Bruce Ismay {The rest of his life?} : LUSENET : TitanicShack : One Thread

I read where Bruce Ismay, President of the White Star Line, underwent a great deal of criticism, both at the hearings and by the newspapers after the Calipurnia returned to New York. He was really castigated for getting in a lifeboat while hundreds of women and children drow. In addition, there was always the suspicion (although never proved) that he pressured Captain Smith to speed up the liner. Ismay died in Ireland in 1939. My question: Did he ever give any interviews after 1913 until his death? What was his life like after his retirement from the White Star Line?

-- Walt Dervin (, February 23, 1998


Response to Bruce Ismay

J. Bruce Ismay never really recovered from the stigma of Titanic and his actions during and after the disaster. He retired as Chairman of White Star on June 30, 1913 and really got out of the public eye and reach after that. He was exonerated by the British Inquiry for his actions but that didn't stop or change public opinion of him. He pretty much became a recluse of sorts and died October 17, 1937 of a stroke at his home. As far as I know he never gave any interviews after he retired, or before for that matter.

Regards, Peter

-- Peter Nivling (, February 23, 1998.

Response to Bruce Ismay

I suspect the only "interviews" he gave on the subject were in the US Senate and British BOT inquiries. Several writers have noted that after Ismay's "retirement" from IMM and White Star, it was forbidden to even mention the ship's name in his presence. His wife was quoted years later as saying that the Titanic had nearly destroyed their family.

The story of Ismay pressuring Smith to maintain speed was put forward by first class passenger Elizabeth Lines, who overheard Ismay and Smith in the D-deck Reception Room on Sunday afternoon. Although he denied the conversation, I suspect Ms. Lines was telling the truth.


-- Kip Henry (, February 23, 1998.

Response to Bruce Ismay

Kip: I agree about the speed thing. I believe Ismay was on the Olympic on her maiden voyage, as I guess he was on all of the maiden voyages, and they poured on the coal to get to New York sooner than expected. I don't see any reason he would "change his spots" when he went on Titanic, and with the same Captain. I am really convinced that the conversation between Ismay and Smith took place.

Regards, Peter

-- Peter Nivling (, February 24, 1998.

I too was unable to find any facts other than the above mentioned However, I do believe Bruce Ismay pressured Captain Smith into speeding Titanic up in order to gain publicitity for his company. He acted arrogantly and dangerously and was very much to blame for his part in the loss of many lives and a great ship. He got off lightly being outcast from society. Many decent people died in the icy waters because of his actions, while he fled like a coward.

-- Stephen Parr (, July 21, 2001.

Mr. Ismay and his wife end up at one of Jay Gatsby's parties, at which they meet Nick Carraway. It's true! Read The Great Gatsby!

-- unknown (, July 27, 2001.

i read BRUCE ISMAY'S biography.i sincerely feel the accusations that were hurled on BRUCE ISMAY were legitimate. BRUCE was a coward & he shamelessly boarded the life boat without any concern for the dying crew members. the fact that he spent the rest of his life in solitude was the result of his heartless act.

-- PRASANNA VENKATESH (, December 24, 2002.

I am writing to your questions. Ismay was the escape goat, and he would always be blamed for this terrible accident. Ismay had a terrible life after the Titanic sank, because he knows what he did wrong. He got off on one of the last life boats, leaving behind costumers and crew. WHAT A COWARD. Ismay stayed in the nicest and biggest suite onboard the Titanic, and when he got onboard the Carpathia, he went un noticed into the doctor's room, and got off the boat last, so he could be un noticed and not interviewed. I'm sure someone saw Ismay come off the boat, or tracked him down, so he probably had interviews.

-- Michael Smith (, May 08, 2003.

Hi. This man is very EVIL and mean. He had NNOO life whatsoever after the titanic. He should be floating down at the bottom of the sea with all the other poor little peeps! He should rot in the devils lap.

-- jason simpson (, May 08, 2003.

Also flippant for anyone to pass judgement on a person when they have never experienced such trauma themselves. Ask yourselves how would you behave under such circumstances? Let's hope you never have to find out.

