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Henry Wilde

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Henry Wilde
Biological Information
Full name

Henry Tingle Wilde




21 September 1872


15 April 1912 (age 40)


Perished on Titanic

Background Information

Elizabeth Tingle of Loxley (mother) Henry Wilde (father)



Titanic Statistics

Southampton, England


Chief Officer


Titanic Crew


Died of hypothermia


Historical character


Mark Lindsay Chapman

Henry Tingle Wilde was born at the Loxley Congregational Chapel in Bradfield, Yorkshire on 24 October 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 23 October 1889, onboard the 1835-ton Greystoke Castle, and concluded four years later on 22 October 1893. From there, he served 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 mate. 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 and ill-fated captain, Edward Smith.

RMS TitanicEdit

Wilde was scheduled to leave Southampton, England 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 Titanics 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 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.

Wilde leads the uncovering of the boats and explains to Thomas Andrews that no one will come outside to be loaded because it's "too damn cold and noisy".

In the loading of the boats, Wilde is the officer in charge of the lowering of the boat Rose DeWitt Bukater gets into (he's the officer waving his arms in slow motion). Wilde is also the officer loading with Murdoch when the final panic begins and Murdoch shoots Thomas Ryan and another passenger — and then himself. Wilde shouts, "No, Will!" But was too late. Caledon Hockley then approaches Wilde with the child in his arms and Wilde lets him through.

As the water rushes up on to the last two boats, Wilde screams for the crew to cut the falls on Collapsible Lifeboat A , then grabs a knife to help. He can be seen holding his pistol butt first.

In the water, Wilde floats on a deck chair and blows his officer's whistle, calling to "Return the boats!".

He dies shortly after from hypothermia, clutching his deck chair. Rose removes the whistle from his mouth and calls Lowe's attention. Even in death, Wilde proves useful.

Behind the scenesEdit

In the film, Henry Wilde was played by Mark Lindsay Chapman. According to IMDB, Chapman was fired and rehired twice during filming. Also, he suffered an accident where he was struck by a boat and had to be pulled from the water.

Wilde portrait

Henry Wilde in 1912

The Wilde in the movie seems to more or less accurately follow his historical model. The real Wilde was more uncomfortable with the ship as evidenced in his letter to his sister. He reluctantly took the assignment through the urging of his family, perhaps with the suggestion that soon enough he would be made a captain himself.

After the ship struck the iceberg and Wilde moved forward to inspect the forepeak and see the flooding for himself. He then came back to the bridge to make a report just before the carpenter arrived. These two reports seem to have convinced Smith that Titanic was sinking. While Murdoch was in charge of the starboard boats and Lightoller the port side evacuation it seems that Wilde supervised the overall process. He delayed launching the lifeboats, he allowed himself twice to be over-ridden by Lightoller going to Captain Smith, he took charge of filling and lowering the even-numbered lifeboats on the port side and also gave firearms to both Lightoller and First Officer Murdoch. By 1.40 AM, most of the port lifeboats had been lowered, and Wilde moved to the starboard side. There are conflicting accounts of where Wilde was last seen and what he was doing, one survivor said Wilde was trying to free the collapsible lifeboats A and B from the roof of the Officers' Quarters(as portrayed in the movie). Another said that Wilde was smoking a cigarette on the bridge appearing to make no attempt to save himself. This account does tie in with an account in the Cornish Post of 2 May 1912 in which reference is made to “Chief Officer H.T. Wilde, who was last seen on the bridge smoking a cigarette.” It further claims that he “waved good-bye to Second Officer Charles Lightoller as the Titanic's bows went under.” Wilde's body was never found.

There is evidence to suggest that Wilde swam over to collapsible B before dying from hypothermia. Jack Thayer, a first class passenger, who survived aboard collapsible B, reported "Questions and answers were called around — who was on board, and who was lost, or what they had been seen doing?" "One call that came around was, “Is the chief aboard? ” "Whether they meant Mr. Wilde, the chief officer, or the chief engineer, or Captain Smith, I do not know." "I do know that one of the circular life rings from the bridge was there when we got off in the morning." "It might be that Captain Smith was on board with us for a while." "Nobody knew where the Chief was."

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