Edward Smith (sea captain)

Eyridiki Sellou | Sep 24, 2022

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Edward John Smith (Hanley, England, January 27, 1850 - North Atlantic Ocean, April 15, 1912) was a British sailor, mainly known for having been captain and commodore of the White Star Line shipping company and the commanding officer of the RMS Titanic during its first and only voyage in 1912. Raised in a working-class family, he left school at the age of thirteen to work in the Etruria forge. Smith subsequently entered the merchant navy in 1867, and in 1880 managed to join the White Star Line, one of the leading British shipping companies of the time, after receiving his officer's certificate. He quickly rose through the company's hierarchy and in 1887 was placed in command of the SS Republic. He subsequently commanded other ships, mainly the RMS Majestic, which he commanded for almost nine years.

Gradually acquiring great popularity, he was promoted to commodore of the White Star in 1904 and went on to command the company's largest ships. He was successively captain of the RMS Baltic, the RMS Adriatic and the RMS Olympic. His career was relatively quiet, being disturbed only by two troop transport missions during the Second Boer War.

In 1911 Smith took command of Titanic's sister ship, the Olympic, which was then the largest passenger ship ever built; however, she failed to avoid a collision with the cruise ship HMS Hawke in September of that year. The following year he was appointed to captain the Titanic on her maiden voyage; the ship collided with an iceberg on the night of April 14 and sank in the Atlantic Ocean, perishing in the wreck. After his death, several tributes were held in his memory, and he was subsequently portrayed in several films about the Titanic tragedy.

Edward John Smith was born in the small village of Hanley, Staffordshire, England, on January 27, 1850, in the bosom of a very humble family dedicated to the pottery and of Methodist confession. Edward John was the only son of the marriage of Edward Smith (November 11, 1804-October 7, 1864) and Catherine Hancock (1808-1893), who were married on August 2, 1841 in Shelton, Staffordshire. He grew up in a poor neighborhood where few of its inhabitants managed to lead a successful professional career and many children began working early in the potteries. Later, his parents owned a store in Well Street (Hanley).

His deeply religious family attended the Etruria Methodist Church in Hanley. Young Edward Smith received a good education at the Etruria British School, but left school at the age of thirteen to work in the Etruria forge handling a pile hammer.

Early years and start on the White Star Line

In 1867, Edward Smith moved to Liverpool and joined the merchant navy, following in the footsteps of his half-brother Joseph Hancock, a sailing ship captain, embarking on several vessels and working as a cabin boy. Later, in 1869, Smith embarked on the Senator Weber, of the A. Gibson & Co. Gibson & Co. as an apprentice officer, obtaining his certificate in 1875 and sailing the following year as fourth mate on the Lizzie Fennell.

Smith was hired in 1880 by the White Star Line, beginning work as fourth mate on the SS Celtic. In the following years Smith commanded several of the company's ships, among them the SS Britannic, the SS Baltic, the SS Cufic, the SS Coptic, the SS Adriatic, the SS Runic and the SS Germanic. With the exception of the Coptic in 1889, the rest of the ships operated on the transatlantic route.

In 1895 he took command of the RMS Majestic, serving as her captain continuously until 1902. During the Second Boer War, the Majestic, captained by Smith, was requisitioned for two troop transport voyages to Cape Town, Cape Colony. In 1901 he had to deal with a case of spontaneous combustion in one of the Majestic's coal bunkers, but the incident was not serious. Such an event occurred two other times in his career: first on the RMS Baltic in 1906 and then on the RMS Titanic in 1912. In 1902, still as captain of the Majestic, Smith had to perform maneuvers on the ship to avoid colliding with icebergs. His ship underwent a refit between 1902 and 1903, so he was temporarily transferred as captain to the Germanic. Smith resumed command of the Majestic after her refit and captained her for another year before becoming commodore of the White Star.


Even then Smith was the most highly rated captain in his line, highly recommended and recognized by the English high society. Smith became commodore of the White Star Line in 1904, which meant that he would command the company's largest ships, each vessel commissioned by the company being larger and more imposing than the last. His first command in such a position was of the RMS Baltic, third ship of the Big Four, during her maiden voyage on June 29, 1904.

