white star RMS Titanic - Officer Pitman


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




Herbert John "Bert" Pitman was the Third Officer on board the Titanic. Pitman was born in the village of Sutton Montis near Castle Cary, Somerset, England. He was the son of farmer Henry Pitman and his wife, Sarah Marchant Pitman.

Pitman first went to sea in 1895 at the age of 18 by joining the merchant navy, He served a four year apprenticeship with James Nourse Ltd. followed by five years as a deck officer. From 1904 he served one year as a deck officer with the Blue Anchor Line before moving to the Shire Line, where he served for six months. He moved to the White Star Line in 1906. While with White Star, he served as Fourth, Third and second officer on the vessels Dolphin and Majestic and as Fourth Officer on the Oceanic. Like the other junior officers, Pitman received a telegram early in 1912 directing him to report to White Star's Liverpool office at nine in the morning on 26 March of that year.

As the Titanic departed Southampton on 10 April, Pitman was assisting (now First) Officer Murdoch at the stern of the ship in supervising the casting-off of mooring ropes and taking on of tug lines, Pitman's other duties included working out celestial observation and compass deviation, general supervision of the decks, looking to the quartermasters, and relieving the bridge officers when necessary.

At the time of the collision with the iceberg, Pitman was off-duty, half-sleeping in his bunk in the Officers' Quarters. He heard and felt the collision, He was dressing for his watch when Fourth Officer Boxhall rushed in and informed him they had struck an iceberg and were taking on water, Pitman was then ordered to report to the starboard side of the ship to assist in uncovering lifeboats, after the lifeboats had been lowered Murdoch ordered Pitman to take charge of lifeboat No5.Up to this point, Pitman had expected the ship to remain afloat. After an hour in the lifeboat, however, he realized that Titanic was doomed. He watched her sink from about 400 yards away, and was one of the few to claim that she sank in one piece, Hearing the screams of those in the water, Pitman immediately decided to row back and rescue whomever he could. However, the others in his lifeboat were fearful of being mobbed and capsized, and Pitman eventually remanded his order. It was a decision that would haunt him for the rest of his life; Pitman was rescued by the Carpathia along with the other survivors.

Pitman continued to serve with the White Star Line following the Titanic disaster. He served on the liners Oceanic and Titanic's older sister Olympic, later moving from deck officer to purser because of his failing eyesight, and finally retired in the spring of 1946 after over sixty years at sea. He spent his retirement living in Pitcombe, Somerset and died of a subarachnoid haemorrhage on 7 December 1961 at the age of 84.



  places to explore on this Deck




The Gymnasium             The Bridge/Wheelhouse          The Marconi Room 


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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.