Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Interviews with survivors of the Titanic

I am sorry if you are all Titaniced out - and I have not listened to all of this yet - but the opening interview with Charles Lightoller is spellbinding. And I think that is because of, not in spite of, his understatement.

Lightoller was the most senior officer to survive the sinking of the Titanic and is the character played by Kenneth More in the film A Night to Remember.

Matthew Sweet once said: "You almost get the feeling watching A Night To Remember that the ship goes down simply to wipe the smug grin off of Kenneth More's face." But that is a comment on More and no reflection on Charles Lightoller.

Lightoller's seagoing adventures continued even after this recording was made, as Diamond Geezer recorded on Saturday:
After a distinguished naval career during WW1, including captaining yet another sinking vessel, Charles was edged out of White Star civilian service and into premature retirement. He used his own private motor yacht to rescue soldiers from Dunkirk, he was that kind of a bloke. 
And he ended his years managing a small boatyard in East Twickenham, the Richmond Slipways. It sounds an ideal life, pottering about by the Thames building motor launches for the London River Police, right up until he died aged 78. 
His boatyard at 1 Ducks Walk is long gone, and the riverside is now home to a Sea Cadets boating station and some rather exclusive housing. But he's remembered hereabouts, on the western side of Richmond Bridge, by an informative plaque at the foot of Riverdale Gardens.
Charles Lightoller died in 1952 at the age of 78. As Diamond Geezer tells us, his ashes were scattered at Mortlake Crematorium.

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