Why Lightoller left the sea


Charlene

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I've been curious about this. Why he left the sea? He would have taken a new job as officer in another company, like Lord, and maybe he would have been named captain finally. Or maybe he considered that is name was too well known for that? Or maybe he missed his family?
 
May 3, 2005
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Speaking from personal experience , my reason for "leaving the sea" was the same as the last one in your list.
I only served four years in the U.S. Navy and probably would have been eligible for promotion to Chief Petty Officer in another three years but I didn't re-enlist because I just wanted to be home again.
 
May 3, 2005
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Just an aside on my previous post on my situation.:
When my promotion was read out at a meeting where the whole crew of that ship were present on that ship, I heard there were rumors of grumblings from some of the "old timers" in other divisions on that ship. :
"He just made First Class."
"He could be Chief in another three years !"
"But I heard he isn't going to re-enlist ! ? "
" Why in the xxxxxxxxxx (deleted by censor ) isn't he going to re-enlist !!!!!!! ? "
Just about everyone either made First Class or were eligible for promotion in four years on that division on that ship.
And the re-enlistment rate on that division on that ship in that navy , was , and had always been, Zero Per Cent.
 
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May 3, 2005
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I've been curious about this. Why he left the sea? He would have taken a new job as officer in another company, like Lord, and maybe he would have been named captain finally. Or maybe he considered that is name was too well known for that? Or maybe he missed his family?
I have seen some comments that there was such a stigma attached to the Titanic tragedy that no surviving officer would have had a chance for further advancement or even employment .
 
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Aly Jones

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I've been curious about this. Why he left the sea? He would have taken a new job as officer in another company, like Lord, and maybe he would have been named captain finally. Or maybe he considered that is name was too well known for that? Or maybe he missed his family?
I know inger sheil and dan parkes will know this answer.
 
May 3, 2005
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I know inger sheil and dan parkes will know this answer.
Hopefully.
They will know the answer.
I'm just guessing. ?

This may be a little off-topic.
I am also curious about the Marconi Operators .
Not just Bride, Cottam and Evans, but all others.
Did any of them stay at their jobs and go on to higher positions ?
Or did they "leave the sea" ?
 
May 3, 2005
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Since this is a discussion forum, I hope I'm not braking or bending the rules too much. :)
My questions :
(1) Would you say the question of "leaving the sea" is more or less of a question for the Merchant Marine or the Navy ?
(2) If in the Navy, same question.... Officers or Enlisted Men ?
(3) If in the Navy , same question...... Among different Specialist Ratings ?
(4) Of course Questions (2) and (3) could apply to similar persons in the Navy OR the Merchant Marine ?
 
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I was thinking of my own experience in the Navy.
Officers were mostly "Career" persons.
Most Enlisted men in for only 4 years, but there were some "career" and also depends on different Ratings and Rates.

I was thinking , too , about the merchant marine..... rather they would be more of the career type and the question of "leaving the sea" would be something they normally would have not given a thought about it.
 

Julian Atkins

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Hello 'Mrf',


I think this provides some of the 'info' you are after.

There is a lot more detail on threads in this wonderful forum going back some 20 years or so; it is all there, but don't expect me to remember particular thread.

Cheers,

Julian
 
May 3, 2005
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Hello 'Mrf',


I think this provides some of the 'info' you are after.

There is a lot more detail on threads in this wonderful forum going back some 20 years or so; it is all there, but don't expect me to remember particular thread.

Cheers,

Julian
Thanks, Julian for the information on Lightoller, especially the years after the Titanic disaster.
I think that one of the main reasons that Lightoller " left the sea " was because he realized that he would never be captain with White Star because " White Star wanted to forget Titanic and those connected with her...None of the other surviving officers ever became captains..."
 
Nov 14, 2005
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Thanks, Julian for the information on Lightoller, especially the years after the Titanic disaster.
I think that one of the main reasons that Lightoller " left the sea " was because he realized that he would never be captain with White Star because " White Star wanted to forget Titanic and those connected with her...None of the other surviving officers ever became captains..."
I never really looked into it but how many went to different shipping lines? You would think some of the smaller lines like Blue and Red Star line would have picked them up.
 
