Officers of the SS MEDIC


Earl Chapman

Member
Jan 2, 2005
20
0
71
I recently had the chance to look at a picture featured in Stenson's latest book on Lightoller. This picture shows nine WSL officers, including Lightoller and Murdoch, on the deck of the steamer Medic. It is captioned "The Captain and Officers of the Medic, 1900." Stenson's caption further states that Lightoller was 4th Officer while Murdoch was 3rd. No other officers are named.

This photo looked familar and I finally realized that it had been previously published by Diana Bristow is her book "Titanic: Sinking The Myths" (page 50). However, Bristow's caption reads:

The Officers of White Star's MEDIC in Melbourne, Australia, 1902. It identifies Lightoller as 2nd Officer and Murdoch as 1st. It also identifies two other officers, Captain Trant (sitting, middle); and Chief Officer James McGiffin (sitting, far right). The photo in Bristow's book credits the photo to the late J.O. McGiffin, son of Chief Officer James McGiffin.

I'm not sure if anyone is researching the Medic's officers, but I'd appreciate hearing from anyone who might be able to clarify which caption is correct. I know that Stenson's captions have left a lot to be desired.

Earl Chapman
Montreal, Canada
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
35
308
Hallo there, Earl!

Good to see you posting here :)

I'll send you the information on the Officers whom I believe were in that SS Oceanic in the snow photo soon.

Re. the Medic photo, I can confirm, thanks to some work recently done by a NY based researcher, that Lightoller was the 4th Officer of the Medic on the 1900 voyage (have got the dates here somewhere, but need to check with her first before I post them).

The photo does indeed come from the McGiffin family collection - several family members have copies of it. McGiffin was a friend of both Lightoller and Murdoch's, and was serving as Marine Superintendent in Cobh (Queenstown) at the time of the disaster. I understand that some of the Murdoch researchers have done some work on the photo, and perhaps Susanne, Ilya, or one other person who prefers not to maintain a 'public profile' could offer a view on whether the shot was taken in 1900 or 1902. Susanne reproduced the photo in her Murdoch biography, but I can't recall which date she used (and don't have a copy of it with me).

I'm hoping to do some work next week (post-Sibling Wedding) on the crew of the Medic for these early voyages, as Sydney seems as good a place as any to dig up information on this ship and some very promising leads have turned up :)

All the best,

Inger
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
35
308
Earl -

Addendum to the above. I just remembered I had some notes on the 'Medic' in one of the notebooks I travel with. Unfortunately, they only confuse the matter - these were jotted down from one of the Lloyd's records, so I don't know how complete they are. However, the following early masters for the 'Medic' are recorded:

8.7.99 John Thornton
11.1.00 Joseph Ranson
20.5.02 WSG Dalkin
24.5.04 G J Calvin
25.4.06 R W James
1.6.09 R Lobez
18.4.11 H Hickson
26.11.12 R J Williams
5.12.12 John Roberts
26.1.14 A Holme
19.6.14 J Roberts
7.10.15 J Aitken

As I said, I can't vouch for the completeness of these records, so the absence of Trant may not be significant (most of my notes on the 'Medic' pertain to the later period when Harold Lowe served on her). There are a few familiar names in there, including Holme who served on the 'Olympic' and whose name crops up quite frequently as a master on such WSL vessels as the 'Celtic'. Hume, another name familiar from the 'Olympic's' early voyages, also crops up as master on the 'Medic' in a later period. Hopefully the work some of the work I'm engaged in with the Murdoch and Lightoller scholars will serve to shed more light on the earliest voyages, or perhaps one of the researchers here on ET has more data on this period.

From memory, the 'Medic' menu (also in the posession of the McGiffin family, I believe - Can someone with 'Goodbye, Good luck' handy confirm this - gack, I hate being away from my materials) was signed by the officers, including Lightoller, Murdoch and McGiffin, in 1900. I have a feeling that Murdoch may have been on the Runic by 1902, but am not sure if all these dates for the early 1900s have been established for him with certainty.

Regards,

Inger
 
Dec 8, 2000
1,288
2
223
Earl & Inger,

Susanne Störmer does not offer a date for the Medic photo but states that Murdoch was serving on Runic by June 1901 and may've even been on Runic in January. The caption only identifies Lightoller, Murdoch and McGiffin.

Störmer also states that the officers' ranks are not listed in Lloyd's Register for the relevant period. She believes it possible that Murdoch had already attained the rank of 2nd officer on Medic and then served in the same role on Runic.

