There goes my boat

Jan 30, 2005
13
0
71
"One of the junior officers was posted at the head of the companionway leading up from the third class quarters to prevent the steerage passengers from swarming up onto the higher decks. Presently seeing the boat to which he had been assigned was about to be lowered, he said: 'There goes my boat! But I can't be in two places at the same time, and I have to keep this crowd back.'" -Geoffrey Marcus, chapter ten of The Maiden Voyage.
In his footnotes, Marcus mentions that the officer in question was "probably" James Moody. He attributes the information to Lawrence Beesley, pages 66-67 of the 1929 edition.
This sounds dubious to me...I understand that Officer Moody was busy launching boats, not "guarding" steerage passengers, and I haven't seen anything about him being "assigned" to a particular boat, other than Lowe's asking him to take charge of number 16. Which boats would be visible from the companionway leading up from steerage? Is it possible that someone mistook a steward or other crew member for a junior officer? If this incident is described in Beesley's book, does he say who told him about it? It caught my attention because it leads to the rather disturbing thought that this man, whoever he was, missed his boat because some misguided person ordered him to "guard" third class. Unfortunate for both him and the steerage passengers. I haven't been able to find any topic discussing of this incident's veracity, and it's been bugging me. Thoughts, anyone?
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
34
208
Hallo Katherine, and welcome to the board!

I don't think this particular question has ever come up on ET before, although I remember discussing it at some length with researcher Kerri Sundberg...it's a good point to raise. I had a quick flick through my edition of Beesley last night and couldn't find the referenced passage - does anyone have the 1929 edition to hand? Establishing the provenance and context of the incident would be important.

I think there are a couple of interesting points to look at here - which boat did the junior officer (if it was, indeed, an officer) mean when he referred to "my boat"? If it was Moody, could he have meant Boat 16 (of which Lowe had instructed him to take command), or could the incident have taken place elsewhere on the boatdeck and "my boat" was the one assigned to him in the boat lists? He had handled these quite recently - it was he who instructed Olliver to get out the lists soon after the collision, so he would have had a chance to refresh his memory as to which boat he was assigned.

Fairly early in the evacuation, Moody was engaged in a form of crowd control - Gracie provided a clear identification of him as the officer superintending a cordon of crew blocking the access of men to the boats, through which women had to pass. Perhaps the incident took place around then, prior to his work at 14-16, although we still need to identify what point of third class egress he would be guarding. However, as you point out, he was recorded as being quite busy elsewhere during the evacuation loading boats. After helping at 14-16, Lee's evidence indicates he was at the starboard side working on Boat 13 - these launches took place in fairly quick succession. However, there seems to be another slight 'window' between the launch of 13 and when he was last seen at Boat A - perhaps the incident took place then, but between 13 and A there weren't too many remaining boats.

It would also seem to be a rather wasteful use of a deck officer to guard a companionway when there were boats to be launched.

The possibility you raise, that the individual was a misidentified steward, would also be one to consider.

Charlotte Collyer, in her Semi-Monthly magazine article, mentioned an officer she identified as Murdoch posting guards to prevent stokers from coming up on deck - perhaps the two incidents are related.
 
Jan 30, 2005
13
0
71
Thanks, Inger. I wonder if I should post something in the Books forum...seems like that would be the place to track down someone with a rare edition. By the way, I intended to register as "Kate" rather than "Katherine." I thought the Username would be the more prominently displayed one, and when the form asked for my full name, I took it too literally. So please just call me Kate.
happy.gif
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
34
208
Cheers Kate -

Putting up a post in the Books forum looks like the way to go. I'll also drop a line to the recognised Beesley scholar to see if he has input.

You've no doubt seen it, but for reference purposes here's that paragraph from the Collyer account:
quote:

I saw First Officer Murdock place guards by the gangways to prevent others like the wounded stoker from coming on deck. How many unhappy men were shut off in that way from their chance of safety I do not know, but Mr Murdock was probably right.