May 3, 2005
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Just an aside on my previous post on my situation.:
When my promotion was read out at a meeting where the whole crew of that ship were present on that ship, I heard there were rumors of grumblings from some of the "old timers" in other divisions on that ship. :
"He just made First Class."
"He could be Chief in another three years !"
"But I heard he isn't going to re-enlist ! ? "
" Why in the xxxxxxxxxx (deleted by censor ) isn't he going to re-enlist !!!!!!! ? "
Just about everyone either made First Class or were eligible for promotion in four years on that division on that ship.
And the re-enlistment rate on that division on that ship in that navy , was , and had always been, Zero Per Cent.
Old " Navy Joke " :)
" I'd rather be a PFC ( Poor Foolish Civilian ) than an ETC ( Electronic Technician Chief Petty Officer).". LOL
 
May 3, 2005
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I never really looked into it but how many went to different shipping lines? You would think some of the smaller lines like Blue and Red Star line would have picked them up.
Interesting point, Steven-
I never really looked into it either. Is their some information somewhere about how the other surviving officers faired....Did they go on to some other lines ? ....Did the article infer that they never became captains with White Star or that they never became captains....period....with any other lines?
 

Julian Atkins

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Interesting point, Steven-
I never really looked into it either. Is their some information somewhere about how the other surviving officers faired....Did they go on to some other lines ? ....Did the article infer that they never became captains with White Star or that they never became captains....period....with any other lines?

I think there is pretty clear evidence of Lightoller and Boxhall taking command during WW1 in the RN reserve. Rostron went on to have a glorious career, as did his second officer Bissett from Carpathia days. Captain Lord went to the Latta Line after being forced to resign from Leyland Line, and plodded away in WW1 commanding ships - without Lightoller's 'swashbuckling' with an 'E' boat, that has never quite been resolved.

You can imagine Boxhall and Lightoller taking command in WW1, then being denied promotion with the White Star Line, yet having to keep on with the White Star Line because in those days you needed the company pension to secure you when you retired.

Groves got a command and did very well after Titanic after WW1, as did Captain Lord after a brief hiatus. Stewart also got a command.

Stone and Gibson did not.

Read into that what you will.

Cheers,

Julian
 

Stephen Carey

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Regarding promotion to Master of a merchant vessel in the British Merchant Navy, a few words - too many probably!
As a Deck Officer it was by no means certain that you would get a Master's job, especially on passenger ships as it was more "Dead Men's Shoes" than in cargo ships. Even though all Titanic's Deck Officers had Master's tickets in Sail as well as Steam, the 3rd, 4th and 5th Officers had a long way to go.
The Engineers were not officers at the time as far as I know, because they still had better terms and conditions - 4 hour watches, better food and better pay. I'm not sure when they "became officers" but they didn't gain anything other than a bit of gold braid, whereas the Deck Officers got the same hours of work, food and pay as the Engineers. Bad deal really... I can't find anything on the web as to the actual date. Promotion was also subject to supply and demand. When I went to sea as an Engineer Cadet, the service was so short of engineers with tickets that I sailed with Chief and Second engineers who had "dispensation" to sail in the rank. This was a piece of paper to show that they had a modicum of knowledge over and above their substantive rank of 3rd Engineer - the highest rank in those days without a ticket. That was my second attempt at the MN in 1969, with my first attempt with British India in 1964. Whilst this was only 5 years earlier, in BI all the engineers had Chief's tickets but you wouldn't get to Chief until you were in your early 50s at best. Many never got the tickets anyway and stayed as "Professional Thirds".
This changed again when I got my 2nds ticket and immediately went 2nd. 4 years later and with a shiny new Chief's ticket in my hand the company (Canadian Pacific) apologised profusely that they couldn't give me a Chief's job as yet because 2nds were rarer than hen's teeth. They paid me the full rate though! I got another offer from another company who were short of Chiefs, told CP and they immediately promoted me to avoid losing this valued creature...
I sailed with many mates and engineers who hadn't managed to get any further in their tickets as it was a bit harder in those days; if you failed even one of the myriad exams - writtens or orals - the rest went in the bin and you had to "take 3 months" seatime before you came up and wasted the Examiners' time again.
Some in fact didn't want the responsibility of higher rank, and I sailed with a 5th engineer who had been in the rank for ages. He was very competent but when I asked him why he hadn't been promoted, he said "If I was a truck driver I'd be a truck driver. I wouldn't advance through 4th, 3rd and 2nd truck driver, I'd be a truck driver. I like the varied job as Fiver, don't want the responsibility of higher rank, and the money's good enough for me" Couldn't fault the logic.

Disasters can knock your confidence however, and if your name gets known a la Titanic it could be difficult to get further up the tree, especially to Master. I sailed with the ex Master of the Gothic who was in command when she had the fairly disastrous fire. He did very well in the incident, quite heroic in fact, though when I sailed with him quite a few years later, he was 1st Mate and hadn't managed to get another command. He was very subdued too. A Chief Engineer of around my age (early 30s at the time) had run the ship aground and ripped the bottom out when it lost power coming out of Surabaya, and was censured for it, though he kept his rank. I met him when I relieved him on the ship and he was a changed man compared to the last time I'd seen him. There but for the Grace of God...
 
