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Edward John Smith was born on January 27, 1850, in a town named Hanley, situated in Staffordshire, England.
Edward Smith is famous for being the passenger cruise RMS Titanic captain, which sank in 1912 during its maiden voyage. He is also believed to be one of the victims of the infamous capsizing of the majestic ship.
Edward J Smith was schooled until the age of 13 at Etruria British School. Shortly after, he left the school to operate a steam hammer at the Etruria Forge for a few years. In 1867, Edward Smith followed his brother Joseph Hancock, a ship captain, and came to Liverpool.
Edward John Smith began working on ships at the tender age of 17, only a teenager. In 1871, he became the second mate, and his journey to the upper ranks began from there. In 1875, Edward J Smith qualified in getting a master's certificate which made him eligible to become a captain of a ship, and soon after, in 1876, he became the captain of Lizzie Fennel.
In 1880, Edward Smith became a fourth officer at the White Star Line, and seven years down the line, he became the captain of the White Star Line ship. During his post as senior Captain Smith, he successfully commanded huge ships like the Adriatic, Baltic, and the Olympic. Smith was known for being liked by the crew members and passengers alike and was nicknamed 'Millionaire's Captain' because of his popularity among the first-class passengers.
As a captain, Edward J Smith had faced several difficulties and mishaps during the cruise. He was also the captain of the RMS Olympic in 1911, which was known for being the largest ship ever built, right before the Titanic.
Edward Smith was the ship's captain when it collided with another British Cruiser named Hawke on September 20, 1911. Both the ships suffered quite a lot of damage, but Captain Smith was a very able leader in the whole accident.
In 1912, Captain Smith commanded the Titanic on its maiden voyage, which started from Southampton, England, at midday on April 10, 1912, supposedly to reach the New York harbor in the USA. Titanic had a reputation for being the 'unsinkable ship,' a ship that was the safest one ever built. The first few days of the voyage were uneventful, but three days later, on April 14, 1912, the radio operators on Titanic received almost six messages about iceberg warnings in their vicinity. After these reports, Captain Smith ordered a few minor changes in their course but did not reduce the ship's speed.
An enormous iceberg was found directly in the ship's route on the same night, and Captain Smith ordered a diversion. It is said that Captain Smith was away from the bridge when the infamous collision took place, after which the Titanic sank within hours. It is said that the captain of the ship, Edward John Smith, drowned with the ship during the accident, although there are several varying reports which describe his final moments. The Titanic sank at around 2:20 AM on April 15, 1912, taking the lives of more than 1,500 passengers, including Captain Smith.
It was very common for sea captains of North Atlantic liners to prioritize timekeeping over other problems, as they opted to arrive on time and stick to a rigid schedule. This mentality might have contributed to Captain Smith's final call for diverting the ship's route rather than taking it slow.
Also, Edward J Smith had been a captain for more than 20 years when he was the captain of the Titanic. Hence, he had an idea from previous experience that ice did not pose many risks, which led him to make the decisions that unfortunately proved fatal in the end.
During the ship's evacuation, many people have various reports of his behavior. Some claim that he tried his best to calm the panicking passengers and assist the ship's crew with evacuation and getting people on the lifeboats. Many other people claim that the adversity and overpowering enormity of the situation shocked him and paralyzed him from making any rational decisions.
Many survivors claim that he made a few orders of gathering the people to board the lifeboats. Still, he could not think of anything as the situation became dire. Many claimed to have watched the captain walk around in shock and confusion, as he could not convey any information correctly to the crew or any staff members.
Sometime before the ship sank, Captain Smith started giving orders to all the crew members to abandon their duties and reach for the nearest lifeboat to save themselves. It is said that during his final tour of the deck, he was telling all the crew members, 'Now it's every man for himself.'
A few minutes before the ship took its final plunge, one of the stewards onboard the vessel claims that he heard Captain Smith say in his megaphone, 'Well boys, you've done your duty and done it well. I ask no more of you. I release you. Do your best for the women and children, and look out for yourselves.' It is also reported that Captain Smith made some statements that hinted towards his demise, wherein he said that he would sink with the ship in times of a disaster. Captain Smith's body was never found after the accident.
For his bravery and stoicism in the face of adversity, Edward J Smith was known as the 'stiff upper lip' of British culture, which is a very British characteristic of being disciplined and faithful to one's word.
Many witness reports make various claims about how Captain Smith arrived at his end. What could be concluded by the statements of many people is that he was actually in a state of shock due to the tragic enormity of the situation on the maiden voyage of a supposedly 'unsinkable' ship. This involved the lives of thousands of passengers, even when he had been out at sea for more than 40 years and a captain for more than 20.
There are several conflicting accounts leading to Captain Smith's death. Many people claim that he supervised people into lifeboats and constantly lowered them into the water. He started to ask all the crew members to abandon their duties and try to get onto a lifeboat. Some people claim that he did not make any efforts in getting the people on lifeboats and went around giving vague and irrational orders.
As for his death, some survivors claim that they saw Captain Smith enter the ship's wheelhouse on the bridge right before it drowned under the water. Others argue that they watched Captain Smith dive into the water and jump to his death. One newspaper also reported that due to overwhelming emotions, Captain Smith shot himself, but those reports were deemed to be untrue. Many other people claim that Captain Smith was swimming in the water and helping a small infant from drowning in the frigid water.
These people claim that Captain Smith brought the child to a lifeboat and went back to find more people in need once the baby was safe. Many people also claim that he was probably drowned by a huge wave that crashed on the ship's deck, while some say that he said 'I will follow the ship' before looking for any survivors while swimming in the frigid water. Many survivors also claim that Captain Smith tried to board a lifeboat, but unfortunately, that boat capsized from too many passengers, which led to his death.
Because these accounts are so conflicting with each other, it is difficult to determine the cause of Captain Smith's death, what with the chaotic situation that might have ensued during the calamity. In the end, though, Captain Smith's body was never really found, which makes it more challenging to determine the cause of his death.
Did you know that Smith retired from the RNR in 1905 with the rank of Commander?
Edward Smith had started working at sea at the young age of 13 and had an experience of almost 40 years. He commanded ships as a senior captain in White Star Line and North Atlantic for more than 27 years combined.
This is said to be the most complex and huge crisis which Captain Smith faced in his entire time as a sea captain. According to Robert Ballard's book named 'The Discovery of Titanic,' it is mentioned that Captain Smith was on the bridge of the Titanic minutes before the ship sank into the water.
Captain Smith or Edward Smith was about 62 years old when he died aboard the RMS Titanic, which was on its maiden voyage and known to be the unsinkable ship, which took merely 3 hours to drown itself entirely into the water. Captain Smith has died as a hero who tried to save everyone from their doom on a sinking ship.
What were the last words of Edward Smith?
Edward John Smith RD RNR was a British navy commander who served from January 27, 1850, to April 15, 1912. He was the captain of the RMS Titanic. A glacier sank the Titanic on its first voyage, killing him and John Cunningham and most of the Titanic's crew. He grew up in a working family and dropped out of school to join the merchant marine and the Royal Naval Reserve.
He joined the White Star Line, a prominent British corporation, after receiving his master's ticket. He advanced fast through the ranks and received his diploma in 1887. The SS Celtic was his first command. He was the commanding officer of several White Star Line ships, including the Majestic (which he led for nine years), and he drew a large and devoted following of passengers.
According to newspaper sources, Edward Smith exhorted everyone on board to 'Be British guys, be British!' as the fatal plunge began. Although this is written on his memorial and depicted in the 1996 TV miniseries, it is a myth popularised at the time by the British press.
Edward Smith would have stated these remarks to the crew if he had said them to anyone, but none of the surviving crew members claimed he did. Because Steward Brown's report of Smith is the last reliable sighting of him issuing commands before heading onto the bridge, as Edward Smith died, his last words would be 'Well guys, do your best for the women and children, and look out for yourselves.'
Beginning in 1895, Smith served as the captain of the Majestic for nine years. Majestic was tasked with transporting troops to Cape Colony when the Boer War broke out in 1899. Smith made two journeys to South America, both of which went off without a hitch, and in 1903, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his service. Smith attended the Etruria British School until he was 13 years old when he left to work in the Etruria Forge as a steam hammer operator. In 1867, at the age of 17, he followed in the footsteps of his half-brother Joseph Hancock, a sailing ship captain. Smith wore his two honors while in uniform as a member of the Royal Naval Reserve: the Decoration for Officers of the Royal Naval Reserve and the Transport Medal. Smith, as one of the world's most experienced sea captains, was assigned to command the Olympic, the first ship in a new class of ocean liners that was, at the time, the world's largest vessel.
His first White Star command, the Republic, came in 1887. Smith gained his Extra Master's Certificate and enlisted in the Royal Naval Reserve in 1888, earning a commission as a Lieutenant and the letters' RNR' after his name. This meant that he might be called upon to serve in the Royal Navy in the event of a conflict. Smith earned the moniker 'Millionaires' Captain.' Smith captained the White Star Line's newest ships on their maiden journeys beginning in 1904.
More significant commands William M. Murdoch, Joseph Evans, David Alexander, and Edward Smith aboard Olympic Smith was Majestic's captain for nine years commencing in 1895. Captain Edward J. Smith joined the White Star Line in 1880 as the Fourth Officer of the SS Celtic.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created many interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Captain Smith facts, then why not take a look at Captain America facts or Captain Marvel facts?
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