Three Bergs


George Behe

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(It's time for a new subject heading for this thread.)

Inger wrote:

> In the form of a hearsay report from none other than Hichens, ....
> I always found it
>curious that, having gone so far as to intimate that he had privileged
>knowledge and was a ‘player’ in a conspiracy, he didn’t go the whole hog
>and reveal what it was he was conspiring to conceal.

Hi, Inger!

Well, you've likewise told us that you discovered some interesting information about one of Titanic's lookouts, but that didn't stop you from keeping the actual information to yourself. Perhaps Hichens was motivated by the very same reasons that motivated *you* ;-) -- or perhaps he had his own reasons (such as owing his South African harbormaster job to White Star.)

>I’ve never come across an account of Murdoch as supremely confident to
>the point of ignoring not one, but three warnings. What did he have to
>gain? Would he have earned Smith’s praise if, after Smith came up on
>deck, he cheerfully noted ‘By the way, Sir, I’ve been dodging ice all
>night?’

As you know, Murdoch had already set a well-known precedent for not informing his captain of a near-collision until forced to do so by outside circumstances. Murdoch did not inform the Arabic's Captain Bertram Hayes that Arabic had almost rammed a windjammer until after 'Chang' Jones informed Murdoch that an 'outsider' (a passenger) had observed the incident. "For God's sake, go and tell Bertie!" was Murdoch's response. Author Geoffrey Marcus concludes Jones' account by saying, "In such cases, as has already been said, the official policy was to hush the matter up." Marcus was absolutely correct about this, Inger, and my book describes numerous attempts by White Star to cover up similar incidents. No matter how you try to slice it, if Murdoch attempted to quietly resume 'business as usual' on the Arabic's bridge there's no reason in the world we should assume he wouldn't try to do it a second time on Titanic's bridge. (In fact, he might even have found it easier to do so the second time around....) ;-)

>I am thinking that it has something to do with the fact that such
>beliefs go against common knowledge or the generally excepted views.

Just out of curiosity, do you believe the White Star officer-propagandists who claimed that the Baltic didn't run aground on the New Jersey shore and that hundreds of eyewitnesses to the mishap were mistaken? (After all, the attempted 'Baltic cover-up' was absolutely ludicrous when compared to White Star's possible attempt to keep a few iceberg sightings quiet.)

> For those interested in
>this field, I suggest they go beyond the books. Look for new material.

Absolutely. One person can't be expected to do *all* the research. ;-)

> I eagerly await the latest
>installments of the Behe, Billnitzer and Fitch tag team (you blokes
>should unionise...really you should ;-) )

Gad! I think we've forgotten to pay our dues to the MMAS (the Murdoch/Moody Adoration Society.) ;-)

All my best,

George
 
M

Michael Gibbs

Guest
Hello George

What's all this about 'three bergs'? Also, from the small research I've done on the subject, I agree with you about the inclination to cover up incidents at sea...

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that ANY officers were deliberately incompetent. I just believe that ALL crews were put under pressure by the money men who ran the shipping lines to go faster and be more efficient.

When you're continually forced to cut corners in the name of making a bigger profit, it's only a matter of time until it ends in disaster. It's a shame that the greedy business men who played their part in causing this accident weren't held accountable for their actions. But then, there were no laws on 'Corporate Manslaughter' in 1912...
 

George Behe

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Hi, all!

In my previous posting I mistakenly quoted the following passage as having originated with Inger:

>I am thinking that it has something to do
>with the fact that such beliefs go against common >knowledge or the
>generally excepted viewpoint.

That passage actually came from Tad Fitch's posting and somehow got entangled in my copy of Inger's message. My apologies (although the question I asked Inger based upon the above quote is still valid.)

Michael Gibbs asked:

>What's all this about 'three bergs'?

Hi, Michael!

There's evidence that, while still on board the Carpathia, Titanic's lookouts discussed having seen three 'early' icebergs pass near the Titanic during the half-hour preceding Titanic's collision with the *fatal* berg. (A number of Titanic survivors reported hearing such conversations.)

>Also, from the small research I've
>done on the subject, I agree with you about the inclination to cover up
>incidents at sea...

I agree -- there doesn't seem to be any doubt about that whatsoever. Don Lynch and Diana Bristow even discovered separate accounts which claim that Robert Hichens and Fred Fleet admitted having accepted White Star's offer of "a lifelong job with good pay" in return for their silence. Walter Lord knows of a third crew survivor who told him (personally) that he received the same offer, but I'm not at liberty to share the specifics of Walter's research without his permission (which I've never received and which -- sadly -- may never be forthcoming due to his poor health.) To my own mind, though, the two independent accounts regarding Fleet and Hichens are very suggestive all by themselves. Hichens made his admission in South Africa in 1914, while Fleet made his own admission in England many years later. Coincidence? I think not. :)

All my best,

George
 

Inger Sheil

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G’day, George!

(It's time for a new subject heading for this thread.)

Not a bad idea...icebergs were becoming swamped in dreams, visions, and the odd sandflea.

I wrote:

"In the form of a hearsay report from none other than Hichens, .... I always found it curious that, having gone so far as to intimate that he had privileged knowledge and was a ‘player’ in a conspiracy, he didn’t go the whole hog and reveal what it was he was conspiring to conceal."

Well, you've likewise told us that you discovered some interesting information about one of Titanic's lookouts, but that didn't stop you from keeping the actual information to yourself. Perhaps Hichens was motivated by the very same reasons that motivated *you* ;-) -- or perhaps he had his own reasons (such as owing his South African harbormaster job to White Star.)

Now there I am, trying to offer gentle suggestions for potential avenues of investigation to interested parties, and I wind up being likened to Hichens! Hmm...you think our motivations are similar? Hichens had an academic interest in the event? Will I be eventually charged with manslaughter and do ‘porridge’? Shall I start exhibiting a ‘glass half empty and filled with arsenic’ pessimism in the inimitable style of the Titanic’s QM?

So, having gone so far as to jeopardise his career by intimating that there was a conspiracy, he balks at revealing what the conspiracy actually was? Of course, it is difficult to conceive of such a modest, sincere, and self-effacing man as Mr Hichens ever displaying self-aggrandising or any less than scrupulously honest traits.

Well, I’ve thrown it out there and you’re not interested - I’ll just have to send the copies of this material to those who are ;-) I’m sure they’ll make good use of it. I don’t specifically set out to debunk theories…I just omnivorously (and very unsystematically) acquire information. Forget I referred to it at all. Whether you believe I’m a self-aggrandising liar or not, it doesn’t change the thrust of my comment: why, in this debate, has no one ever questioned the role or motivations of the lookouts?

