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white star RMS Titanic - Officer Lightoller


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To view Titanic's cargo manifest, crew and passenger lists please visit the PURSERS OFFICE




Charles Herbert Lightoller was the second officer on board the titanic and the most senior officer to survive the disaster. Lightoller was born on 30th march 1874 in Chorley Lancashire His mother, Sarah Lightoller, died shortly after giving birth to him. He was born into a cotton family who owned the Lightoller mill in Chorley. Not wanting to end up with a factory job like most of Britain's youth at the time, at the age of 13 young Charles began a four-year seafaring apprenticeship on board the Primrose Hill.In 1895, at the age of 21 and a veteran of the dangers at sea, he obtained his mate’s ticket and left sailing ships for steamships. After three years of service in Elder Dempster's African Royal Mail Service on the West African coast, he nearly died from a heavy bout of malaria. in 1898 he abandoned the sea, to prospect for gold in the Klondike Gold Rush after Failing at this endeavour, he then became a cowboy in Alberta, Canada. He worked as a cattle wrangler on a cattle boat for his passage back to England. in the year 1899 he arrived back home penniless. He obtained his master's certificate and joined Greenshields and Cowie for whom he made another trip on a cattle boat. In January of the following year (1900), he began his career with the White Star Line as fourth officer of the Medic, He later joined the Majestic under the command of Captain Edward J. Smith in the Atlantic. From there, he was promoted to third officer on the Oceanic, the flagship of the White Star Line. He moved back to the Majestic as first mate and then back to the Oceanic as its first mate.

Two weeks before her fateful maiden voyage, Charles boarded the Titanic in Belfast and acted as first officer for the sea trials. Captain Edward J. Smith gave Henry Wilde, of the Olympic, the post of chief officer, demoting the original appointee William McMaster Murdoch to first officer and Lightoller to second officer.

On the night of 14 April 1912, Lightoller commanded the last bridge watch prior to the ship's collision with an iceberg before being relieved by Murdoch. Lightoller had retired to his cabin and was preparing for bed when he felt the collision occur. Wearing only his pyjamas, Lightoller hurried out on deck to see what had happened but after seeing nothing retired back to his cabin. Figuring it would be better to remain where other officers knew where to find him if they needed him, he lay awake in his bunk until fourth officer Boxhall summoned him to the bridge. after the collision Lightoller took charge of lowering the lifeboats on the port side of the titanic Lightoller was notably stricter than some of the other officers in observing the rule of "women and children first", interpreting it almost to the point of "women and children only".

As the ship sank, seawater washed over the entire bow Seeing crowds of people run away from the rising water Lightoller decided he could do no more, and dived into the water, he saw Collapsible B floating upside down with several swimmers hanging on to it. He swam to it, Lightoller took charge calming and organizing the survivors (numbering around thirty) on the overturned lifeboat after several hours they were finally rescued by another lifeboat before being taken on board the rescue ship Carpathia.

Charles Lightoller died 8 December 1952 aged 78, of heart disease. and was cremated at Mortlake Crematorium Richmond upon Thames, United Kingdom. and the ashes scattered in the Garden of Remembrance.

Memorial Plaques can be found at the Albany Academy, Bolton road, Chorley, England and Ducks Walk, London England



  places to explore on this Deck



The Gymnasium          The Bridge/Wheelhouse           The Marconi Room


         The Boat Deck             Deck Plan of the boat deck


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Titanic Trivia

Crows Nest Warning: After lookouts Frederick Fleet and Reginald lee Sounded the alarm, officers on the bridge had only 37 seconds to respond before titanic struck the iceberg.

Lifeboat Drill: For reasons Unknown captain Smith cancelled the scheduled lifeboat drill due to take place on April 14, 1912

Titanic Dogs: From the nine on board Two dogs a Pekinese and a Pomeranian managed to make it into lifeboats and survived the disaster.

Smokestacks: One of titanics smokestacks was cosmetic as designers thought the ship would look more impressive with four funnels, however it did have a purpose as it provided ventilation to the turbine engine room and the reciprocating engine room.

Ripples in time: The sinking of the titanic probably changed the course of history, the loss of the world’s largest, most advanced ship deemed unsinkable not only brought about recommendations to the ship building codes, but unlike today communication in 1912 was difficult, there was no internet or mobile phones, for most of the population mail was the most common form of long distant communication, Titanic was effectively a floating post office when she sank seven million individual items of mail were lost and did not make it to their destination, this gives us food for thought as we will never know what was in all those letters.