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Harold Lowe

Harold Lowe

Overview
Commander
Commander
Commander is a naval rank which is also sometimes used as a military title depending on the individual customs of a given military service. Commander is also used as a rank or title in some organizations outside of the armed forces, particularly in police and law enforcement.-Commander as a naval...

 Harold Godfrey Lowe RD
Decoration for Officers of the Royal Naval Reserve
The Decoration for Officers of the Royal Naval Reserve was a medal awarded in the Royal Naval Reserve of the United Kingdom to officers with at least fifteen years of active duty...

 RNR
Royal Naval Reserve
The Royal Naval Reserve is the volunteer reserve force of the Royal Navy in the United Kingdom. The present Royal Naval Reserve was formed in 1958 by merging the original Royal Naval Reserve and the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve , a reserve of civilian volunteers founded in 1903...

 (21 November 1882 – 12 May 1944) was the Fifth Officer of the .

Harold Lowe was born in Eglwys Rhos
Llanrhos
Llanrhos is a village to the east and south of Llandudno in the Conwy County Borough, Wales. The Llanrhos parish traditionally includes Deganwy, the Craig-y-Don district of Llandudno, the Little Orme and Penrhyn Bay....

, Caernarfonshire
Caernarfonshire
Caernarfonshire , historically spelled as Caernarvonshire or Carnarvonshire in English during its existence, was one of the thirteen historic counties, a vice-county and a former administrative county of Wales....

, North Wales
North Wales
North Wales is the northernmost unofficial region of Wales. It is bordered to the south by the counties of Ceredigion and Powys in Mid Wales and to the east by the counties of Shropshire in the West Midlands and Cheshire in North West England...

 on 21 November 1882, the third of eight children, born to George and Harriet Lowe. His father had ambitions for him to be apprentice to a successful Liverpool businessman, but Harold Lowe was determined to go to sea. At 14, he ran away from his home in Barmouth
Barmouth
Barmouth ; Y Bermo ) is a town in the county of Gwynedd, north-western Wales, lying on the estuary of the River Mawddach and Cardigan Bay.The town is served by Barmouth railway station.- History :...

 where he had attended school and joined the merchant navy, serving along the West African Coast.
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Encyclopedia
Commander
Commander
Commander is a naval rank which is also sometimes used as a military title depending on the individual customs of a given military service. Commander is also used as a rank or title in some organizations outside of the armed forces, particularly in police and law enforcement.-Commander as a naval...

 Harold Godfrey Lowe RD
Decoration for Officers of the Royal Naval Reserve
The Decoration for Officers of the Royal Naval Reserve was a medal awarded in the Royal Naval Reserve of the United Kingdom to officers with at least fifteen years of active duty...

 RNR
Royal Naval Reserve
The Royal Naval Reserve is the volunteer reserve force of the Royal Navy in the United Kingdom. The present Royal Naval Reserve was formed in 1958 by merging the original Royal Naval Reserve and the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve , a reserve of civilian volunteers founded in 1903...

 (21 November 1882 – 12 May 1944) was the Fifth Officer of the .

Early years


Harold Lowe was born in Eglwys Rhos
Llanrhos
Llanrhos is a village to the east and south of Llandudno in the Conwy County Borough, Wales. The Llanrhos parish traditionally includes Deganwy, the Craig-y-Don district of Llandudno, the Little Orme and Penrhyn Bay....

, Caernarfonshire
Caernarfonshire
Caernarfonshire , historically spelled as Caernarvonshire or Carnarvonshire in English during its existence, was one of the thirteen historic counties, a vice-county and a former administrative county of Wales....

, North Wales
North Wales
North Wales is the northernmost unofficial region of Wales. It is bordered to the south by the counties of Ceredigion and Powys in Mid Wales and to the east by the counties of Shropshire in the West Midlands and Cheshire in North West England...

 on 21 November 1882, the third of eight children, born to George and Harriet Lowe. His father had ambitions for him to be apprentice to a successful Liverpool businessman, but Harold Lowe was determined to go to sea. At 14, he ran away from his home in Barmouth
Barmouth
Barmouth ; Y Bermo ) is a town in the county of Gwynedd, north-western Wales, lying on the estuary of the River Mawddach and Cardigan Bay.The town is served by Barmouth railway station.- History :...

 where he had attended school and joined the merchant navy, serving along the West African Coast. Lowe started as a Ship's Boy aboard the Welsh coastal schooners as he worked to attain his certifications. In 1906, he passed his certification and gained his second mate
Second Mate
A second mate or second officer is a licensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship. The second mate is the third in command and a watchkeeping officer, customarily the ship's navigator. Other duties vary, but the second mate is often the medical officer and in charge of maintaining...

