107 #39: Captain Smith was in bed when Titanic collided with the iceberg

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FALSE. Captain Smith excused himself from the Wideners’ dinner party, where he did not drink, at about 8.45 p.m., and went straight up to Titanic’s bridge, where he arrived at 8.55 p.m. and continued talking with Second Officer Lightoller until 9.25 p.m., when he left the bridge, saying, ‘If it becomes at all doubtful let me know at once; I will be just inside.’ But Boxhall, on watch from 8pm until midnight, observed Captain Smith on and around the bridge continually from 9 p.m. until the time of the collision at 11.40 p.m.:

GB317: ‘Did you see the captain frequently Sunday night?’

‘I saw him frequently during the watch, sir.’ JGB318: ‘During the watch?’

‘Yes, sir.’

JGB319: ‘From 8 o’clock on?’

‘Up to the time of the accident.’ JGB320: ‘Up to the time the Titanic sank?’

‘Yes, sir.’

JGB321: ‘How frequently?’

‘On and off, most of the watch.’

JGB322: ‘Where was he when you saw him at these times?’

‘Sometimes out on the outer bridge. I would go out and report. I was working observations out, if you understand, most of that watch working out different calculations and reporting to him; and that is how it was I came in contact with him so much.’

JGB323: ‘Where was he at the times when you saw him?’

‘Sometimes in his chart room and sometimes on the bridge, and sometimes he would come to the wheelhouse, inside of the wheelhouse.’

JGB324: ‘How do you know he would go to the wheelhouse?’

‘I would see him pass through.’

JGB328: ‘How soon after you took your watch did you see him?’

‘As near as I can tell, I saw him about 9 o’clock.’

JGB346: ‘But you do know that about 9 o’clock you saw him on the deck, on the bridge, and in the wheelhouse at various times. Would you say all of the time, in one of those three places after that?’

‘I did not know that the captain was anywhere away from the bridge the whole watch. I mean to say from the bridge taking the whole bridge together; all the chart rooms, and the open bridge. They are all practically on one square, and I do not think the captain was away from that altogether.’

Captain Smith knew very well that they were entering the ice region and that this was the most dangerous part of Titanic’s voyage, and he remained about the bridge to supervise her navigation at this critical time.

Smith was probably resting on the settee in his chart room at the time of the collision, as he rushed fully dressed in his uniform into the wheelhouse the instant he heard the first helm order ‘hard-a-starboard’ and heard the iceberg scraping along Titanic’s hull, arriving there after the hard- a-port order had been given, whilst the noise, which only lasted a few seconds, was still continuing. We know this from the following dramatic testimony of Quartermaster Hichens, who was at Titanic’s helm at the time of the collision, and who testified that Titanic began scraping the iceberg before the helm was even hard over:

‘All went along very well until 20 minutes to 12, when three gongs came from the lookout, and immediately afterwards a report on the telephone, “Iceberg right ahead.” The chief officer rushed from the wing to the bridge, or I imagine so, sir. Certainly I am inclosed in the wheelhouse, and I can not see, only my compass. He rushed to the engines. I heard the telegraph bell ring; also give the order, “Hard astarboard,” with the sixth officer standing by me to see the duty carried out and the quartermaster standing by my left side. Repeated the order, “Hard astarboard. The helm is hard over, sir.”’

ROH013: ‘Who gave the first order?’

‘Mr. Murdoch, the first officer, sir; the officer in charge. The sixth officer repeated the order, “The helm is hard astarboard, sir.” But, during the time, she was crushing the ice, or we could hear the grinding noise along the ship’s bottom. I heard the telegraph ring, sir. The skipper came rushing out of his [chart] room—Capt. Smith—and asked, “What is that?” Mr. Murdoch said, “An iceberg.” He said, “Close the emergency doors.”’

Second Officer Lightoller then observed Captain Smith keeping watch on Titanic’s bridge immediately after the collision, whilst the ship was slowing down:

CHL464: ‘Did you see Mr. Murdoch after that?’

‘Yes, sir; I saw him when I came out of the quarters after the impact.’

CHL465: ‘Where was he?’

‘On the bridge.’

CHL466: ‘With the captain?’

‘One on one side, and one on the other side of the bridge; one on each side.’

If you’d like to read the full book of101 Things You Thought You Knew About The Titanic…But Didn’t!, or any of my other books on Titanic, please visit my Author Page on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/tim-maltin/e/B005LNHYEQ/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_1

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