In this instance it looks as though Stenson may be correct, Bristow in error, at least regarding dates. I'm also inclined to Stenson's identification of ranks. But I'd still like to know more from primary sources before making a definitive call myself. Anyone?

The menu is dated 9/9/00 - except for Murdoch's contribution which is dated 10/09/00. Both the menu and photo are used 'with kind permission of Maureen Landreth', just in case that helps. Pride of place on the menu, directly below Medic's picture, goes to the signature of one 'Edgar L Trant'. None of the signatures are for 'Joseph Ranson'. So, Bristow was 'right' too...

Just muddying the waters.

Cheers,

F
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
35
308
:) Ta, Fi!

Maureen Landreth is a member of the McGiffin family, so that's where the photo and menu come from.

I'll have to try and trace Trant - might see if he shows up in the Lloyd's Register of Masters (I was looking at a different Lloyds register, one tracing ships registration/names - I know that gaps often appear in the one for masters, and it looks as if the other registers have their holes as well).

Looks like the key to dating the photo is establishing when Murdoch, Lightoller and McGiffin all served aboard the Medic, as these are the individuals in the photo who can be positively identified. At the moment 1900 looks like the better bet as we have the signed and dated menu, but other possibilities can't be ruled out.

All the best,

Ing
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
35
308
Fi -

It gets good.

According to the Sydney newspapers of Sept/Oct 1900, the captain of the Medic was Ranson. So looks like we might need to do a re-evaluation of where Trant fits into things.

Got some good data on the Medic's early voyages - Boer war transport etc. Nice descriptions of her send off from Sydney, too.

Ing
 

Earl Chapman

Member
Jan 2, 2005
20
0
71
Ing -

According to Stenson's first book, Lights was 4th officer on Medic in 1900 and Ransom was captain. According to Stenson, this was Lightoller's first posting as a White Star officer. Also according to Stenson, Lights was transferred from the Medic to the 'Atlantic Service' but that he later returned to Medic. The caption on the Medic officer's photo in Bristow's book states that the photo was taken in Melbourne in 1902 and that Trant was commander. My guess is that Bristow's caption for this photo is correct, and Stenson is wrong (wouldn't be the first time).

Earl Chapman
Montreal, Canada
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
35
308
G'day, Earl -

There's a chance I might be able to get the 1902 'Medic' logs and confirm that Bristow's caption is correct. Only problem I see at this point is that, according to Susanne Stormer, Murdoch was listed as an officer on the 'Runic' in June 1901. She hypothesises that he might have already joined the 'Runic' in January 1901 for her maiden voyage (his record of service in Lloyd's captain's register starts in June, 1901).

Stormer's biography says that Murdoch remained aboard the Runic and on the Australia run until June, 1903. For the period from June 1901 - June 1903 he made five round trips.

The notes I have on Murdoch's service from a researcher who has also looked at them note his service as follows:

1901 - 'Runic' June 13 Aust Nov 13 Aust
1902 - 'Runic' April 17 Aust Sept 17
1903 - 'Runic' Feb 10 Aust
'Arabic' June 25 US Aug 18 Nov 24 Dec 29

I had a glance at the second edition of Stenson's Lightoller biography (retitled 'Titanic Voyager', and found no reference to him returning to the 'Medic' after his little Fort Denison stunt. He did - according to Stenson - return to the Oz run in 1903 on board the 'Suevic', on board of which he met his wife Sylvia. From memory, Lightoller only refers to returning to the Oz run on the 'Suevic' in his autobio (he virtually says it was a punishment!).

This doesn't preclude Lightoller returning to the 'Medic' in 1902, given that both Stenson and Lightoller himself do not contain every facet of his career in specific detail. Likewise, it is possible that there is an error in the Lloyd's record for Murdoch's career and he served on the 'Medic' in 1902.

I'll see what I can find on the 'Medic''s voyages, and also on Trant. Might have a look for some CR 10 files on these blokes as well. I'll also see if there's a definite date on McGiffin's retirement.

At this point, we know that Lightoller, Murdoch and McGiffin were definetly on board the 'Medic' in 1900...and may have been on her in 1902, although there is some evidence against them having been there.

As a side note, I've found that Lightoller made at least two voyages to Oz in 1900 on the 'Medic' (he joined her for her second voyage as 4th officer). It was on the same voyage as the menu was signed that the Fort Denison incident took place - found some good supporting data on the event.

All the best,

Ing
 

Similar threads