'Silent' survivors


Arun Vajpey

Member
Jul 8, 1999
2,447
885
388
65
One of the things that I do every morning is to look at the "on this day" section of ET, especially at bios of the male passenger survivors. Apart from the obvious, much talked about ones like Ismay, Gracie, Beesely, Jack Thayer etc, there appear to be quite a few male passenger survivors in various lifeboats about whom not a great deal is mentioned in various Titanic books and articles. One or two have even turned-up in boats launched by the unbending Lightoller and in their ET biographies there is a bit of uncertainty as to how they reached those boats. I am not going to mention any names but that lends support to my belief that there are people who simply have much greater instinct for survival than others and in situation such as on board the Titanic that night, keep a lookout and quietly take the first chance that comes their way. I don't blame them at all.
 

Doug Criner

Member
Dec 2, 2009
447
68
133
USA
There was the story of a man discovered to be dressed as a woman. And, then, of a man of Mediterranean decent who hid beneath the thwarts of a boat. The thing that surprises me is that such things would have happened with active supervision of the loading of the boats. Essentially, there was only one boat at a time loaded and launched on each side, right?

But, of course, when a less-than-full boat was ready to be lowered, particularly on the starboard side, male passengers were often allowed to board. After the sinking, maybe some of those male passengers were hesitant to broadcast the details of their escape, particularly after Ismay came under criticism, whether fairly or not.
 

Arun Vajpey

Member
Jul 8, 1999
2,447
885
388
65
But, of course, when a less-than-full boat was ready to be lowered, particularly on the starboard side, male passengers were often allowed to board. After the sinking, maybe some of those male passengers were hesitant to broadcast the details of their escape, particularly after Ismay came under criticism, whether fairly or not.
Yes, I agree. On the starboard side Murdoch allowed men when there were spaces and no more women were in the immediate vicinity, whereas Lightoller on the Port side no such reason. But even there a few seem to have snuck in.

Whereas surviving male passengers would have had the awkwardness of their survival, no such problems would have affected most of the surviving crew. If challenged later (and most probably were not), all any individual crewman to say was that Wilde, Murdoch, Moody or even Captain Smith ordered him into a particular boat and that would be end of the discussion. Since those four gentlemen did not survive the disaster, no one would be able to disprove what the crew member claimed.
 

Doug Criner

Member
Dec 2, 2009
447
68
133
USA
If challenged later (and most probably were not), all any individual crewman to say was that Wilde, Murdoch, Moody or even Captain Smith ordered him into a particular boat and that would be end of the discussion. Since those four gentlemen did not survive the disaster, no one would be able to disprove what the crew member claimed.
 

Arun Vajpey

Member
Jul 8, 1999
2,447
885
388
65
Another example of a relatively "silent" survivor is Spencer Silvethorne of Michigan, whose bio appeared today on ET. Although there were some conflicting reports and obvious embellishments about his survival, Silverthorne is not often mentioned in most Titanic books and articles.

To illustrate, here is an excerpt from the bio on ET.

When the collision occurred, at 11.40 p.m. on 14th April 1912, he was sitting in the first class smoking room reading Owen Wister's The Virginian. He immediately realized that the ship had hit something, but his first idea was that it might be a whale or another ship, so he went outside to see what had happened. He claimed to have seen a giant iceberg passing astern chunks of ice falling from it. After seeing this, he went inside and told the others in the saloon that the ship had hit an iceberg. No one thought much of the incident, and everyone just went back to doing what they had been doing before the collision.

Shortly afterward an officer came and told the men to go up on deck and get into the lifeboats. When Silverthorne arrived on the boat deck, lifeboat 7 had already left, and lifeboat 5 was about to lower away. When no more women could be found he was told to get into boat 5, which he said he did reluctantly as he didn't want to go while women were still aboard. He later said: "Had we been in our rooms we would have had to stand aside, as the other men did then."

An obituary claimed that Silverthorne had actually gone to bed after the collision, only to be wakened by another buyer who told him the ship was sinking. The same obituary also claimed that Silverthorne "made his way to the bow and jumped into the dark, icy water. He swam vigorously away to avoid the suction at the ship went down. Then he reached a half-empty lifeboat and was taken aboard." In fact, Silverthorne was rescued with other first class passengers in Boat 5.
 

Similar threads

Similar threads