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James Paul Moody

Moody in 1912
Born(1887-08-21)21 August 1887
Died15 April 1912(1912-04-15) (aged 24)
OccupationNaval officer
Known forSixth officer of the RMS Titanic

James Paul Moody (21 August 1887 – 15 April 1912) was a British sailor, who served as Titanic's sixth officer. He died when the ship sank on her maiden voyage.

Early life

James Paul Moody was born in Scarborough, England, on 21 August 1887, the youngest of four children, three boys and one girl, born to solicitor John Henry Moody and his wife Evelyn Louisa Lammin. Moody's grandfather, John James Paul Moody, had been Town Clerk of Scarborough.[1] Moody attended the Rosebery House School, where he received a prestigious education, before joining the Navy training vessel HMS Conway as a cadet in 1902.[2] His two years in the ship, 1902 to 1903, counted as one year of sea time towards his Board of Trade Second Mate's Certification.


In 1904 he joined the William Thomas Line's Boadicea as an apprentice, and endured a horrific, storm-troubled voyage to New York, in which one of his fellow apprentices was driven to suicide.[3]

After attaining his Second Mate's Certification, Moody went into steam and sailed in cargo and early oil-tankers, eventually attaining his First Mate's Certificate. After very briefly attending the King Edward VII Nautical School in 1910, a nautical "cram" school preparing officers for their Board of Trade examinations, he successfully obtained his Ordinary Master's Certification, and in August 1911 served the White Star Line aboard the Oceanic as her sixth officer.[4] In March 1912 he received word that he was to be assigned to RMS Titanic as her Sixth Officer. Moody was somewhat reluctant to accept the assignment as he had hoped to spend a summer on the Atlantic aboard the Oceanic, after having endured a harsh winter, and was also hoping to take leave. His request for leave was denied.[5]

While serving aboard the RMS Titanic, Moody was living with an uncle in Grimsby, England and used the residence as his shore address. He also had a romantic interest that he confided in his brother, might be "the one".

RMS Titanic

Along with the other junior officers, Moody received a message in March 1912 ordering him to report to White Star's Liverpool offices on 26 March. From there he travelled to board Titanic at the Harland & Wolff yard in Belfast on 27 March and reported to William McMaster Murdoch. Moody had only received his Master's License the previous April, but he had a broad sense of knowledge and decades of experience to look up to in his senior officers and captain. Murdoch ordered Lowe and Moody to inspect the starboard side lifeboats and to make sure their equipment was complete; he ordered Pitman and Boxhall to do likewise with the port side lifeboats.[6] Titanic then sailed for Southampton to take on passengers. Moody's service as Sixth Officer earned him about $37 a month, although he was allowed his own cabin as compensation for his small salary.

On Titanic's sailing day, 10 April, Moody assisted, among other things, in aiding Fifth Officer Harold Lowe in lowering two of the starboard lifeboats to satisfy the Board of Trade that Titanic met safety standards. He was also in charge of closing the last gangway, and most likely saved the lives of six crewmen who arrived too late to board by turning them away. Moody was assembled with men for the ship's lifeboat drill and along with Lowe, was selected to take charge of two lifeboats chosen for testing, boats Nos 11 and 13. Lowe took 11 and Moody took 13.[7] Before the ship began her voyage, Moody was at the head of the last gangway connecting ship with shore, astern on E Deck, located just off the main crew thoroughfare, Scotland Road. Fireman John Podesta and his friend William Nutbean made it up the gangway and past Moody; Moody then ordered the gangplank withdrawn from Titanic's side, and it had gotten about a foot from the side of the ship when R.C. Lawrence, who had been sent aboard to deliver typewriters to the Purser's Office, and stayed to tour the ship, couldn't find his way to a gangway. Amid protestations on his part and vocabulary, Moody instructed the ABs to pull in the gangway. Once the gap had been closed, Lawrence hurried down the gangplank to shore. At the same moment, crewmember Tom Slade, his three brothers and a trimmer named Penney arrived at the gangway but as witnessed by Lawrence Bessley, Moody firmly refused to allow them on board; they argued, gesticulated, apparently attempting to explain their reasons for being late, but he remained obdurate and waved them back with a determined hand and the gangway was dragged back.[8]

