Women and children first


Jul 9, 2000
58,666
880
563
Easley South Carolina
>>I don't know if this has been brought up before,<<

It has been in one context or another several timrs.

>> but how many men here would stand back and adhere to that rule?

I can't speak for anyone but myself, but I would hope that I would be up to the test if it ever came. I just hope it never does.
 

Noel F. Jones

Member
May 14, 2002
857
6
183
In the context of present-day emergency ship evacuation the question should not arise.

All personnel, passengers and crew, should deploy to their pre-allocated emergency and boat stations. In the event the ship's boats and floats are depleted due to accident damage it is incumbent upon the officers and crew to direct the passengers to the reserve flotation devices.

The rule is passengers first, then sick and injured, then disengaged crew members. Officers, in all departments, come last other than those sent away to manage boats etc.

I've never been put to the (extreme) test but it can only be hoped that one aquits oneself accordingly.

Noel
 
M

michelle rowlett

Guest
Hi everyone, i would never expect a man to give up his chance of survival, just to save my life. But for the men who dont do " Gallantry" i say hear hear for the men of 1912 that did !!
 

Pam Kennedy

Member
Oct 24, 2005
64
2
158
It would be fascinating if we could hear the response of men who lived during the Edwardian years ... as well as those up to World War II. Our attitudes and values regarding gender have changed so dramatically.

I agree with Marilyn (yeah, Ryan, I know I'm not a bloke, so maybe my opine doesn't count!) ... definitely mothers and children first. The myth of the weaker sex has long faded into history, thank God, and women must therefore take the good and the bad implications that resulted.
 

Richard Otter

Member
Mar 5, 2005
26
1
143
UK
I would like to think that if the terrible day comes, I would be able to put children and their parents first. Would I be able to do a Thomas Andrews? As me now no, but as him back in 1912 then that would be another question.

I pray to my maker that I am never in a position to be put to such a test.
 

Brian Ahern

Member
Dec 19, 2002
645
7
183
I agree with you, Michelle, in lauding those back in 1912, who enforced women and children first. But 1912 was different.

The Titanic was pointed to by those who were against the women's movement with sneering sayings like "Remember the Titanic" and "Votes for women? You mean boats for women!" I've always thought that the feminists of 1912 should have responded by pointing out that women did not have access to the world of commerce and government that owned and profited from the Titanic and that determined safety regulations and ran the ship. And so there was a certain justice in women being the first ones excused from the situation (so to speak) when things went wrong.

This reply, of course, would have been factoring out the human-ness of the tragedy and reducing it to pretty stark terms; but it wasn't the feminists who brought it into the political forum to begin with (except for some who criticized the women survivors who took advantage of the rule).
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,666
880
563
Easley South Carolina
If I recall correctly, there were feminists in that day who were asked about the women and children first issue and what to make of that. At least one responded that if she had been the one making the decisions, she would have made sure the ship had enough boats.
 
Jul 12, 2003
500
4
183
I wasn't wearing my glasses when I logged onto my e-mail today. So when I saw the the topic "Women and Children First" in the Titanic folder I created, I thought it said "Women and Chickens First". Just a little giggle.
 
Feb 24, 2004
907
3
183
(Off-topic.)

Deborah, the same thing happens to me all the time. Yesterday, I was looking (with my glasses on) at a wall of posters that usually advertises arts events and I saw one I thought read:

LEARN TO BECOME A MASTER COMPOSER

"How in the H are they going to teach anybody to be THAT???" - I wondered out loud.

It actually read: LEARN TO BECOME A MASTER COMPOSTER.

Aarrgh!
 
Feb 24, 2004
907
3
183
>>I pray to my maker that I am never in a position to be put to such a test.

There's a song in the stage musical "Brigadoon" titled, "There But For You Go I."

Roy
 

Arun Vajpey

Member
Jul 8, 1999
2,594
982
388
65
Women & Children: First or only?

I have to say right away that my line of reasoning might be distasteful to some but it does deal with cold facts, leaving it to the individual what to make out of it. And since this is not about any technical issue about the collision or sinking, I believe anyone is entitled to offer an opinion.

Reading one of the recent Titanic books, I came across the writer's opinion that First Officer Murdoch, by his logical and sensible plan of allowing women & children first and then men if there were spaces available in the starboard lifeboats, saved around a 100 men's lives. This is something that I have always believed and in a recent e-mail, a well known Swedish Titanic author expressed a similar sentiment.

