The haunting of J Bruce Ismay


Teresa Parks

We all have read various accounts of Mr. Ismay being reclusive after the Titanic sinking until his death in also states in "Titanic an illustrated history" that those around him were forbidden to mention the word "Titanic" in his presence..........I don't mean to sound disrespectful but I would really like to know his thoughts on Titanic & his role in it............did he have nightmares? regrets?
Common sense says he did, of course, but it has to be documented somewhere.......a letter he wrote to someone perhaps, a good friend he spoke in great length with later in life.......there has to be more to his life after titanic than he turned reclusive..........if anyone has read anything different please let me know.
Ismay retired from White Star Line on June 30, 1913 most likely due to remorse, living in seclusion for the rest of his life. Although the British Inquiry cleared him of all liability, he was never pardoned by the general public. He died on October 17, 1937 from a stroke in his home. By my accounts, he never gave an interview about his experiences with the Titanic, except of course the British and US Inquiries. The Titanic had nearly destroyed his family.
But he wasn't all that evil as he is sometimes made out to be. He contributed ALOT of money to the Titanic relief funds, and during WWI was on the War Risks Board in London, which helped with shipping insurance.
"Ismay retired from White Star Line on June 30, 1913 most likely due to remorse"

Actually, he didn't Shane. Bruce Ismay had expressed his desire to retire in January 1912, so it had nothing to do with the sinking.

Click HERE for an article on Ismay's resignation.
Very good, Jason,
But I'm sure the Titanic disaster hurried his decision the retire and left no doubt in his mind. That's what I meant.
Thank you for your input!
All Ahead Full!
No, Shane, the decision was made and confirmed before Titanic began her maiden voyage. Late in 1911, Harold Sanderson began to speak of leaving White Star. To prevent this, Ismay offered, in a latter dated 10 January 1912, to resign as of 31 December 1912, to be succeeded by Sanderson. After an exchange of correspondence between the two, they agreed on 26 February that, subject to Morgan's approval, JBI would retire effective 30 June 1913, and that Sanderson would succeed him. The next week, on 2 March, Charles Steele, secretary of J.P. Morgan & Co., approved the Ismay-Sanderson agreement. Although it wasn't publicly announced until the end of 1912, as reflected by the newspaper article Jason pointed to, Ismay's departure from IMM and White Star had been agreed upon by all concerned more than a month before Titanic left Southampton and his retirement was neither caused nor hurried by the sinking.

Source: Oldham's The Ismay Line, which details the early 1912 exchange of correspondence between Ismay and Sanderson, resulting in the 26 February agreement.
Even if his retirement was not already planned, he would would have had to eventually bow to public opinion.
>>he would would have had to eventually bow to public opinion.<<

Mmmmmmmm...who's? Certainly there was a lot of hate and discontent aimed at the man on my side of the pond, but he didn't attract quite that amount of censure from his own countrymen. In fact, my own read of the press accounts that I've seen (And yes, I may be mistaken in the grand scheme of things.) would tend to indicate quite a bit of sympathy to him in the U.K. Especially when he was in Senator Smith's gunsights.

I may be missing something here, but if public opinion had forced him to retire when he didn't want to, I doubt the lion's share would haqve come from the U.K.
Well White Star were an international company, with American financing at the time. Star was a British corperation that was owned by an American Trust. You can find the pertinant details of how it was all tied together HERE. I'm not really certain that this would have made that much of a difference. Even with W.R. Hearst's printing presses after the man, sooner or later, they would and did move onto other things and Ismay became little more then a blip on the radar screen.

In the end however, it would have been the customer who decided the issue. Ismay's departure from White Star took long enough and the line hardly suffered as a consequence of his remaining at the helm until January 1913. If he had remained longer, I don't think anybody would have really much cared.
They may have been British, but their business was not confined to just Britain, and the American IMM would have been affected by a dip in sales as a result of the disaster. That and the American majority first class passengers not being too keen to travel with Ismay's line (due to his perception in the states) would have pressured Ismay somewhat. As well as the massive financial defecit, with compensation and Titanic not covering her construction costs, the line plunged into a 'mini crisis'

Also Ismay was never really himself again after the disaster due to his traumatic experiences that April night. He did, after all, spend all his time aboard Carpathia isolated in his cabin. I therefore think that Ismay would have cleared his desk whether it was planned or not, not right away but before WW1.
>>I therefore think that Ismay would have cleared his desk whether it was planned or not, not right away but before WW1.<<

Maybe...and maybe he wouldn't have.

Shipping lines are nothing if not resiliant and back then, the trans-Atlantic service was the only way to cross. You might want to do some elementary research into this while you're at it as White Star's fortunes didn't really suffer that badly, even during the remaining time Ismay spent at the helm, and they recovered quickly enough.

IMM was a very different matter, but that whole of the combine was shaky enough in it's own right that it took a nice long war to keep them in the black.
>>Why were they then bought out by Cunard?<<

Because by the time they were bought out, both lines were in trouble. You might want to take note of the fact that by the time this happened, the depression had already happened. You may have heard of it..Stock Market Crash of 1929 and all that...which is a long way past 1912. The effects of this were worldwide and White Star wasn't the only casualty. Prior to that, White Star was managing as well as any of them and Titanic had been long forgotten.
Yes I am familiar with the Wall Street Crash just read 'of Mice and Men'.

I wouldn't say Titanic had been forgotten, although the after affects had. I've just realised a major mistake in my previous post. Cunard did not buy out White Star, they jointly merged for survival hence 'White Star Cunard'
>>Yes I am familiar with the Wall Street Crash just read 'of Mice and Men'.<<

The Crash of '29 was a fiasco that left a lot of carnage in it's wake.

Jamie, you might want to ask Mark Baber about how White Star's fortunes waxed and waned in the years following 1912. With all the research he's done on this, I doubt you'll find anyone who knows the ups, the downs, the ins and outs the way he does.