Sally Nilsson talk on Robert Hichens

Hi Sally. It was good to hear your enthusiastic and detailed presentation, even despite a band playing in the background! And good that you are continuing to defend your great grandfather's reputation, that he was not a "coward and a bully" but simply doing his duty.

I am very glad that you did not repeat your allegations that First officer Murdoch was asleep and drunk at the time of the collision, as made in your book. Of course, we now know this is not based on any evidence: Was Murdoch Drunk at the Wheel? | William Murdoch

Although you do ask "Where has First officer Murdoch been?" with the implication that he was somehow derelict in his duty at the time of the collision. Actually he was on the starboard wing bridge, keeping a lookout, as was the standard procedure for OOW. This was where Second Officer Lightoller had also been stationed during his previous shift (apparently with binoculars too) and Lightoller noted during the inquiries that the OOW does not enter the wheelhouse during the night, due to the difference in light levels. So Hichens would certainly not have seen Murdoch, as the shutters were closed in the wheelhouse. There is nothing suspicious here. In fact, it seems likely that Murdoch spotted the iceberg at the same time as the lookouts.

My concern is that you are defending your great grand father's reputation at the cost of others, which is really not fair at all. So a couple of other points worth noting:
  • Binoculars myth - the 'missing' binoculars (they were not always supplied so 'missing' is not really the correct term) had little to no effect on the disaster as they were only used to identify objects already spotted with the naked eye. Although I think Lightoller was negligent in his efforts to supply them.
  • Hitting the iceberg head-on myth - no sane OOW would order this and there is evidence to suggest the damage would be more catastrophic
  • You accuse Thomas Andrews of incompetence, of 'wasting 45 minutes doing something that should have taken only 5 minutes'. Not entirely sure why you single him out here as another guilty party or where the "45 minutes" comes from - he worked hard to ensure an accurate damage report and it involved visiting a number of key areas that would certainly not take '5 minutes'. To my understanding between approximately 1153pm - 1204am Captain Smith and Thomas Andrews inspected the ship and at 1205am Smith ordered the lifeboats uncovered. Which means an evacuation was taking place within a total of 40 minutes of impact, and during which time a lot of activity took place.
  • You mention that "4 of the lifeboats just floundered and were not working at all." Collapsibles A and B were not launched but floated away, is this what you are referring to? But there were only 2 of these and although not properly launched they provided refuge for many survivors.
  • "I do not like Molly Brown" - she was "horrible" - I know you are basing this on her comments about Hichens, but not sure this helps? She is one who owes her life to some degree to Hichens' efforts.
  • Hichens "ended up in South Africa and was paid for his silence" - we now know that this is not true, there is no evidence to support him ever being there: Why Hichens Was Not in Cape Town in 1914 | William Murdoch
By the way, I live in the south-east England, - next time you have a talk let me know as it would be great to attend, and I would happily film it properly for you too :)
 
Hi Dan. Gosh, you were quick!

I'm not going to go round and round with you in the merry dance we had before. I understand your viewpoints and passion. I posted my talk as a point of interest for those who are interested. I might have made a few minor bloopers but all in all, I'm happy with it. The only comment I will make today is that I read every book I could get my hands on about Molly brown, did a hell of a lot of research on her, saw the films and even went to a theatrical production. I know Molly well enough. She is not my favourite person. We don't have to skip through meadows with the whole world.

I do hope your research and world gives you exciting challenges and much satisfaction. Thank you for the offer of filming my talk. I have a few ideas too. I just wanted to post this after the programme, Titanic: Stories from the Deep and also there will be some interest shortly as Robert finally has a headstone which will be unveiled in Aberdeen in the next few weeks.

"Ahoy me shipmate" and enjoy the beautiful autumn sunshine
 

Mike Spooner

Member
Jan 31, 2018
679
107
53
Hi Sally,
First I want to congratulate you on your talk with that dreadful back ground music you had to put up and no paper is truly spoken from the heart.
As today so many good documentary are ruined by unnecessary background music. Only if we had a switch to turn them off.
Now looking into your Grandfather circumstance he certainty got his handful with lifeboat No6.
How many in the boat I can see 23. Three men and twenty women. Two men Fred Fleet and Major Peuchen a yachtsman.
For the women all chance they have never row before. I see this like asking a new learner to drive a car for the first time. For them to row in a synchronise format and an even pull must of be quite a challenge for Robert. Whether this was enough to try his patience to the limit before his outburst with loud a mouth Molly Brown, leading to a heated disagreement argument to return back for the survivors. I question if the outburst has truly caught him off guard?
As what should of said. I have been given an order from an officer to take command of this boat and the captain order was to row for a ship light about 5 miles away. As if he was to row back that is going against the captain order! To what discipline that he would have to face I don't know. But as his first time on the ship all good impression are of the most important for a future career within the company!
If the boat was launch at 1.10am and arrival time with Carpathia at 8.0am. That's nearly seven hours in the freezing cold water air temperature -2c. Wearing not the most suitable cloths for cold weather for that length of time. It must of been their worst day of there lives and mentally scarred for life to. I wander if had suffered brain damage and had an effect on him for his future decisions?
 