As you know, Murdoch had already set a well known precedent for not informing his captain of a near-collision until forced to do so by outside circumstances.

Well, let’s take a look at that material, because my interpretation differs from that which you give here (and it’s worth quoting anyway, because it was originally given by Marcus as an example of Murdoch’s superb seamanship):

Murdoch was at this time just under forty: an officer of ripe experience, cool and steady judgement, and instant presence of mind. Only a few years earlier, when serving in the Arabic, he had displayed all these qualities in consummate degree in coolly, skilfully, and, in the nick of time successfully averting a collision. It happened one night on the outward passage, one day from Nantucket Light with a fresh north- esterly breeze and a light impalpable mist (known as ‘a Scotchman’), which rendered visibility difficult and set up a false horizon. Just after 10 o’clock Murdoch came up on the bridge to relieve Fox, the O.O.W. Before taking over, the former as usual took a few turns while accustoming his eyes to the darkness. There came a sudden warning from the lookout: ‘Light on the port side!’ Fox, without observing the light himself, promptly shouted, ‘Watch your port helm’ (i.e. be read to alter course to starboard). He moved over to the side, Murdoch following; then, seeing the light, gave the order to port the helm. At the same instant Murdoch also suddenly saw, almost under the Arabic’s bows, a single red light. realising there would be no time to alter course, he acted with swift decision: already the quartermaster had begun to port the helm when Murdoch, rushing to the wheel, shoved the man aside, brought the wheel back a few spokes, and held on. They saw a large sailing vessel with all her sails set, with the wind on her port quarter, making good speed. Involuntarily the officers ducked as the ship swept past them - so close, that it seemed as if her yard-arms must sweep the bridge. For a few seconds nobody spoke. Then Murdoch murmured to the junior officer, ‘All right, Chang! Go and steady her on.’

The footnote then states:

This information was given to the present writer by Captain Edwin Jones, ‘Chang’ Jones, as Murdoch used to call him (in his younger days the former had been in the China coasting trade), who went on to say that shortly afterwards he left the bridge and went down on the saloon deck, where he met a passenger who had apparently witnessed the whole affair. ‘Well, that was a narrow escape,’ gasped the latter. ‘Wasn’t that ship close!’ ‘What ship?’ asked Jones coldly. A pause. The other man stared at him in blank amazement. ‘Do you mean to say,’ he said incredulously, ‘you didn’t see a big ship just now? Why, she nearly ran us down!’ Jones thereupon gave it as his opinion that the ship the passenger thought he had seen must have been the Flying Dutchman…after which he hurried back on to the bridge and warned the O.O.W. that there had been a witness. ‘For God’s sake,’ said Murdoch, ‘go and tell Bertie’ (Captain Bertram Hayes, then Master of the Arabic). In such cases, as has already been said, the official policy was to hush the matter up.

You state that:

Murdoch did not inform the Arabic's Captain Bertram Hayes that Arabic had almost rammed a windjammer until after 'Chang' Jones informed Murdoch that an 'outsider' (a passenger) had observed the incident.

As I read the passage, Murdoch was alerting Hayes to the fact that there was a witness. Unless you have an additional source, there is nothing in the above statement to indicate that Murdoch had or had not informed Hayes of the incident itself.
Furthermore, Murdoch was not the O.O.W when the incident occurred. As a merchant mariner of many years experience pointed out to me, Murdoch had come onto the bridge, but had not yet accepted the bridge from Fox., The watch would not be handed over mid-incident. The duty to report the incident lay with Fox, not with Murdoch. And you cannot, from the above material, determine whether the incident itself went unreported.

"In such cases, as has already been said, the official policy was to hush the matter up." Marcus was absolutely correct about this, Inger

I am fully aware that such was the case (and have never stated otherwise), and what’s more I know that it still occurs today. One of my former colleagues worked as a policy advisor to a federal aviation minister and a state transport minister, and he regaled me with many stories of near-misses in which passengers were kept in ignorance of their close call. I’ve also heard the same from workers at Kingsford-Smith and Heathrow airports. A friend who works as a merchant mariner had similar stories of cover-ups. The attitude of keeping such incidents out of the public eye (and certainly away from the paying passengers) was and is not exclusive to the WSL. A better comparison between the Arabic incident and your iceberg scenario would be drawn if Murdoch, having avoided one ship, then ignored two more warnings of further sailing ships indicating that he had sailed into an unscheduled regatta.

Just out of curiosity, do you believe the White Star officer-propagandists who claimed that the Baltic didn't run aground on the New Jersey shore and that hundreds of eyewitnesses to the mishap were mistaken? (After all, the attempted 'Baltic cover-up' was absolutely ludicrous when compared to White Star's possible attempt to keep a few iceberg sightings quiet.

Erm…are you asking whether I believe that the Baltic didn’t run aground? Given their bumbling attempt to conceal the Baltic incident, it’s a wonder if the WSL ever managed to get their acts together to silence all the witnesses to the ‘three berg’ scenario. Especially given that Senator Smith had agents (his ‘minutemen’) going among the crew of the Titanic, actively seeking out accounts of misdeeds. It smacks a little to me of the reactions I’ve seen in political offices and big corporations. When a crisis erupts and the press comes calling, the first person they contact (particularly if they haven’t been fully briefed) goes into denial, and this is reported as an official response. I’d have to refresh my mind as to the circumstances of the Baltic incident, however - I dislike commenting on a source if it’s not immediately in front of me, as I prefer to arrive at my own interpretation of events. If, on the other hand, the WSL was made their comments while fully aware that there were hundreds of witnesses to contradict them, then the crudity of the cover-up makes you wonder how they managed to coordinate the silence of the Titanic’s crew. This wasn’t a smoothly oiled PR machine in motion.

Absolutely. One person can't be expected to do *all* the research. ;-)

Always pleased to have your sanctioning, George! ;-)

So I’ll continue to question critically…and wonder why the motivations of the men reportedly the source of these rumours have not yet been examined.

Gad! I think we've forgotten to pay our dues to the MMAS (the Murdoch/Moody Adoration Society.) ;-)

Oh, I was expelled from the MMAS. Cited amongst my offences were overdeveloped critical faculties, a refusal to believe that Ewan Stewart was a dead-ringer for William Murdoch, conscientious objection to taking the oath that James Moody was an Edwardian Leonardo di Caprio, and laughing uproariously every time the members proclaimed they were ‘in love’ with these long lost ship’s officers. It was even suggested I had been overheard to recommend that, admirable and interesting as these men were, they (and their tragic deaths) should be viewed in the context of their era and profession… So I left the MMAS to fulfil their charter of battling it out with the AOAG (All Officers Are Guilty).