's certificate, then in 1908, he attained his first mate's certificate. By the time he started with the White Star Line
White Star Line
The Oceanic Steam Navigation Company or White Star Line of Boston Packets, more commonly known as the White Star Line, was a prominent British shipping company, today most famous for its ill-fated vessel, the RMS Titanic, and the World War I loss of Titanics sister ship Britannic...

, in 1911, he had gained his Master's certificate and, in his own words, "experience with pretty well every ship afloat - the different classes of ships afloat - from the schooner to the square-rigged sailing vessel, and from that to steamships, and of all sizes." He served as third officer
Third Officer
Third Officer may refer to:*Third Officer , a rarely used rank in civil aviation companies*Third mate, a merchant marine rank*A rank in the Women's Royal Naval Service corresponding to Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Navy...

 on White Star's the Belgic and the Tropic before being transferred to the Titanic as Fifth Officer in 1912. Despite his numerous years at sea, however, the maiden voyage of the Titanic was to be his first transatlantic crossing.

Aboard the Titanic


Like the ship's other junior officers, Lowe reported to White Star's Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

 offices at nine o'clock in the morning on 26 March 1912, and travelled to board the Titanic at Belfast the following day. On sailing day (10 April), Lowe assisted (among other things) in the lowering of two of the starboard lifeboats to satisfy the Board of Trade that the Titanic met safety regulations. When the Titanic departed Southampton
Southampton
Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated south-west of London and north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest...

 at noon, Lowe was on the bridge, relaying messages to various parts of the ship by telephone.

The sinking


On 14 April 1912, the night of the sinking, Lowe had been relieved at 8.00 PM by Sixth Officer Moody
James Paul Moody
James Paul Moody was the Sixth Officer of the and the only junior officer of the ship to die in the disaster.-Early life:...

 and was asleep in his quarters when the ship hit the iceberg at 11.40 PM. He remained asleep through the collision and did not wake up until as much as half an hour had passed; as he explained later, "We officers do not have any too much sleep, and therefore when we sleep, we die." When Lowe finally awakened and realized the situation, he immediately got dressed, grabbed his revolver, and went to work. Third Officer Pitman
Herbert Pitman
Herbert John "Bert" Pitman MBE was the Third Officer on board the . He was the only deck officer who was not a member of the Royal Naval Reserve.-Early life and career:...

 charged him with loading lifeboat No. 5. While assisting in the lowering of this boat, Lowe had a brush with White Star owner J. Bruce Ismay
J. Bruce Ismay
Joseph Bruce Ismay was an English businessman who served as chairman and managing director of the White Star Line of steamships. He came to international attention as the highest-ranking White Star official among the 706 survivors Joseph Bruce Ismay (12 December 1862 – 17 October 1937) was...

, who was manically urging him to hurry. "If you will get the hell out of that then I shall be able to do something!" Lowe responded. "Do you want me to lower away quickly? You will have me drown the whole lot of them!"

Around 1.30 AM, Lowe engaged in a conversation with Sixth Officer Moody: While launching lifeboat Nos. 14 and 16 on the port side of the ship, the two junior officers felt that this group of boats needed to have an officer with them. Moody insisted that Lowe should get onto lifeboat No. 14 and that he would get on another one. By the time lifeboat 14 was being launched, things were beginning to get precarious on the boat deck as the majority of passengers began to realize that the giant ship was foundering. As lifeboat 14 was descending, Lowe used his revolver to fire three shots between the side of the boat and the side of the ship in order to frighten away a group of men attempting to leap into the lifeboat.

After reaching the water, Lowe ordered his lifeboat to be rowed about 150 yd (137.2 m) away from the Titanic. When the ship foundered at around 2.20 AM, Lowe had begun to gather several lifeboats together. He wished to return to pick up survivors but had fears of being swamped by hordes of people. He redistributed the survivors in the group of lifeboats he had gathered, to ready one lifeboat for a search for additional survivors. The lifeboat he took back to the site of the sinking had no passengers and an excess of crewmen, to facilitate rescue. Reluctantly, he waited until the screams died down before returning. When he returned to gather survivors, he picked up only four men, one of whom died later that night. Lowe's was the only boat to return for survivors. After that, Lowe had his crew of men raise the mast (he was the only officer to make use of the mast and sail in each lifeboat); using a breeze that had sprung up, he continued on to rescue the passengers on the sinking Collapsible A. Lowe and his group of lifeboats were picked up the next morning by the . An image taken by a passenger on the Carpathia clearly shows Lowe at the tiller of lifeboat 14 as they approach rescue. He remained aboard his lifeboat long enough to ship the mast and make certain everything was properly stowed.

