Mr Edward John Buley (able seaman) was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England on 20 June 1885.
He was the son of John Buley (1858-1922) and Mary Ann Pope (1864-1914). His father was from Tonbridge, Kent and his mother from Portsmouth and they had married in Portsea in 1882.
Edward was one of fourteen children, five of whom died in infancy. His known siblings were: Rosetta May (b. 1884), Percy Arthur (b. 1888), Sidney Caleb (b. 1890), Nellie Beatrice (b. 1892), George Richard (b. 1894), twins Maurice Frederick and Thomas Henry (b. 1899), Lily (b. 1901), Walter Stanley (b. 1904) and Doris Winifred (b. 1905).
On the 1891 census Edward is listed as living with his family at the Coastguard Station in Bexhill, Sussex where his father is listed as a boatman for H.M. Customs. On the 1901 census Edward's family are living in Sholing, Southampton, Hampshire but he is not present with them, having commenced a career in the Royal Navy just weeks before.
Having worked as a messenger whilst still a young man, Buley joined the navy as an ordinary seaman on 25 February 1901, first serving aboard the St Vincent and would go on to serve on a host of ships, including: Agincourt, Exmouth, Excellent, Crescent, Orion I and Dreadnaught. He soon rose to the rank of able seaman and gunner. His conduct was universally excellent whilst physically he stood at 5' 4½" and had light brown hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion.
On the 1911 census Edward, his parents and siblings are listed as living at 12 Britannia Road, Northam, Southampton and he is described as unmarried and as serving as an able-bodied seaman in the Royal Navy. His final recorded service for the Navy lasted from 28 February 1912 to 2 March 1912 aboard Victory I (previous to which he had served aboard Dreadnaught) after which he went ashore and joined the Portsmouth naval reserves. Hoping to " better help his mother" he bought his discharge from the Navy and joined the White Star Line as an able seaman, his first ship being Titanic. As such, he earned £5 a month. He lived at 10 Cliff Road, Pear Tree Green, Itchen.
Buley was sitting in the mess, reading, when the collision occurred and felt a 'slight jar' as if something was rubbing along the hull. He put on a coat and headed out on deck where he heard reports of an iceberg from some firemen. He was also able to hear water rushing in down below, the sounds emanating from the hatchways located on the forecastle, the covers of which were inflating under the pressure of escaping air.
An order from first officer Murdoch soon came to prepare the boats and Buley positioned himself on the starboard side, assisting to swing out all the boats on that side which he estimated took around 20 minutes. He then assisted doing the same with the port boats.
Whilst at boat 10, which was lacking a seaman, a man whom Buley identified as the chief steward (but in reality was first officer Murdoch) instructed him to jump in. He took with him seaman Frank Evans. During the evacuation into the boat Buley described physically pushing and, in some cases throwing, women into the craft who were hesitant at going. He also described how one young woman slipped upon entering, falling between the ship and the boat. The unfortunate woman was caught by the ankle before being hauled back aboard to make another attempt.
Buley estimated that there were between 60 and 70 people in the boat upon launch, the last boat in that section of the ship to leave, approximately 25 minutes before the ship sank. He also approximated that the boat was about 250 yards away from the ship when she sank
Boat 14, under the command of fifth officer Lowe came alongside, distributing that boats occupants to other boats and instructing the seaman in those to come with him in boat 14, intending to return to the scene of the wreck.
Buley described rowing through the wreckage and hundreds of bodies, many of which they turned over to see if there was still life. He guessed that many were not drowned but frozen, many sitting upright with their heads laid back or faces hanging in the water, buoyed up by their lifebelts. Boat 14 managed to save four people from the water and also saved the occupants of the waterlogged collapsible A who, having to stand for a prolonged period in frozen water, were unable to walk properly with cramped legs and feet.
Buley later testified at both the American and British Inquiries into the sinking.
Upon return to England Edward returned to the sea. Following the outbreak of war in 1914 Edward returned to Naval service on 21 August that year. On 1 July 1916 he joined the destroyer HMS Partridge and was aboard that ship when she was protecting a convoy in the North Sea when, on 12 December 1917, she torpedoed and sunk by German destroyers.
Edward lost his life, aged 32 (service number 213566). His body was not recovered but he is remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.
Pat Cook, USA
Chris Dohany, USA
Bill Wormstedt, USA
References and SourcesUnited States Senate, Washington 1912. n° 806, Crew List
United States Senate (62nd Congress), Subcommittee Hearings of the Committee on Commerce, Titanic Disaster, Washington 1912
Wreck Commissioners' Court, Proceedings before the Right Hon. Lord Mersey on a Formal Investigation Ordered by the Board of Trade into the Loss of the S.S. Titanic