Regards,

Ing
 

Inger Sheil

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Hallo, George!

To my own mind, though, the two independent accounts regarding Fleet and Hichens are very suggestive all by themselves. Hichens made his admission in South Africa in 1914, while Fleet made his own admission in England many years later. Coincidence? I think not. :)

More heresay and second hand reports...about events on the bridge that were unspecified, even in these vague rumours. Oh...and what spectacular job did Fleet get?:)

Best wishes,

Ing
 

George Behe

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Hi, Inger!

>....it was originally given by Marcus as an example of Murdoch’s
>superb seamanship):

True, but it was given by Behe as an example of Murdoch's willingness to go along with a typical White Star cover-up. (Murdoch's "superb seamanship" had nothing at all to do with that.)

>. I’m currently tossing up whether or not I should make copies of the
>document available to interested parties - but then, given the lack of
>interest in the lookouts to date, I wonder if >it’s even worthwhile. ....

Now *that* was a sincere offer to freely share research information if I ever saw one. :)

>Well, I’ve thrown it out there and you’re not interested - I’ll just
>have to send the copies of this material to those who are ;-) I’m sure
>they’ll make good use of it.

Well, if you feel that mentioning your information on this bulletin board and then withholding it from us is the proper thing to do, by all means go for it.

> Oh...and what spectacular
>job did Fleet get?

Funny you should ask that -- the crew survivor who told Walter Lord about his own personal offer of a "lifelong job" with White Star complained about the very same thing. :)

All my best,

George
 

George Behe

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Inger wrote:

>Of course, it is difficult to conceive of such a >modest, sincere, and
>self-effacing man as Mr Hichens ever displaying >self-aggrandising or any
>less than scrupulously honest traits.

Hi, Inger!

Gee, for a moment there I thought you were talking about Murdoch instead of Hichens.... :)

All my best,

George
 

Inger Sheil

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G’day, George!

I wrote: “....it was originally given by Marcus as an example of Murdoch’s superb seamanship”

You responded:

True, but it was given by Behe as an example of Murdoch's willingness to go along with a typical White Star cover-up. (Murdoch's "superb seamanship" had nothing at all to do with that.)

Really? I thought you were citing it as an example of the following:

As you know, Murdoch had already set a well-known precedent for not informing his captain of a near-collision until forced to do so by outside circumstances

As I commented before, it was a.) Not Murdoch’s watch, and therefore not his responsibility to inform the Captain and b.) there is no evidence in the cited passage that indicates whether Murdoch (or Fox) had or had not informed Hayes anyway.

Sheil cited the passage mainly to address the above interpretation of the incident you made, but she also thought it worth quoting in full as, while Behe used it as an example of ‘Murdoch’s willingness to go along with a typical White Star cover-up’ (or, in the original version, ‘a well known precedent for not informing his captain of a near-collision), she agreed with Marcus that it was an example of Murdoch’s excellent seamanship. And although you don’t believe Murdoch’s seamanship has anything to do with this debate, as the matter does at the very least peripherally touch upon Murdoch’s judgment I think it is relevant to keep evidence regarding his abilities in mind.

By the way, while the incident does illustrate an extremely clumsy attempt to keep passengers ignorant of a near miss (a practice which, as I pointed out, is neither exclusive to the WSL or early 20th Century shipping), why do you call particular attention to ‘Murdoch’s willingness to go along with a typical White Star cover-up’? This seems a particularly irrelevant observation, unless you are suggesting Murdoch’s posthumous involvement in your conspiracy theory (Murdoch’s shade appears to the two men: ‘Just tell them it was the Flying Dutchmen, boys!’).

How should Murdoch have responded, ideally? All we know is that he instructed Jones to tell the Captain of a passenger being a witness. Should Murdoch have issued a ship-wide broadcast alerting everyone to the fact that they had nearly run a sailingship down? Offered a reimbursement for anyone who wanted to get out and walk the rest of the way? Transport companies today don’t make a habit of informing passengers of near misses.

But you’ll have to forgive me for my interest in Marcus and Jones. I’ve just transcribed some letters written by Marcus when he was researching ‘The Maiden Voyage’ in which he mentions both Jones and Murdoch — they’ve prodded me to go and do some work on Jones.

Now *that* was a sincere offer to freely share research information if I ever saw one.

I’m so terribly contrite if you thought I was being insincere :) I’ve promised a few copies to people, but after they’ve had first crack at it I’d be glad to send you a copy too, as you know I’m always happy to share data where possible — but I certainly wouldn’t want to foist unwanted material on you.

Funny you should ask that -- the crew survivor who told Walter Lord about his own personal offer of a "lifelong job" with White Star complained about the very same thing. :)

Really? Fleet, Lee and any other random bod who happened to catch part of their discussions must have felt rather rorted that they weren’t living it up. I can just hear the conversation now —‘Yes, Mr Reade…it was a right dirty trick the White Star Line played on us….’ But…erm….that didn’t happen, did it? Fleet and the others were unusually reticent for innocent men caught up in the machinations of a company that had done ‘em wrong.

"Of course, it is difficult to conceive of such a modest, sincere, and self-effacing man as Mr Hichens ever displaying self-aggrandising or any less than scrupulously honest traits."

Gee, for a moment there I thought you were talking about Murdoch instead of Hichens.... :)

Now George...it was Lowe who was modest, Boxhall who was sincere, and Pitman who was self-effacing….;-)

Warm regards,

Ing
 

George Behe

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Inger wrote:

> And although you don’t believe Murdoch’s seamanship has
>anything to do with this debate, as the matter does at the very least
>peripherally touch upon Murdoch’s judgment I think it is relevant to
>keep evidence regarding his abilities in mind.

Hi, Inger!

IMO, participating in a cover-up has far more to do with a man's *character* than it does with his abilities; although it was undoubtedly a very human thing for Murdoch to do, such behavior also tells us a lot about the man who decided to do it.

> why do you call particular attention to ‘Murdoch’s
>willingness to go along with a typical White Star cover-up’?

To be honest, I've always been struck by the tendency of other researchers to either downplay or completely ignore that particular facet of Murdoch's character, since Murdoch is one of the few individuals whose name can definitely be connected with a White Star cover-up. Even though this fact has always been glossed over in the past, it clearly shows us that Murdoch was fully capable of acting in a less than exemplary fashion if he thought it was in his own self interest and that it would preserve a favorable status quo. Any failure to give due consideration to that facet of Murdoch's makeup means that the 'complete' Murdoch will forever elude any future biographer who attempts to chronicle his life. (It would be like a prudish biographer writing a life of explorer Sir Richard Burton without mentioning Burton's interest in human sexual techniques and behavior.)

