Where was sixth officer Moody between 1:41 and 2:10?

Thomas Krom

Thomas Krom

Member
Hello ladies and gentlemen,


For my first post in 2022 I wanted to start a thread on a question I’ve been wondering after I’ve started to work on a timeline for a couple of friends of mine.


After 12 o’clock sixth officer Moody assisted with the preparation of the lifeboats and assisted with the loading of numerous lifeboats on both the port and starboard side. At around 1:40 sixth officer Moody was seen assisting the loading of lifeboat number 13 on A-deck (although not identified by name) by lookout Reginald Robinson Lee (who gave a near perfect description of the physical appearance to Moody), fireman George William Beauchamp and second class passenger Ruth Elizabeth Becker. Lifeboat number 13 was lowered successfully down at 1:40 however the problems of the occupants wasn’t over then since lifeboat number 15 was nearly lowered on top of the lifeboat. However this sighting would be among one of the last sightings of sixth officer Moody before he was seen back on the boat deck again, while assisting to put Collapsible Engelhardt lifeboat A in the davits, by lamp trimmer Samuel Ernest Hemming at around 2:10. There’s a near 30 minute gap between his second last sighting and the last sighting of the Titanic sixth officer before his death.


This raises the question “Where was sixth officer James Paul Moody between 1:41 and 2:10?”


Based on what happened in between there are a few possible things that he could have done during the evacuation, but these are only theories.


I hope you all had a happy new years eve and I wish you all a happy new year. 2021 was the worst year of my life due a lot of personal tragedies, including the disappearance of my beloved ex-girlfriend Kate who’s company I sincerely miss every second that I walk upon the earth.


Yours sincerely,



Thomas
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
Going by my working out of Bill Wormstedt's re-evaluation, after helping to lower Lifeboat #14 at about 01:24 am, Moody crossed over to the starboard side. By then Murdoch had almost completed loading of Lifeboat #9 and McElroy had started loading Lifeboat #11. So, Moody went to supervise getting Lifeboats #13 and #15 for loading.

Murdoch Lowered Lifeboat #9 at about 01:28 am and then supervised completion of loading and launching of Lifeboat #11 a few minutes later. By then there were passengers gathering around #13 and #15 but probably also on A-deck. When Murdoch (and McElroy?) joined Moody, they seemed to have decided to lower the partially loaded #13 to A-deck and two crew members who had helped with the loading - Fireman George Beuchamp and Saloon Steward Alexander Littlejohn were ordered into the boat. After that it is possible that Murdoch went to the A-deck to complete loading of #13, leaving Moody on the boat deck to continue loading #15.

But at some stage Murdoch appears to have left completion of loading Lifeboat #13 to someone and crossed over to the starboard side to supervise loading of Lifeboat #10. That "someone" could have been McElroy or even Boatswain Nichols. Leading Fireman Barrett testified that he arrived on A-deck just as Lifeboat #13 was about to be lowered and found no officer there but met Nichols who ordered Barrett to get into #13 and 'pull an oar'. As he did so, Barrett could hear (but not see) an officer issuing orders on the boat deck above and that could only have been Moody at Lifeboat #15.

Moments later Lifeboat #13 began its slow and jerky descent towards the sea while Moody lowered Lifeboat #15 to the A-deck to complete loading. Lifeboat #15 started to lower probably within 2 minutes of Lifeboat #13 and you know what transpired with the condenser exhaust and #13 being pushed under the descending #15 etc. Because of all that, it would have been at least 01:45 am - probably a few minutes later - by the time Moody ensured that both #13 and #15 had rowed away safely before moving forward,

Then Moody very likely went forward on the starboard side to where Collapsible C was being loaded. He might have helped in its loading in the earlier stages (but no mention of that AFAIK) till Murdoch lowered Lifeboat #10 and arrived to take charge. Afterwards, Murdoch and McElroy seem to be mainly involved with loading and lowering Collapsible C with some probable input from Wilde. Moody certainly got on to the roof of the officer's quarters to try and un-leash Collapsible A, no simple task against the port list and would have taken some time and effort. At some stage he seems to have ordered some equipment to help with freeing Collapsible A. In all probability, Moody was still working with Murdoch when the 'wave' caused by the Titanic's sudden downward lurch at 02:15 am struck them and was knocked overboard.
 
