A Titanic Timeline Part II

Last time, we began with a glimpse into Titanic’s maiden voyage, beginning with the preparations in Southampton on April 5, 1912. On Sailing Day, April 10th, Titanic departed Southampton on what would be her only voyage, carrying 2,208 passengers and crew.

leaving southampton

leaving southampton

Titanic departing Southampton April 10, 1912

The Titanic headed across the English Channel for Cherbourg, France, where 24 passengers disembarked and 274 passengers came aboard via tenders. Just after 8:00 pm, the ship was again under way. The first dinner on board had been served in all classes, and passengers spent the evening acquainting themselves with the ship, preparing their children for bed, or strolling the pristine outside decks to gaze at the brilliant canopy of stars.

April 11. At 11:30 am, Titanic dropped anchor two miles offshore at Queenstown, Ireland. Tenders transported 120 passengers and 1,385 sacks of mail to the ship. Two hours later, the Titanic headed out to sea. For most of those on board, they would not see land again.

last_titanic_photo leaving Queenstown

last_titanic_photo leaving Queenstown

Last photo of the ship as it left Queenstown

April 12. Passengers spent the next three days enjoying the ship’s many amenities. Even third class passengers marveled at the bright and spacious public rooms and delicious food. There were few scheduled activities, other than dining hours.

April 13. First class passengers looked forward to the noon posting each day in the smoking room of the previous day’s run. From Thursday, April 11 to Friday, April 12, the ship traveled 386 nautical miles. From Friday April 12 to Saturday April 13, 519 miles, and from Saturday April 13 to Sunday April 14, 546 miles were logged.

titanicsmoking room

titanicsmoking room

April 14. On Sunday, a church service was held in the first class dining saloon. The temperature dropped, and Titanic received several ice warnings over the wireless from other ships in the area. Around 6:00 pm, Captain Smith gave orders for her course to be altered slightly due to the warnings. At 10:00 pm, lookouts Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee took their post in the crow’s nest. At 11:30 pm, Fleet sighted an iceberg and warned the officers on the bridge. Quartermaster Robert Hichens responded immediately to the order to turn the ship ‘Hard-a-starboard.’ The ship turned, but not enough. Less than a minute passed from the moment Fleet sighted the iceberg to collision.

crows nest

crows nest

Crow's nest half-way up mast on left. The bridge, with several windows, is behind it on top deck

April 15. With approximately 1500 passengers and crew still on board, the RMS Titanic sank in the north Atlantic at 2:20 am. Hundreds fell to their deaths, drowned, or died of hypothermia in the frigid waters. All twenty lifeboats, many carrying fewer than their capacity, drifted in a calm, frigid sea until dawn. The RMS Carpathia, having received Titanic’s distress calls, raced through the ice field to rescue the surviving 712 men, women, and children. Carpathia passengers and crew did their best to accommodate and comfort those from the Titanic. Captain Arthur Rostron set a course for New York.



Titanic lifeboat alongside Carpathia

Photo credits: Encyclopedia-titanica.org, irishecho.com, maritimequest.com

A Titanic Timeline

On this day in 1912, 2208 passengers and crew had five days until their departure from Southampton on the RMS Titanic. They came from 27 different nations and all walks of life. Many of the passengers were returning to the United States following their honeymoons, vacations, or business travels. Most had never been to America, but dreamed of a new life there. For them, these last five days would be filled with preparations, good-byes, tears, and anticipation. No one had any idea of the tragedy that would soon befall them.



April 5, Good Friday. The Titanic had passed her sea trials in Belfast and departed for Southampton, arriving in port on April 3rd. A long coal strike led several shipping companies to cancel their voyages. White Star Line sent coal from their other ships in port to Titanic, and the ship was ‘dressed’ in colorful flags and pennants as a salute to the city of Southampton.