But while considering this scenario, one cannot fail to compare it with what happened on the port side, where Second Officer Lightoller was in charge for the most part. As is well known, Lightoller rigidly (and IMO rather stupidly) stuck to a rule "women & children only" and refused to allow men even when there were plenty of seats and no more women or children in the vicinity. One way of looking at this is that an unknown number of men - probably 60 to 70 - died on the Titanic that night because Lightoller did not allow them places on lifeboats even when there were spaces.

While considering and comparing those situations, one is also reminded of the fact that Murdoch was lost and Lightoller survived.

The situation might not be as straightforward as I have put it, but at the same time it is not that complicated either. Thinking about it, people might draw their own conclusions.
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,666
880
563
Easley South Carolina
>>While considering and comparing those situations, one is also reminded of the fact that Murdoch was lost and Lightoller survived.<<

That much is true, but don't forget that niether got into a boat before the ship sank. Both took their chances. Lightoller didn't get onto the upturned collapsible after he went into the water but Murdoch wasn't as lucky.
 

Arun Vajpey

Member
Jul 8, 1999
2,594
982
388
65
Just to illustrate my point. One 2nd class passanger, Dagmar Bryhl, was loaded into Lifeboat #12 and at the time her fiancée, brother and two more men were standing by the boat but Lightoller refused them to enter. He lowered the boat, there were 28 people in it (room for 65) and the four men died (My source: TITANIC by Claes-Goran Wetterholm).

Of course, this particular chain of events can be interpreted in different ways depending upon one's perspective but the facts remain. As we are aware, the ET site has the full story from Rockford Daily Register and the events are also described in ON A SEA OF GLASS (but very creditably, without the slightest implication by the authors).
 

Adam Went

Member
Apr 28, 2003
1,194
14
233
Hi all,

Topic for the month:

Was the "women and children first" stance enforced too rigidly on Titanic? Was it a good rule of thumb in the first place and would it have made a significant difference to the number of lives lost if all and sundry were allowed to board the lifeboats, given the preference of the crew to not 'overfilling' the boats, especially early on? Would there have been more Ismay-esque instances in the aftermath where male survivors were criticised for leaving the ship while women and children remained on board?

Fire away!

Cheers,
Adam.

P.S. I should add that unfortunately my ability to contribute regularly to this and other topics on the forum may be further reduced in the near future. I am in the process of completing my studies at university and transitioning into the next phase of life beyond that. I do hope to remain active on here (and certainly on the Facebook page / social media side of things) but I thought I should give everyone the heads up - if there is somebody who would like to take over these topics as of next month then they are more than welcome to do so.
 

Jules934

Member
Aug 13, 2015
15
1
31
Chicago Area, USA
It seems to me that there were two different lifeboat-loading "environments" that night. Starboard, Mr. Murdoch loaded women first and filled his boats with men when all the women were seated. Port, Mr. Lightoller was able to load women only -- there was never a time when the women were all seated; never a time when room remained for men.

It seems to me that there many more passengers -- many more men and women -- congregated on the Port side where it seemed safer. Titanic was listing and that was the high side. Orders were passed for passengers to move to Port to counteract the list.

Being that there were enough total lifeboat seats to accommodate more than the woman and children, perhaps the saddest thing is that there was not enough coordination available even to see that lifeboat loading was balanced across the ship.

IMHO, The "Women and Children ONLY" tag has been most unfairly awarded.
 
Nov 13, 2014
337
40
93
Belgium
Don't forget Titanic's list changed at 1:00 A.M. After that, the STARBOARD side became the higher and safer side.
I never heard before that the passengers had to counteract the starboard list. According to ANTR, Wilde ordered at 1:40 A.M. for everyone to move to STARBOARD to 'straighten her up', which means counteract the port list.

There were indeed two different lifeboat-loading "environments" that night. But in the early stages, all lifeboats were lowered underfilled, port and starboard (just think about lifeboat 1).

Jules, do you really think the women and children ONLY tag was most unfairly awarded? Then what about the two last lifeboats at port side, boats 4 & D. JJ Astor was denied access to boat 4, and the 13-year old Jack Ryerson was almost held back too. And at boat D, the crewmen formed a ring to hold back the men. Only women and children were let through.
 