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Thomas Krom

Thomas Krom

Member
Then Moody very likely went forward on the starboard side to where Collapsible C was being loaded. He might have helped in its loading in the earlier stages (but no mention of that AFAIK) till Murdoch lowered Lifeboat #10 and arrived to take charge.
I personally theorized that first officer Murdoch perhaps ordered sixth officer Moody, along with a few able bodies seamen, to prepare collapsible Engelhardt lifeboat C to save time since it the procedure to prepare them would have costed vital minutes. When Murdoch would have lowered lifeboat number 10 he could load collapsible Engelhardt lifeboat C right away upon his arrival. However, this is only a theory.

The other possibility is that he assisted Murdoch on A-deck with the loading and lowering of lifeboat number 10, however seen he had quite a few other high ranked crewmembers to do so it seems less likely than the theory above.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
Yes, a lot of things regarding movements of officers during lifeboat preparation, loading and launching that night has to subject to educated guesses based on survivor statements. That would be especially true of Wilde, Murdoch and Moody since none of that trio survived. So, any scenario we try to reconstruct will have to be based on "which survivor saw which officer where and at what time" etc. Added difficulties would be that certain crew members were familiar with the officers while others were not; to top it all, in the later stages the decks were dark and crowded with people wanting to find places in lifeboats for themselves when it became obvious that there was not a great deal of time left.

I think their relative positions when Murdoch left the starboard side temporarily to cross over to port side to attend to Lifeboat #10 is important. IMO, it must have happened around 01:38 am at which time Lifeboat #13 was lowered to the A-deck for further loading while Lifeboat #15 was still on the boat deck. At that stage, Moody was attending to #15 while Murdoch probably had gone down to the A-deck and was completing the loading of #13 when he left to to to the port side.

IMO, for Murdoch to leave a lifeboat almost ready to be lowered, he must have delegated that responsibility to someone experienced and reliable. It could not have been Moody, who was still on the boat deck with #15; it might have been McElroy who spent almost all his time on the starboard side but more likely it was Boatswain Nichols. As mentioned, evidence of Leading Fireman Barrett is key here - he arrived on the A-deck just before Lifeboat #13 was lowered and saw no officer there but heard one above on the boat deck (Moody); but Barrett saw Nichols who ordered him into #13 just as it started to lower.

That is the reason that one of the very few points that I doubt about Brad Payne's excellent article about Alfred Nichols' fate is his conjecture that Nichols could have been one of the scouts sent out to fetch more passengers for #13 and especially #15. That is based on the fact that Saloon Steward Alexander Littlejohn, who was on the Olympic and so familiar with Nichols, did not report seeing Nichols even though he (Littlejohn) was on Lifeboat #13. I think that's because Littlejohn simply missed seeing Nichols on the dark, crowded and noisy decks at a time when most people would have survival chances on their minds. IMO, that scout leader was McElroy and Nichols took over from Murdoch when the latter crossed over.

From what I read about various survivor accounts, the descent of Lifeboat #13 was slow and jerky, further hampered by the on-board crew's attempts to avoid being swamped by the condenser exhaust. Meanwhile, Moody had lowered Lifeboat #15 to the A-deck to take on more passengers - those who were unable to get on #13 plus any more who had arrived there. By the time those were loaded and #15 started to be lowered, it was probably after 01:41 am - more like between 01:43 am and 01:44 am. In other words , I think there were at least 2 minutes - maybe a 30 to 40 seconds more - between lowering orders of #13 and #15; but since Lifeboat #13 was having difficulties with the condenser exhaust even after it reached the sea surface and the releasing pins of the falls were jammed, Lifeboat #15 almost came down on top of them. Barrett had to climb over a few passengers to cut the falls with his knife to free Lifeboat #13 so that it could row out from under #15.