Once the ship had put to sea, Moody stood the 4–5 PM watch and both 8–12 watches, which meant that he was on watch on the bridge with First Officer William Murdoch and Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall when the Titanic struck an iceberg at 11:40 PM on 14 April. On April 14, when Pitman began his watch, he noticed that several coordinates, denoting the position of wireless ice sightings had been marked on the chart and assumed that they had been made by either Boxhall or Moody.[9] Lightoller asked Moody to use the telephone to call up the lookouts in the Crow's Nest; he wanted to have them "keep a sharp lookout for ice, particularly small ice and growlers", and to "pass that word on until daylight", as each successive shift took its turn on duty." Moody picked up the phone to the Nest in the wheelhouse and Lightoller overheard him say, "Keep a sharp look out for ice, particularly small ice.", before hanging up. Lightoller noted that Moody's order differed somewhat from the wording that he had specified, as Moody had not mentioned "growlers". Lightoller thought the detail was important enough to have Moody call the lookouts again, and to clarify that they should keep a sharp lookout for "small ice and growlers". Moody carried the order out, ringing the crow's nest a second time and conveying the order correctly this time. [10] After spotting the iceberg, lookout Frederick Fleet rang the warning bell three times and phoned the bridge. Murdoch and Moody heard the warning bell and the telephone began to ring. Moody picked it up immediately but did not say anything. An anxious Fleet asked, "Is someone there?" "Yes", Moody confirmed, "What did you see?" Fleet replied, "Iceberg, right ahead!". Moody said politely, "Thank you", and relayed the warning to Murdoch: "Iceberg right ahead!" As Hitchens turned the helm, Moody stood beside him, watching to see the order was carried out properly. Moody called out to confirm to Murdoch, "Hard a-starboard. The helm is hard over." As the ship struck, Murdoch ordered, "Hard to port!" and Moody ensured the order was carried out promptly. [11][12]

Around midnight, Moody told Quartermaster Olliver to go get the muster list for the lifeboats, and Moody was sent on his way to start preparing the aft port lifeboats.[13] Pitman came across Moody and crew uncovering boats on the port side Boat Deck aft quarter. When Pitman asked, Moody told him that he had not seen the iceberg, but that there was ice up forward on the Well Deck.[14] Pitman decided to investigate for himself. Moody did not have much assistance in overseeing the preparation of the port boats.[15] As Colonel Gracie was down on the port side of A Deck, near Boat No. 4, when Smith's orders to lower the boats were transmitted to the crew, he recalled that Moody stood with a number of other crewmen on the deck to bar any men passengers from getting near the boat, saying, "No man beyond this line." As the attempt to load No. 4 fell apart for the time being, and much of the group there dispersed, Moody headed back up the boat deck.[16]

In the ensuing evacuation, Moody helped in the loading of Lifeboats No. 9, 12, 13, 14, and 16. While loading No. 16, Moody ordered stewardess Violet Jessop into the boat. She described Moody as looking "weary and tired". Even so, he gave them a cheery smile, as he called out, "Good luck!", as he guided her and her cabin-mate into the boat; Moody then hailed her and gave her a baby to look after, saying, "Look after this, will you?". Moody then ordered the boat lowered away.[17] While loading No. 14, Fifth Officer Lowe asked Moody what he was doing. Moody said he was getting the boats away. Lowe remarked that an officer should man the lifeboat.[18] When Lowe asked Moody who it was to be—him or Moody—Moody insisted that Lowe should get onto the boat and that he would get on another one, saying "You go; I will get in another boat."[19] Moody went to the starboard side and assisted Reginald Lee, who was Fleet's fellow lookout, in loading lifeboat No. 13, before ordering him to man it.[20] 12-year-old Second Class passenger Ruth Becker was placed in this boat by Moody after being prevented from entering the heavily overloaded lifeboat number 11 which her mother and two siblings had boarded. Moody noticed Lily May Peel as she headed up to the boat deck and asked, "What are you doing below, Mrs Futrelle? All the women are gone," and led her up the stairs. He ignored her protests of him pulling her and took her to boat No. 9.[21] He stayed to assist at boat 9. Moody instructed Quartermaster Walter Wynn to go in the boat and to take charge of it. Just as it began lowering away, Murdoch countermanded Moody's order, instructing Boatswain's Mate Albert Haines to take command. Wynn relinquished control to Haines, and entered the boat.[22] Moody ordered Saloon Steward Littlejohn and crewman to get in to help row the boat.[23]


