Officers' Relationships


Hanna Turunen

Hello again!

I have read that Lightoller didn't like Wilde because he 'bumped' he back to second officer, it is true? And Moody and Lowe became (very close) friends?

Can you tell me other officers relationships too, please?

Thank you!
Hallo Hanna -

There is no direct evidence that Lightoller had any personal problem with Wilde - this is a subjective interpretation by Murdoch biographers, and not one that I share. There is some slight suggestion that Lightoller might actually have liked the man - if he is the source for John Smith's comments on the last sighting of Wilde.

Moody and Lowe did not become close friends. They barely knew each other, and were very different in temperament and experience. Lowe does seem to have quite affected by Moody's loss, judging from the frequent mentions their parting received in his testimony and affidavits and certain circumstances in which he wrote to the Moody family, but even this is not certain. Moody's only recorded reference to Lowe that has surfaced to date is a mention of the fact that he [Moody] was being bumped back from Fifth to Sixth officer, as Lowe had seniority. There is no resentment in the comment - it's very matter-of-fact.

Boxhall and Lightoller had an excellent relationship, one that continued after the disaster. Moody also liked Lightoller very much. Pitman seems to have got along fairly well with Lightoller, although there is little direct evidence on this point. They did work together on the Carpathia, but this may have been due to closeness in rank. Lowe made a rather skeptical comment about parts of Lightoller's story to his family - he does not seem to have forged close ties with his collegues. Lightoller did have a high regard for Murdoch, and is known to have been in touch with more than one member of the family in the years after Murdoch's death.

I suspect that Boxhall got along very well with his fellow watch-keeping officer Moody, but have little direct evidence on this point beyond the tone of his remarks and similarity in their Yorkshire backgrounds and early careers. There is also a suggestion that Boxhall may have been in contact with the Moody family some time after the disaster, but this hasn't been confirmed.
Inger, I envy you your knowledge.
I swear 99% of what I learn about these people comes from you (I think I'm going to end up having an entire notebook devoted to "Things Inger Has Said"!). Why in the world would you let me be on Boxhall's editorial team with you?

On a related note, is it true that Moody was fairly decent friends with Jack Phillips? I think I recall reading that somewhere.

-Allison L.
You're too kind, Allison
I'm always learning and finding out more - I think as soon as we stop trying to discover more, we stagnate. It's also a collaborative effort - everyone can contribute something to our collective knowledge if they put their mind to it! Of course I have no power over who is editing any of the bios (that is solely Phil Hind's prerogative), but I'm absolutely delighted you've signed on, and I look forward to working with you.

You are correct that Moody and Phillips were friendly - I have a copy of a letter in which Moody refers to Phillips as 'a great pal'. I suppose they were similar in age, and Moody was quite a gregarious character. On other ships he befriended fellow deck officers, and he did not share the prejudices of some deck crew against engineers (although that prejudice was in decline by 1912) - he became very friendly with at least one colleague from the engine room his early days (inevitably he was a Scotsman!).
"And Moody and Lowe became (very close) friends?"

This is an occasional misconception that pops up every so often. I'm guessing the source of it for most people lies in a couple pieces of fanfiction that are out there on the Internet. They're really good pieces, but it does create the problem of creating the wrong impression in some people of things that weren't true. It's nothing against the author, though, because she wrote one of my favorite pieces of fanfiction.

But you did a good thing, Hanna, by coming here and asking questions first. I've encountered a couple of people who took all of their historical lessons from Cameron's movie, and no amount of knowledge to the contrary would convince them otherwise. It's like trying to dispute urban legends.

Sorry, useless post.
I think the story of the antagonism between Wilde and Lightoller came from Sylvia Lightoller-- the earliest mention I can find of it is in Lord's A Night To Remember, and he had interviewed her. I've been told that Sylvia sometimes bent facts, and this may be one of them.

Pat W
But does Lowe actually say that there was antagonism between Wilde and Lightoller, Pat? I've just had a scan through the index and can't find that. Can you point me to the par you mention?

There's the line about Andrews being a bit of an agony aunt and getting visits from crew members with problems: "One night it might be First Officer Murdoch, worried because he had been superseded by Chief Officer Wilde." We know from at least one letter Murdoch wrote that he had assurances from Bartlett that the demotion was only temporary, but even if he was unburdoning himself to colleagues, there's no mention in this paragraph about resenting Wilde...nor does it refer to Lightoller at all.

Then there's the later line that "Second Officer Lightoller, in charge of the port side, believed in channels, and Chief Officer Wilde seemed quite a bottleneck." This, however, seems to be derived from a reading of the testimony. Even if Lightoller was frustrated at that point, it doesn't necessarily mean he was antagonistic towards the Chief Officer - he might have been giving a literal report of what had occured. Lord, in TNLO, characterised Lightoller as treating Moody as if he were a student whose maths weren't up to snuff, and I've seen some people project this further to suggest that Lightoller didn't have a high regard for Moody's skills. However, correspondence reveals a warm regard between the two men.

Lord's work is magnificent, but sometimes the lack of footnotes is very frustrating - at one point, discussing the fact that Wilde wasn't supposed to be on board, he writes "Wilde had considered it a lucky break."