Interestingly, although the biography written by Susanne Stormer does not specifically discuss Murdoch's participation in the Arabic cover-up, Susanne (an admirer of Murdoch) nevertheless suggests that Murdoch's insubordination on Arabic's bridge might have been the reason he was transferred from the brand new Arabic to the older Celtic. Whether or not Susanne's suggestion is in fact true, one must respect her for the objectivity she showed in bringing that possibility to the reader's attention -- and without glibly dismissing it as unlikely or skipping over it entirely.

>How should Murdoch have responded, ideally (when he learned of the existence of an eyewitness to Arabic's near-collision)?

Well, since you ask, my own opinion is that a principled man of strong character would have simply attended to his duties on the Arabic's bridge and let the chips fall where they may.

>All we know is that he
>instructed Jones to tell the Captain of a passenger being a witness.

Not so -- we know from Murdoch's reaction ("My God! Go and tell Bertie!") that Murdoch was *alarmed* at the news that there was an eyewitness to the near-collision.

> I’ve
>promised a few copies to people, but after they’ve had first crack at it
>I’d be glad to send you a copy too, as you know I’m always happy to
>share data where possible — but I certainly wouldn’t want to foist
>unwanted material on you.

If you'd like to share your data, why not just post it on this bulletin board so that researchers everywhere can make use of it instead of just a favored few? Thanks for considering my request.

I wrote:

>the crew survivor who told Walter Lord
>about his own personal offer of a "lifelong job" with White Star
>complained about the very same thing. :)

And Inger replied:

>Really? Fleet, Lee and any other random bod who happened to catch part
>of their discussions must have felt rather rorted that they weren’t
>living it up.

That doesn't change the fact that lifetime jobs with good pay were offered to a number of surviving Titanic crewmen or that Walter Lord's (first-hand) crew informant corroborated the identical hearsay reports that I discussed in my book. Even though you disagree with my 'early iceberg theory,' I believe that such bribes may have been offered to select crew survivors because their testimony could have seriously damaged the White Star Line.

But we've already expressed these very same opinions on these very same subjects ad nauseum in the past, Inger, and anyone who has followed our discussions undoubtedly knows exactly what we're both going to say before we even say it. That being the case, I'll conclude by saying that my research on the 'early iceberg theory' continues and that I hope that anyone who possesses new information on the subject will post that material here for the benefit of everyone concerned.

All my best,

George
 

Inger Sheil

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Hallo, George!

“And although you don’t believe Murdoch’s seamanship has anything to do with this debate, as the matter does at the very least peripherally touch upon Murdoch’s judgement I think it is relevant to keep evidence regarding his abilities in mind.”

IMO, participating in a cover-up has far more to do with a man's *character* than it does with his abilities; although it was undoubtedly a very human thing for Murdoch to do, such behaviour also tells us a lot about the man who decided to do it.

So you’re dropping the charge that Murdoch didn’t tell Hayes (which was the original thrust of your point), ignored my point that the incident is a positive reflection on Murdoch’s seamanship, and now you’re using it as an illustration of his character? :)

To be honest, I've always been struck by the tendency of other researchers to either downplay or completely ignore that particular facet of Murdoch's character, since Murdoch is one of the few individuals whose name can definitely be connected with a White Star cover-up. Even though this fact has always been glossed over in the past, it clearly shows us that Murdoch was fully capable of acting in a less than exemplary fashion if he thought it was in his own self interest and that it would preserve a favorable status quo. Any failure to give due consideration to that facet of Murdoch's makeup means that the 'complete' Murdoch will forever elude any future biographer who attempts to chronicle his life. (It would be like a prudish biographer writing a life of explorer Sir Richard Burton without mentioning Burton's interest in human sexual techniques and behavior.)

Much as you’d like to cast me as Isabel Arundell, I’m not inclined to build a shrine at Mortlake to Murdoch or anyone else ;-) Your interpretation of Murdoch’s character is irrelevant to the debate at hand (he was in no position to participate in the cover-up you hypothesise once he was dead), but I’ll address your comments anyway. You’ve now constructed Murdoch’s simple instruction to a crewman to make a report to the Captain that a passenger had witnessed a near miss somehow indicative of an entire facet of Murdoch’s character! As far as we can tell from the account, Murdoch did not order Jones to tell the passenger that he’d seen the Flying Dutchman. Nor did Murdoch take it upon himself to alert the passengers of the Arabic that there had been a collision. And yet you extrapolate from this the generalisation that ‘Murdoch was fully capable of acting in a less than exemplary fashion if he thought it was in his own self interest and would preserve a favourable status quo’ (!) Murdoch did not originate the ‘conspiracy’ in this instance (such as it was), and his complicity extends no further than instructing Jones to inform Hayes — what does that signify? He simply deferred any action in the matter to his Captain. As far as I know, there is no further record of actions by Jones, Murdoch, Hayes or the White Star Line with regards to this incident. The evidence regarding a ‘cover up’ in this case goes no further than a single officer’s inventive (if absurd) cover story. As I’ve pointed out before - the practice of not disclosing near misses is exclusive to neither Murdoch, the WSL, or that era, therefore to extrapolate a negative interpretation of Murdoch’s character from this incident is grossly distorting.

Interestingly, although the biography written by Susanne Stormer does not specifically discuss Murdoch's participation in the Arabic cover-up, Susanne (an admirer of Murdoch) nevertheless suggests that Murdoch's insubordination on Arabic's bridge might have been the reason he was transferred from the brand new Arabic to the older Celtic. Whether or not Susanne's suggestion is in fact true, one must respect her for the objectivity she showed in bringing that possibility to the reader's attention -- and without glibly dismissing it as unlikely or skipping over it entirely.

I’m aware of Susanne’s interpretation of events, and find it very interesting indeed. If she is correct and Murdoch did indeed suffer a temporary career setback, it demonstrates just how much was at stake when Murdoch took the action he did. He was willing to risk his career to save his ship and to save lives - I think that speaks volumes not only about his seamanship (his judgement was flawless in this instance), but also about his character. Regardless of personal cost, he took the right course of action in what must have been an extraordinarily difficult moment, and I’ve no doubt that the people whose lives he saved would have appreciated that he did so.

“How should Murdoch have responded, ideally (when he learned of the existence of an eyewitness to Arabic's near-collision)?”

Well, since you ask, my own opinion is that a principled man of strong character would have simply attended to his duties on the Arabic's bridge and let the chips fall where they may.

