New in-depth article on Chief Officer Wilde; new family photos

Dan Parkes

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Jul 1, 2010
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For those interested in the life and mystery surrounding Chief Officer Henry Wilde, I have added a new four page section featuring information I have collected over several years and now updated it with recently released photographs from Chris Bayliss, his grandson.

The article can be found here: Chief Officer Wilde

Any feedback, additions, corrections etc is greatly appreciated!
 
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J Burdette

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Dec 30, 2011
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They're very interesting articles. The article on the suicide was particularly insightful.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Apr 21, 2009
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One question regarding Wilde and his family - more specifically his 4 surviving children after he lost his wife and infant twins in 1910. What arrangements did Wilde make for care of his children while he was away at sea? Did he have a live-in housekeeper or did they stay with his sister Mrs Williams?

Even on fast modern ships of the Olympic class, it would take 11 days to return to England after a transatlantic voyage. I expect it was longer on slower ships. Did he get a chance to spend quality time with his children between voyages? Any information on what his relationship with them had been like after his wife died?
 

Sam Brannigan

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Feb 24, 2007
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Hi Dan,

Do you believe that the letter to Ada with the famous "I still don't like this ship... I have a queer feeling about it” really exists? I’ve never seen the letter, or a full transcript.
 

Arun Vajpey

Member
Apr 21, 2009
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186
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I was only peripherally aware of that book but after reading the content on that link, am considering getting it. Are the letters reproductions of the manuscripts - in which case, are they legible? Sailors were not known for their handwriting skills.

I have to confess that my interest in Chief Officer Wilde's whereabouts and actions after the Titanic collided with the iceberg has an element of bias attached to it. Let me see where that goes after I have read the book.
 

Dan Parkes

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Jul 1, 2010
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Hi Dan,

Do you believe that the letter to Ada with the famous "I still don't like this ship... I have a queer feeling about it” really exists? I’ve never seen the letter, or a full transcript.
Hi Sam. That letter is apparently only referenced in Geoffrey Marcus' book "The Maiden Voyage" and despite being often quoted the full transcript has never been found or revealed. It is not in Michael Beatty's collection of letters and due to its elusiveness and also dramatically different tone from other letters written at the same time, Michael questions its actual existence.
 

Dan Parkes

Member
Jul 1, 2010
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I was only peripherally aware of that book but after reading the content on that link, am considering getting it. Are the letters reproductions of the manuscripts - in which case, are they legible? Sailors were not known for their handwriting skills.

I have to confess that my interest in Chief Officer Wilde's whereabouts and actions after the Titanic collided with the iceberg has an element of bias attached to it. Let me see where that goes after I have read the book.
Arun - the letters are retyped, in addition to photographs of the letters, so legibility is not an issue. Although, incidentally, I find Wilde and Murdoch's handwriting to be quite beautiful, so any legibility issues are down to not a lack of skills on behalf of the writer, but a lack of skills on behalf of the modern day reader (including myself!).
 
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Amanda Toft

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Apr 28, 2019
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Hi Dan,
Your article on Wilde is fantastic! Thank you for bringing this relatively underappreciated man into the spotlight. I have a question for you though. In one of your other articles you state your belief that- based on psychological profiling among other things- Murdoch is a more likely candidate for the rumored suicide than Wilde. Do you still feel the same way after reading Beatty's book? There's been much speculation as to what effect the death of his wife had on Wilde, with some suggesting that he never came to grips with his loss and argue that it might even have made him suicidal . Does this book, with all its new information, lend any credence to this theory?
 

Dan Parkes

Member
Jul 1, 2010
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Hi Dan,
Your article on Wilde is fantastic! Thank you for bringing this relatively underappreciated man into the spotlight. I have a question for you though. In one of your other articles you state your belief that- based on psychological profiling among other things- Murdoch is a more likely candidate for the rumored suicide than Wilde. Do you still feel the same way after reading Beatty's book? There's been much speculation as to what effect the death of his wife had on Wilde, with some suggesting that he never came to grips with his loss and argue that it might even have made him suicidal . Does this book, with all its new information, lend any credence to this theory?
Hi Amanda - thanks for the question and apologies for the late reply, I don't think I received any notifications of a reply (must check the ET settings). Anyway, in answer to your question as to whether after reading Beatty's book if my opinion has changed: Yes, I have to admit to realising that Wilde was in a more fragile psychological state than I had previously realised after reading his letters which are quite emotional. However that being said, on the night of the sinking, Lightoller later reported (Christian Science Sentinel, October 1912) that Wilde said 'I am going to put on my life-belt.' which prompted Lightoller to do the same (although, curiously, this is just after Wilde had initiated the retrieving of firearms, probably noting the security of the lifeboat evacuation was becoming compromised) which suggests he was not in a suicidal state of mind.

The location, timing and number of times Murdoch's name is used in the various testimony also suggests Murdoch is a more likely candidate, as is the fact that he was a demoted Officer of the Watch on duty and giving orders at the time of the collision, one can understand the pressure and frustration he was under. His OOW duty would have finished at 2am, and he had worked heroically throughout the starboard evacuation (he had three lifeboats launched before Lightoller had even got one lifeboat launched on the port side, and more survivors can thank Murdoch than Lightoller for their lives that night).

It seems likely there was an officer shooting/suicide. But the only thing we can be 100% sure of, is that in reality we really don't know which officer it was and so it will only ever speculation.

By the way, I will soon be expanding my biography of Wilde - I have a new officer's website under development (www.titanicofficers.com) and once all the Titanic officers are completed I will revisit Wilde, as I have more information to add to it
 
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Nov 14, 2005
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Really nice site. Look foward to reading more of it. Thanks