"We are this length alright"
These two letters from Richard Edkins website, Murdoch of the Titanic, allow us a fascinating insight into the character of William Murdoch. They are written in a very confident and yet warmly manner, and rich with interesting details and concern for his family's health.
The first letter to his sister Peg mentions his disappointment at being demoted from Chief Officer to First Officer but he hastily adds that "I am hoping that it will not be for long" as the head Marine Superintendent is "favourably impressed & satisfied that everything went on A.1" clearly in reference to his duties so far on the Titanic having been successful. In the following letter, when he describes the near collision with the New York on sailing day, you can almost feel how this might impact on the ship's record and consequently his job. You can only imagine how he must have felt when the collision with an iceberg while he was in command occured, with the knowledge that everything being A.1" was certainly not the case and how unlikely it would now be, despite the Superintendent's promise, "that when Wilde goes I am to go up again."
It is interesting to note that while writing to his sister Peg in his cabin, an unnamed officer is taking his wife Ada, who he calls "Aid", on a tour of the new ship Titanic, and by the time he has finished writing the letter she appears in the room and adds her love the letter, an interesting but heartwarming detail that you can almost visualise.
On a more serious note, William references the coal strike hitting the country and the fact that due to "holidays are on" he is having difficulty getting men to work on Titanic despite being offered overtime rates. In the second shorter letter to his parents, he also mentions how the coal strike has impacted on Titanic's speed, "only going at 19 or 20 knots per hour" (Titanic had a top speed of 24 knots which is 27 1/2 miles per hour). It seems poignant that he also prefaces the description of the New York near-collision with "we are this length [of the voyage] alright," without realising what was to come.