a lot is known about Charles Herbert
Lightoller. I discovered his story
while on a tour through the Titanic
Museum in Branson Missouri. Charles
was a tall, sun tanned seaman. It
was said he had a pleasant quiet
demeanor and loved to talk with
anyone who would listen to stories
about the sea. His mother had died
during his childhood, his father
abandoned him, soon after, and he
had run off to go to sea, at the
age of only thirteen.
1912, he was a well respected seaman
for the White Star Line and was
assigned to the maiden voyage of
the greatest ocean liner ever built,
the Titanic. This ship could not
sink. The designers, the owner and
most of the wealthiest people in
the world were all on board. The
guest list including Lord Astor,
who was there with his wife, on
their way to New York.
had the night off work and was down
below in his small room. He was
just drifting off to sleep on April
14th, when he felt a bump in the
ship's forward motion. Hopping from
his bunk, he quickly learned that
the Titanic had struck an iceberg.
could not believe that the ship
might sink. They walked the deck
as usual until all of a sudden the
boat began to list slightly.
horrors of that night slowly began
to unfold. Charles realized that
there were not enough lifeboats,
and panic in some areas of the boat
caused boats to be dropped half
full and others were just jumping
into the water trying to swim to
some of the boats that overturned.
They did not realize that they would
only survive a few minutes in the
cold water. Charles, along with
most of the other seamen on board,
helped to save as many as they could.
Most knew that they would lose their
own lives, as the ship seemed to
be slowly breaking apart.
Charles Lightoller moved from place
to place on the ship, helping others
where he could. Suddenly he found
himself standing on the roof of
the officer's quarters, the cold
black water was lapping at his feet.
He helped the last few around him
into the last lifeboat. Then finally,
there was noting left for Seaman
Charles to do, but jump from the
roof into the freezing water of
the North Atlantic. He expected
this was the end, as there were
no other ships for miles and they
were off course.
shock of the 28-degree freezing
water against his shivering sweating
body stunned him. As he struggled
to get his bearing and swim away
from the ship, he was suddenly sucked
back and pinned against a ventilation
grate at the base of a funnel that
went all the way down to Boiler
Room 6. He did not realize that
gradually the water had broken through
to safety compartments, had gone
up the stairs openings and into
the center of the ship to the boiler.
The museum shows how the 10 inch
thick bolts started to snap like
match sticks. The ship was now doomed.
Charles found himself stuck against
the grate. He could not move. Water
covered his legs and then his head
in seconds. He was drowning, and
going down with the ship.
Suddenly Psalm 91:11 came
clearly to his mind: For He shall
give His angels charge over you,
to keep you in all your ways
that very moment, as he prayed,
a blast of hot air exploded from
the belly of the ship, shooting
Lightoller like a missile to the
surface of the ocean. The boiler
had blown up. It shot him right
up in the air and away from the
ship. Falling into the freezing
water he was able to grab a piece
of rope attached to the side of
an overturned lifeboat. He painstakingly,
pulled himself up on top of the
He writes that he turned and watched,
in tears, the last moments of his
ship, the Titanic. Her stern swung
up in the air until the ship was
in "an absolutely perpendicular
position." He said, then she
slowly sank down into the water,
with only a small gulp as her stern
disappeared beneath the waves. Then
there was silence.
As people were floating nearby gradually
seaman Charles Lightoller pulled
them on board. There were about
thirty men atop the lifeboat, and
together they recited the Lord's
Prayer, and prayed someone would
find them before they froze to death.
Lightoller took command of the boat.
He related how he had prayed to
God, Psalm 91 verse 11. God
heard his prayer and in an unusual
way had sent an angel to save his
life and keep his ways. All those
on the overturned boat were saved.