Roger Lightoller's Birthdate


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Cassandra Crowther

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I am doing a research project on the Lightollers just for personal interest and wondered if anyone knows the birthdates of his children, especially Roger?
 

Mike Herbold

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Feb 13, 2001
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Cassandra:
Can't give you a definitive answer, but I can confuse you a bit.
From "The Odyssey of C.H. Lightoller" (1984), and "Titanic Voyager, The Odyssey of C.H. Lightoller" (1998), which are basically the same book by Patrick Stenson comes the following paragraph:

In 1907 the decision was taken by the White Star Line to open up a new route to New York from Southampton to be more conveniently placed for London, the South-East and the continental ports. This would become the principal New York service and be operated by the company's best and fastest vessels. The route included calls at Cherbourg and Queenstown.

Note the year 1907. In the very next paragraph of 'Odyssey', Stenson writes:

The change of base for the Oceanic meant a move for Lightoller, as the family, which now included a three-year-old son Roger and a second child on the way....

In the same next paragraph from 'Voyager', it reads:

The change of base for the Oceanic meant a move for Lightoller, as the family, which now included a one-year-old son Roger and a second child on the way....

So, he was probably born in 1904 or 1906. Since Charles and Sylvia were married on December 15th 1903, I would guess the year 1906 was correct, and the 'Odyssey' version was a typographical error that was corrected in 'Voyager'.
 

Inger Sheil

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My colleague, Dr Monika Simon, has most of the birth/marriage/death certificates pertaining to the Lightoller family...I usually consult her in times of need. She's based back in Germany now, and I don't know if she's unpacked her rather vast volume of research. Offhand, I believe his age was recorded as 38 years old when he died on 9 March 1945 - that puts his D.O.B. circa 1906-07, but Moni would have the correct dates.

What's your research project, Cassandra? Something on Dunkirk? Are you undertaking it for yourself or on behalf of someone else?
 
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Cassandra Crowther

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Just for my own research. Mr. Lightoller seems to be the most fascinating member of the officer corps-- but then, he's also the one who seems to be the one most is written about.
 
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Des Massie

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I'm pretty sure he was born in 1906. Probably in the earlier part of the year.
 

Inger Sheil

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I'll drop Monika a line about it next time I email her - she has a much better number recollection than I do, and would probably be able to give the precise date off the top of her head.
 

Inger Sheil

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Okay...not a definitive answer, as Moni has yet to order in all the certificates (expensive suckers that they are - £6.50 a pop!). She has, however, noted down the quarters in which the births were registered so she can order them at some point in the future. I might call them up if I'm feeling particularly flush with cash the next time I'm out at the FRC (i.e. if I visit the day after I get paid):

Frederic Roger. Oct-Dec 1906
Richard Trevor 28 April 1908
Herbert Brian Jan-Mar 1918
 
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sharon rutman

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I have some "Roger" facts that everyone might find interesting. Many years ago I corresponded with Commander Lightoller's niece while researching her famous uncle and she sent me a five letters Lightoller wrote to her family. From what i gather, Lightoller seemed to favor Roger above all his children. It was Roger, after all who accompanied his father aboard the Sundowner to Dunkirk, dodging the Nazis every step of the way to bring l30 soldiers back home to Ramsgate. Lightoller was effusive in praising Roger's performance--he said that Roger was splendid even though it had been his first time under fire and the first time was always the worst. Also Roger was married--Lightoller makes reference to "Marcia" and although Lightoller was maddenly skimpy on details, he proudly told Sylvia's family in the United States that he just became a grandfather saying in an August letter "Marcia's baby came last night." So sadly, Roger left behind a widow and a baby when he was killed at the end of the war. Also, isn't it strange that the Lightollers never used their first names--always the middle names were important. Although Lightoller's first name was Charles, he never, ever went by that name. It was either Herbert, Bertie or the moniker Lights.