B-rad

Member
Jul 1, 2015
609
214
108
39
Tacoma, WA
I personally believe that the evacuation of Titanic was poorly executed and organized. It is the responsibility of the crew to save all passengers regardless of gender or age. I understand that Edwardian society held social beliefs that we do not necessarily hold today. To die so that no woman or child does, is honorable, up to an extent. I say up to an extent, because to needlessly increase the death toll, by refusing seats to anyone when there is enough room, seems to me like a needless sacrifice. It's one thing to volunteer to stay on board, and to 'go down like gentlemen', but its another to readily hold fast to the Birkenhead rule when your sending boats out not fully loaded. If I was Captain Smith I would be infuriated if I saw boats in the water not full, considering he knew the extent of Titanic's damage.

Any attempt to load boats from the water, as was on of the excuses for some of the not full boats, obviously was never taken seriously. Even if the boatswain did go below and perished in his attempt to open gangway doors, there doesn't seem to be a point where Lightoller or anyone else was to worried that the doors were not opened. If I really wanted the boats to be loaded from the water, due to fear that they might buckle, and the gangway doors were not opened, I'd personally go and open one or more, telling another Officer (which would require possibly not sending one off into a lifeboat) to take charge, as the need to save lives (again regardless of age or gender) is of the utmost priority.

But this is all hindsight. I do believe that the people on Titanic, regardless of how poorly executed or organized the evacuation was, did the best they thought they could do in the situation. Obviously I have never been in their shoes, nor do I hope to ever be. I don't think there was any malicious thoughts or actions on the crew's part, I just think that they were never trained properly in evacuation procedures.
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
6,660
1,395
323
NewtonMearns, Glasgow, Scotland.
Hello B-Rad!

You write:

"I personally believe that the evacuation of Titanic was poorly executed and organized"

On what do you base your belief?

"If I was Captain Smith I would be infuriated if I saw boats in the water not full, considering he knew the extent of Titanic's damage."

Look at it another way. If you were Captain Smith and saw a boat overloaded or fully loaded being lowered un evenly; what would your actions be?

" I'd personally go and open one or more, [ gangway door]telling another Officer (which would require possibly not sending one off into a lifeboat) to take charge,"

If you did so, you would desert your post since your post was on the boat deck in an overall supervising role.

"But this is all hindsight. I do believe that the people on Titanic, regardless of how poorly executed or organized the evacuation was, did the best they thought they could do in the situation. Obviously I have never been in their shoes, nor do I hope to ever be.

So true regarding hindsight but certainly not regarding the organisation or actions of the crew.

" I don't think there was any malicious thoughts or actions on the crew's part, I just think that they were never trained properly in evacuation procedures."


All of Titanic's deck crew were very highly trained; many were Ex Navy, some would also be reservists. As such they trained ad-nauseum. With but a single mishap, the speed with which the boats were loaded and launched bears witness to this.
Almost to a man, they would have been originally trained in the use of radial davits. Titanic was fitted with the latest type yet they were activated flawlessly.

If we are to believe the evidence of Major Peuchin and Col Gracie, the crew- men acted with perfect discipline.

Evacuation procedures is a modern concept and goes hand-in-hand with terms such as bridge management team. You must remember that in 1912, as it was up until after WW2; it is highly likely that those following a sea faring career were very well versed in abandon-ship procedures. Many would have had to have taken part in leaving a ship while at sea... some more than once. I had a friend who did that very same 4 times within 48 hours. Practice makes perfect!

Jim C.
 

B-rad

Member
Jul 1, 2015
609
214
108
39
Tacoma, WA
Very good points Jim, as always!

There are a couple of things I base it on. One being the fact that their was a miss understanding as what women and children first meant. The other is in the fact that passengers had to find and pick & choose their own lifeboats. Obviously their wasn't enough lifeboats for everyone, but I don't think passengers should have to wonder the deck in hope of finding escape. (Of course after Titanic assigned lifeboats occurred, so once again I'm playing the hindsight game :? )

If I was Captain Smith & saw lifeboats being to full also being lowered unevenly, I'd probably be infuriated to. Unfortunately though more were sent away less filled than anything else. Apparently this is a no win situation. Maybe I'm just an angry captain?

True about deserting your station, and I put some thought into that after I posted my original post. I was trying to think of a better solution, but besides sending someone else (which would have been just as bad as help was already becoming short), I do not believe there is one.

I agree that the crew did the very best they could. Many things came out of the sinking of Titanic and other post events. We're still learning. For example after Titanic lifeboat drills became mandatory. After the Concordia, they became one of the first things you do before leaving port.

Once again thanks for the pointers.
 

Similar threads

Similar threads