At some stage, Moody and the others above would have realized that a near-disaster had just been avoided. Therefore, it seems logical to me that Moody stuck around for a minute or two more to ensure that both lifeboats rowed away safely before moving forwards.

I personally theorized that first officer Murdoch perhaps ordered sixth officer Moody, along with a few able bodies seamen, to prepare collapsible Engelhardt lifeboat C to save time since it the procedure to prepare them would have costed vital minutes. When Murdoch would have lowered lifeboat number 10 he could load collapsible Engelhardt lifeboat C right away upon his arrival. However, this is only a theory.
That is possible, but if Murdoch had done so it must have been just after Lifeboat #13 was lowered to the A-deck to complete its loading. If by then Murdoch had realized that he would be needed to supervise loading of Lifeboat #10 on the port side, he would have issued a set of instructions to Moody, Nichols and probably McElroy and one of them could have been for Moody (and perhaps McElroy) to start getting Collapsible C ready as soon as they were done with #13 and #15. Murdoch lowered Lifeboat #10 at 01:50 am and then went across and forwards to where Collapsible C was being loaded; he took over with McElroy helping (the latter seen by Jack Thayer) and Moody then climbed to the roof of the Officer's quarters with some crew members to unlash Collapsible A. That would have been a difficult and time-consuming task because of the port list and any attempt to move the heavy collapsible to the boat deck would have meant pushing or dragging it uphill.

Finally, there was another - IMO very important point - at play in the latter stages of the sinking. That is, if a survivor reported that they saw someone else that they recognized (like Barrett and Nichols near Lifeboat #13), that statement could be significant evidence. However, if a survivor did NOT report a person who we think was there and the survivor should have been familiar with, it does not necessarily mean that the other person was not there. After about 01:30 am most people would have been concerned about their own chances of survival than seeing (and later recalling) who was doing what where and when.
 
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Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
Another reason why I feel that McElroy would have been the "scout leader" going out to muster more passengers for #13 and #15 is that the Chief Purser had been busy since early in the collision doing exactly that - encouraging passengers to wear their life vests and go to the boat deck. Eleanor Cassebeer saw him fairly early on standing near the Grand Staircase on B-deck urging on passengers to follow orders. He instructed Bedroom Stewards Etches & Wheat to round-up their passengers to direct them to the boat deck. McElroy was also seen by saloon Steward Ward near Lifeboat #7 as it was loaded, encouraging passengers to board. Praised the Countess of Rothes on her way to Lifeboat #6 for not asking for her jewelry like some other First Class women had etc. In other words, McElroy was likely to have taken the responsibility for finding more passengers for #13 and #15 at later stages.

But of Moody was still with Lifeboat #15 on the boat deck and McElroy was out looking for more passengers for the lifeboats, Murdoch had to delegate responsibility of lowering Lifeboat #13 to someone else before he crossed to the port side and Lifeboat #10. It must have been Nichols, who was seen by Barrett who arrived after Murdoch left (Barrett saw no officer on the A-deck near #13), just as it was about to be lowered. Boatswain Nichols ordered Barrett into #13 and row.

I do not doubt Barrett's statement because he had no reason to fabricate such a story 2 weeks after the disaster. The Ulster Echo reporter probably did not know Boatswain Nichols from Adam and in any case, with so many people dying in the disaster Barrett's statement about seeing Nichols would have merited little attention till decades later.
 
Thomas Krom

Thomas Krom

Member
But of Moody was still with Lifeboat #15 on the boat deck .
I do agree with nearly everything except for this statement, sixth officer Moody was seen on A-deck by lookout Reginald Lee:

2523. Get them ready for lowering?
- Yes. They were lowered on to A deck; that is where the passengers were put in, and from there they were lowered into the water.

2524. Your Lordship, we need not go in detail through this story again; we have had it already. Then you got to No. 13 boat. No. 11 boat ought to have been your boat; that was your station?
- Yes.

