Category Archives: Ocean

Thought of the Day 9.21.12 Henry Tingle Wilde

“I still don’t like this ship . . . I have a queer feeling about it.”

–Henry Tingle Wilde

Henry Tingle Wilde, Jr was the Chief Officer of the Titanic. [Image courtesy: Wikipedia]

Henry Tingle Wilde was born on this day in Walton, Liverpool, England in 1872. Today is the 140th anniversary of his birth.

Wilde was drawn to the sea at an early age. At 17 he left his home for an apprenticeship on the iron sailing ship the Greystoke Castle — a three mast, square sail vessel– as a third mate. He served on the Greystoke’s sister ship the Hornby Castle, also as third mate. He was posted to the steamships the S.S. Brunswick and the S.S. Europa before joining the White Star Line in 1897. He was a Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve, and held ordinary and extra masters certificates.

The Hornby Castle, a sailing ship that Wilde trained on. He worked on both sail and steam vessels.  [Image Courtesy Wreck Site]

Starting in 1905 he transferred to the White Star passenger line, working mostly on the Liverpool to New York, and Australian routes. He rose in the ranks aboard The Arabic, The Covic, The Cufic, The Tauric, the Celtic, the Medic, The Delphic, the Cymric and The Olympic until he reached the rank of Chief Officer under Captain Edward John Smith on The Olympic.

The Titanic [Image courtesy: Mail Online]

Smith transferred to the White Star’s newest vessel, The Titanic as her Captain. Wilde was due to ship out with The Olympicbut White Star officials sent word for him to stay in Southampton and await further orders. At 39 and with years of experience he was certainly seasoned enough to get his own ship. But Captain Smith wanted to add experience to his senior staff and he requested that Wilde join the crew as Chief Officer. Wilde debated the move. His family urged him to take the position, but, as he wrote in a letter to his sister…

“I still don’t like this ship…I have a queer feeling about it…” [Henry Tingle Wilde, Chief Officer by Christine Ehren,]

He officially joined The Titanic crew on April 9th, the day before she sailed. The post was for the great ship’s maiden voyage only. And it meant that the other senior officers would be shifted down in rank. William Murdoch became first officer, Charles Lightoller became second officer. The man originally slated to be second officer, David Blair, did not make the journey. The junior officers retained their positions.

Henry Tingle Wilde in his summer white uniform, that he wore on the Olympia. [Image courtesy: Encyclopedia Titanica]

Publicity still from the Movie Titanic. Mark Lindsay Chapman, third from the left, plays Chief Officer Henry Tingle. He stands just to the left of Bernard Hill who is playing Captain Smith. [Image courtesy: William]


The Titanicleft Southampton, England on April 10th, 1912 with stops at Cherbourg, France and Queenstown, Ireland before heading west across the Atlantic toward New York. Wilde had the 2-6 AM and the 2-6 PM shifts as “Officer of the Watch.” So he was not on the bridge when the ship hit an iceberg at 11:40 PM on April 14th.

Wilde was in charge of the loading the even-numbered lifeboats on the port side of the ship. (He also distributed firearms to the senior officers.) He adhered strictly to Captain Smith’s order to “put women and children in and lower away…” so the boats from that side of the ship only contained women, children and two crew members (to work the boats). When all the boats on his side of the ship were launched he went to starboard side of the ship. Some survivors recall seeing him attempting to release Boat A or B from the roof the Officers’ Quarters when the Titanic’s deck flooded.

Schematic of Titanic. [Image courtesy: Mail Online]

Survivor George Rheims wrote in a letter dated just days after the sinking:

“While the last boat was leaving, I saw an officer with a revolver fire a shot and kill a man who was trying to climb into it. As there remained nothing else for him to, the officer told us, “Gentlemen, each man for himself. Good bye.” He gave a military salute and then fired a bullet into his head. That’s what I call a man!” [Henry Tingle Wilde, Chief Officer by Christine Ehren,]

But it isn’t known if that officer was Wilde or First Officer Murdoch. It doesn’t matter. If he didn’t die of a self-inflicted gunshot wound he died a few minutes later in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic. His body was never found. He was 39 years old.

