Moody would have done it. I am not saying he couldn't have done it, I am just saying I don't think he would have.

---Kelly.
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Feb 9, 1999
5,343
67
398
I'm afraid that's a deeply flawed piece, Kelly - Susanne hasn't researched Moody as she has Murdoch. I've thought about writing a point-by-point rebuttal to the article and correcting her misconceptions. As my name is cited in the piece, I'm particularly concerned about any misapprehension that I in any way endorse her views.

Susanne's theory centres around her belief that the suicide, if it occured, happened at Boat#16 - in which case, she argues for the elimination of Wilde and Murdoch as candidates, as they were seen alive after the launching of the aft port boats. This in itself is a highly controversial take on what evidence there is for a shooting, and I still believe that what evidence there is points to the event happening at the forward starboard boats. However, assuming for the sake of argument that the incident in question took place at Boat 16, we then have the problem Moody was seen alive and working on the starboard boats. Susanne goes to some lengths to try and discredit these accounts.

Reginald Lee gives an account of the officer who launched Boat 13 that leaves us in little doubt that the man he describes is Moody:
quote:

2527. You mean there was scarcely anybody in No. 13 boat? - Yes, Mr. ___ I cannot tell what his name is -- a tall officer, about six feet in height, fresh complexion -- I forget his name -- he was there attending to passing the passengers into the boats.

2528. Was it Mr. Wilde, the chief officer? - No, he was about the sixth officer, or the fifth officer.

2529. At any rate, he was a very tall man according to you? - Yes, tall and spare. I think he was drowned.
Fifth or Sixth Officer, drowned. But Susanne tries to muddy the waters by actually suggesting it might have been Lowe - ignoring the fact that Lowe himself, in his evidence at both inquiries and in two additional statements of which I have copies, never claimed to have loaded the aft starboard boats. She also suggests that the description might apply to Lowe 'provided that Lowe was tall enough to be labelled as "tall."' Lowe was in fact only of average height, and one of the shortest of the officers. Moody, by contrast, was almost six foot and evidently appeared even taller - it was a characteristic noted in other descriptions I have of him. Further, the man is described as 'spare' - an apt description of Moody, if you've seen as many photos of him as I have - and 'fair'. Again, Moody was very fair skinned and had light brown hair. Lowe, by contrast, is described in official BOT descriptions as having a 'dark' complexion. Even without being told he was the 'fifth or sixth officer' and was drowned, out of all the deck officers I would identify Moody as the one Lee is speaking about based on the physical description given.

Susanne also muddies matters further by suggesting - or implying - Assistant Second Steward Wheat might be the man described...as if Fleet, a merchant seaman of some experience, would not know the difference between a deck officer and a steward!

Susanne completely ignores the testimony of Walter Wynn in her essay. He stated at the British Inquiry:
quote:

13323. After that did you meet the sixth Officer Mr. Moody, who told you to go to your own boat?
- Yes.

13324. Did you know your own boat?
- No.

13325. Did you ascertain what was your own boat then?
- No, not then.

13326. Did you go to a boat?
- Mr. Moody told me to go to number nine boat and take charge of number nine.

13327. Whether that was your right boat or not, you do not know?
- It was all ready swinging out on the davits and he told me to take charge of No. 9, as I did not know my own boat.
In discussions I've had with Susanne she has expressed the view that Moody might have ordered Wynn across to 9 when he was working at the aft port boats. I find it far more likely - reading Wynn in conjunction with Lee's testimony - that Moody was working on the starboard side and ordered Wyn to a nearby boat.