Titanic officers, with their white-bearded Captain Edward Smith

April 6. The coal strike settled and hiring began in earnest for most of Titanic’s crew. The seaman of Southampton, eager to get back to work, jammed the White Star Line hiring hall. Senior officers received assignments. Dishes, cutlery, and glassware began to arrive. Once on board, everything had to be counted and listed on the inventory before it was stored. General cargo started to arrive—crates and cartons of all manner of goods being shipped to North America.



A crane aboard Titanic used to lift cargo to the ship

April 7, Easter Sunday. All work was halted for the day, and the waterfront was deserted. Only the ship’s bell was heard, marking the hours.

April 8. Work resumed, and with only three days left until departure, many final tasks had yet to be completed. Trains brought fresh supplies to the docks, including all the food and beverages required to feed everyone on board for the week-long voyage to New York. Any last-minute problems were addressed, and every detail checked.

April 9. Thomas Andrews, Titanic’s chief architect, worked tirelessly on board, checking that all was in proper working order and noting changes he or the owner, J. Bruce Ismay, wished to make for future voyages. He wrote to his wife that evening, “The Titanic is now complete, and will I think do the old Firm credit tomorrow when we sail.”



Thomas Andrews

April 10. Sailing Day. Captain Smith boarded around 7:30 a.m. Crew members came up the gangways and mustered together on various decks for orders. Passengers began to arrive around 9:30 a.m. Just before noon, Captain Smith gave the order for the whistles to be blown, announcing Titanic’s imminent departure.

Leaving Southampton

Leaving Southampton

The RMS Titanic leaving Southampton

Next time, we’ll look at the following five days for Titanic. They were to be her last.

Photo credits: Encyclopediatitanica.com, Oocities.org, Spitfiresite.com

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Just Missed the Titanic - Part V

To close out our summer series on some of the well-known celebrities who were supposed to sail on Titanic, we’ll look at three men: two who were business associates, and one of the most popular evangelists of his time.Henry Clay Frick of Pittsburgh was a wealthy industrialist and chairman of Carnegie Steel Company. He and his wife and booked a suite aboard the Titanic in February 1912, but when the time came for the ship’s maiden voyage in April, Mrs. Frick sprained her ankle during a Mediterranean cruise and needed to be hospitalized. They cancelled their passage on Titanic and remained in Italy until she recovered.

hc frick

hc frick

Henry Clay Frick

Financier John Pierpont Morgan had invested in many large corporations and had a great influence on America’s finance during the early 1900s. He helped create General Electric and U.S. Steel, and was a close colleague of Henry Clay Frick. Morgan helped to resolve the U.S. banking system during what came to be known as the Panic of 1907.

Among J.P. Morgan’s business interests was the International Mercantile Marine, which controlled Britain’s White Star Line, owner of the Titanic. He had his own suite aboard the ship, with a private promenade deck. He was to have sailed on her maiden voyage, but instead remained at a French resort.

A conspiracy theory surfaced many years ago, which claimed that men intending to stop J.P. Morgan’s plan to create a large central U.S. bank were aboard Titanic, and Morgan had ordered Captain Smith to deliberately sink the ship. No evidence proving the theory has ever been found.

J.P. Morgan

J.P. Morgan

John Pierpont Morgan

John R. Mott was a popular evangelist to countless university students and a longtime official with the YMCA. He inspired many young people to consider foreign mission work. He and a colleague were offered free passage on Titanic by White Star Line, but they declined, taking the liner Lapland instead. When the men reached New York and heard about the disaster, they looked at each other and said, “The good Lord must have more work for us to do.”

For his work in establishing Christian student organizations that promoted peace around the globe, Mott and another worker shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946.

john r mott

john r mott

John R. Mott

Please join me next time, when we’ll visit the home and hear the story of one of Titanic’s most well-known passengers, Margaret “Unsinkable Molly” Brown.

Photo credits: Encyclopedia Titanica, Smithsonianmag.com, Wikipedia.org.