Actually, that’s pretty much what he did as far as we know. When Jones rushed to inform Murdoch that a passenger had witnessed the near-collision that Murdoch’s own skill and seamanship had avoided, Murdoch advocated only one course of action: notifying the Captain. He couldn’t have turned a deaf ear to what Jones had told him (He wouldn’t have stood there, staring straight ahead, while Jones spoke to him). We have no record of whether he condemned or condoned Jones’ fairly ludicrous attempt to disguise the incident - he simply referred the matter to the Captain. The most you can say about his ‘participation’ in this cover up is that he was dismayed a passenger had witnessed the incident - he did not advocate a course of cover-up, nor can you demonstrate that he was compliant in it. And yet you have used an account that was cited as evidence of Murdoch’s exemplary skills to attack his ‘character’, and by insinuation you imply that those who do not accede to your interpretation of the incident are faulty in their views. Murdoch's role in this incident was to avert the collision in the first place, then to instruct tell another crewman to inform the Captain that there had been a witness.

Your conspiracy theory involves an assumption that Murdoch’s seamanship and judgement were faulty, so let me state again what Marcus — who knew a good deal about ships and seamanship and who heard the account first hand from a participant — said it demonstrated:

"Murdoch was at this time just under forty: an officer of ripe experience, cool and steady judgement, and instant presence of mind. Only a few years earlier, when serving in the Arabic, he had displayed all these qualities in consummate degree in coolly, skilfully, and, in the nick of time successfully averting a collision."

I'm inclined to agree with Marcus.

If you'd like to share your data, why not just post it on this bulletin board so that researchers everywhere can make use of it instead of just a favored few? Thanks for considering my request.

:) I know of at least one instance where you’ve referred to your sources in support of one of your arguments and yet have not chosen to divulge the full source, for the perfectly legitimate reason that you intended to use it for publication. I’d be more than happy to scan and send this to Phil (if it would be useful to him) once others have had first shot at it. The ‘favoured few’ are individuals who have done considerable research of their own in this area. Putting material in the public domain via the internet has its drawbacks, as you’re probably aware.

"Really? Fleet, Lee and any other random bod who happened to catch part of their discussions must have felt rather rorted that they weren’t living it up."

That doesn't change the fact that lifetime jobs with good pay were offered to a number of surviving Titanic crewmen or that Walter Lord's (first-hand) crew informant corroborated the identical hearsay reports that I discussed in my book.

It is not a proven fact that these jobs were offered as you state above. You are operating on hearsay and second hand reports. By your own admission, you have not received the full details of Lord’s account: I'm not at liberty to share the specifics of Walter's research without his permission (which I've never received and which -- sadly -- may never be forthcoming due to his poor health.) and yet, without these ‘specifics’, you’ve already judged the merit of the source and how it fits into your theory? Why don’t you put the text for all these rumours side by side and allow readers here to judge for themselves how believable they are?You’ve also yet to offer a reason why if, given your explanation that the WSL apparently reneged on their deal, these men did not then ‘come clean’ and specifically cite your conspiracy theory as the material they were asked to cover up. What’s more, it wasn’t a small circle that required bribing — if Fleet and Lee were talking about this in front of passengers, how many more crewman besides Whitely also heard about it? And once again — Fleet and Lee were not disinterested witnesses. One can only imagine their frame of mind on the Carpathia.

According to Reade’s research, this is what Fleet told him in an interview:

”It was the beautifullest night I ever seen,” he began. “The stars were like lamps. I saw this black thing looming up; I didn’t know what it was.”

And here, he added something to the evidence he had given at the American and British inquiries, which, if true, was at least a vivid detail, and possibly of great significance.

“I asked Lee if he knew what it was,” said Fleet, “He couldn’t say. I thought I better ring the bell. I rang it three times.”


Reade goes on to comment:

How long did this interval last while Fleet questioned Lee? Half a minute-? Only a few seconds-? Whatever it was, there had never previously been a hint of any pause between Fleet’s sighting the iceberg and ringing the bell.

Reade concludes He was obviously an honest man, though probably not the best lookout in the world.

There is no need for me to belabour the fact that, had they been warning the bridge of icebergs before the fatal one, Fleet would hardly need to question Lee what the ‘black thing’ looming up that would give him nightmares for years was.

But we've already expressed these very same opinions on these very same subjects ad nauseum in the past, Inger, and anyone who has followed our discussions undoubtedly knows exactly what we're both going to say before we even say it. That being the case, I'll conclude by saying that my research on the 'early iceberg theory' continues and that I hope that anyone who possesses new information on the subject will post that material here for the benefit of everyone concerned.

Are you suggesting we’re wearing ruts with our rather consistent patterns of discourse? ;-) I’m delighted to hear that your research on the ‘early iceberg theory’ continues. My work is also ongoing, although limited by no means to either proving or disproving your theory. As I said - I’m omnivorous. I’ve yet to see convincing evidence of malfeasance in all this - like all conspiracy theories, it thrives on rumour and ‘interpretation’ of material. What I have seen, however, are indications (and I’ve deliberately used the understated phrase ‘indications’, although stronger phrasing would probably be warranted) that at least one of the lookouts was less experienced than we have been lead to believe, and quite probably feeling defensive and insecure in the immediate aftermath of the disaster (witness Fleet’s insistence that he reported the berg as soon as he saw it) which would have given him a motive for projecting blame on to two dead men who were unable to offer any defence of their own. Given the conditions that night it’s doubtful that Fleet and Lee could have seen the berg any sooner than they did, but it is a perfectly human and understandable response if, faced with a ship full of widows, they would seek to project blame on others. But maintaining a makeshift defence is a little less easy in an inquiry setting under questioning. The lynchpin of your argument centres around reports -often garbled - given in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, when rumour and half-truth flourished. The purported sources for these reports - all second hand - are two witnesses who were not independent and certainly not disinterested.

As you have made Murdoch’s ‘character’ an issue (as opposed to his skills, which is the angle I have stressed), I might make a further observation. Through the work of others I have become aware of *many* facets of Murdoch’s personality. For various reasons, these individuals decline to make their information public (which I can only regret as a researcher, but I respect their reasons). Not all these traits could be constructed as positive - nor is ‘negative’ perhaps the right word. ‘Human’ isn’t really specific enough either, but it will do. While my own research has not focussed on Murdoch specifically I have come across the odd reference, including a remark in a letter from a young crewman who had not yet met Murdoch but who knew of him by his excellent reputation. One thing that I have found consistent is the strength of admiration expressed for his capabilities as a seaman. He was a man who engendered fealty in those who knew him - even to the point of individuals at the inquiry going out of their way to express their admiration for him.

He must have been a remarkable man.

