Letter: Titanic injustice

Click to follow
The Independent Online
THE FILM, Titanic gives an unfair portrayal of my grandfather, Bruce Ismay, chairman of the White Star Line. Please allow me to set the record straight.

The film shows Ismay urging Captain Smith to increase speed, in order to gain favourable publicity by arriving in New York ahead of schedule. According to W J Oldham's The Ismay Line, quite the reverse is true. Before sailing, Smith received Ismay's instructions, "Under no circumstances whatsoever is the Titanic to arrive before 5am on Wednesday morning at the Ambrose Light Vessel." This was in line with company policy, which put comfort before speed. Also, it was Ismay's practice never to interfere in the running of a ship on which he was travelling. Both points were made at the subsequent inquiries.

After the collision, Ismay worked for nearly two hours helping people into the boats. He only left when, there being no more women in sight on the deck, he was ordered into the last boat, as it was being lowered. This account comes from an affidavit made to the American inquiry by Mr A H Weikman, barber on the Titanic.

I believe there should be a code of practice for film-makers, which would enforce adherence to accepted facts. In this instance, Bruce Ismay's character was blackened purely for dramatic effect.

I can write with some authority and, I think, impartiality on this matter, since Bruce Ismay's successor to the chairmanship, Harold Sanderson, was my other grandfather.


London W2