Seumas

Member
Mar 25, 2019
362
142
43
Glasgow, Scotland
Hi Sally,
First I want to congratulate you on your talk with that dreadful back ground music you had to put up and no paper is truly spoken from the heart.
As today so many good documentary are ruined by unnecessary background music. Only if we had a switch to turn them off.
Now looking into your Grandfather circumstance he certainty got his handful with lifeboat No6.
How many in the boat I can see 23. Three men and twenty women. Two men Fred Fleet and Major Peuchen a yachtsman.
For the women all chance they have never row before. I see this like asking a new learner to drive a car for the first time. For them to row in a synchronise format and an even pull must of be quite a challenge for Robert. Whether this was enough to try his patience to the limit before his outburst with loud a mouth Molly Brown, leading to a heated disagreement argument to return back for the survivors. I question if the outburst has truly caught him off guard?
As what should of said. I have been given an order from an officer to take command of this boat and the captain order was to row for a ship light about 5 miles away. As if he was to row back that is going against the captain order! To what discipline that he would have to face I don't know. But as his first time on the ship all good impression are of the most important for a future career within the company!
If the boat was launch at 1.10am and arrival time with Carpathia at 8.0am. That's nearly seven hours in the freezing cold water air temperature -2c. Wearing not the most suitable cloths for cold weather for that length of time. It must of been their worst day of there lives and mentally scarred for life to. I wander if had suffered brain damage and had an effect on him for his future decisions?
You really need to structure your posts like the rest of us do so we are able to read them more easily.

For the women all chance they have never row before.

Actually the women in Boat Six took very well to the rowing. Fleet was useless at it.

Women (upper, middle and lower class) in the Edwardian era partook in many different forms of physical exercise and rowing was one of them.

Some of my own female ancestors from that particular period were keen on boxing and soccer.

Whether this was enough to try his patience to the limit before his outburst with loud a mouth Molly Brown, leading to a heated disagreement argument to return back for the survivors.

Mrs Brown was not known as "Molly" in 1912. She was known as Margaret. "Molly Brown" is a later invention.

There are two sides to every dispute.

We weren't there and all the witnesses are long dead.

I'm sympathetic to Bob Hitchens and don't believe he was the cowardly, misogynistic Limey villain the media (particularly in America) then and now portray him as.That's not fair and doesn't take into account the bigger picture. It also ignores Captain Mainwaring Major Peuchen stirring the pot and itching to take charge of the craft.

Under huge stress and unclear what the coming hours would bring, Hitchens either said something stupid in the heat of the moment or he meant no harm but chose his words poorly and was completely misunderstood by the women. My interpretation of the written evidence makes me think the latter but I don't claim it as definitive.

I wander if had suffered brain damage and had an effect on him for his future decisions?

Brain damage ? Really ?

I believe what you really meant to say is mental trauma.

There is a decent case to be made that Hitchens was in a mild shock or panic but we'll never conclusively know.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,587
376
283
Easley South Carolina
Some may be missing the point. If Sally offers some of the legend, don't forget that it's a legend which started with the people the time and right or wrong, they either believed or used it. The complaint about the binoculars is an old one.

Yes, as I trained lookout, I've used them for identification and not searching. That was contemporary practice at the time as well. So why did the lookouts play that card? (And they did!)

Simple: It was all about Cover Your Ass.

Trust me on this: Fleet, Lee and Robert Hichens understood as well as any sailor would have that boards of inquiry are NOT their friends and that they could easily become scapegoats. They would....and did....spin their stories accordingly.
 

Mike Spooner

Member
Jan 31, 2018
679
107
53
The cover your back side applies to many crew members who survived, and is a most human natural thing to do. They were in days keep your mouth shut to protect their jobs.
As I see for Robert Hichens has been put in charge of lifeboat No6 and given an order from the captain to row for the ship lights about 5 miles drop off the passengers and return. But unfortunately he gets remembered of the disruption with some of the people on his boat and not returning to back to Titanic for ones that may be still alive. It is the captain order must come first and not the ones on his boat!