William M Murdoch What Happened


Inger Sheil

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I think the chances of recovery very slim indeed, Tammy, (virtually non-existent) which is why I included that slight possibility as a bracketed aside and reference to one of ET's catchphrases. That line has even appeared in sites pilfering ET's content.
 

Bob Godfrey

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The undertakers on the Mackay-Bennett were expert embalmers but could not be expected to be experts in forensics. They often had problems identifying uniforms, for instance. One body, buried at sea as 'unidentified' but later thought to be that of Chief Purser McElroy, was described as wearing a 'ship's uniform;white jacket', while the body of his clerk was listed as wearing a 'double-breasted officer's uniform'. And what if Lightoller had died - would his body, dressed in pyjamas, trousers and sweater, have been identified as that of an officer? (It might be hard to imagine, Tom, but he had indeed discarded his bridge coat before taking the plunge).

A final thought is that even bodies carrying documents like letters to or from relatives, complete with names and addresses, were often listed as 'unidentified' before burial at sea.
 

Inger Sheil

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A valid point, Bob, and one always worth bearing in mind (and a good reason for the wording of the standard ET line re if recovered/never identified). The failure to initially identify McElroy has been discussed before - given the uniform, the keys tagged "Linen Locker No. 1 C Deck", and an address for Miss McElroy, Layton, Spottisbury, Dorset found on the body, it seems remarkable to us now that the body wasn't immediately identified. As Bob points out, however, the men were not really equipped with, say, a database they could cross check this information against. One wonders what information they had on the crew - if it was indeed McElroy, wouldn't the name, the uniform and the letter suggest to them, if they had a crewlist, that they might be looking at the chief purser? McElroy's attire when found has also been the subject of some discussion and comment. I would like to see a somewhat more detailed description of the white uniform jacket he was wearing.

In running through the descriptions of those found and what effects they had on them, none seems to immediately suggest itself as being one of the three lost senior deck officers (four if we include Smith), but there is always that slim possibility.

Moody and Murdoch had been on watch, so would have been wearing their uniforms. There is, one supposes, that slight chance that they had removed their jackets towards the end while working at the last of the of the boats, although there is no indication of this in the data that is extant. One wonders what Wilde was wearing, as he wasn't due to come on watch for some time after the collision. Lightoller didn't take the time to dress fully, but Lowe (who woke so much later) took the time to throw on his uniform.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Inger, I think it's quite possible that Murdoch and/or Moody removed their bridge coats for the same reason as Lightoller, but I agree that they would not have shed their jackets - they didn't have the benefit of Light's sweater! Wilde, on the other hand, could well have entered the water, like Lightoller, with no means of identification.

I've never been convinced that body No 157 was McElroy. More likely a more junior member of the victualling staff carrying a letter he'd been asked to consign to the mailbox at some stage prior to the collision. It's possible McElroy could have worn a white coat to make him more visible on deck, but why on earth would he be carrying the keys to a linen locker? And there's the estimated age (32) - the sea often 'aged' bodies, but was unlikely to provide them with the bloom of youth. Or, as an outside possibility, could it have been Dr Simpson in his working clothes (white coat over his uniform) and carrying a last letter hastily written by McElroy to be delivered in the event of his survival. Has anyone seen the content of that letter?
 

Bob Godfrey

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Looking again at the list of effects, it looks like body No 157 was carrying not a letter but a piece of paper with a name and address written on it. To my mind, that suggests something provided by McElroy as a means for somebody else to make contact with his family in the event of his death.
 
Feb 21, 2003
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Back to that mysterious bawling New York woman who showed at the hearing. Could her name have been Mary McAllister, b. 27, May 1909? And if--does anyone know anything about her personal background?



Tammy
 

Bob Godfrey

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Mary McAllister, who was born on that date, was a child star of silent movies in the 1920's, Tammy. At the time of the Titanic inquiry she was 3 years old - if it was her, that could explain why she was bawling!
 
Feb 21, 2003
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Is that right, Bob!?! Well, holy moley!!! I didn't know that, I really didn't...and neither did someone else I know either. So this 3-year-old Mary McAllister didn't really know Will Murdoch from Adam, then...did she? Thanks sooo much for telling me.
smile.gif



Tammy
 

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