Titanic's Reliable Fourth Officer

At age 15, Joseph Groves Boxhall of Yorkshire couldn’t wait to begin a life at sea like his grandfather, father, and uncle before him. He became an apprentice with the William Thomas Line, and joined ships sailing for ports in Russia, the Mediterranean, North and South America, and Australia. By 1907, at the age of 23, Boxhall earned his Extra-Masters Certificate and joined the White Star Line. As Sixth Officer on the Oceanic, he met another future Titanic officer, Charles Lightoller. Then, after a year aboard WSL’s Arabic on its North Atlantic run, he signed on as Fourth Officer for RMS Titanic. Once at sea, Boxhall’s duties included regular watches, navigation, and assisting passengers and crew.


Officer Joseph Boxhall

Aboard the Titanic on the night of April 14, 1912, Officer Boxhall was having a cup of tea in his cabin near the bridge. He heard the sound of the three warning bells from the crow’s nest and went to see what happened. As he reached the bridge, Captain Smith instructed him to go below and check the forward part of the ship for damage. He didn’t find anything wrong at first, and told a third class passenger holding a chunk of ice to return to bed. Very soon, however, another crewman reported damage to the forward compartments, and the postal clerk came to report that the mail room was quickly filling with water.

Boxhall’s next orders were to determine Titanic’s exact position. As the passengers made their way to the upper decks and the lifeboats were uncovered, he and Quartermaster George Rowe fired distress rockets from the ship’s rail. They used a Morse Lamp as well, in an attempt to signal the ship they saw in the distance, but to no avail.

When Lifeboat 2 was ready for lowering at 1:45 am, Boxhall was put in charge. The following is a transcript of a radio interview as he later described his experience in the lifeboat:

The sea was perfectly smooth when we left the ship. Every star in the heavens was visible, but there was no moon. So it was dark. And then, well everything was very peaceful …  no wind … and no moon, stars, smooth water, until after about an hour then the wind got up and there was a little sea. For a long time we didn't move the boat, when we laid off on the Starboard side. You could see by the ah, by the arrangements of the lights, all the lights were burning and you could see that she was going down. You could see that her stern was, was getting pretty low in the water. She was certainly going down, there was no doubt about it then. And, ah, well we pulled, we got away clear of the ship and we just laid on the oars until eventually they … they, ah … realized that she'd gone and we heard all the screams. We couldn't do anything. And, ah, the screams went on for some considerable time. I can't remember the time when she sank, but it was in the early hours.”

Following rescue, Joseph Boxhall testified at the American and British inquiries into the disaster. He returned to England, served aboard the Adriatic, then joined the Royal Naval Reserve before serving his country during World War I. He married after the war, then continued his career aboard several ships before his retirement in 1940. He acted as technical advisor during the filming of A Night to Remember in 1958.


Advertisement featuring Officer Boxhall

He had suffered from pleurisy periodically since Titanic’s sinking, and his health deteriorated rapidly in the 1960s. He died in 1967 at age 83, and requested that his ashes be scattered over the location he had calculated the night the ship went down.


Photo credits: Encyclopedia Titanica

Lifeboats on the Titanic

One of the reasons so many individuals perished on the Titanic was the lack of enough lifeboats for everyone. Titanic had a maximum capacity of 3327, but on her one and only voyage, around 2224 passengers and crew were on board. However, her 20 lifeboats were capable of carrying 1178 at most. And because most of the boats left the ship less than full, only 712 survived the sinking.

titanic boats approaching carpathia

Titanic lifeboats carrying survivors

Larger davits had been proposed for the new White Star Line ships, including Titanic, allowing for 48 lifeboats. But regulations issued by the Board of Trade required only 16 lifeboats for all British vessels over 10,000 tons. Titanic’s designers opted for 20 lifeboats, wanting to save on unnecessary costs and provide plenty of space for passengers to stroll the open decks. Twenty boats were more than the law required, and that seemed more than sufficient. After all, they could practically guarantee there would be no need for them.

Titanic carried 16 regular lifeboats, numbered 1 through 16. Eight even-numbered boats were mounted along her port side, and the eight odd-numbered boats along the starboard side. Four collapsible boats were stored near the bow, with two on either side.


