The Edwardian Right Stuff, Titanic's Officers


William Oakes

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Mar 6, 2020
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I'm curious about something.
I've looked at hundreds of pictures, read books and studied.
Titanic's officers have a certain swagger that comes through in their photographs.
From Smith to Lowe and everyone in between, theses men carried themselves with great pride and presence.
It does come through in the photographs.
I have a print of the surviving officers that hangs over my desk, Lowe, Lightoller,Pittman, and Boxhall.
Each man to a T stands, upright, shoulders back, chin out; with attitude and swagger.
It had to be a great source of pride to be an officer on the world's greatest technological marvel, wouldn't it?
And then, many years later to have survived the disaster, and be interwoven in the lore and the legend.
Not to overly romanticize it, but were the gentlemen the 1960's Astronauts, with the "Right Stuff," but only in the Gilded age?
I for one think so.
I'd be curious to hear your opinions.
Thanks in advance!
 
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Dec 27, 2017
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Isle of Man
I think you have to add in the fact that they were British and Great Britain was at time the largest and most successful Empire in existence. Plus they were part of the largest mercantile fleet in the World and linked to the World's largest Navy. It all contributed to the feeling of being 'top of the heap' and head and shoulders above the rest.
 
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Aug 18, 2020
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Excellent point. Spot on!
There's also an "in command", quite innate matter-of-factness in demeanour that would have been very reassuring to passengers in their plight. Just listen to Boxhall's 1962 audio recollections on YouTube. He doesn't sound, even then, like a frail old man with a feeble memory. He sounds firm, resolute and still ramrod straight, with an unshakeable grasp on the facts. You'd certainly do as he instructed you!

But, yes, that sense of authority is there in spades, you're dead right. Don't forget Boxhall, as their lifeboat approached the Carpathia, and one of the rescue ship's crew asked for details, sharply told an hysterical first class female American passenger to "shut up"! She subsequently agreed he'd been quite correct to do so.
 
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William Oakes

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Yes! Furthermore, I feel that the authoritarian demeanor was a product of working ones way up through the ranks. Let's face it, you had to be a bad cat to survive out on the seas with a roughneck crew, especially if you had been a sailor on a 3 or four masted sailing ship. Then along came the steam ships and here you are an officer on the top line, White Star.
You had to be a combination of authority, diplomacy, fast thinking, and an example of subtle machismo.
I think these gentlemen certainly were a unique breed.
I am also certain that was probably a certain level of competitiveness in their ranks.
I agree with you that Boxhall's audio recollections indeed do sound like a man who hadn't lost a step.
These men are certainly worthy of some level of admiration.
 
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Bo Bowman

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Dec 23, 2019
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I also suspect a large part of their projected image was to instill confidence in the passengers. Professionalism will do that.

I particularly enjoyed listening to Captain Rostron's account of the events, in a radio broadcast recorded I think in the 1950s. A crisp, no-nonsense briton with clear authority. And a remarkable command of the English language. Hope you folks are still breeding them like that. May have need of them again.
 
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