Hope this is helpful. Please feel free to contact me for Lightoller gossip.
 
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Patricia Bowman Rogers Winship

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Not so strange to me, Sharon-- My husband's family follows that naming custom also when it comes to the first-born sons. So my one chick is Richard Donald, but is called Donald.

I would be interested in corresponding on Lightoller, since my interest in Titanic developed from an interest in him, rather than the other way 'round.

Pat Winship
 
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sharon rutman

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That is a naming custom I never heard of before. Also remember Lightoller had two daughters as well--Mavis and Claire(or Doreen--used interchangeably). Also another bit of irony--Lightoller's grandson from Trevor also followed in the proud naval tradition--as a submarine officer. CH Lightoller detested submarines passionately because it offended his sense of fair play to have the enemy slink beneath the waves waiting for its helpless prey.
 
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Patricia Bowman Rogers Winship

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Yes, I was amused at that. Patrick Stenson also commented on it in Titanic Voyager. I suspect that Lights would have managed to excuse his grandkid, however. In an earlier post on this website, I commented that one of Lightoller's most striking personal characteristics, as shown in his autobiography was that he could forgive most people. The most notable exceptions were German submarine skippers and Senator William Alden Smith.

Tell me, what do you think of his exploit with the destroyer Garry, bringing her all the way home, running stern-first, after he rammed the German submarine twice? Was it an act of exceeptional courage, or an act of exceptional showing off? He could have made a number of nearer ports, but he held out, and brought her all the way to Dover.

Pat W
 

JHPravatiner

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I thought he seemed more annoyed with Scanlan of the British Inquiry myself...he claims they still came out of it "very good friends", which is probably just a tad of hyperbole on Lights' part.

Excepting the ill-fated mutiny (and one wonders if the other three officers truly did join that crusade as he said...hmmm), he seemed mainly indifferent to Smith IMHO. It was Harold Lowe who was at odds with the Senator, whereas at the British Inquiry he seemed settled and polite. Go figure.

Tracy--
I know of no actual "grudge" between Lightoller and the Senator, only of the incident where Lights kicked up a fuss claiming that the officers (but maybe only himself?) had declared they wouldn't be quartered with the common sailors and demanded segregated quarters. But then, I'm nobody's expert on the guy or the incident...anyone have light to shed here?
 
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Patricia Bowman Rogers Winship

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Hi, Tracy!

Lightoller considered the American Inquiry to be an indignity committed upon himself, the rest of the surviving crew of the Titanic, and the White Star Line. He was annoyed by what he considered to be the stupidity and disorganization of Senator Smith's questioning. In fact, I think he felt that the whole American inquiry did not need to happen in the first place; that all it was for was to give Senator Smith a chance to show off at the expense of himeself, his colleagues, and his employer. In other words Senator Smith got in his face, and on his one good nerve in front of a whole lot of people, at an especially bad time, when all Lightoller could do was grit his teeth, give nice terse answers, and put up with it. I've always seen the incident with the separate hotel accommodations for the officers and the crew as Lights' way of hitting back at Senator Smith in the only way he could. The Senator was making trouble for him, and he was going to return the favor personally.

It wasn't exactly a grudge... but he certainly couldn't find a kind word to say about Senator Smith in Titanic and Other Ships-- as he did about Thomas Scanlan, and the infamous Captain William "Bully" Waters, and several others who had not treated him especially kindly.

Pat W.
 

Inger Sheil

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Lightoller wasn't alone among the Titanic's crew in regards to questioning the inquiry's method of gathering information. Hitchens, for example, had a few words on the subject when he returned to the UK. One of the few aspects of the inquiry Lowe was to comment to his family about was Smith's role in it. Even while they were still in Washington he was so incensed at the question regarding whether or not he had been drinking that he considered taking the matter further and demanding of Smith who had made the allegation (Smith responded with a clarifying statement that satisfied Lowe). It's interesting that Lowe had already encountered some of the figures at the British Inquiry during an earlier BOT case for which he was called as a witness.