Diagram showing lifeboat placement. Two collapsible boats (red) are not seen. The pink boats are emergency cutters.

Fourteen lifeboats each had a capacity of 65. They were 30 feet long, 9 feet wide, and 4 feet deep. They were supposed to be equipped with oars, blankets, provisions, and flares, although some survivors claimed their boats lacked one or more of these items. Two emergency cutters, boats 1 and 2, were built to hold 40. They measured 25 feet long and 7 feet wide. Their purpose was for immediate emergencies, such as a man overboard, and were permanently swung out, ready for lowering. The four collapsible boats, A, B, C, and D, were 27 feet long, 8 feet wide, and 3 feet deep. They had canvas sides that could be raised in use and could be stored almost flat.

A number of mistakes and misconceptions led to the boats leaving Titanic at less than capacity:

1) The one lifeboat drill had been cancelled due to cold weather.

2) When Captain Smith ordered passengers to be loaded into the lifeboats, many refused, not aware of the real danger. They felt it was safer to remain onboard the ship than climb into a small boat and be lowered to the sea. Many women didn’t want to leave their husbands, brothers, or sons.

3) Crewmen had not been given adequate lifeboat training. Some charged with filling the boats weren’t sure of how many the boats could hold and lowered them half-full.

4) Some crewmen strictly enforced the ‘women and children first’ rule, and when no more women and children were immediately available for boarding, they lowered the boats as the men watched.

5) Third class passengers reached the boat deck late, due to a lack of information and language barriers. Some were purposely kept back by crewmen until first and second class passengers filled the boats. By the time more third class passengers reached the boat deck and the true urgency of the situation was realized, most of the boats had already gone.

Titanic-lifeboats after

Lifeboats dropped at White Star Line pier in New York following arrival of the Carpathia, carrying 712 survivors  

Only two lifeboats returned to the scene after the Titanic sank to rescue a few people in the water.

Following the inquiries into the sinking, a new ruling required every passenger vessel to be equipped with more than enough boats to carry every passenger and crewmember, and for crewmembers to be fully trained in lifeboat use. Also, lifeboat drills for all passengers on every voyage is now required by law.

Note: Beginning today, I will be posting on this blog every other Wednesday. As soon as my novel about Titanic survivor Ruth Becker is accepted for publication, I will share the news with you here. Thank you to all my readers! I look forward to bringing you more of the Titanic on April 13th, one day before the 104th anniversary of the sinking.

Photo credits: Historyofthetitanic.org, Titanicuniverse.com, Wikipedia

The Publisher and the Pekinese

Beginning this week, I wish to to introduce you to some of the real Titanic passengers and crewmembers who have a role in my pre-published novel, which is based on the true story of 12-year-old passenger Ruth Becker. (Some of the real-life characters in the novel have already been featured on the blog, such as Captain Edward Smith, passenger John Jacob Astor, and orchestra leader Wallace Hartley.) We’ll start with a man Ruth meets on her first venture onto Titanic’s Promenade Deck, as he struggles to hold a very wiggly Pekinese...


Henry Sleeper Harper was the director of Harper and Brothers Publishing House, which his grandfather had founded in the 1800s but was not formally dedicated to publishing until 1900. The firm published several magazines, including Harper’s Weekly and Harper’s Bazaar. Henry also served on the board for the protection of the Adirondacks, and was instrumental in preventing logging of the area.

Forty-eight-year-old Henry and his wife, Myra, boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg, France, along with their Egyptian interpreter and guide, Hammad. The Harpers had been in Paris, where their Pekinese dog, Sun Yat Sen, had won a top prize at a dog show.


Sun Yat Sen

On the night of the sinking, the couple were finishing a late dinner when they were told to return to their cabin for warm clothes and lifebelts and report to the Boat Deck. They headed for the starboard side and boarded Lifeboat 3, along with Hammad and Sun Yat Sen. All were rescued by the Carpathia. Sun Yat Sen was one of three dogs that survived the sinking of the Titanic. In regard to being allowed to board the lifeboat with a dog, Harper replied later, “There seemed to be plenty of room at the time and no one offered any objection.”

myra and sun

Mrs. Henry Harper with Sun Yat Sen

The Harpers did not have children, and Myra died in 1923. Henry married Anne Hopson and had a son, also named Henry. Henry Sleeper Harper died at the age of 79 after a lengthy illness. He is buried in New York City, along with Myra and Anne.