The Times obituary recalls some interesting insights into Ismay's personality:

[He was a man] 'of striking personality and in any company arrested attention and dominated the scene. Those who knew him slightly found his personality overpowering and in consequence imagined him too be hard, but his friends knew this was but the outward veneer of a shy and highly sensitive nature, beneath which was hidden a depth of affection and understanding which is given to but few. Perhaps his outstanding characteristic was his deep feeling and sympathy for the 'underdog' and he was always anxious to help anyone in trouble. Another notable trait was an intense dislike of publicity which he would go to great lengths to avoid.

His diary documents his life that few could fail to be moved by. It can be found at's_diary.htm

-- Ruth King (, July 28, 2003.

I have been interested in great ships for years and a tragety such as titanic and its sister ships were horrific. But i believe even if the conversation occured between bruce ismay and the captain ,he had the and moral and human obligation when he knew the ship was sinking to give up any right to a seat in the life boats which could have been used for a passenger man woman or child.Therefore he rightly spent a life thereafter of remorse and guilt.He put himself before passengers and crew (appauling). He never according to official records gave an interview and answered the world the question WHY? and HOW DO YOU LIVE WITH YOURSELF?My heart goes out to the lost souls on H.M.S TITANIC.

-- jean fraser (, August 18, 2003.

To answer the original question:

Ismay did live as something of a recluse, but is noted for two things:

First, he contributed large amounts of cash to funds for survivors of the Titanic crew and to seamens organizations, 50,000 here, 125,000 there, which, given that it was the early 1900s, was a rather huge sum; and during WWI he served on a thing called the War Risks Board in England, an advisory panel on shipping insurance I believe, so he did attempt to contribute to society. He never gave interviews about the Titanic after his testimony before the various investigatory boards.

One other note: Ismay was not the "owner" of the Titanic. Neither was White Star. White Star was itself a subsidiary of IMM, a holding company of which Ismay was a partner, along with J.P. Morgan of New York fame. THe Titanic, don't forget, was also the "RMS Titanic" -- not "SS' for Steam ship, nor HMS, His Majestuy's Ship (a government owned vessel), but RMS, "Royal Mail Ship," -- it was IMM's way of getting the British Government to help fund the porject by saying it would carry mail sacks back and forth -- in other words, whatever one thinks of Ismay, there were a LOT of people who could have insisted on the ship carrying more lifeboats or whatever.

-- Chris (, September 13, 2003.

By the way, that link to "BRuce Ismay's Diary" is a crock. That ISN'T ismay's diary -- it's some nut who thinks he/she "channels" Ismay's spirit or something.

-- chris (, September 13, 2003.

Thanks Chris for contributing some sense to this discussion. There appear to be a lot of people out there who obviously have no idea of the facts in relation to Titanic. I'm not saying that Joseph Bruce Ismay was blameless, but there were a lot of factors involved in the events of that night. For a start, the whole thing was a terrible accident which could quite easily have happened to any ship at any time in the early 20th century. Secondly, Chris is quite right in saying that it was not just J. Bruce Ismay's decision as to whether to instal more lifeboats - it is unlikely that he had much say in this at all. Thirdly, there are many accounts from survivors that J. Bruce Ismay assisted many people into lifeboats on that fateful night and that he only got into the lifeboat when he did because no-one else would get in. I have no idea whether these accounts are true or not, but whether they are true or not, the truth went down with the ship, and we have no wat of ever knowing what really happened. Fourthly, the ship was only ever described as "practically" unsinkable, and this description was helpfully donated by the press. Finally, would the sinking of RMS Titanic have attracted nearly as much attention had the ship not sunk on her maiden voyage? I think not. So rather than opening old wounds with groundless conjecture, let our thoughts go to those who died.

-- BB (, October 02, 2003.

I recently saw the Mistery of Titanic movie and being interested of the figure of Ismay.
Only a word: In one of the safety boats, a young female decided to go out to save the rest of lifes in. She only said "I dont have family and here are many females with sons and their families. I must go" . Nice and human act of the young female and coward, intolerable and repetead criminal acts of inhuman Ismay. People is measured by its acts. Bravo for this brave girl!

-- Joan Maci Prat (, January 19, 2004.

Heres an excerpt of the statement he gave to the Senate Inquiry on 20th April 1912:

"...the was a certain number of men in the boat, and the officer called out if there were any more womem or children, and there were no passengers in our sight on the deck, although we could hear them from afar, and as the boat was in the act of being lowered down, I just got into it."