Moody was last seen by the ship's lamp trimmer, Samuel Hemming, on top of the officers' quarters helping to launch Collapsible A, an emergency lifeboat, just before the ship began its final plunge. Hemming helped untangle the falls, and passed the block up to the roof. Moody called back down, "We don't want the block. We will leave the boat on deck." Moody's opinion that the boat should be left to float free was apparently overruled but turned out to be correct as water washed over the deck.[24] Collapsible Boat A reached the deck and was being attached to the falls when it was washed off Titanic by the wave washing over the boat deck.[25] Lightoller, who was also on top of the quarters clearing away the collapsible boat on the port side, though he said he didn't remember seeing Moody, said that as those at collapsible A and B were engulfed when the water came up onto the boat deck and washed over the bridge, the same must have happened to Moody.[26]

Moody was 24 at the time of his death. His body was never recovered. Moody, along with some individuals who had perished, was mistakenly at first listed as survived.[27]


A monument in Dean Road / Manor Road Cemetery, Scarborough, commemorates Moody's sacrifice on the Titanic with the Biblical quote, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (see John 15:13)

He is also commemorated by a Blue plaque at 17 Granville Road Scarborough, the house where he was born[28] and a commemorative plaque in St Martin's Church in Scarborough.[29]

He is also commemorated by a brass altar set presented by his aunt, Hannah Mountain, to the church of St Augustine of Hippo in Grimsby.



  1. ^ Smyser, Sue (15 April 1998). "Forgotten Passage". Journal Gazette.
  2. ^ "James Paul Moody". Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  3. ^ Sheil, Inger (31 August 2005). "All the Horrors Seem to Happen at Night". Encyclopedia Titanica. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  4. ^ Jones, Paul Anthony (2012). The British Isles a Trivia gazetteer. Chichester: Summersdale Publishers. p. 227. ISBN 978-0-85765-827-2.
  5. ^ Sheil, Inger (2012). Titanic Valour: The Life of Fifth Officer Harold Lowe. The History Press. ISBN 9780752477701.
  6. ^ Fitch, Layton & Wormstedt 2012, p. 47-48.
  7. ^ Fitch, Layton & Wormstedt 2012, p. 65.
  8. ^ Beesley, Lawrence (1912). The Loss of the S.S. Titanic. London, England: Heinemann. p. 56.
  9. ^ Fitch, Layton & Wormstedt 2012, p. 123.
  10. ^ Fitch, Layton & Wormstedt 2012, p. 133-134.
  11. ^ Fitch, Layton & Wormstedt 2012, p. 141-143.
  12. ^ "Titanic owners wanted money to return body of Scarborough hero James Moody". The Scarborough News. 24 April 2015. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  13. ^ Fitch, Layton & Wormstedt 2012, p. 162.
  14. ^ From his position inside the enclosed wheelhouse next to Hitchens at the time of the collision, Moody would have been unable to see the iceberg as it passed by.
  15. ^ Fitch, Layton & Wormstedt 2012, p. 165-167.
  16. ^ Fitch, Layton & Wormstedt 2012, p. 191-192.
  17. ^ Jessop, Violet; Maxton-Graham, John (1997). Titanic Survivor. Dobbs Ferry, New York: Sheridan House. ISBN 1-57409-184-0.
  18. ^ "Titanic letter praises heroic man". BBC News. 3 May 2005. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  19. ^ Testimony of Harold G. Lowe
  20. ^ Testimony of Reginald R. Lee, cont.
  21. ^ Fitch, Layton & Wormstedt 2012, p. 213.
  22. ^ Fitch, Layton & Wormstedt 2012, p. 215.
  23. ^ Fitch, Layton & Wormstedt 2012, p. 217-219.
  24. ^ Fitch, Layton & Wormstedt 2012, p. 229-230.
  25. ^ Testimony of Samuel Hemming at Titanic
  26. ^ Testimony of Charles Herbert Lightoller
  27. ^ Fitch, Layton & Wormstedt 2012, p. 259.
  28. ^ Stuff, Good. "James Paul Moody blue plaque in Scarborough". Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  29. ^ Penfold, Phil (6 November 2016). "God's house of wonders on Scarborough's south Cliff". The Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 28 November 2017.