William Murdoch, Titanic’s First Officer

William Murdoch, Titanic’s First Officer

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William Murdoch, Titanic's First Officer

Murdoch in 1900, age 27, when he was Medic’s second officer.

William McMaster Murdoch, Titanic’s first officer, was born in Dalbeattie, Scotland, on 28 February 1873. Murdoch was the officer in charge on the bridge when Titanic fatally collided with an iceberg. He was also one of the over 1,500 people who died in the disaster.

Murdoch joined White Star Line after working on several sailing vessels. Assigned to White Star’s Australian service, he served on both Medic and Runic. He was later transferred to the Atlantic liners Arabic (1903), Adriatic (1907), Celtic (1901), Germanic (1875), Oceanic (1899), Olympic (1911) and, finally, Titanic. In 1907, Murdoch married a New Zealand school teacher, Ada Florence Banks, whom he met in 1903 while heading to England on either Runic or the Medic.

In an officer staff shakeup announced shortly before Titanic’s maiden voyage, Capt. Edward J. Smith appointed Olympic’s Henry T. Wilde as his chief officer. The decision forced Murdoch, the incumbent chief officer, to step down to first officer.

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