Titanic (1912)
Lieutenant Henry Tingle Wilde, RNR (1872-1912)

From left to right: First Officer William M Murdoch, Chief Officer Henry T. Wilde, an unidentified officer and
Capt. Edward J. Smith seen on the Olympic.


Henry Wilde was born on the 21 Sep 1872 in Walton, Liverpool, England and christened at the Loxley Congragational Chapel in Bradfield, Yorkshire on the 24 Oct 1872. He was the son of Henry Wilde, an Insurance Suveyor from Ecclesfield South Yorkshire. His mother was Elizabeth Tingle of Loxley, Bradfield. Henry went to sea in his teens. He apprenticed with Messrs. James Chambers & Co., Liverpool . His apprenticeship began on October 23, 1889, onboard the 1835 ton Greystoke Castle, and concluded four years later on October 22, 1893. From there, he served as as third mate aboard the Greystoke Castle , and then moved on to third mate of the 1374 ton Hornsby Castle. His first steamship posting was aboard the S.S. Brunswick in 1895, where he served initially as third mate, then as second. In 1896, he transferred to the S.S. Europa and served aboard her as second mate. In July 1897, he joined the White Star Line.

Starting as a junior officer, Wilde rose steadily through the ranks while serving on several White Star ships. These included the Covic, Cufic, Tauric, and Delphic. Tragedy struck in December 1910 when Wilde's wife and twin sons Archie and Richard died. In August 1911, Wilde became Chief Officer of Titanic's sister, the RMS Olympic, where he served under Titanic's future captain, Edward J. Smith.

Wilde was scheduled to leave Southampton on Olympic on 3 April 1912 but was ordered by White Star to remain behind and await orders. It seems likely that Wilde was slated for his own command on a smaller ship, but was assigned as Titanic's Chief Officer at the last minute, possibly at the request of Capt. Smith. This eleventh hour assignment caused the so-called "officer reshuffle", whereby William Murdoch and Charles Lightoller were bumped down a rank to First and Second Officer, respectively, and Second Officer David Blair was removed from the ship entirely. On Titanic's sailing day, 10 April 1912, Wilde reported for duty at 6.00 AM. Around the time of departure, he was assisting Lightoller in the casting-off of mooring ropes and securing of tug lines. After putting to sea, Wilde worked the 2-6 watches. While on the Titanic, Wilde supposedly wrote a letter to his sister in which he mentioned that he had "a queer feeling about the ship".

At 11.40 PM on 14 April, Titanic had her famous encounter with an iceberg. Because Wilde was off-duty at the time, and because he did not survive the night, his movements during the sinking are largely unknown. He apparently took charge of filling and lowering the even-numbered lifeboats on the port side of the ship. By 1.40 AM, most of the port lifeboats had been lowered, and Wilde moved to the starboard side. He was last seen trying to free the collapsible lifeboats A and B from the roof of the Officers' Quarters. In The Night Lives On, Walter Lord noted that fewer survivors recalled seeing Wilde than Captain Smith or First Officer Murdoch, and that it is possible-- though by no means certain-- that Wilde was the officer who committed suicide in the last minutes of the sinking, an incident that was reported by several survivors.

(Text courtesy of Wikipedia)


Page published Dec. 2, 2007