Three years later, on May 8, 1907, he took command of the new RMS Adriatic, sister ship of the Baltic, and became very popular and mediatic in the English press, giving many interviews for his hitherto uneventful career and becoming known as the safest and most experienced captain on the White Star Line. Smith made a statement about his career immediately after arriving in New York on the Adriatic's maiden voyage:

Despite that comment, Smith had a few incidents in his career. While in command of the Coptic in 1889, the ship ran aground while in Rio de Janeiro, and twenty years later the same problem occurred while serving on the Adriatic in New York, however neither of these incidents had serious consequences.

During his time at Adriatic, he eventually earned the nickname "King of the Storm", but of his many nicknames, the one that stood out the most was "Captain of the Millionaires".

Because of his quiet, comforting and calm personality, Smith was well liked in the maritime environment, and caused many wealthy passengers to develop a great affection for him, with some even preferring not to travel if Smith was not in command of the ship. Many sailors and officers shared the same opinion and greatly enjoyed working alongside him. Charles Lightoller wrote in his memoirs that Captain Smith always maintained a calm and benevolent tone of voice, but still charged with authority. He particularly mentioned the skill with which Smith maneuvered his ships through the channels of New York Harbor.

At the helm of the RMS Olympic

Following the Adriatic and her siblings, the White Star Line decided to commission the construction of a new series of ships of never-before-seen proportions: the so-called Olympic class. As the company's commodore, Smith would command each of the new ships during their first voyages. It was around the same time that Smith also became one of the highest paid seafarers of his time, with an annual salary of £1,250, plus a £200 bonus for making collision-free sailings. By comparison, Henry Wilde, his chief officer on Olympic and Titanic, earned approximately £300 a year.

He took command of the RMS Olympic, the first of three planned ships, on June 14, 1911 for her maiden voyage. Prior to the voyage, Smith visited King Alfonso XIII of Spain, who was so pleased with his visit that he later personally sent a letter of condolence to his wife, Eleanor Smith, upon learning of the sinking of the Titanic. Olympic's maiden voyage passed without major incident. However, Smith was unable to avoid a minor collision with a tugboat in New York Harbor.

The first serious accident of Smith's career occurred on September 20, 1911, when the Olympic collided with a British Royal Navy warship, the HMS Hawke. The Olympic was sailing in the Solent off the Isle of Wight parallel to the Hawke, when she veered to the starboard side, surprising the Hawke's captain and leaving him with no able time to react. The suction from the Olympic's propellers pulled the Hawke in, which collided head-on with the starboard side of the liner's stern, opening a huge hole in the Olympic's hull above and below the waterline, allowing two of her watertight compartments to be flooded and damaging the shaft of one of the propellers. The Hawke suffered severe damage to her bow. The Olympic, despite the damage, managed to make her own way back to Southampton harbor. Interrogations into the accident placed responsibility on the Olympic, however Smith was exonerated of any blame.

The ship returned to the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast for repairs. Some of the shipyard workers were temporarily transferred to Olympic, significantly delaying the outfitting of Titanic's interior; the work was completed in November.

In February 1912, the Olympic suffered a new incident, due to the loss of a starboard propeller blade and had to return again to the shipyard in Belfast for repairs, again delaying the delivery of the Titanic. Smith continued in command of the Olympic until March 30, 1912, when he was replaced by Captain Herbert Haddock.

At the helm of the RMS Titanic

Smith was transferred in late March 1912 to the RMS Titanic, sister ship of the Olympic, for her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. In the years following the sinking it has been said that he intended to retire at the end of that voyage, but in reality there is no evidence that this was his intention, and he probably had not considered retirement until then. In addition to that, an article published on April 19 in a Halifax newspaper said that the White Star Line wanted Smith to remain in command of the Titanic until the launch of the third ship of the Olympic class: the RMS Britannic.

On March 31, 1912, Smith arrived in Southampton aboard the Olympic. Arriving at the Belfast dock, he was able to view the newly completed ocean liner, Titanic, which stood across the dock. The captain took command of the new ship the next day, April 1, for her sea trials in the Irish Sea. Bad weather forced the trials to be postponed to April 2, and shortened so that the ship could be commissioned. Even so, the main trials were conducted, and after extensive maneuvers at sea, Titanic was officially approved for passenger service and the ship departed for Southampton, arriving on the night of April 3 to 4 unable to attend in time for her only daughter's birthday which she intended to attend, having to refrain, take on supplies and receive the new crew. Titanic was scheduled to sail at noon on April 10, 1912.

Smith said goodbye to his wife and daughter for the last time on the morning of April 10, riding to port in a cab. He arrived at 8 a.m. and inspected the crew prior to departure. The captain then went to the bridge and began working with helmsman George Bowyer on maneuvers to leave port.

