Why did Murdoch allow men into the lifeboats?

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Okay, I watched A Night To Remember for the first time last night and it was pretty good. One question I have though, why did Murdoch allow men into the lifeboats on "his" side of the ship? I didn't notice it so much in the latest Titanic movie but it really stood out in ANTR. The boats were empty on Murdoch's side and people were just calmly sitting in the boats waiting to be lowered, in stark contrast to the chaos on the other side, where only women and children were allowed to get into the lifeboats.

Sorry for rambling, but I just found it strange that the Captain instructed them to load only women and children but Murdoch also allowed men to board.

-- Emma (dilemma76@hotmail.com), September 23, 1998


At least initially, the reason was that there were empty spaces that it seemed a shame to waste. Many women refused at first to get in the boats; most passengers did not know the extent of the crisis.

It also seems that Captain Smith's orders were less than clear. He said, "women and children first." Some officers took that to mean no men, period, while others interpreted it to mean that men could get in if no other women and children were willing and waiting. Typical of Smith that night, he didn't act with decisiveness or see that his orders (however he meant them) were carried out correctly.

-- Thomas Shoebotham (cathytom@ix.netcom.com), September 23, 1998.

Thanks for that Thomas. :-) I understand it a little better now.

-- Emma (dilemma76@hotmail.com), September 23, 1998.

I read that in real life, (like shown in the movie) Murdoch was trying to get people aboard (women and children), but that in some boats near the bow of the ship, the only people around were a few women and some men. And that he tried getting people (women) but practically everyone was scrambling for the stern, and therefore, he had to let men on so that the space wasn't wasted. That coupled with the fact that those boats had to be launched quickly since the ship was going down.

He didn't have time to wait for people to come down there.

Like in the movie he says "Where IS everyone?" and the guy replies "they're all still aft, sir."

So what i heard was that in real life, Murdoch was trying to follow orders, but that when everyone was scrambling to the stern, he just tried to save as many lives as possible at that moment and location.

hope that helps


-- Josephine (jodiscott@msn.com), September 24, 1998.

Just to expand a little on Tom's answer, most of the men passengers who left in lifeboats did so in the first lifeboats to be launched, when the seriousness of the situation was not apparent even to most of the officers (another little slip-up on Capt. Smith's part), let alone the passengers. In those early boats, the officers had difficulty getting **anyone** to climb in. In addition to there being room, as Tom mentioned, Murdoch perhaps felt that allowing men to board the boats would reassure the women and encourage them to leave the ship as well.

In the late boats, Murdoch became more strict about enforcing the 'women and children first' rule, although he did allow Billy Carter and Bruce Ismay to leave in Collapsible C. Again, though, most passengers had moved aft, and there was room, so he allowed them to leave.

On the other side, 2nd Officer Lightoller was much more rigid in carrying out Smith's orders. For him, it was 'women and children ONLY,' even if it meant sending boats away half-full (or less).


-- Kip Henry (kip-henry@ouhsc.edu), September 24, 1998.

Thanks for your answers everyone. It makes sense now, no more confusion for little ol' me :-)

-- Emma (dilemma76@hotmail.com), September 25, 1998.

I have read many Titanic books and it seems if was not for Murdoch how many more lives would have been lost, he allowed the women & children in first and the men were allowed if there was space. Which it think should have been the correct procedure. But on the port side it was women and children ONLY with 2 crew men to a boat. Which i think is a discrace as so many men lost their lives with nearly all the port side boats launched heavilly underfilled

-- Jonathan Mall (jonathanmall88@hotmail.com), July 05, 2003.

my grate uncle was on the ship

-- bob robson (bob@btinternet.com), October 06, 2003.

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