Warm regards,

Inger
 

Inger Sheil

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Apologies for the double post! I'd put it up and then realised that I'd forgotten the salutation (wouldn't want George to think I was forgetting my manners) - But wasn't quick enough to stop the first. It would be more forgivable if I wasn't re-writing the first chapter of 'War and Peace'.

Ing
 

Inger Sheil

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Many thank, Phil - they consume enough space as it is without a double post (save for a few words) going up! :)

Ing
 

George Behe

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Hi, Inger!

>So you’re dropping the charge that Murdoch didn’t tell Hayes (which was
>the original thrust of your point),

Not at all. In my opinion, Jones's description of the Arabic's near-collision is detailed enough that we could expect it to have included some mention of Hayes's notification of the event if such notification had indeed occurred. (You might disagree, but there it is.)

>ignored my point that the incident
>is a positive reflection on Murdoch’s seamanship,

It's hard to ignore something that you repeat five or six times in every posting. :)

> Murdoch did not originate the ‘conspiracy’ in
>this instance (such as it was), and his complicity extends no further
>than instructing Jones to inform Hayes — what does that signify?

It signifies exactly what you've said it did -- complicity.

> to extrapolate a negative
>interpretation of Murdoch’s character from this incident is grossly
>distorting.

Only if you paint Murdoch's *entire* character with a broad brush (which I don't) instead of regarding his complicity in the cover-up as just one *facet* of his character (which I do.)

> When Jones
>rushed to inform Murdoch that a passenger had witnessed the
>near-collision ...... Murdoch advocated only one course of action:
>notifying the Captain. He
>couldn’t have turned a deaf ear to what Jones had told him (He wouldn’t
>have stood there, staring straight ahead, while Jones spoke to him).

True. However, Murdoch could have told Jones, "Very well. I'll relay your information to the captain tomorrow morning at breakfast; the information isn't important and certainly isn't worth bothering him about in the middle of the night." Murdoch didn't do that, though; instead, his *alarmed* reaction ("My God! Go and tell Bertie!") speaks volumes and makes it clear that he felt Captain Hayes should be informed *immediately* so that Hayes could *do* something with that information.
Murdoch didn't *initiate* the cover-up, but he certainly *facilitated* it -- and that tars him with the same brush as the other participants. (Again, you might disagree, but there it is.)

>And yet you have used an
>account that was cited as evidence of Murdoch’s exemplary skills to
>attack his ‘character’,

You seem to be implying that one researcher's interpretation of an historical account is the only interpretation that's possible. Not true. You've been talking about Murdoch's abilities while I've been talking about his character, and the account in question sheds significant light on *both* subjects.
(After all, if "character" was the same thing as "ability," some of our most efficient politicians would be regarded as saints.) :)

> I’d be more than happy to scan and
>send this to Phil (if it would be useful to him) once others have had
>first shot at it.

We'll look forward to seeing it.

>By your own
>admission, you have not received the full details of Lord’s account:

I don't recall saying that at all -- and certainly not in the quote you reposted.

>Why don’t you put the text for all these rumours side by side
>and allow readers here to judge for themselves how believable they
>are?

The information that I was permitted to use is already in my book. If folks would like to read that information for themselves, they're free to do so; if they'd like to do further research on their own in order to prove (or disprove) my book's premise, they're free to do that too.

>What’s more, it wasn’t a small
>circle that required bribing —

I disagree. The only people it would have been necessary for White Star to 'influence' were the surviving eyewitnesses who saw or heard evidence of the early ice sightings themselves. (You've already told us that conversations overheard on board the Carpathia were mere hearsay reports that can be safely disregarded.) :)

>There is no need for me to belabour the fact that, had they been warning
>the bridge of icebergs before the fatal one, Fleet would hardly need to
>question Lee what the ‘black thing’ looming up that would give him
>nightmares for years was.

No need to belabor the fact at all. Reade interviewed Fleet half a century after the events in question took place, and -- as you know -- any details contained in such latter-day interviews must be regarded with great caution unless they can be corroborated. In fact, that's the very reason why I didn't give Jack Podesta's latter-day account (in which he told of hearing early ice warnings with his own ears) much credence until other accounts pertaining to early ice warnings started coming to light. If you accept Fred Fleet's latter-day interview as reliable there's no reason to dismiss Jack Podesta's account as unreliable.

> While my own research has not focussed on
>Murdoch specifically I have come across the odd reference, including a
>remark
>He must have been a remarkable man.

In many ways Murdoch probably *was* remarkable. On the other hand, I have a letter from a well-known researcher which contains the remark, "I suspect that Murdoch might have wound up selling shoes for a living if he'd survived the Titanic disaster." This latter remark is far more colorful than the one you quoted, but I think it contains just as much truth.

And this is where I'm going to close down my own half of this discussion, Inger, since we've both stated our views in (far more than) sufficient detail for other folks to understand our individual positions on the subject. (We've been going around in circles for so long that I'm starting to get a bit queasy.) :)

I hope other people will do a bit of independent research on this subject -- it would be nice to obtain some fresh information that hasn't already been discussed to death.

All my best,

George
 

George Behe

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The light suddenly dawns! :)

Inger wrote:

>By your own
>admission, you have not received the full details >of Lord’s account:

And she then quoted my own statement as proof of this:

>I'm
>not at liberty to share the specifics of Walter's >research without his
>permission (which I've never received and which >-- sadly -- may never be forthcoming due to his >poor health.)

Hi, Inger!

What I meant is that I've never received Walter's permission to *use* that material.

All my best,

George
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
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308
G’day, George! —
Not at all. In my opinion, Jones's description of the Arabic's near-collision is detailed enough that we could expect it to have included some mention of Hayes's notification of the event if such notification had indeed occurred. (You might disagree, but there it is.)

Yes, I do indeed disagree :) The incident is not detailed enough for us to expect such details. It is framed as an anecdote intended to illustrate a point — how Murdoch’s seamanship avoided a collision. This is why it concludes as soon as the moment of crisis has passed, and the follow up remarks about Jones’ actions are given as a footnote. The thrust of the account is not framed in terms that incorporate a detailed recounting of the aftermath of the incident — it is concerned with Murdoch’s immediate response and his actions to avert disaster. There are a good many significant details that are omitted: What Fox said to Murdoch once the moment of peril had passed, for example, and how his fellow officers reacted to Murdoch’s actions. But these fit outside the scope of the incident as it has been incorporated into the narrative drive of Marcus’ text. What is more, you have — again — ignored the very basic point that it was Fox’s watch and therefore his duty to inform the captain, thus making your criticism of Murdoch on this point invalid.