On April 10, just at noon, the Titanic blew the whistle, Captain Smith ordered to cast off, and the tugs helped the giant ship into position in the channel. Smith and his officers stood at attention on the bridge as the ship maneuvered. A collision was avoided as the liner left Southampton.

Upon leaving the harbor, the Titanic, already using her propellers and due to the large amount of water displaced by the hull, caused the moorings that attached the SS City of New York to the dock to come loose, pulling her dangerously close to her port side. Smith ordered to reverse and a tug, which fortunately was nearby, helped and managed to prevent the City of New York from colliding with the port side of the huge ship.

Once the incident was over, the Titanic sailed for Cherbourg harbor, where she arrived in the evening of April 10. The ferries SS Nomadic and SS Traffic transferred mail and more passengers. Among the passengers transferred by the Nomadic were such notables as John Jacob Astor IV and Margaret Brown. Subsequently, the Titanic sailed for the Irish port of Cobh, arriving at 11:30 the next day. A passenger as he stepped off the ferry took the last snapshot of Smith in life and the last of his ship in this time frame. She embarked and disembarked passengers and mail and then set sail, with more than 2200 people aboard, bound for New York across the North Atlantic.

The first few days of the Titanic's voyage passed without incident. As captain of the ship, Smith did not need to adhere to any specific duty schedule, unlike his officers. However, he always had to be present on the bridge in case of bad weather. Smith was accustomed to accepting invitations and sharing with the more connoted first-class passengers at dinner or lunch, as well as officiating at religious services and occasionally meeting with the ship's commissary or officers on the bridge before going to bed. He had his own suite, located behind the bridge on the port side, as well as an attendant entirely for his personal service; this was 29-year-old James Arthur Paintin, originally from Oxford, who had served with Smith since his service on the Adriatic.

However, on April 12, the Titanic began receiving messages announcing large concentrations of ice floes en route. Smith was informed of at least six messages of the same tenor. The route followed by the Titanic apparently intersected the ice floe zone. In that area of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland was the so-called corner, where the ship was to change course for New York. Smith, taking into account the latent danger, ordered the route to be diverted some 16 nautical miles (30 km) further south to skirt the danger zone.

On the night of April 13-14, Titanic's Marconi telegraph suffered a breakdown that would be crucial in the development of subsequent events. This breakdown forced operators Jack Phillips and Harold Bride to spend several hours repairing it, as they were not technically capable of intervening the equipment, which was temporarily inoperative during the repair. When they finally repaired it by trial and error, they had to deal with the delay in sending messages from passengers, so the pressure was on and they were both exhausted and cranky. Meanwhile, iceberg warnings piled up. On the morning of April 14, Titanic received a report from the Caronia indicating some icebergs at coordinates 42° N, 49° W and 51° W. That same morning, Smith held a church service in the first-class dining room. In the afternoon, three more ships, the Baltic, the Amerika and the Noordam reported icebergs in the same area indicated by the Caronia.

At dusk, Titanic reached the area called the corner where she should have changed course and headed back 10 miles further south of the normal route. Titanic plunged into the night gloom at about 19:15 in freezing blizzard weather that forced the B-deck windows to be closed. At about the same time, the SS Californian, a cargo and passenger ship that had sailed from Liverpool on April 5 and was now in the same area as the Titanic, had stopped as a precaution due to a vast field of icebergs.

During the evening, Smith was invited by passenger George Widener to a dinner in his honor at the À la Carte restaurant on B Deck, where he met with a group of prominent first-class passengers. There were George and Eleanor Widener, their son Harry, and the Thayer and Carter families. Also at the same table was Archibald Butt, advisor to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. After dinner, Smith went up to the first-class smoking lounge to continue the evening, a common custom in English society.

The Titanic was now sailing in very calm, almost mirror-like waters with no waves. The lights of the great ship were reflected on the surface of the water, which was a vast, flat black mirror. At about 21:00, Smith appeared on the bridge, where Second Officer Charles Lightoller was on watch, and they commented on the prevailing cold. Lightoller also told him about the state of the sea and Smith stated that he had never seen the sea in such calm conditions. Lightoller pointed out that in such sea conditions, iceberg sightings would be more difficult, to which Smith replied that he was confident that thanks to the starry skies the ice would be sighted in time, and ordered the watch in the lookout's cabin to be redoubled anyway. At 21:20, Smith said before retiring to his cabin, that if there were any doubts he should be called immediately.

