On the 110th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, international maritime charity Sailors’ Society is paying a special tribute to one of its own – the Titanic’s Sixth Officer, 24-year-old James Moody who was the only junior officer to go down with the ship.
Shortly before midnight on 14 April 1912, the Titanic hit an iceberg. The story of this tragedy and the many individual acts of heroism are well known. But especially poignant for the Society is the act of duty carried out by the seafarer son of a North-East solicitor.
James Moody had been trained at the Society’s King Edward VII Nautical School, securing his Master’s Certificate just a year before the fateful voyage.
In an open letter to the press, shortly after news of the tragedy broke, the Society said: “Till the last moment comes it is the duty of the junior officer to stand by his Captain, pass on his commands and be steadfast unto death.”
It is reported that James Moody helped launch lifeboats and in a well-known incident, that of the separation of the Becker family, it was James who saw three members of the family into the lifeboat while Ruth Becker went to find extra blankets. It is recorded that Ruth then asked the officer to help her board the next lifeboat and he lifted her up and threw her in.
It is likely James stood with his Captain, Edward Smith, to the very end when Smith gave the command: “Every Man for himself and God for us all!” Both Captain and Sixth Officer perished when the ship broke apart and went down early in the morning of 15 April. James Moody’s body was never identified.
The open letter from the Society reflected: “The sea is still God’s school for teaching the highest in sacrifice.”
A monument in Woodland Cemetery, Scarborough, also commemorates James Moody’s sacrifice with the words: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”.
There were just 706 survivors from a passenger and crew list of nearly 2,000.