In 1998 the newspaper Liverpool Echo wrote about Wilde’s role on the Titanic as follows:

Liverpool’s forgotten hero, Chief Officer Henry Wilde… from Walton, flits through the enquiry evidence but witnesses have described how Wilde supervised the loading of the lifeboats and stopped 100 people rushing them by the sheer force of his personality….He is believed to have prevented a panic which would have led to even greater losses. [Henry Tingle Wilde, Chief Officer by Christine Ehren,]

 He was survived by four children (he had recently lost his wife and twin boys.)


Thanks to J.G.Burnette at for suggesting Henry Wilde as the Thought of the Day Birthday Bio for today. J.G. is a big Titanic fan and was able to give me both the name and birthdate so I could start my research.–I hope I found some new nugget for your Titanic files! — IF YOU have some one you’d like to see profiled on Thought of the Day please let me know. Cheers, Rita


Thought of the Day 8.1.12 Herman Melville

“To the last, I grapple with thee; From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee; For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee”

–Herman Melville


Photo of Herman Melville

Photo of Herman Melville (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Herman Melvill was born this day on 1819 in New York City. Today is the 193 Anniversary of his birth.

He was the third of eight children. He grew up in Boston and Albany.  His father, Allan Melvill, was a successful merchant and the family lived comfortably for several years until an unsuccessful trading venture led to financial ruin. The elder Melvill sparked Herman’s love for adventure and the sea with stores of seafaring excitement and faraway places. Herman was 12 when his father died and the family moved to Lansingburg on the Hudson. It was then that his mother added the “e” to the end of the family name, and Melvill became Melville.

He got a job on a ship bound from New York to Liverpool as a cabin boy.  After several years as a teacher he heard the call of the sea again. In 1840 he signed on with the Acushnet from Fairhaven, Massachusetts. The ship left port for an 18 month journey in Pacific journey in January of 1841.  The Acushnet was a whaler and much of his material for Moby-Dick came from his time on board the ship. By the time they reached the Marquesas Islands in July of 1842 Melville had had enough of life on the Acushnet.

He deserted the ship and lived among the Typee tribe for three weeks. He then joined the crew of another whaler, this one, an  Australian ship called the Lucy Ann, was bound for Tahiti. Melville participated in a mutiny and landed in jail. Upon his release he signed up with yet another whaler and made it as far as Honolulu where he jumped ship again. He worked as a clerk until he was able to sign on with the USS United States which got him back to Boston in 1844. There Melville began to write about his adventures.

Cover of "Typee (Signet classics)"

Cover of Typee (Signet classics)

Typee is a quasi-autobiographical adventure novel about Tommo’s four month stay on a tropical paradise amidst the “nobel savages” (or cannibals) who may or may not be about to eat him,  and his relationship with the beautiful, and exotic, Faraway. He had trouble fining an American publisher, but the book was an overnight success when it was published in England. Omoo, continued the tale, again roughly following Melville’s adventures in the Pacific. Mardi, and a Voyage Thither showed a more sophisticated writing style. It was not a successful as the straight forward narratives of Typee and Omoo. In 1849 He published Redburn : His First Voyage, the fictionalized account of his first sea journey  as a cabin boy. In 1850 White-Jacket, based on his time as a seaman on the USS United States, was published. Because of its graphic depiction’s of flogging the U.S. Navy banned the punishment.

Sadly at this point the tides seem to have turned in his literary career. His popularity waned. Other books didn’t garner critical or popular acclaim in his lifetime. The Confidence-Man, Pierre, Billy Budd, and even Moby-Dick had to wait until a Melville revival, some 30 years after his death, to get their rightful praise.

Herman Melville: Moby-Dick

Herman Melville: Moby-Dick (Photo credit: wolfgraebel)

Melville went on the lecture circuit to supplement his writing income. He then moved his family to New York City and worked at the New York Custom House. He continued to write, working on both poetry and fiction, until his death.

Thought of the Day 6.11.12

“The best way to observe a fish is to become a fish.”

Jacques Cousteau

Jacques Cousteau was born this day in Saint-Andre-de-Cubzac, France in 1910, he would be 102 years old.

Cousteau was a famous researchers and conservationist who brought the wonders of the “Undersea World” to life to millions through his books, movies and television shows in the 1950s and 60s.

He co-developed the Aqua-lung and was the captain of the Calypso  research vessel.

Picture of Jacques-Yves Cousteau.

Picture of Jacques-Yves Cousteau. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

%d bloggers like this: