Would Lightoller or Lowe have evicted Ismay


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Catherine S. Ehlers

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J. Bruce Ismay boarded Collapsible C, and if memory serves First Officer Murdoch was in charge of loading boats on that side. Murdoch was tolerant in letting men board the boats when there were no women or children around, moreso than Lightoller. I just got to wondering, what would have been the reaction of Second Officer Lightoller (who sternly enforced the "women and children ONLY" edict throughout the night, permitting only Major Peuchen into Boat 6 because he was a yachtsman) or Fifth Officer Lowe (who proved himself perfectly willing at one point to cuss Ismay out, and also threw several men out of boats) if Ismay had stepped into a lifeboat in front of one of them? Would they have ordered him out? Or even (perish the thought) dragged him out? Would they have made an exception for Ismay, do you think?

Just wondering about this.

Cathy Ehlers
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Honestly don't have a clue. I think Lowe would have, if only because he didn't have any idea at the time who Ismay was. If he had known it might have been a different story. The problem is the usual one of history never revealing it's alterantives. We can know what actually happened, but we can only speculate on what might have been.
 

Bob Godfrey

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We can perhaps speculate on the basis of what happened in the corresponding position on the port side, where Lightoller was active. In his memoirs he suggests that by the time he was dealing with collapsible D he might have finally relaxed his adamant 'women and children only' policy: "As this boat was being lowered, two men passengers jumped into her from the deck below. This, as far as I know was the only instance of men getting away in boats from the port side. I don't blame them, the boat wasn't full, for the simple reason that we couldn't find sufficient women, and there was no time to wait - the water was then actually lapping round their feet on A deck, so they jumped for it and got away. Good luck to them." I don't think it likely, however, that he would have regarded Ismay as a special case and helped him into the boat.
 

Inger Sheil

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Very difficult to determine the answer to this one. Lowe was later reported to have prided himself on having turned first-class men away from the lifeboats, sometimes at gunpoint, but in the early part of the evening, under Murdoch's direction, he had allowed males into the forward starboard boats. If he had been fully cognizant of Ismay's name and position, he might have made an exception - he could be extremely practical when it came to his career. On the other hand, given his particular emotional makeup and response to some of the authority figures he encountered, Ismay's position might have weighed against Lowe letting him in a lifeboat. There was also his particularly strong personal code - whether allowing Ismay into a boat under any circumstances would be consistant with it is something only the man himself could answer.
 
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Jack Coburn

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I was wondering, was Ismay's reputation after the sinking damaged because he simply survived (like that japanese passenger, Masabumi Hosono) or was it because of the way he survived (jumping into a lifeboat while it was being launched because it was women and children only as it was being loaded)?

Jack
 
Jul 12, 2003
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Maybe I am wrong, but wasn't Ismay's position with the White Star Line similar to that of a Caption of a ship as far as "going down with the ship"? I thought I read/heard that somewhere.
 
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Probably Both, Jack. It didn't help when he landed in the US of A to be greeted by a hostile media. Having an enemy (William Randolph Hearst) with the power of the printing press and wide circulation just about gauranteed he'ed be in a lose-lose situation.

Deborah, I know of no law or tradition that dictates the owner must go down with the ship, although in the end, Ismay probably found himself wishing that he had.
 

Inger Sheil

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I seem to remember that Daniel Allen Butler put forward the POV on the NG a few years back, Deborah, that as the company representative Ismay was legally obligated for insurance reasons to be the last to leave the ship, or so I seem to recall the argument ran. Is that perhaps what you were thinking about?

There were many rumours circulating around the circumstances under which Ismay was able to secure a lifeboat seat for himself when so many male passengers perished, some grossly inaccurate and stating or implying that he had used 'underhanded' means to guarantee his survival. Regardless of the truth of the matter, I suspect that however he had survived (short of a Lightoller-esque escape involving clinging to an overturned liferaft after going down with the ship), he was going to be criticised in some quarters.
 

Kyrila Scully

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While doing research for my role as Molly Brown I came across her comments, which I will paraphrase for you, that the reason the Titanic survivors thought negatively about Mr. Ismay was due to the fact that he stayed secluded in the doctor's cabin and should have come out to see to the needs of those in distress. Instead, Mrs. Brown and other ladies from First Class formed a committee to do what he should have done. And Michael's comments about William Randolph Hearst being an enemy (as well as a publisher) of Ismay's are right on the mark, as public opinion of Ismay was formed by the media. Inger's comments are also highly valid.