At 22:00, Lightoller was relieved by First Officer William Murdoch and the captain's instructions were relayed to him. At 22:50, Cyril Evans, radiotelegrapher of the SS Californian, wanted to inform Titanic of his presence, but the big ship's irritated radiotelegraph officer, Jack Phillips, was in communication with Cape Race and ordered Evans to be quiet as he was about to give an accurate account of a large iceberg in Titanic's path. In addition, Phillips failed to deliver the accumulated ice warnings to the bridge. Operator Marconi of the Californian, frustrated, made no further attempt to communicate with Titanic and at about 23:30 turned off the computer and retired to sleep. At 23:10, Titanic became visible on the visual horizon of those on watch on the Californian; both Third Officer Charles Victor Groves and Captain Stanley Lord confirmed that it was the new liner.

At 23:40 the Titanic struck an iceberg on the starboard side, opening several breaches below the waterline; the ship was beginning to flood. At the time, Edward Smith was not on the bridge. The tremor from the impact was slight, yet it was felt enough to get his attention. Smith quickly made his way to the bridge, where First Officer Murdoch briefed him on the situation; the captain immediately ordered him to close the watertight doors, which the officer had already done. Smith, Murdoch and fourth mate Joseph Boxhall then went to the starboard wing of the bridge to try to see the iceberg, vainly, and then the captain ordered Boxhall to investigate the damage. Minutes later, Smith was informed that the vessel was taking on water; he sent for carpenter Huchtkins and Thomas Andrews, the ship's builder, and the three inspected the lower decks in more detail. Upon inspection, Andrews realized that the damage was very severe: the ship's first five watertight compartments were open to the sea. The engineer predicted that the vessel would sink irretrievably in less than two hours, so he advised immediate evacuation.

The captain immediately ordered preparations to be made to launch the lifeboats. He went to the radiotelegraph room, and instructed operators Harold Bride and Jack Phillips to prepare to send out the distress signal (CQD). Soon after, Bride suggested that Phillips use the new SOS distress signal, so they switched to alternating the two signals in their calls for help. The closest vessel to answer the calls was the Cunard Line's RMS Carpathia, which estimated it would take about four hours to reach Titanic's position; Bride reported to Smith, who replied only "Thank you."

Shortly thereafter, Smith began to understand the catastrophic scope of the disaster that was about to occur, as there were not enough lifeboats for all the passengers. He was apparently paralyzed by indecision and became alienated in the first abandonment maneuvers. After the preparation of the boats, the captain gave no orders for evacuation, no direct orders to his officers to fill the boats, and did not share crucial information, sometimes giving ambiguous or impractical orders. Even some of his fellow officers were for much of the time unaware of the seriousness of the collision: Boxhall only discovered that the Titanic would sink at about 1:15 a.m., just over an hour before the ship went down completely, while a little earlier Petty Officer George Rowe telephoned the bridge asking why the lifeboats had been thrown into the sea.

However, Smith had ordered the emergency rockets to be brought up from the stern some time earlier and began firing. The Californian was approximately 10 miles (16 km) from the scene, and some Titanic officers thought they saw light signals from the Californian, hoping that the ship would respond to the answering lights, but nothing happened. Indeed, the white flashes were observed from the Californian, but Captain Stanley Lord, who was already in his cabin, thought they were signals from the company and showed no further interest.

Smith did not actively participate in the evacuation operations, delegating authority in launching the boats to Murdoch and Second Officer Lightoller. Still, after apparently recovering from his indecision, he attempted to assist in the evacuation. Survivor Ella White said during cross-examinations by the subsequent commission of inquiry into the wreck that she saw the captain go to the main steps to ask passengers to come to the boats, while Arthur Godfrey Peuchen claimed that "he was doing all he could to get the women to the boats and that they were properly launched."

Many other survivors stated that Smith never showed any nervousness or lack of control of the situation. At 01:45, with the forecastle already submerged, most of the lifeboats were already in the water and Smith, realizing that most of them were not fully occupied, began to call them with a megaphone to get them to return and embark more passengers. There was no response, as both crew and passengers in the boats feared that panic would set in and the boats would sink or be sucked under. Passenger Robert Williams Daniel commented on the captain's actions: "He was the greatest hero I ever saw. He stood on the bridge and shouted through a megaphone, trying to be heard."