In the 1990s, the company merged with William Collins & Sons of Great Britain to form HarperCollins.

photo credits: Encyclopedia Titanica

Friend of the President

Major Archibald Butt was a respected military aide to President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908. When President Taft took office in 1909, Butt remained as presidential advisor. In early 1912, he took a long-awaited vacation to Europe with writer and artist Francis Millet and visited with Pope Pius X. For their return trip to Washington D.C., Butt and Millet booked first class cabins aboard the Titanic.

Archibald Butt

On the night of April 14, Major Butt attended a private dinner party in Titanic’s ala carte restaurant. Captain Smith and railroad executive John Thayer were also at the party. Afterwards, Butt went to the first class smoking room to play cards. When the ship struck the iceberg, a few survivors claimed he helped passengers board the lifeboats and aided in the evacuation in other ways. Others claimed he returned to the smoking room. Yet others, including Walter Lord, author of A Night to Remember, stated Major Butt may have assisted but most likely watched the proceedings quietly. His body was not recovered.

A memorial service took place a few weeks later, with 1500 mourners attending. President Taft delivered the eulogy:

“If Archie could have selected a time to die he would have chosen the one God gave him. His life was spent in self–sacrifice, serving others. His forgetfulness of self had become a part of his nature. Everybody who knew him called him Archie. I couldn't prepare anything in advance to say here. I tried, but couldn't. He was too near me. He was loyal to my predecessor, Mr. Roosevelt, who selected him to be military aide, and to me he had become as a son or a brother.”

Another service was held in Major Butt’s honor in Washington D.C. Again, President Taft spoke, but was unable to finish when he broke down and wept.

Taft and Butt

President William Howard Taft and Major Archibald Butt

A fountain near the White House is dedicated to Archibald Butt and Francis Merritt. Other memorials to Archibald Butt include an empty tomb at Arlington National Cemetery.

butt memorial fountain

Butt-Merritt Memorial Fountain, Washington DC

photo credits: Encyclopedia Titanica, Maritimequest.com.

The Last Man to Know

George Rowe, 32, had served in the Royal Navy and the merchant marine before working aboard White Star Line’s Oceanic. In April 1912, Rowe signed on to be Quartermaster of the Titanic.

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On the night of April 14, Rowe was given the task of standing watch on the auxiliary bridge at the far end of Titanic’s stern, on the poop deck. Although the temperature had dropped considerably, the absence of wind kept him from getting too cold as he paced back and forth on the open catwalk.

He noticed what sailors called “whiskers” around the deck lights—thousands of tiny ice splinters reflecting off the lights. He knew the bright colors they gave off were a sign of ice ahead.

Rowe felt a slight change in the motion of the ship. Then he noticed what at first appeared to be a “full-rigged ship, with sails set,” passing close to the starboard side and towering over the bridge where he stood. He soon realized the shape was an iceberg. It passed by and disappeared.

Titanic began venting steam shortly afterward, but Rowe remained at his watch. He had no way of knowing the iceberg had damaged the ship, and he couldn’t see the activity on the Boat Deck as the lifeboats were lowered.


The stern end of Titanic, as seen in Queenstown, Ireland on sailing day

When a lifeboat half-filled with passengers drifted by, the startled Quartermaster telephoned the bridge to ask if they knew about it. Answering the phone, Fourth Officer Boxhall asked who was calling. When Rowe explained, Boxhall realized that in the excitement no one had informed the man on watch in the back of the ship of the emergency. He told Rowe to come to the bridge immediately and bring a box of distress rockets stored in a locker.

