Was Capt Smith lost in a daze during the sinking

Seumas

Seumas

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Edward Smith being in a daze is another myth that just will not go away. Unfortunately, a lot of people think because it was depicted this way in the '97 film, then it must have happened in reality.

One of the surviving crew testified that Smith even helped with the falls of one portside boat when there were not enough crew to help. Hardly the actions of a man quietly having a breakdown.

It seems Smith was fairly active during the sinking, although some significant criticism can be made of his lack of co-ordination with his officers and senior ratings about "the plan" to evacuate the ship.

One key thing here is that Smith (according to those who knew him) was not the kind of captain to go striding around barking out orders and chasing everyone up on the double. That just wasn't the way he ran his ships.
 
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K

Kiku

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That discussion would have been in private for the first time and since both those gentlemen died in the sinking, no one will ever know for sure. But IMO, the Captain probably asked Andrews something like "are you certain?" or something similar the first time the latter said that the Titanic was doomed; that would have been normal human reaction. But once Andrews clearly explained the mechanisms involved, the Captain would have concentrated on sending out distress calls and issuing necessary orders to the crew.
Fourth Officer Boxhall couldn't believe that anything serious could happen to the Titanic either.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

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Fourth Officer Boxhall couldn't believe that anything serious could happen to the Titanic either.
Probably, but that is not what is being discussed in this thread. It is about whether Boxhall or any other crew member said later anything that suggested that Captain Smith was ineffectively going around in a daze during the sinking. I have not come across anything like that.

But some of Lightoller's statements during his testimony might have created that impression to some, or more likely, conspiracy lovers over the years "deduced" that the Captain was ineffective even though they knew otherwise. For example:

Senator SMITH.
You asked the captain on the boat deck whether the lifeboats should take the women and children first, if I understand you correctly?


Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Not quite, sir; I asked him: "Shall I put the women and children in the boats?" The captain replied, "Yes, and lower away."

Senator SMITH.
What did you then do?


Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I carried out his orders.


And a bit later on the same day:

Senator SMITH.
Did you see the captain after that final order with reference to the women and children?


Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Where?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Walking across the bridge, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Did you have any further communication with him?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir; none.

Senator SMITH.
So far as you know, was that the last place that he was seen?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I could not say, sir.

Senator SMITH.
You don't know what occurred to the captain after that?


Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir.


The thing about tetsimony statements like those above is that they are precise and very matter-of-fact, perhaps too much so for a reporter's liking. Readers would have liked something more punchy even if it was a distortion of the truth and so they deliberately interpreted that such statements had hidden meanings that were never there. It would have taken just one of them to ask in his paper "Was Captain Smith dazed with disbelief during his ship's sinking?" and it woud have been misinterpreted, distorted, magnified etc into something that over time would be accepted by many as "fact".
 
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Sam Brannigan

Sam Brannigan

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  • After fourth officer Boxhall informed captain Smith about the flooding in the mail room on the orlop deck under the post office he went out on his second damage inspection where he met up with Thomas Andrews Jr again, who was making his way up at the time (he gave boatswain Nichols, who didn’t survive as well, an estimate that the ship had about half a hour at this time). Thomas Andrews Jr advised captain Smith to take a look for himself, where they ultimately bumped into chief purser McElroy, a postal clerk and Dr. O’Loughlin. The group went below to see the flooding for themselves and at around 12:10 captain Smith, purser McElroy and Thomas Andrews Jr were seen on E-deck at the small stairwell which leads to the squash court, post office and first class baggage room (This stairwell is located in the first class corridor on the starboard side). Thomas Andrews Jr remarked “Well, three have gone already captain.” Referring to the first three cargo holds, which at the time were truly a lost case with the water already nearing E-deck. Considering the Olympic class liners wasn’t able to stay afloat with this damage he presumably told him that the ship would be unable to stay afloat with this rate of flooding, but he didn’t knew how long she would have at the time. Captain Smith and Purser McElroy left Thomas Andrews Jr below to their calculations, met up again with Dr. O’Loughlin and went to Mr. Ismay, who at the time was awaiting news in his sitting room which was B-52 in the Louis XIV style (Mr. Ismay stayed here after he was told by captain Smith if he thought the ship was seriously damaged). It was overheard by first class stewardess Jane Kate Coulson Gold that captain Smith said: “We had better get the boats out.” To Mr. Ismay and it appeared that the news captain Smith told Mr. Ismay was rather shocking since Mr. Ismay was described as looking as pail as a white night shirt. All of them put on their brave faces to avoid people panicking. It is false that Mr. Ismay was ever present at the conversation that happened later where Thomas Andrews Jr gave the ship his estimate.
I found this information very interesting, Thomas. I've never heard it before. Could you please direct me to the source for it?
 