Smith was still busy during Titanic's final minutes releasing the crew from duty. At 02:05 on April 15, he again went to the radiotelegraph room to relieve Bride and Phillips of their duties and ask them to save their lives, but the two still continued to send out distress signals for ten more minutes. The two still continued to send out distress signals for ten more minutes. Captain Smith made a final walk around the boat deck, saying to the crew members, "Now let every man fight for himself." At 2:10 a.m., steward Edward Brown said he saw the captain approaching with a megaphone in his hand saying, "All right boys, see to the best for women and children, and every man for himself." He then saw the captain walking toward the bridge alone. This was the last reliable testimony that he claimed to have seen Smith. A few minutes later, crewman Samuel Hemming found the bridge apparently empty. Five minutes later, at 02:20, the ship disappeared underwater. Smith perished that night along with 1,500 other people, and his body was never recovered or identified.

There are conflicting accounts of Captain Edward Smith's last moments and death. Some survivors said that around 2:10 a.m., when the water reached the ship's boat deck, Smith headed for the bridge to await his fate, dying as he was engulfed by the water while clinging to the ship's wheel, although other surviving crew members strongly denied this rumor. The different versions, due to the confusion of the moment, make it impossible to give a precise version of what really happened.

Some examples are found in the New York Herald, where a quote from first-class passenger Robert Williams Daniel, who jumped off the stern immediately before the ship sank and who reportedly claimed to see Captain Smith on the bridge as it slowly sank, was published in its April 19, 1912 edition: "I saw the captain on the bridge. My eyes were riveted on him. The deck from which he had jumped was already under water. The water was slowly creeping up, and was already reaching the floor of the bridge. Then it reached the captain's chest. I saw him no more. He died a hero's death." Smith himself had previously declared that he would go down with his ship if faced with disaster. A friend of Smith's, Dr. Williams, asked the captain what would happen if the Adriatic ran aground in the ice and was badly damaged; to which Smith replied that, "Some of us would go to the bottom with the ship." A childhood friend, William Jones, said, "Ted Smith died just as he would have liked. Staying on the bridge of his ship and going down with it was characteristic of all his actions when we were kids. Because of these testimonials, this has been the image of Smith that has remained iconic over time, and has been perpetuated in the films that have been made about the disaster.

However there are other versions such as the one narrated by Harold Bride who was around the folding boat B and who claimed to have seen Captain Smith dive into the sea from the bridge just as the boat fell to the deck from his position above the roof of the officers' quarters, a story that was corroborated by first-class passenger Eleanor Widener, who was in lifeboat No. 4 (the closest to the ship at the time). No. 4 (the closest to the ship at the time). Also, second-class passenger William John Mellors, who survived aboard folding dinghy B, claimed that Smith jumped from the bridge. However, author Tim Maltin states that witnesses "may be confusing the officer they saw jumping from the bridge with Second Officer Charles Lightoller, who was also seen jumping at this time."

Some accounts stated that Smith may have been seen in the water near the folding boat B, which capsized after he fell to the deck from the roof of the officers' quarters and walked away from the ship with survivors. Col. Archibald Gracie reported that an unknown swimmer came close to the overcrowded boat, and that someone on board told him, "Hold on, mate. One more aboard and we'll all sink"; in a loud voice, the swimmer replied, "All right, boys. Good luck and God bless you." Gracie did not see this man, nor was he able to identify him, but some survivors later claimed to have recognized him as Smith. Another man (or possibly the same one) never asked to come aboard the boat, but instead greeted its occupants by saying "Good lads! Good fellows! " with "a voice of authority." One of the survivors of the folding boat B, stoker Walter Hurst, allegedly tried to reach it with an oar, but the rising swell pushed it away before he could reach it. Hurst claimed he was sure it was Smith. Some of these testimonies also describe Smith carrying a baby into the boat. Harry Senior, one of the Titanic's stokers, and second-class passenger Charles Eugene Williams, both survivors in the collapsible B boat, reportedly claimed that Smith swam with a child in his arms to the boat, and handed it to one of its occupants, after which he apparently swam back to the rapidly sinking ship. Williams' testimony differs slightly, stating that, after Smith handed over the child, he asked what had become of First Mate Murdoch. After learning of his death, Smith "walked away from the boat, removed his life jacket and sank out of sight. He did not return to the surface." All of these accounts are almost certainly apocryphal, according to the historians of the documentary Titanic: Death of a Dream. Lightoller, who survived aboard the collapsible boat B, did not report seeing Smith in the water or that Smith had delivered a baby. Nor was there any way that the survivors of the boat would have been able to ascertain the identity of any subject in such dimly lit conditions and chaotic circumstances. It is more a kind of wishful thinking. Captain Smith's fate can probably never be known.