Kyrila
 

Inger Sheil

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Clear Cameron had strong feelings about Ismay's decision to remain sequestered in the doctor's cabin on board the Carpathia - she mentioned in correspondence soon after the event. Cameron felt that he should have made an effort to comfort the women.
 

Inger Sheil

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Shock can manifest itself in odd ways, and mood swings in the wake of a traumatic event are not uncommon. I think a number of interpretations could be placed upon his actions, ranging from arrogance through to shock to an attempt at sensitivity - based on what data we have, it's difficult to determine which interpretation is correct. It's possible he was damned if he did and damned if he didn't interact with the survivors.
 
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I doubt mood swings would have much to do with it. It was his position as president of the line, and the fact that he survived when so many others didn't...apparantly taking advantage of his position to secure a seat in a lifeboat...which put Mr. Ismay in such a bad light. Whether or not the perception is true has nothing to do with the belief that it was.
 

Inger Sheil

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I brought up the possibility of mood swings as a possible explanation to cover erratic behaviour - a symptom of the trauma that he (along with so many others) had experienced. If that led to erratic behaviour that made the survivors 'hate' him even more (which I assume is what you're suggesting, Jeremy, as I can't imagine why in and of themselves the possibility he was experiencing mood swings would exacerbate 'hate' felt towards the man), then that would not be an uncommon reaction either. People still have trouble understanding and responding to those who have undergone severe emotional trauma. Of course, this is all speculative - as I suggested above, interpreting his behaviour on board the Carpathia is very difficult, based on what data we have. Depending on the POV of the individual doing the interpreting, responses can range from sympathy to condemnation - and a whole spectrum in between.
 

Paul Rogers

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It is probable that Mr Ismay went through the "Transition Curve" after the disaster; this being those series of mental adjustments that assist the mind to cope with change. Thus, his attitude, mental state and ability to function may well have varied considerably in the weeks and months following the sinking, according to where he was within the "curve".

Briefly (to reduce the chances of boring everyone to bits) the steps are as follows:

1. Shock: The individual cannot believe the event/change, and is immobilised in a state of shock.

2. Denial: A belief that nothing will change - "it's all a bad dream".

3. Incompetence: The individual loses the ability to function, both on a personal and organisational level.

4. Acceptance: The individual accepts that change will/has happened.

5. Testing: The individual starts to work out where they fit in with the new situation.

6. Search for Meaning: Working out how the change can be made to work in everyday life.

7. Integration: Making the new situation become the norm.

Of course, we all go through the curve every time we have to cope with change. The timing of the curve and the depth of the "dip" (where we lose the ability to function) depend upon the size of the change itself.
 

Jeremy Lee

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1. Shock: The individual cannot believe the event/change, and is immobilised in a state of shock. - Looking over his oar as the Titanic took its final plunge, or telling Dr. McGhee to leave him alone?

2. Denial: A belief that nothing will change - "it's all a bad dream". ???

3. Incompetence: The individual loses the ability to function, both on a personal and organisational level. - Resigned from White Star Line

4. Acceptance: The individual accepts that change will/has happened. - At the Inquries (although this happened first)

5. Testing: The individual starts to work out where they fit in with the new situation. - ???

6. Search for Meaning: Working out how the change can be made to work in everyday life. - ???

7. Integration: Making the new situation become the norm. - ???

(For the last three, I think Ismay couldn't have bothered at all!)
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Resigned from White Star Line<<

Actually, he retired. This was something that was slated to happen anyway. The Titanic's loss wouldn't have changed that.

As to the rest, what Paul was trying to get across was the psychological mechenisms people go through to cope with traumatic events.

>>Looking over his oar as the Titanic took its final plunge, or telling Dr. McGhee to leave him alone? <<

Ismay specifically denied under oath that he saw the ship sink. From the Senate Inquiry:
quote:

Mr. ISMAY. Yes; I did not wish to see her go down.

Senator SMITH. You did not care to see her go down?

Mr. ISMAY. No. I am glad I did not.

While there's no way to know the truthfulness of this claim one way or another, it did strike me as being sincere.

You can read the whole of his testimony at the Senate Inquires HERE, HERE and HERE.

His testimony befor the Wreck Commission can be read HERE and HERE.
 

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