Captain E J Smith

Daily Echo:

HE will always be remembered as synonymous with one of the greatest disasters of modern times.

Captain Smith was 62 when he pulled the 46,000-ton liner out of Southampton for its first and last voyage.

A commodore of the White Star Fleet, he was the archetypal British sea captain - quiet, shrewd, strong in command and brave.

A Staffordshire man, he took his master's certificate at 25.

He had sailed many seas before he began his career with White Star in 1885.

Making Southampton his base, he commanded 17 White Star liners in procession, with the vessels getting progressively bigger and more important.

Captain Smith lived at Winn Road, Portswood, with his wife Eleanor and daughter Helen in a large red-brick house called Woodhead. The property was destroyed by aerial bombing during the war in 1939.

His first stroke of bad fortune came when he was in command of the "Olympic", which collided with HMS Hawke in the Solent.

The subsequent inquiry cleared him of all blame and White Star put him in charge of their newest and greatest vessel, the "Titanic".

But some seaman were superstitious and said "Captain Smith has broken his luck".

On the night of the disaster, he had been following the "invariable" practice of continuing at top speed - 22 knots - through the icefield.

He knew of the dangers and had ordered lookouts to keep a close watch for "growlers" - icebergs that show little of their presence above water.

When the fateful collison came, the Captain had been resting but it soon became clear that five of its 16 watertight compartments had been holed - enough to sink the unsinkable.

From then to the end, he kept a strong control over matters as lifeboats were lowered, despite the enormity of knowing his command was doomed.

After the Titanic sank, fireman Harry Senior saw him in the water holding a child.

He was a strong swimmer and gave the baby to those in a lifeboat.

Name: Captain Edward J. Smith OCCUPATION: Commanding the Titanic Date of Birth: January 27, 1850 Died: April 15, 1912 Local Link: Lived in Southampton

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