Were stewards armed on the Titanic?


Jan 11, 2014
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Please don't blast me for pointing to a clip of the 1997 Blockbuster movie. But there's a part in which one man dressed as steward says:

"Unlock [the gates] please".

(Men, women and children try to pass) .... (the steward and some able bodied seamen push them backward and lock the gates back again while the steward points them with a revolver).

Were they armed? I thought only officers were.

Thank you so much!
 

Adam Went

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Apr 28, 2003
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On a side note, what were the laws regarding gun ownership and usage in 1912? Were there any? Was any training required, etc etc? This question just got me thinking, given the rigid gun laws which are in place in a lot of countries these days - including here in Australia.

Cheers,
Adam.
 

Bob Godfrey

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In the UK at the start of the 20th century the Law had no interest in guns kept at home and used on your own property, but a license was needed to carry or use one elsewhere. From 1903 all handguns had to be licensed (theoretically), but that would not be denied unless you were known to be habitually drunk or insane. As for proficiency, this was a time when a blind man could apply for (and be granted!) a driving license. There were around 200,000 licensed and privately-owned firearms in the UK in 1912, plus of course an unknown number which were not licensed. Remember that dog ownership also theoretically required a license, but not many owners bothered.

From my own reading of a great many letters from merchant mariners to their families, it is my impression that cheap handguns or 'Saturday night specials' were a popular acquisition in ports like New York. These were intended for personal protection when ashore in foreign parts. Entirely unofficial of course, and very unlikely to be licensed.
 

Adam Went

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Thanks very much for that Bob, interesting stuff! Did the outbreak of World War I influence ownership of guns, etc?

Cheers,
Adam.
 

Bob Godfrey

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A lot of small arms were brought back as souvenirs by soldiers returning from the Great War, and this certainly did cause concern especially at a time when revolution and anarchy was much feared. So from 1920 in the UK it was required to not only license a handgun but also to register it, which was much less of a mere formality. Permits were refused to anybody who, in the judgement of the police, might not be trustworthy. I recall that in the 1950s following WW2 there was again a plentiful supply of war souvenirs in circulation and it wasn't unknown for kids playing cowboy or gangster games to be brandishing a real pistol - usually deactivated in some way if their fathers had any sense. Fortunately Britain had no real gun culture so there was in any case very little ammunition legally available.
 

Adam Went

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Thanks very much again Bob, interesting stuff. Of course World War I saw a whole new range of weaponry being used which had its fair share of negative effects on the mental and physical states of soldiers on the frontlines. So on that basis you'd think that in peacetime there would be renewed efforts to diminish the need for personal weapons unless the owner was of sound mind and had a good reason for owning one - especially amongst the Commonwealth nations, if not in America where as we know the issues of gun ownership are an entirely different kettle of fish.

Cheers,
Adam.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Officially nobody (not even Lowe) was issued with firearms except the Captain and his senior officers. The crew were not even allowed to carry knives (outside the kitchens!) But it wasn't uncommon for crewmen (and maybe women too) to acquire cheap low-calibre 'Saturday night specials' in the US for self-protection while ashore. Much like the one which Cameron's nervous steward is clutching.
 

Bob Godfrey

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If you're asking would a crewman who privately owned a pistol carry it during the normal course of his duties onboard ship, the answer is certainly not. If he had any sense, that is. If you're asking what a fictional character in a movie might or might not do, then I have no opinion on the matter.
 
Aug 31, 2015
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Yes my Q was if he wear it before sinking whatever person was fictional or real.

Is there chance that in real life some third class Steward had revolver in pocket during the sinking?
 

Bob Godfrey

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Yes, it's possible - IF a steward had such a weapon concealed in his personal effects, and IF he had the time and opportunity at some stage during the sinking to go back to his quarters to get it, and IF he was willing to risk landing himself in trouble by showing it. But is it likely? You have to decide that for yourself.
 

Chase Pounds

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Sep 7, 2016
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Was there any evidence of third class passengers being blocked by crew members to the lifeboats. I have always tried to research that.
 
Aug 31, 2015
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Was there any evidence of third class passengers being blocked by crew members to the lifeboats. I have always tried to research that.
It seems that this is based on Buckley's testimony. He said that there was little gate and seaman pushed someone downstairs, then the man broke the lock. Paul Maugé stated that the stewards prevented the italian crewmen. Surely it is possible that some stewards prevented the passengers from entering the other classes during the sinking, but there were only 2 bostwick gates on E Deck and only one was in area for passengers. The gate Buckley meant was most likely small gate on B Deck preventing the passengers form entering 1st class.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Keep in mind that the gate in question was outside on the weather decks and not in the ship's interior spaces.

A lot is made out of the Bostwick gates and while the locations of two are known, neither was a barrier to getting up and out. They were there for security reasons in spaces where pilferage was likely to be a problem.
 
Aug 31, 2015
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I know the gate Buckley referred was outside. Regarding bostwick gates, I don't understand what was point of one at stairwell leading to Third Class Open Space.
 

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