The Life and Mystery of First Officer William Murdoch
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William McMaster Murdoch
Date of birth: 28th of February, 1873 Place of birth: Dalbeattie, Scotland Married: 2nd of September 1907 Spouse: Ada Florence Banks Children: None Address: 94 Belmont Road, Portswood, Southampton Crew position: Titanic's First Officer Date of death: 15 April, 1912 Cause of death: Unconfirmed; body never recovered; possibly suicide
Director James Cameron's epic 1997 film "Titanic" left in its wake more than just satisfied audiences, critical acclaim and renewed interest in a tragedy in which the proverbial unsinkable collided with the unthinkable. To those who saw more than just a fictional love story placed against the backdrop of an infamous maritime disaster, there were unanswered questions regarding its historical accuracy, in particular with the depiction of its First Officer William Murdoch.
In fact, in the myriad of books and publications upon the subject, he is little more than just a passing mention despite the fact he was in command of the bridge at the time of the collision and actively involved in loading a large percentage of the eventual survivors into lifeboats.
In James Cameron's film, he is portrayed as shooting passengers and eventually taking his own life. Murdoch's hometown of Dalbeattie, Scotland, has fervently applied for a retraction of this portrayal, stating that there is no evidence to support such a dramatisation.
This website will strive to explore all the relevant information in an unbiased manner to discover who Murdoch was. A 'villain', willing to accept bribes and shoot passengers, a coward who commits suicide? Or a 'hero' who acted to the best of his ability in the face of tragedy, saving many, his reputation slighted by a director more interested in dramatic effect than historical accuracy?
The website will also attempt to address the following questions:
1. Was Murdoch having multiple affairs while being married to Ada?
2. Was Murdoch's demotion from Chief officer to First officer at the last minute evidence that there was a lack of confidence in his abilities?
3. Did Murdoch disobey maritime regulations by not allowing French Naval officer Commander Leloup aboard Titanic at Cherboug?
4. Did Murdoch make the wrong decision and/or give an incorrect steering order when faced with the iceberg?
5. Was Murdoch asleep and drunk at the time of the collision and this was covered up by surviving crew?
6. Did Murdoch knowingly not fill the lifeboats to capacity during the evacuation?
7. Did Murdoch allow men aboard lifeboats indicating he may have accepted bribes?
8. Did Murdoch shoot passengers who were swamping the last lifeboats?
9. Did Murdoch commit suicide by shooting himself in the head?
10. Did Murdoch have a dog called Rigel that saved passengers after the sinking?
About this site
This website is intended to focus solely on First Officer William Murdoch, his life and the mystery surrounding his death. Much of the information is based upon a monograph entitled "Murdoch -The Man and the Mystery" first published in 1998 and later released on two websites to facilitate the continual updating of information gleaned from latest research.
This continues to be a work in progress and so any corrections, clarifications or any additional information via the contact page is much apprecaited. Due to the sometimes emotive response surrounding a discussion of Titanic it is urged that readers who are embarking upon a quest to discover the truth put aside any prejudice due to preconceived ideas or popular opinion.