Mariner. He was the Captain of the "RMS Titanic," and by most accounts, he was last seen on the bridge of the ship. However, there are several disputed reports of his last moments. His last reported words (also disputed) were "Be British," and his body was never recovered. Born in Handley, Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent, England, he began his seafaring career as an apprentice on a clipper ship in 1869. In 1880, he joined the White Star Line as a Fourth Officer on the "Celtic." In 1887, he was promoted to Captain, and given command of the White Star steamship "Republic." From 1895 to 1902, as captain of the "Majestic," he made two voyages to South Africa during the Boer War, for which he was awarded the Transport Medal and the South African Medal (both medals are visible on his uniform in photos just before the sailing of the Titanic), and made a Commander in the Royal Navy Reserve. In 1907, Captain Smith was given command of the new White Star ship "Adriatic" for her maiden voyage. In his forty years on the sea and with more than 2 million miles on White Star ships, Captain Smith had an impeccable record, with no accidents or injuries. In June 1911, he was appointed Captain of the White Star Steamer, "RMS Olympic," the sister ship of the "Titanic" and took the ship on its maiden voyage. On September 20, 1911, Smith's unblemished record was broken when the "Olympic" (on her fifth voyage) collided with the British cruiser, "HMS Hawke," while leaving Southampton, England. Since the ship was under the absolute control of the harbor pilot when leaving port, Smith was deemed innocent of any fault. While the "Olympic" underwent repairs, Smith was transferred to the newly completed "Titanic." The maiden voyage of the "Titanic" was to be his final voyage before retirement. Known as "the Millionaire Captain" due to his popularity with the wealthy clients of his company, he was considered a highly competent seaman, polite, well mannered and a proper gentleman. At 11:40 pm, on April 14, 1912, the ship hit an iceberg, and sank in just over two and a half hours, at 2:20 am, April 15, 1912. Several witnesses reported that after the ship sank, he swam to a lifeboat with a baby in his arms, gave the baby to ship's cook John Maynard, and then swam away. (Maynard carried an unidentified baby onto the rescuing ship, "Carpathia," which he would later testify Captain Smith gave him).
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson