The Six Mystery Crewman


William Oakes

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Mar 6, 2020
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2nd Officer Charles Lightoller sent six AB Seamen below to open the port side gangway door so that more passengers could be loaded from there into the already launched lifeboats that had more room in them.
Does anyone know the names of those six seamen, and are there any solid theories as to what became of them, the path that they took, and where they might have become trapped?
If this has already been discussed, please accept my apologies.
If not, I am very curious as to who they were and what became of them, other than the obvious which is that they became trapped.
Thanks in advance for any insights that You may have!
 

Arun Vajpey

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Jul 8, 1999
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I think I posted a similar thread a couple of years ago and am guessing that the Mods will soon merge this thread with that one.

Going by Lightoller's testimony (and only that), just after 01:00 am Boatswain Alfred Nichols arrived in the vicinity of Lifeboat #6 where the Second officer was supervising loading. The two men worked together for a few minutes and then Lightoller reportedly ordered Nichols to pick 6 men and go down and open the gangway door on E-deck (or was it D-deck? opinions vary) on the port side. Presumably, Lightoller's idea was to load more passengers and crew through that opening at a later stage. Nichols left Lightoller at 01:05 am to carry out that order at 01:05 am and the two men never saw each other again.

Assuming that Lightoller did give that order, it was Nichols who picked those 6 sailors wand went below with them and so only he and those six would have known each others' identities. Whether they actually tried to open a gangway door remains conjectural but by 01:10 am the sea level would have been almost to the threshold of the door on E-deck on the port side. Therefore, either Nichols and his men did not open that door at all or opened it slightly, realized the impracticality of that order and closed it again. Certainly, no one in Lifeboat #6, which was launched at 01:10 am, saw an open gangway door on the port side as the boat went past.

I personally feel, as many others do, that the surmise in some works that Nichols and his men were washed away and killed during that attempt is very unlikely because they were experienced sailors and would have taken due precautions. Also, there were at least 2 sightings of Alfred Nichols after 01:10 am.

There is the possibility that Nichols and his men then opened the gangway door on D-deck, that was a deck level higher and further aft and so well above the water level. More likely, they decided not to open any gangway doors at all. In any case, they would have returned to the boat deck soon afterwards and the logical thing is to assume is that Nichols would then have dismissed his 6 men, who would have gone about other duties. AFAIK, no crew survivor came forward to report that he was one of those 6 men and so one has to assume that they died later during the sinking at various posts where they happened to be. Since Nichols himself did not survive, no one else could have known the identities of those 6 crewmen.

By then it would have been close to 01:30 am and (unbeknown to Nichols), Lightoller would have moved to A-deck to continue his struggles with Lifeboat #4. Nichols probably reported to Wilde near Lifeboat #2 and was seen by Saloon Watchman James Johnstone, who received the well documented 'star tip' from the boatswain. Thereafter, Nichols likely went to the starboard side aft to help out and was reportedly seen by Leading Fireman Frederick Barrett, to whom Nichols ordered to get into Lifeboat #13 and 'pull an oar'.

There are no further documented statements about Nichols but in all likelihood, he continued to work with Murdoch and/or Moody and ultimately died with them.
 
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William Oakes

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Mar 6, 2020
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Arun,
This is fantastic information.
Thank you for a very thorough and well studied response.
I appreciate knowing this.
I have always wondered about the "missing six."
Thank You!
 

lucykathleen

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May 12, 2020
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I think I posted a similar thread a couple of years ago and am guessing that the Mods will soon merge this thread with that one.

Going by Lightoller's testimony (and only that), just after 01:00 am Boatswain Alfred Nichols arrived in the vicinity of Lifeboat #6 where the Second officer was supervising loading. The two men worked together for a few minutes and then Lightoller reportedly ordered Nichols to pick 6 men and go down and open the gangway door on E-deck (or was it D-deck? opinions vary) on the port side. Presumably, Lightoller's idea was to load more passengers and crew through that opening at a later stage. Nichols left Lightoller at 01:05 am to carry out that order at 01:05 am and the two men never saw each other again.

Assuming that Lightoller did give that order, it was Nichols who picked those 6 sailors wand went below with them and so only he and those six would have known each others' identities. Whether they actually tried to open a gangway door remains conjectural but by 01:10 am the sea level would have been almost to the threshold of the door on E-deck on the port side. Therefore, either Nichols and his men did not open that door at all or opened it slightly, realized the impracticality of that order and closed it again. Certainly, no one in Lifeboat #6, which was launched at 01:10 am, saw an open gangway door on the port side as the boat went past.

I personally feel, as many others do, that the surmise in some works that Nichols and his men were washed away and killed during that attempt is very unlikely because they were experienced sailors and would have taken due precautions. Also, there were at least 2 sightings of Alfred Nichols after 01:10 am.

There is the possibility that Nichols and his men then opened the gangway door on D-deck, that was a deck level higher and further aft and so well above the water level. More likely, they decided not to open any gangway doors at all. In any case, they would have returned to the boat deck soon afterwards and the logical thing is to assume is that Nichols would then have dismissed his 6 men, who would have gone about other duties. AFAIK, no crew survivor came forward to report that he was one of those 6 men and so one has to assume that they died later during the sinking at various posts where they happened to be. Since Nichols himself did not survive, no one else could have known the identities of those 6 crewmen.

By then it would have been close to 01:30 am and (unbeknown to Nichols), Lightoller would have moved to A-deck to continue his struggles with Lifeboat #4. Nichols probably reported to Wilde near Lifeboat #2 and was seen by Saloon Watchman James Johnstone, who received the well documented 'star tip' from the boatswain. Thereafter, Nichols likely went to the starboard side aft to help out and was reportedly seen by Leading Fireman Frederick Barrett, to whom Nichols ordered to get into Lifeboat #13 and 'pull an oar'.

There are no further documented statements about Nichols but in all likelihood, he continued to work with Murdoch and/or Moody and ultimately died with them.
maybe the where killed in the tumult later or hurted ...maybe jack, too...
 

Arun Vajpey

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Jul 8, 1999
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maybe the where killed in the tumult later

That's my conjecture. IF the sequence of events started the way Lightoller claimed - ie him ordering Nichols to pick 6 crewmen and go below etc, those 6 crewmen very likely were among the 1500+ people who died on the Titanic at later stages. Since Nichols also died, no other survivor knows the identity of those six men.
 

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