Inquiries


The Titanic survivors arrived at Pier 54 in New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 on 18 April. Lowe was soon called upon to testify in the American inquiry into the sinking. He boarded the Adriatic on 2 May to return to England, where he participated in the British inquiry. Lowe's testimony in the American Senate Hearing was direct, often to the point of being flippant; when asked what an iceberg was composed of, Lowe responded, "Ice, I suppose, sir." Lowe also came under some fire for racist remarks. He had to apologize for twice using the word "Italian" as a sort of synonym for "coward."

Later life and death


Upon his return to his home town of Barmouth
Barmouth
Barmouth ; Y Bermo ) is a town in the county of Gwynedd, north-western Wales, lying on the estuary of the River Mawddach and Cardigan Bay.The town is served by Barmouth railway station.- History :...

 1,300 people attended a reception held in his honour at the Picture Pavilion. He was presented with a commemorative gold watch, with the inscription "Presented to Harold Godfrey Lowe, 5th officer R.M.S. Titanic by his friends in Barmouth and elsewhere in recognition and appreciation of his gallant services at the foundering of the Titanic 15th April 1912."

In September 1913, Harold married Ellen Marion Whitehouse, and they had two children, Florence Josephine and Harold William. He served in the Royal Naval Reserve
Royal Naval Reserve
The Royal Naval Reserve is the volunteer reserve force of the Royal Navy in the United Kingdom. The present Royal Naval Reserve was formed in 1958 by merging the original Royal Naval Reserve and the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve , a reserve of civilian volunteers founded in 1903...

 during the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, attaining the rank of Commander before retiring to Deganwy
Deganwy
Deganwy is a village in Conwy County Borough in Wales with a population of 3,700. It is in a more English-speaking region of North Wales, with only 1 in 4 residents speaking Welsh as a first language...

 with his family. He died of hypertension
Hypertension
Hypertension or high blood pressure is a cardiac chronic medical condition in which the systemic arterial blood pressure is elevated. What that means is that the heart is having to work harder than it should to pump the blood around the body. Blood pressure involves two measurements, systolic and...

 on 12 May 1944 at the age of 61 and was buried at the Llandrillo-yn-Rhos church in Rhos-on-Sea
Rhos-on-Sea
Rhos-on-Sea also known as Llandrillo-yn-Rhos in Welsh, or Rhos or Llandrillo , is a seaside resort in Conwy County Borough, Wales. The population was 7,110 in 2001. It is a mile to the north but effectively a suburb of Colwyn Bay, on the coast of North Wales...

, North Wales
North Wales
North Wales is the northernmost unofficial region of Wales. It is bordered to the south by the counties of Ceredigion and Powys in Mid Wales and to the east by the counties of Shropshire in the West Midlands and Cheshire in North West England...

.

Legacy


Officer Lowe was portrayed by Welsh
Welsh people
The Welsh people are an ethnic group and nation associated with Wales and the Welsh language.John Davies argues that the origin of the "Welsh nation" can be traced to the late 4th and early 5th centuries, following the Roman departure from Britain, although Brythonic Celtic languages seem to have...

 actor
Actor
An actor is a person who acts in a dramatic production and who works in film, television, theatre, or radio in that capacity...

 Ioan Gruffudd
Ioan Gruffudd
Ioan Gruffudd is a Welsh actor.Trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, he started off in Welsh language film productions, then came to international attention as Fifth Officer Harold Lowe in the film Titanic , and as Lt. John Beales in Black Hawk Down...

 in the 1997 blockbuster movie
Blockbuster (entertainment)
Blockbuster, as applied to film or theatre, denotes a very popular or successful production. The entertainment industry use was originally theatrical slang referring to a particularly successful play but is now used primarily by the film industry...

 Titanic
Titanic (1997 film)
Titanic is a 1997 American epic romance and disaster film directed, written, co-produced, and co-edited by James Cameron. A fictionalized account of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson, Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater and Billy Zane as Rose's fiancé, Cal...

. The film depicted Lowe rescuing first-class passenger Rose DeWitt Bukater from the freezing ocean after finding her floating on a door. He was portrayed by Kavan Smith
Kavan Smith
Kavan Joel Smith is a Canadian actor best known for playing Major Evan Lorne in Stargate Atlantis and Stargate SG-1 and for his recurring role as Agent Jed Garrity in The 4400.-Biography:...

 in the 1996 miniseries
Titanic (TV miniseries)
Titanic is a made-for-TV movie that premièred on CBS in 1996. Titanic follows several characters on board the RMS Titanic when she sinks on her maiden voyage in 1912. The miniseries was directed by Robert Lieberman. The original music score was composed by Lennie Niehaus...

.

In 2004, a menu of the first meal ever served aboard the Titanic, which Lowe had sent to his fiancée when the ship was docked in Ireland, sold for £51,000, smashing the record for auctioned Titanic memorabilia at that time.

External links