Thomas Krom

Thomas Krom

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I found this information very interesting, Thomas. I've never heard it before. Could you please direct me to the source for it?
Hello Sam, allow me to dissect my post bit by bit.
After fourth officer Boxhall informed captain Smith about the flooding in the mail room on the orlop deck under the post office he went out on his second damage inspection where he met up with Thomas Andrews Jr again
Fourth officer Boxhall his account at the British and American inquiry into the disaster.

who was making his way up at the time (he gave boatswain Nichols, who didn’t survive as well, an estimate that the ship had about half a hour at this time).
Lamp trimmer Samuel Hemming his accounts at the American and British inquiry.
Thomas Andrews Jr advised captain Smith to take a look for himself, where they ultimately bumped into chief purser McElroy, a postal clerk and Dr. O’Loughlin. The group went below to see the flooding for themselves and at around 12:10 captain Smith, purser McElroy and Thomas Andrews Jr were seen on E-deck at the small stairwell which leads to the squash court, post office and first class baggage room (This stairwell is located in the first class corridor on the starboard side). Thomas Andrews Jr remarked “Well, three have gone already captain.” Referring to the first three cargo holds, which at the time were truly a lost case with the water already nearing E-deck. Considering the Olympic class liners wasn’t able to stay afloat with this damage he presumably told him that the ship would be unable to stay afloat with this rate of flooding, but he didn’t knew how long she would have at the time.
First class stewardess Annie Robinson her account at the British inquiry as well as an account she supplied to Shan F. Bullock
Captain Smith and Purser McElroy left Thomas Andrews Jr below to their calculations, met up again with Dr. O’Loughlin and went to Mr. Ismay, who at the time was awaiting news in his sitting room which was B-52 in the Louis XIV style (Mr. Ismay stayed here after he was told by captain Smith if he thought the ship was seriously damaged). It was overheard by first class stewardess Jane Kate Coulson Gold that captain Smith said: “We had better get the boats out.” To Mr. Ismay and it appeared that the news captain Smith told Mr. Ismay was rather shocking since Mr. Ismay was described as looking as pail as a white night shirt. All of them put on their brave faces to avoid people panicking.
This is a combination of a few sources. Such as first class stewardess Violet Jessop in her autobiography, this newspaper account from first class stewardess Jane Kate Coulson Gold (who along with fellow first class stewardess Martin had her cabin on B-deck amidships), a statement from colonel Archibald Gracie IV in his book.
 
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Sam Brannigan

Sam Brannigan

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Hello Sam, allow me to dissect my post bit by bit.

Fourth officer Boxhall his account at the British and American inquiry into the disaster.


Lamp trimmer Samuel Hemming his accounts at the American and British inquiry.

First class stewardess Annie Robinson her account at the British inquiry as well as an account she supplied to Shan F. Bullock

This is a combination of a few sources. Such as first class stewardess Violet Jessop in her autobiography, this newspaper account from first class stewardess Jane Kate Coulson Gold (who along with fellow first class stewardess Martin had her cabin on B-deck amidships), a statement from colonel Archibald Gracie IV in his book.
Many thanks indeed, Thomas. This is really excellent - I had always assumed that any discussions Ismay had with the captain were in the bridge area. Fascinating information.
 
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