Hemming, of course, also named Moody as working on the starboard side, at the forward boats. The lamp trimmer even exchanged a few words with the young officer. Susanne's dismissal of Hemming's identification rests on the following:
quote:

So how could Hemming distinguish Moody from the other people on board at that stage of time? Had Moody such a unique physique that it was impossible to mistake him? On the other hand, Lee's observation leaves room for the possibility that there might have been other men on board who could have been mistaken for the young officer.
I disagree - strongly - that Lee's observation indicates that other men might have been mistaken for Moody (quite the opposite, in fact - I believe Lee was provided a clear identification of Moody). Moody might not have been 'unmistakable' (I don't know if we can say that about many human beings), but he certain did have a distinct appearance. Even in photographs showing his entire class on board RMS Conway he is easy to pick out, standing a good height above his colleagues. She argues that Hemming had not served with Moody, therefore questioning how familiar he was with the young officer. But both had joined the ship in Belfast, and Hemming had a responsibility for stores. Moody spent much of his time in Belfast, according to copies of his letters that I have, checking stores as they came aboard. I'd say he and Hemming had spent a good deal of time in each others company, and feel inclined to accept Hemming's identification of the young officer. Certainly he isn't hesitant about it - he's very matter of fact.

Susanne also makes the following assertion:
quote:

Why is it more likely that it was Moody rather than Wilde or Murdoch or even Captain Smith who committed suicide at boat #16? The saluting as observed by Rheims gives him away. While Wilde, Murdoch and Smith were merchant navy trained, Moody had been on the HMS Conway, a navy training vessel where boys were brought up to military rules. To salute is definitely an absolutely military gesture.
Far from giving Moody away, the salute actually points us away from him and towards other officers.

I'm afraid she misunderstands the nature of HMS Conway, a vessel that trained cadets primarily for the merchant service, under the auspices of the Mercantile Marine Service Association. While they did receive training in some RN practices, including gunnery, it is incorrect to give the impression that it was a naval training school. In fact, I've found some source material that refers to the boys standing to attention - not saluting. What's more, Moody spent a mere two years at HMS Conway, leaving the vessel in 1904. Since that time, he had served exclusively in the Merchant Service. I find it improbable that he would, as a last gesture, revert to a salute he had never used in his work.

Significantly, however, Moody never joined the RNR. Both Wilde and Murdoch did, and were active members. It was evidently important enough to them that their RNR ranks were included on their headstones. Would an RNR man in the merchant service use a naval salute in unusual circumstances? We can easily find an example of one who did - Harold Lowe, who is recorded as accepting gifts of recognition for his role in the Titanic disaster with 'a smart naval salute'. If anyone was likely to salute in that situation, I'd say it was the serving RNR men - not the former mercantile marine officer.

And, of course, did Moody have a gun? Unlike Wilde and Murdoch, we cannot place one in his hand. Susanne tries to get around this by suggesting Lightoller was lying (although why he would do so and not omit one from Murdoch's hand as well is not addressed - Lightoller actively defended Murdoch against suggestions of suicide). She also refers to Lowe's personal sidearm, and states: 'It is not known to the present author whether Moody also owned a personal weapon that he carried around with him.'

Having read through and transcribed Moody's personal correspondence from the time he was a small child, I can state that it is extremely unlikely Moody had a firearm with him. He writes in great details of his activities, but guns do not feature in it at all. Even when he talks about the crew shooting birds from one of the sailing vessels he served on board, he is not a participant. He never once mentions participating in shooting. Harold Lowe, on the other hand, was a weapons afficiando and collected guns his entire life.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the problems with Susanne's article, Kelly. I also take issue with her characterisations of the relationships with the officers, many of which sit at odds with my own research, and her theory of an Olympic/Oceanic schism as propounded in her last bio of Murdoch and touched on in this essay. In the end, her theory boils down to putting a gun in Moody's hand by process of elimination - and in order to do so, she has to 'kill him off' during the loading of boat 16 and argue against evidence he was on the starboard side. I think she does this officer a very great disservice in doing so, as the evidence is he not only rejected a chance to leave in a lifeboat, he worked up until we last 'see' him, at collapsible A.

Note also that the photo of Moody illustrating the article is an altered studio image that has been halved and then mirrored - that's why he has such a strange expression. It does not give an accurate impression of what Moody looks like, and the quirked eyebrows give him a rather pathetic look that is not seen in actual photographs of this officer.​
 

Similar threads

Similar threads