Oceanic Crew Photo

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Inger Sheil

This is something I was working on a while back, but as other priorities have come up I’ve let it stagnate for a few months. Thought I might toss it out there to see if anyone else can advance it at this stage — feedback gratefully accepted.

A photograph appears on pg. 248 of the second edition of Stenson’s biography of Lightoller, showing seven officers standing in snow on the deck of the Oceanic. Left to right, these are identified as Blair, Lightoller, Boxhall, unidentified, unidentified, Wilde and Murdoch. An enlargement of the man identified as Murdoch appears on pp. 152 and 197, Boxhall on p. 162 and Wilde and Blair on p.152.

While I have not approached Stenson directly, one Murdoch researcher I know contacted him with her belief that the Murdoch identification was incorrect. According to her, Stenson said that Lightoller himself made the identifications. I am quite certain that Boxhall is correctly identified, and have established that he served on the Oceanic. It is interesting to note that in his American testimony he stated that 'I had never seen them (his fellow officers) before, except Mr Lightoller', which indicates he had not served with Wilde or Murdoch (or possibly Blair).

Using the season and the presence of Lightoller and Boxhall on the ship at the same time, I looked at the Oceanic’s crew agreements in order to establish two possible time frames for the voyage; either Dec/Feb 1908-1909 or the voyage from 8 December 1909 - 29 December 1909.

Judging from his CR 10 file (BT/350 class document at the PRO), I suggested that the man identified as ‘Wilde’ is a man by the name of CH Greame (who had a long and distinguished career with the WSL, serving as first officer on the Olympic and later as Master on ships such as the Celtic). This would date the photograph to some time in the December — February 1908-1909 period. If so, then the bridge officers were as follows:

Captain Haddock
Chief Officer J Cookson
First Officer C H Greame
Second Officer C H Lightoller
Third Officer D Macpherson
Fourth Officer F Brown
Fifth Officer H G Watkins
Sixth Officer J G Boxhall

The senior bridge line up remained static for these voyages - from about August through to April 1909 - 1910.

If Greame, Lightoller and Boxhall were in the photo, that still leaves the others unidentified and Cookson, Macpherson, Brown and Watkins as possible candidates. I’d appreciate any comments or criticisms of this line of speculation.

Inger Sheil

Following up on my looooong ago post, I've since viewed a few more photographs from the Oceanic (particularly the Bell i.d.'s) and would offer an alternative line up.

Third Officer Macpherson (?)
Second Officer Lightoller
Fifth Officer Boxhall
Sixth Officer Bell (?)
Chief Officer Cookson
First Officer Greame
Fourth Officer Brown

This line up would make late 1909 a possibility. I'm somewhat hesitant over Macpherson and Bell because the quality of the image is not quite enough for me to swear my life on it. Greame, Cookson and Brown I have no doubt about whatsoever.
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