For many years, there have also been conflicting accounts of Smith's last words. Press reports at the time stated that, as the final sinking of the ship began, Smith advised those on board to "Be British boys, be British!". Although this phrase has been included in one of the memorials dedicated to his memory, and is also shown in the 1996 television movie, it was a myth popularized by the British press at the time; Smith was an experienced and cosmopolitan ocean liner captain, a sophisticated man. Had he been tempted to use such jingoistic sentences, he certainly would not have been so popular with prominent Americans and Canadians who preferred to travel on the ships he captained, and dine with him on board. If he had said these words, he would surely have said them to the crew, but none of the surviving crewmen claimed any such thing. Since Brown's testimony that Smith gave orders before walking onto the bridge is the last reliable testimony of the last time anyone saw Smith alive, his last words would have been simply: "All right, boys, do your best for the women and children, and every man for himself".


Edward Smith married Sarah Eleanor Pennington on January 13, 1887, with whom he had a daughter on April 2, 1898: Helen Melville Smith (known as Mel). The family lived in a house in Southampton that was later destroyed during World War II. His wife died on April 29, 1931, hit by a cab.

Mel Smith lost her father in the Atlantic Ocean when she was only 14 years old. She married twice, the first time to John Gilberson (no children), and the second time to Sidney Russell-Cooke in 1922, with whom she had two children who died young and childless; Simon Russell-Cooke, who died in March 1944 in the line of duty during World War II, and Priscilla Russell-Cooke, who died in October 1947 of polio.

Tributes and criticisms

Edward Smith's death caused a great commotion in the press, and he was portrayed as the captain who remained in office until the end. His alleged words "Thirsty British" were mentioned in several articles.

A first tribute to the captain took place as early as April 1912, by the Madame Tussauds Museum in London, with the exhibition of a wax statue. The following year the idea of honoring Smith with a monument at Lichfield in the county of Staffordshire came up. Among those who discussed the proposal was William Pirrie, chairman of the Harland and Wolff shipyard. A bronze monument honoring his memory was erected. The statue, sculpted by Kathleen Scott, was unveiled in Beacon Park, Lichfield on July 29, 1914 by his daughter Mel. The plaque bears the following inscription:

A commemorative plaque is also present at the school where the captain studied at Hanley.

However, Smith's legacy is not entirely positive. Smith was criticized for keeping the Titanic at too high a speed (22 knots) during the night of the collision. Some accused him of giving in to requests from Joseph Bruce Ismay, president of the White Star Line, to increase the ship's speed. These accusations came from some survivors, such as Arthur Godfrey Peuchen, who stated: "J. Bruce Ismay was aware of the presence of the icebergs, but deliberately 'took a chance', for reasons that he can best explain" and that two hours before the collision "Ismay and the captain participated in a dinner in first class". Although unproven, the idea that Smith sped up the ship to get to New York faster spread rapidly. It was also claimed on other occasions that he wanted to end his career in style and win the Blue Sash decoration on his last voyage. This last legend is completely false, as the Titanic did not have enough power or speed to beat the record, which at the time belonged to the Mauretania.

As commanding officer of the Titanic, Smith was depicted in several films about the wreck. The first film in which he appeared was the German In Nacht und Eis, released as early as 1912, where he is not mentioned by name and the actor playing him was never credited; the film shows the captain drowning during the shipwreck. His first appearance by name was in 1943's Titanic, played by Otto Wernicke; Smith is portrayed in that Nazi propaganda piece as a coward totally dedicated to Ismay, wanting to get to New York as fast as possible and at any cost. In 1958's A Night to Remember he was played by Laurence Naismith; the film was made from eyewitness accounts and is quite faithful to the facts. In James Cameron's 1997 film Titanic, Smith was played by Bernard Hill; Smith is also shown as a captain influenced by Ismay, bent on speeding up the ship, and who ends up dying on the bridge without trying to save his life.


  1. Edward Smith (sea captain)
  2. Edward Smith
  3. Cooper, 1992, p. 30
  4. Piouffre, 2009, p. 10
  5. Cooper 1992, p. 30
  6. Piouffre 2009, p. 10
  7. Cooper 1992, p. 50
  8. ^ Radio telegraphy was known as "wireless" in the British English of the period.
  9. Le Coptic dessert pour sa part la Nouvelle-Zélande.

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