Rowe and Boxhall spent the next hour firing rockets every five minutes in an attempt to signal a nearby vessel. They used a Morse lamp in between firing rockets. It was only when ordered by Captain Smith to take charge of Collapsible C that Rowe left his post.

George Rowe returned to work aboard the Oceanic, and joined a hospital ship during World War I. He then worked in a ship repair yard until well into his 80s. He died at the age of 91.



The Unsinkable Charles Lightoller

When Titanic’s Second Officer Charles Lightoller knew the ship was sinking, he wasted no time in asking Captain Smith for orders to fill the lifeboats. He’d seen plenty of trouble at sea before. Working aboard ships since the age of thirteen, he’d already survived one shipwreck, a shipboard fire, and a cyclone, all by the time he’d turned twenty-one.


In his early twenties, “Lights” Lightoller had been working aboard a steamship on the West African coast when he nearly died from malaria. He took a break from his life at sea and went prospecting for gold in the Yukon, became a cowboy in Alberta, Canada, traveled as a hobo by train across Canada, and found a job on a cattle boat back home to England. The call of the sea won out, and he studied to become a ship’s officer. Joining the White Star Line at age twenty-six, he met a passenger on a voyage to Australia. She became his bride on the return trip.

Under the command of Captain Edward Smith who later would captain the Titanic, Lightoller held the Fourth Officer’s position aboard the Majestic for some time. He was then promoted to Third Officer on the Oceanic, Titanic’s sister ship. When preparations were underway for Titanic’s maiden voyage, “Lights” was originally set to be its First Officer. But Captain Smith brought on another officer from the Oceanic as his Chief Officer, shifting all the other officers’ positions. Lightoller was forced to accept the role of Second Officer, while the original man in that position had to drop out.

Lightoller with Smith

Charles Lightoller, second from left, with Titanic officers. Captain Smith on far right.

On the night of April 14, 1912, Charles Lightoller noticed the abrupt drop in temperature, even though the winds and waves were calm. During his evening duties, he alerted those in the crow’s nest to watch for small ice. Ships in the area had sent repeated ice warnings during the afternoon, but not all of them reached the bridge, preventing the officers from knowing the full extent of the warnings.

After completing his rounds, Lightoller went to his cabin. As he fell asleep, a grinding sensation awakened him. He ran to the deck in his pajamas to investigate. Within minutes, he was informed that water was rapidly filling the mail room. He returned to his cabin to grab his uniform coat and was soon directing crewmembers in the launch of the boats.

When all lifeboats had been lowered and three of the four collapsible boats had been launched, Charles Lightoller climbed onto the overturned Collapsible B as the Boat Deck went underwater. Hours later, he made sure all passengers from every lifeboat and the sinking Collapsible B were on board the rescue ship Carpathia before climbing the ship’s rope ladder to safety.

titanic news headline

As the highest ranking officer to survive, Lightoller testified at the American inquiry. He staunchly defended the actions of Titanic’s crew, including that of Captain Smith. He returned to sea the following year as First Officer on the Oceanic. With the start of World War I, the Oceanic became an armed merchant cruiser and Lightoller became a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy. When it ran aground, he again supervised the filling of lifeboats. He was then given command of a torpedo boat which collided with a trawler and sank, exactly six years, nearly to the minute, after the Titanic sinking.

At war’s end, Lightoller left the Royal Navy as full Commander and returned to White Star for several years. Then during World War II, the sixty-six-year-old helped rescue 130 soldiers from the beaches at Dunkirk using his own yacht. He lost two sons in the war.

“Lights” went on to run a boatyard and build motor launches for the London River Police in his 70s. He died in 1952, at the age of 78.

Titanic's Popular Chief Purser

Two Titanic officers were extremely popular with passengers who had regularly sailed the Atlantic. When their names were listed as part of the crew on other White Star Line ships, bookings increased. One was Captain Edward J. Smith. The other was Chief Purser Hugh McElroy. With both men sailing on Titanic, many first class passengers looked forward to not only the new, luxurious ship but to seeing the men who they’d come to know during other Atlantic crossings.