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My experience was as an enlisted man. Advancement more or less depended on what type of work or "Specialty Rating" you were in.

In comparison, the U.S. Navy was short of Electronic Technicians at that time and promotions were almost automatic to the next higher grade every year. I would have advanced from Seaman Recruit (Enlisted Grade
E-1) to First Class Petty Officer (Enlisted Grade E-6) in a little over four years.

In contrast, one time when I was riding the train from Treasure Island I noticed a Seaman (Enlisted Grade E-3).
He had three gold Seaman stripes on his shoulder and three gold service stripes on his sleeve indicating he had been in the Navy at least twelve years with Good Conduct but had only advanced to SN.

I think the difference between those in the Merchant Marine of those on this website and my experience in the U.S. Navy must be that those in the Merchant Marine really like being at sea, etc.while those in my particular group were just in the Navy because they had to be because of their military service obligation. Also they were ET's because they wanted the training and experience. Most were very consceintous and good technicians but had no intentions of being in the active Navy more than the four year requirements.
 
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Jude

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I haven't been on this forum since 2014 but recieved an email notification and see that there are a few more Lightoller threads, so here I am again. I've just looked up my notes and here is a bit more of what he got up to after the Titanic. This has all come from Light's own "Titanic and Other Ships" and Patrick Stenson's, "Titanic Voyager".


The terrible Titanic ordeal was neither the first nor the last of Light's challenges. During the First World War, only 2 years after Titanic, he was on another White Star Liner, the Oceanic (requisitioned as a naval vessel) when it was grounded on rocks at Scarpa Flow and sunk. (Up till then, most of his misfortunes had been the result of a wrong decision by the captain. On the Oceanic, they had two skippers - one merchant and the other Royal Navy who gave contradictory orders with disastrous results!)



'Lights' next found himself on the first converted "aircraft carrier" the Campania. The little Shorts 184 seaplanes were lowered into the choppy water (with Lightoller as a very reluctant airborne observer of the Dover Patrol) for a hair-raising take-off, which more often than not found an increasingly irritated 'Lights' swimming for his life yet again! He ended up being the very first observer ever to spot enemy ships from the air, but his wireless message was not received and they lost their position and only just made it back as the engine spluttered on empty!



'Lights' was relieved to get away from his short flying career when at Christmas 1915 he was given command of a torpedo boat. In July 1916 he had a close encounter with a Zeppelin and earned himself a Distinguished Service Cross.



Next came shipwreck number 4 while Lightoller was captain of a destroyer, the Falcon, which sunk after an accident in the fog (unfortunately when he was using it to move house and lost every stick of his and Sylvia's furniture!) I have his letter about this experience from the Christian Science Sentinel 31st Aug 1918.



The next ship was a larger destroyer Garry. 'Lights' was now commander of a squadron of four destroyers, guarding the North Sea convoys from U-boat attack. During one spell he escorted six consecutive convoys averaging 40 ships each with only one loss. Thus the nickname "Lucky Lights". In July 1918 he rammed and destroyed a U-Boat earning himself another medal.

New experiences, WWII and Dunkirk

When the First World War ended, it soon became clear that any previous officer of the Titanic was never going to find promotion with the White Star Line and 'Lights' left merchant shipping for good. [I think someone was suggesting this earlier]



Next followed an assortment of new experiences - importing Canadian furs, British political correspondent to The Christian Science Monitor, chicken farming and turning their home into a guesthouse. In 1929 he realised a life's ambition when he bought and converted a motor yacht, which he named Sundowner.

Just before the Second World War started, and he was in his mid-60's, he was sent on a top-secret reconnaissance mission to photograph and sketch the German coastline. Sylvia would sit up on Sundowner's deck knitting or reading a book while 'Lights' was busily working hidden below. Apart from one hairy moment, they accomplished their mission without incident and if Britain had decided to attack Germany from the sea they would have used Lightoller’s plans and photographs.



On June 1st 1940 he set out with his eldest son Roger and a young sea scout to rescue as many stranded soldiers as he could from Dunkirk. Under heavy fire all the way and back, being dive-bombed by enemy aircraft and dodging mines, he succeeded in saving the lives of 127 men in a boat he'd previously only managed to squeeze 21 in before. The Sundowner came back without even a scratch.
 
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