2525. Why did not you get into that?
- Because she was full up, and I went on to the next one.

2526. Did you get any order about that?
- No, but I did not want to make a jump for it, and I went on to the next boat because there was scarcely anybody in that boat.

2527. You mean there was scarcely anybody in No. 13 boat?
- Yes. Mr. ---- , I cannot tell you what his name is - a tall Officer, about 6 feet in height, fresh complexion - I forget his name; I could not remember his name - he was there attending to passing the passengers into the boats.

2528. Was it Mr. Wilde, the Chief Officer?
- No, He is about the Sixth Officer, or the Fifth Officer.

2529. At any rate, he was a very tall man, according to you?
- Yes, tall and spare. I think he was drowned.

2530. Then what did you do?
- We put some women and children into the boat, and then there were some passengers got in, and I was ordered by him to get in the boat and we lowered away; and then No. 15 very nearly came on top of us.


The description Lee gives of the officer ("a tall officer, about 6 feet in height, fresh complexion", "He is about the Sixth Officer, or the Fifth Officer.") could have only been sixth officer Moody. Sixth officer Moody was described as being 5'11", clean-shaven and having a fair complexion.

I don't believe Lee confused this officer for purser McElroy (who was 5'10", had dark brown hair and wasn't an officer, this doesn't however mean that he wasn't there) or boatswain Nichols (who also had dark brown hair and wore a slightly different uniform compared to the officers, he was wearing a blue navy cap, blue jacket, with six company’s buttons and anchor on the left sleeve)
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
I agree that Lee was referring to Moody and no one else. But considering that Lee was giving that bit of evidence at the British Inquiry on 8th May 1912, almost 4 weeks after the disaster, a slight confusion with decks is possible. Moreover, look at the line of questioning and Lee's answers.

Yes, in 2523, Lee does admit that Lifeboat #13 was lowered to the A-deck for further loading. We already know that for a fact.

But it does not follow that his answers to the immediately following questions were in chronological order to 2523; in fact, the questions themselves suggest otherwise. 2524 and 2525 relate to the timeframe a few minutes before, when Lee was unable to find a place on Lifeboat #11 and moved to #13. Since lifeboat #11 was lowered from the boat deck, Lee's answer suggests that he went to Lifeboat #13 while it was still on the boat deck, not many people in it and Moody directing operations (2526 & 2527). Lee likely reached Lifeboat #13 a minute or so ahead of Murdoch (who would have waited to ensure the heavily loaded #11 reached the water safely before moving aft), and so from Lee's perspective, it would have been Moody in charge of #13 at that stage. Moody might have then ordered Lee to help with the loading and then to get in himself before it was lowered to the A-deck for further loading.

Therefore, I think that Lee's answers from 2524 to 2527 refer to his encounter with Moody near Lifeboat #13 on the boat deck in its earlier stages of loading. Lee does not specifically say that Moody came down to the A-deck and I believe Lee was already in the partially loaded #13 when it was lowered to the A-deck (as in 2523; although Lee does not specify that he was in #13 when it was lowered, IMO it is likely). More likely it was Murdoch who went down to the A-deck before he was called away to take charge of #10, leaving IMO Nichols in charge of completion of loading and lowering Lifeboat #13.

Of course, one might argue that when Murdoch arrived aft after lowering Lifeboat #11, it was he who remained on the boat deck with #15 while Moody went down to the A-deck when #13 was lowered, in which case your conjecture would be possible. BUT, two things are against that possibility: First, it was Murdoch and not Moody who left to cross over to the port side to attend to Lifeboat #10. Second, when Barrett arrived on the A-deck just as Lifeboat #13 was about to be lowered, he saw no officer there but Boatswain Nichols (whom Barrett confirmed he knew well) who ordered Barrett into #13 to help with the rowing. While that was going on, Barrett could hear (but not see) an Officer giving orders above on the boat deck, where Lifeboat #15 was still being loaded. That could only have been Moody because Nichols' presence on A-deck and in charge of lowering #13 strongly indicates that Murdoch had already left for the port side.
 
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