”ignored my point that the incident is a positive reflection on Murdoch’s seamanship”

It's hard to ignore something that you repeat five or six times in every posting. :)

Well, the fact that you have chosen not to respond to my comments that the incident demonstrates Murdoch’s ability had me concerned that you were missing them ;-) And it is, after all, Murdoch’s seamanship that we are discussing here. Interesting that you were not ‘ignoring’ the point — you merely refrained from responding.

”Murdoch did not originate the ‘conspiracy’ in his instance (such as it was), and his complicity extends no further than instructing Jones to inform Hayes — what does that signify?”

It signifies exactly what you've said it did -- complicity.

Yup — complicity (i.e. he ‘complied’) insofar as he issued an order to inform the Captain of the fact that there had been a witness to the incident :) Dire crime, that…

”to extrapolate a negative interpretation of Murdoch’s character from this incident is grossly
distorting.”

Only if you paint Murdoch's *entire* character with a broad brush (which I don't) instead of regarding his complicity in the cover-up as just one *facet* of his character (which I do.)

I contend that the broad brush work here is your own — you have insufficient data to extrapolate an entire character trait from an incident that you have taken out of all context. This character trait you have expressed in the broadest possible terms: ‘Murdoch was fully capable of acting in a less than exemplary fashion if he thought it was in his own self interest and would preserve a favourable status quo.’ In your analysis of the incident, your interpretation of what you assignate a negative character facet derives entirely from the fact he informed his Captain that there had been a witness to a near collision. In doing so, you have held up your interpretation of one trait of the man to the exclusion of others - which has the effect of isolating and thereby distorting the perception of the reader. You have ignored all the positive elements of his character and his abilities that the incident demonstrates.

True. However, Murdoch could have told Jones, "Very well. I'll relay your information to the captain tomorrow morning at breakfast; the information isn't important and certainly isn't worth bothering him about in the middle of the night." Murdoch didn't do that, though; instead, his *alarmed* reaction ("My God! Go and tell Bertie!") speaks volumes and makes it clear that he felt Captain Hayes should be informed *immediately* so that Hayes could *do* something with that information. Murdoch didn't *initiate* the cover-up, but he certainly *facilitated* it -- and that tars him with the same brush as the other participants. (Again, you might disagree, but there it is.)

Again, I do disagree. You’re extrapolating entirely too much from too little data. How do you know that Hayes had not ordered Murdoch to keep him informed of developments? Do you know where Hayes was? Can you prove whether he had or had not been informed? As I’ve said — then, as now, passengers are not informed of near misses in transportation. What significance do you impart to his order to inform Hayes immediately? Do you think Hayes was going to issue orders to put the passenger under armed guard? Bribe him? And that Murdoch advocated such a course of action? From the information reported in Marcus’ account, Murdoch did not ‘facilitate’ the ‘cover-up’. The ‘cover-up’, as far as we know from the available source, was simply one man telling a passenger a ludicrous story. Murdoch’s words and reaction neither condemn nor condone this response. If he was dismayed at there being a witness — so what? There had been a narrow miss — what officer under those circumstances wouldn’t regret that a.) the incident had occurred and b.) the incident had been witnessed. But regretting it doesn’t mean he ‘facilitated’ a cover up, as the full extent of the coverup that we know of had taken place before Murdoch was even aware there was a witness.

“And yet you have used an account that was cited as evidence of Murdoch’s exemplary skills to
attack his ‘character’,”

You seem to be implying that one researcher's interpretation of an historical account is the only interpretation that's possible.

Nope, I’m not. I’m pointing out that the above incident demonstrates (and was originally cited to demonstrate) Murdoch’s skill and seamanship — a skill you will not even deign to acknowledge. The fact remains - the unidentified sailing ship and possibly the Arabic herself were saved through the quick thinking and superb judgement of one man. William Murdoch.

You've been talking about Murdoch's abilities while I've been talking about his character, and the account in question sheds significant light on *both* subjects.

Actually, I’m fully aware of the distinction, and have addressed how the issue reflects on both his seamanship and his character. Here is what I said:

He was willing to risk his career to save his ship and to save lives - I think that speaks volumes not only about his seamanship (his judgement was flawless), but also about his character. He took the right course of action in what must have been an extraordinarily difficult moment regardless of personal cost, and I’ve no doubt that the people whose lives he saved would have appreciated that he did so.

My academic background is primarily grounded in history and English literature. Consequently, I do not use words lightly, and I refrain from the polarities that my studies of history have taught me are rarely valid. In the past, I have strongly resisted the glib assignation of terms such as ‘hero’ or ‘villain’ to the Titanic’s officers, as I feel such terms hinder our ability to interpret these men and their actions by narrowing our perceptions into either ‘positive’ or ‘negative’. The fact that I use words and phrases that indicate a positive view of Murdoch’s character and capabilities are simply my response to the accounts I’ve read, and material that other researchers have shared with me. It is highly indicative to me that some of the strongest accolades I’ve heard for Murdoch derive from his professional peers. These are men who appreciated how difficult a situation Murdoch faced on the bridge of both the Arabic and the Titanic. They also appreciate the fact that Murdoch, in staying with the Titanic and losing his own life while attempting to save others, lost a basic right that we should all have - the right to speak in his own defence.

My views on Murdoch’s character and his interaction with others are considerably more complex than have thus far been touched upon in this debate - this is because they do not impact upon his actions either during the Arabic incident or prior to the Titanic’s collision. You have made ‘character’ an issue, and have provided your own interpretation of one aspect of his ‘character’ (which I strongly disagree with). However, simply because I resist your desire to paint Murdoch as an incompetent ‘company man’, and I disagree with your interpretation of the implications of the Arabic incident, does not mean that I therefore believe he was without character flaws or above criticism. In point of fact, information given to me by other researchers in addition to my own indicates that Murdoch, like Lightoller, was a very complex personality (unlike Lowe, for example, who was essentially a simple man). There are certain points regarding his personal life upon which the opinion of those who knew him diverges widely, ranging from the extremely critical to the other end of the spectrum. In many ways, examining these flaws and criticisms provide as much interesting material for speculation and analysis as any other aspect of his personality.

Thank you for the clarification on the Lord citation :) How terribly unfortunate that researchers now cannot judge for themselves the validity of the source with the usual criteria (a name would be a good starting point, followed by length of time elapsed, form of data, exact words, etc). As we cannot judge the merits of the material for ourselves, and you suggest there is no prospect of us doing so, for other researchers it becomes relegated to hearsay.