This looks to me like inference on Wilde's part. Lord didn't speak to Wilde's family, but Marcus did - and he reveals that, far from considering it a 'lucky break', Wilde was reluctant to accept the transfer and had to be persuaded to do so. This seems to be confirmed with his comment that he still didn't 'like this ship' and having a 'queer feeling' about it.

Elizabeth Gibbons and Susanne Stormer are proponants of the Lightoller/Wilde resentment, but they do not offer any direct evidence - only conjecture and a subjective interpretation of Lightoller's tone in his remarks about his Chief Officer in his testimony and memoirs.
I'm not being kind, Inger, I'm just speaking the truth.
Rather I think it's you who's being kind to me! At any rate I'm very kind you don't mind me tagging along and I really hope to be able to contribute in some small way.

-Allison L.
Hello, Kritina!

Yeah, I've read it from many pages and then suddenly I saw that they hardly knew each other, I was like 'Oh my God, what to believe?'. I've read those fanfictions in internet too and I just read one where was Moody and Lowe's friendship and it was really good, including lots of humour
between Lowe and Moody. I think that Moody was full of fun, right? I thought really that Moody and Lowe were friends until you corrected me, thanks to you!

Well, thank you Kritina
. It just annoyed me so I had to do something for it
. Yeah, I agree with you with urban legens... I found a page where was many urban legens and Titanic too
. Here is a link if you want to go:
Hi, Allison!

I agree with you about the book
. Inger has been very kind to us and I don't know does she has got free-time because I just asked and asked things from her

I'm so thankful for you Inger!!! I'm so wiser than before
. is a great site! (And I think I've seen Kritina over there...). I can think of at least two authors (sisters) who have treated the Moody/Lowe interaction in quite a sensitive, evocative way through their fiction.

If anything I've told you is useful, Hanna, you're more than welcome. There are some great researchers working in this particular area - Kerri Sundberg, Jenni Atkinson, Pat Winship, Courtney Hedberg, Parks Stephenson, Jemma Hyder, Monika Simon...just to name a few. Not to mention people like Geoffrey Marcus and Elizabeth Gibbons who have done so much to shed light on the deck officers in the past. And it's tremendous to see up and coming researchers like Allison and yourself expanding into this area. None of us works in isolation - we're all building on what has gone before us, and learning through the research others are generous enough to share.
I have to admit, Inger, that having been around this board for a number of years and listened in to what you all know, I sometimes feel like there must not be much left to discover about these gentlemen--and even if there is, you would probably get there before me.
I'm tremendously happy to be here and have the opportunity to learn and even maybe participate in the process, though.

I know the two sisters you're referring to, and as a matter of fact was actually reading some of their stuff last night. I guess even if the way they portray the relationship between Moody and Lowe isn't how it really would have been, it's still written with respect and affection, which I like.

You ought to see some of the stuff in the Titanic section at FanFiction.Net. I'm a big fanfiction reader/writer, and being both that and a Titanic researcher, some of the stories posted there just... I dunno. They don't quite make me sick and disgusted, but I'm not merely bemused, either. One that a friend recently called to my attention involved a Mary Sue (that is, a self-insertion of the author into a character) having a shipboard affair with Thomas Andrews. Gack. My take on it is this--yes, it's fanfiction, but when dealing with actual historical people, you have a duty to do right by them. Many moons ago when I was first getting into serious writing, I penned parts of a tale that matched up Jack Phillips and an original character (I am now very embarrassed of it). It's been in rewrite hell for several years now. I didn't know at the time that he had a fiance, but now that I do, I'm going to revise the story to fit the fact accordingly. If I kept the plot as is, I would feel guilty. So I just don't understand how some of the writers know how it really was with these people, and then twist facts to their own ends anyway.

Sorry, I'm rambling. A fanfiction writer's responsibilities is something I occasionally get a soapbox on.

-Allison L.
There's always more to discover, Allison
I have a long list of lookups I need to get around to doing - potential leads to follow up. Sometimes it also takes a fresh mind and a fresh approach to think up a new angle to investigate.
quote:'s still written with respect and affection, which I like.
Absolutely, and well put. Although not written with 100% historical veracity (how could it be, when so little has been published on what they want to write about?), there is a concern for these characters as human beings who really did live - not as extensions of a fantasy. Same goes for how they are evolving as writers - they take the craft seriously, and are intent on developing their skills.​
"I think that Moody was full of fun, right?"

Well, he seemed to have a unique potential for liveliness. But I have no right to have an opinion on that aspect, so derive what you will from the flashes into his personality.

"(And I think I've seen Kritina over there..."

Only in theory.

"but when dealing with actual historical people, you have a duty to do right by them"

That's what I've always believed, which is why I wind up having to keep any historical figures I use at a distance from the OC's. It's the only way to keep everyone in their proper place.

"A fanfiction writer's responsibilities is something I occasionally get a soapbox on"

Well, they do have certain responsibilities...but one could also argue that fanfiction is not "real" writing. If one wants to go a step further, any fiction is not "real" writing, not in the same sense that non-fiction writing is real. You could look at it both ways, and probably come out right on either side.