As far I my know, he said nothing about Titanic to anybody after his now infamous interview with the British paper, The Times on June 12th 1912.

-- Luke (, February 05, 2004.

Ismay was initially forbidden to enter his lifeboat until he told the crewman "I'm Ismay." the crewman glared at him in disgust according to witnesses in the boat and said nothing as Ismay climbed in.

philanthropy mentioned above must be set against the fact that the ownership charged the families of the band for the uniforms they drowned in, and paid the families of the crew only the per- mile rate to the point where they went down, about 40% of the agreed upon share. really, so stingy they had to have been deranged.

nearby ships didn't help because the great liners were indifferent to the fishing boats they ran over routinely, following their "ram you damn you" policy.

the titanic's wireless operator had been commanding other ships to be "QUIET, FOOL!" all evening, so he could send personal letters from the wealthy, rather than radio for help.

and more.

-- Michael Zempter (, June 24, 2004.

Ismay only did what most people would do which was to save yourself from death, yes i know it was wrong for him to speed up the ship but he wanted to show how proud he was of it. Don't forget that it was the biggest, best and most expensive ship in the whole world at the time. Titanic will never be forgotten even to this very day and we will never forget whose who never made it alive...

-- Lee Ashley Bryant (UK) (, September 30, 2004.

Ismay only did what most people would do which was to save yourself from death, yes i know it was wrong for him to speed up the ship but he wanted to show how proud he was of it. Don't forget that it was the biggest, best and most expensive ship in the whole world at the time. Titanic will never be forgotten even to this very day and we will never forget whose who never made it alive... (2004)

-- Lee Ashley Bryant (UK) (, September 30, 2004.

Bruce Ismay was trying to save himself, but he should have somebody else go. He should have not told captain E.J. Smith to keep the Titanic going so fast in the icefields. I also think that it was mostly wireless operators' fault. Because didn't the captain about the iceberg.

-- shane garza (, December 06, 2004.

Well I only watched the movie TITANIC last week for the first time and in my opinion is that Mr. Ismay wasn't the only one who's responsible for the disaster of TITANIC because as we all seen Captain Smith was getting the iceberg warnings in his hands and he didn't pay attention and he kept maintain speed which it was wrong... and as we all know he had 26 years of experience in the sea and he should know that was wrong!!!!!

BUT what I really liked was Mr. Thomas Andrews he was a real hero and the way he died it was like a real hero he saved people as much as he could and at the end he was front of the clock and waiting for the end cause he knows that there is no chance.

-- alaa el chanti (, December 08, 2004.

I happened upon this page today, and am the surviving great nephew of Bruce Ismay. J. Bruce Ismay was nothing less than a hero. He saved many lives that night, and it is correct to say he took his spot on the lifeboat only to provide a legitimate account of what happened that terrible evening.

Bruce Ismay was an absolute hero. He deserved a spot on the lifeboat much more than the average passenger; his story from a designer/builder perspective was much more important for posterity and the safety of future ships than, say, some third class passenger who could offer nothing of import. I hate to put it that way, but my family has been brutalized for generations because of Bruce Ismay's remarkable heroism.

-- Thomas Ismay (, January 02, 2005.

This is to "Thomas Ismay" -

You are not Bruce Ismays nephew; you are a son of a bitch pretending to be someone you're not. Its obvious in that your email address "" supports no names of Thomas or Ismay, and secondly, the piece that you just wrote ("Bruce Ismay was an absolute hero. He deserved a spot on the lifeboat...")I have seen that before in a book about the Titanic I read a few years back, except for the family bit you probably added at the end!

Anyway, despite your lying I do agree with you that Ismay had every right to be in that lifeboat. As you said he did save the lives of many that night - sort of!

-- Ray (, February 18, 2005.

We could really find out if Thomas Ismay(denvermom) is for real or not. My mother-in-law lived with the son and granddaughter of J. Bruce Ismay in Europe, so it would be interesting to see if he could tell of the other family members, that he surely should know.


-- Paula Quinn (, March 06, 2005.

At this very time we are doing the stage version of the titaic, i think that brus ismay was not all to blame i think the captain could of not speed up as it should have been at his jugment wether to go faster or not. but lets not go killing all the people who play captain smith as thats the role i take.

-- Elliot Styche (, March 07, 2005.

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