Pat, I've wondered if perhaps Lightoller's efforts in the Hotel were an attempt - consciously or unconsciously - to assert some sort of control over the situation. While a BOT inquiry was a legal obligation (and one at least two of them had first hand experience with), it must have been an utterly disconcerting experience, coming on top of extraordinarily traumatic events, to be called before an unprecedented congressional inquiry.

Sharon, were these the Lightoller letters that, among other things, referred to the publication of his book? I believe there were some letters written by Roger in there as well - I have them kicking around here somewhere.
 
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Patricia Bowman Rogers Winship

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Hi, Ing

Well put. He did think the British Inquiry was the proper one, and that the American was totally out of line, of no consequence, and just shouldn't have happened. Of course, we, historians all, are delighted that it did-- we would be missing a huge amount of fascinating material otherwise. But I can sympathize with Lightoller, with Harold Lowe, with Hichens, and the rest of the crew, being put through that sort of wringer.

Pat
 
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sharon rutman

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Lightoller totally detested the american Inquiry which he dismissed as a farce. Lightoller also resented the deplorable accomodations in Washington which may have been good enough for some, but not the crew of the Titanic. there was practically a mutiny among the burned out crew and it took Lightoller and the British Ambassador to try to restore the peace.
 

Inger Sheil

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Sharon, that's the version that Lightoller gave in his memoirs 'Titanic and Other Ships'. Wade, working from a pro-Smith POV, gives another slant to his interpretation in which he suggests the crew were not as unhappy as Lightoller stated so many years later. The truth probably lies somewhere in between, I suspect. I don't know whether the accomodation in Washington could have been quite as bad as all that - standards on the Titanic might have been good by the practices of ships berths of the time, but many of these men (e.g. the stokers) were not exactly accustomed to the luxury implied by Lightoller's reference to the ship (the officers had seen far worse in their day as well - it was only a short time before that Moody had a cabin where the damp ran down the walls).

I've read through many contemporary newspaper accounts and found at least one where a group of crewman, lead by Frederick Fleet, were critical of Lightoller because they were under the rather mistaken impression that he had been given funds for the relief of the crew and had not distributed these to them.

I've also come across accounts of the visit of crewman to the British Ambassador - it was categorically denied to the media that this was in order to complain about their treatment at the inquiry, but rather was because the British Ambassador wished to congratulate these men on their conduct during the crisis. Of course, this is very possibly - and even probably - a cover story, but one cannot be certain what degree the British diplomats intervened in managing the crew.

Wade refers to many of the men enjoying themselves in Washington. I haven't found too much material on this, but I have found some on the very understandable desire of some to return home to England as soon as possible - adequate motivation for resenting the inquiry, even apart from questions of how it was conducted. Of the officers, contemporary sources report that Lowe was very disgruntled - but this was primarily attributed to the question he had been asked about his sobriety (although no doubt he had other gripes as well).

It's difficult to ascertain where the truth lies because both sides have an interest in either downplaying or emphasising the quality (or lack thereof) of the accomodation, and in interpreting the mood of the crew differently (either happy to comply or deeply resentful).
 

Pat Cook

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The Amazing Inger wrote: "Wade refers to many of the men enjoying themselves in Washington. I haven't found too much material on this,..."

If you can lay your hands on a copy of "Titanic Voices" by Hyslop, Forsyth and Jemima, there are four photos of the same six crewmen (possibly sightseeing) around Washington, D. C. - one in front of the capitol dome itself. These include George Symon and George Moore, along with Senator Cary - pages 205, 207, 208 and 209 (in the paperback version). In one caption it states that some of the others may be "possibly Able Seaman Ernest Archer, Quartermasters Walter Perkis and Arthur Bright".

Hope this is of some help, m'dear.

Warmest regards, as always,
Cook
 

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