Charles Herbert Lightoller More at IMDbPro »
Date of Birth
30 March 1874, Chorley, Lancashire, England, UK
Date of Death
8 December 1952, Twickenham, Middlesex, England, UK (heart failure)
Perhaps one of the most intriguing individuals associated with the Titanic because of the many unique events that happened both before and after the sinking. As a young man, he assured his sister the sea wasn't wet enough to drown him and went on to prove just that. Charles Lightoller's career at sea began in 1888 at the age of thirteen and was a harrowing one almost from the start. On his second voyage, his ship was demasted twice before running aground on a deserted island. In 1898, lured by the promise of riches, Lightoller left the sea to become one of the thousands who moiled for gold in the Klondike. Unfortunately, he was unsuccessful and after a brief stint as a cowboy, he rode the rails back east as a hobo before returning to England broke.
Eager to resume his sailing career, he joined the White Star Line around the turn of the century and was assigned as a junior officer on a run to Australia. It was on this run that he met his future wife Sylvia. He would later be assigned to the Titanic in 1912 and survived the ship's sinking by clinging to an overturned lifeboat in the freezing water with thirty other men all night before being rescued. Lightoller would survive still two more shipwrecks during World War I when the steamship Oceanic ran aground in 1914 and then again in 1918 when the destroyer Falcon. A month later, however, while commmanding the destroyer Garry, Lightoller rammed and sank a German U-Boat. Though badly damaged, the Garry remained afloat and Lightoller received a promotion for his actions.
After the war ended, Lightoller resumed service with the White Star Line, but found being associated with the Titanic had forever tainted him in his employer's eyes, dashing any hope of attaining a peacetime command. A disillusioned Lightoller quit the White Star Line and left the sea altogether, taking various jobs to support his family, including chicken farmer and owner of a guest home. The Lightoller family eventually acquired a small craft which Sylvia named the Sundowner, which was used by Lightoller, at the request of the British government, to survey the European coastline months before World War II broke out.
In June of 1940, he distinguished himself one final time by taking his beloved Sundowner across the English channel to rescue a hundred and twenty-seven men at the evacuation of Dunkirk. Lightoller spent his final years managing a boatyard used by the London River Police. The man the sea couldn't claim died on December 8, 1952 at the age of seventy-eight.
IMDb Mini Biography By: N