Chief Purser McElroy with Captain Smith just prior to Titanic launch

Irishman Hugh McElroy had served the White Star Line for thirteen years. He’d worked aboard military ships during the Boar War, and had studied to be a Roman Catholic priest in his late teens. When he signed on as Titanic’s Chief Purser, McElroy was 37.

The Purser’s office, located on C Deck, was a hub of activity throughout the voyage. Passengers left their money and valuables there for safekeeping; they reserved deck chairs, and bought tickets for the Turkish Baths, swimming pool, and electric baths. If they wished to send a telegram, either to someone on land or on a passing ship, they visited the Purser’s office. From there, McElroy or his assistants would take the message to the Marconi room. He was also the one to see with a complaint or to make any special requests.

2nd class Purser's Office on the Olympic

Second Class Purser's Office aboard the Olympic

McElroy had a wonderful sense of humor, according to many surviving passengers. He was the perfect man for the demanding job, always pleasant and calm, always ready to help. He enjoyed visiting with all the passengers in the dining rooms, charmed all the ladies, and seemed to know everyone and everything. He often invited those traveling alone to join him at his table, where he served as a friendly host.


Chief Purser Hugh McElroy

On the night of the sinking, passengers lined up outside the Purser’s office demanding their valuables. Assistant Pursers hurried to comply, until Chief Purser McElroy showed up and urged them to get their lifebelts on and head to the lifeboats. The Countess of Rothes stated he told her, “‘Hurry, little lady, there is not much time. I’m glad you didn’t ask me for your jewels as other ladies have.’ McElroy was also seen by crewmen assisting with the loading of one of the last lifeboats. Another survivor, stewardess Annie Robinson, stated she last saw Purser McElroy and Captain Smith walking toward the mailroom.

Hugh McElroy’s body was picked up by the recovery ship, Mackay-Bennett, and identified first as Herbert McElroy:

  1. 157. — MALE. — ESTIMATED AGE, 32. — HAIR, DARK. CLOTHING - Ship's uniform; white jacket; ship's keys; 10 pence; 50 cents; fountain pen. CHIEF PURSER. — NAME — HERBERT W. McELROY.

Due to the condition of the body, it was decided to bury him at sea. He was the most senior member of the crew whose body was recovered. Hugh McElroy left behind his wife of only two years, Barbara. The couple had no children.

Titanic's Crew

The list of the RMS Titanic crew named 869 men and 23 women as crewmembers, in addition to her officers. Most of the crew boarded in Southampton, England, just after sunrise on the day of her maiden voyage, April 10, 1912. All of the officers, except for Captain Edward Smith, had already spent the night on board. They would be in charge of all the day-to-day navigation duties. Captain Smith said goodbye-to his wife and daughter at his home in Southampton and boarded the ship around 7:30 am.


Titanic officers. Captain Smith is seated, 2nd from right

The crew included seamen, who assisted the officers; firemen (or "stokers"), who shoveled the coal into boilers; engineers, who helped run the engines and machinery; saloon stewards, bedroom stewards, and chefs. The women included 18 stewardesses, two cashiers, a masseuse, a Turkish Bath attendant, and a woman who chaperoned the single women in third class.


Titanic crew members wearing lifevests

Several teenage boys, a few as young as 14 and 15, were employed as crewmembers. They worked as bellboys (also called “buttons”) and carried luggage, as pageboys, running errands and delivering telegrams, or as “liftboys” operating the elevators.

Only 214 crew members survived the sinking of the Titanic, 194 men and 20 women. None of the bellboys, pageboys, or liftboys survived. Most of the crew came from Southampton. On one street alone, 20 families lost loved ones in the disaster. Their families could not claim any compensation from the Titanic’s White Star Line. However, over $2 million was raised by the British Titanic Relief Fund and other British charities to help the families of those hardest hit. In the United States, $261,000 was raised.

Do you have a question about the crew, or something else related to the Titanic? Leave a comment and I'll do my best to answer it next week. Thanks!