>What’s more, it wasn’t a small
>circle that required bribing —

I disagree. The only people it would have been necessary for White Star to 'influence' were the surviving eyewitnesses who saw or heard evidence of the early ice sightings themselves. (You've already told us that conversations overheard on board the Carpathia were mere hearsay reports that can be safely disregarded.) :)

Well, once again…I disagree! The WSL would have needed to ‘influence’ any surviving crewmember who heard the rumors — particularly as Smith had agents specifically seeking out any ‘unsavoury’ rumours. The WSL had to ensure that not one crewmember decided to repeat this gossip under testimony - that’s a pretty big circle of crewmen to keep under the thumb. And to then renege on proposed job offers is a very reckless policy indeed if one is feeling inclined towards conspiracies.

I haven't 'disregarded' the hearsay that came off the Carpathia - but I do find it less than easy to swallow the tailoring of these varying stories to fit your theory (you state, for example, that 'Fleet clearly did not say what Maj. Peuchen thought he said' - how do you demonstrate that Fleet was not telling varying tales? Why do you never question the motives of the lookouts in telling different versions?).

Reade interviewed Fleet half a century after the events in question took place, and -- as you know -- any details contained in such latter-day interviews must be regarded with great caution unless they can be corroborated.

Your distrust of Reade’s interview with Fleet did not stop you from using it in your book when you found it useful to do so. However, in recounting this interview with Fleet, you skip over the fact that Fleet said that he had not known what the berg was, and had questioned Lee. Very selective citation of a source indeed! Although this is a first hand account from Fleet, you prefer to cite a hearsay report from Fleet given ‘many years’ after the disaster, which still does not accord with your version of events (in this source, Fleet merely phone the bridge some time before the disaster to say that he smelled ice —not that he called repeatedly on seeing bergs).

At any rate, you’re speaking of ‘details’. This is not a ‘detail’ — it is a significantly important retelling of the event. And I don’t think that several lifetimes would be enough to make Fleet ‘forget’ if he had warned the bridge prior to the fatal collision. And it comes as a first hand account.

In many ways Murdoch probably *was* remarkable. On the other hand, I have a letter from a well-known researcher which contains the remark, "I suspect that Murdoch might have wound up selling shoes for a living if he'd survived the Titanic disaster." This latter remark is far more colorful than the one you quoted, but I think it contains just as much truth.

Really? I’m sure this researcher cited material for their views on Murdoch’s lack of ability that is as specific as the instance of seamanship quoted by Marcus ;-) Do you know what he/she is basing their opinion on? Of course, one can simply counter with another opinion - say, that of his biographer Susanne Stormer whose work you have admired in this thread, and who probably knows more than any other published Titanic historian about William Murdoch. She refers to Murdoch’s reputation as ‘the best and smartest sailor afloat’ ;-)

It is highly probable that had Murdoch survived his career, regardless of capability or culpability, would have suffered. Those sources I’ve seen have been unanimous on one point — Murdoch’s extraordinary ability. But if you feel that the White Star Line would put a man not fit for his job as first officer on their newest ship, after having had him serve on so many maiden voyages for crack liners giving them every chance to ascertain his capabilities, well….everyone has their opinions! This is certainly a novel one.

Fortunately, there is some material extant that allows us to ascertain to at least some degree Murdoch’s capabilities as a seaman. I’ve recently spent some time in looking at results for applicants for mate’s or master’s certification One thing that is very striking is how difficult these examinations seem to have been, and even individuals who were known to be both bright and talented in their field could experience difficulties in passing at the first attempt. It was necessary to demonstrate sea time served, produce references from former masters on ships served, and pass the various components of the examinations. Murdoch passed at first try for second mate, first mate and masters - no mean indication of his ability, and hardly surprising from a man who showed particular academic ability from the time he was at school according to his biographer Stormer.

The White Star Line, as you well know, could afford to be selective in recruiting their officers. Contemporary maritime writers such as Bullen comment upon this, saying that the WSL was one of the lines that simply to serve with conferred a ‘brevet rank’ of distinction. This was brought home to me recently when chatting with an old Union Castle man who had gone into the RN. I mentioned that I was researching a mercantile mariner at the turn of last century, and gave a brief precis of Lowe’s career without reference to the Titanic connection. When I told him that Lowe had joined the White Star Line, he said words to the effect that Lowe was obviously both extremely capable and extremely ambitious, as the White Star Line, along with Cunard, represented the very heights of aspiration for any talented young officer. With the glut of officers at the time, the White Star Line could be picky when selecting new recruits, and very choosy when it came to promoting them.

So much for the milieu in which we can place Murdoch generally, but what details do we specifically have on his career? The indications here are that the WSL had a very strong faith in his abilities indeed. Stormer hypothesises that it is possible (but no more than possible) that Murdoch joined the Runic for her maiden voyage. At any rate, Murdoch remained a senior officer when transferred from the Australia run to the Atlantic run, retaining the rank of second officer. Officers usually went down a rung or two (Lowe, for example, did so). What’s more, he was selected to join the Arabic on her maiden voyage. In May 1907 he was, once again, chosen to accompany a new vessel on another maiden voyage - the Adriatic. Given this apparent faith in Murdoch’s abilities, it should then come as no surprise that he was selected next for the Olympic and the Titanic for their maiden voyages. That the WSL should not only recruit Murdoch but place him on their crack liners is highly indicative of the faith the company had in his abilities.
As for his character, the following public comments reflect those which were circulated privately:

Wheeler: I would like to say something about the bravery exhibited by the first officer, Mr Murdoch. He was perfectly cool and very calm.

Hardy: Of course I had great respect and great regard for Chief Officer Murdoch

Murdoch had the monumental misfortune to be in a position where a series of mistakes, trends and various factors would reach their culmination while he was Officer of the Watch. There is a certain irony in the fact that, had he not been as capable as he was, he would never have been in a position to be serving as first officer of the Titanic the night of 14/15 April, and thus OOW during the most notorious maritime accident in history which leads - inevitably - to individuals questioning that very competency that put him there in the first place.

And this is where I'm going to close down my own half of this discussion, Inger, since we've both stated our views in (far more than) sufficient detail for other folks to understand our individual positions on the subject. (We've been going around in circles for so long that I'm starting to get a bit queasy.)

Thus far I’ve only been responding to posts that you’ve initiated :) At any rate, I find such debates and discussions endlessly fascinating. This is about far more than advocating a position for me, as I continually reappraise my positions and interpretations on individuals and events. Interaction with other researchers assists in clarifying thoughts and approaches, and debate - however vigorous — prevents academic flaccidity ;-)

It's been a pleasure as always, George.

Until the next round, then -

Regards,

Ing
 

Inger Sheil

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Pressed that $£%*! button *again* before I got my edits in! (Trigger finger, thy name is Ing).

George's statement re. Peuchen's account is: Fleet clearly did not say what Maj. Peuchen thought he said

Ing
 

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