The amazing story of Scarborough hero James Moody who took the Titanic's doomed phone call

Today marks 109 years to the day since the sinking of RMS Titanic when more than 1,500 people perished when the ship struck an iceberg on her maiden voyage - including a young Scarborough officer

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 5:50 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th April 2021, 5:54 pm

James Paul Moody, aged just 24, was the sixth and youngest officer on the Titanic, which sank overnight from April 14 to 15, 1912.

Mr Moody was born in Scarborough on August 21, 1887, the youngest of four children born to Evelyn Louis Lammin and her husband and solicitor John Henry Moody.

The Moody family was very well known in Scarborough. James’ father was on the town council, and his grandfather had been the town clerk.

The Titanic's Sixth Officer, James Moody.

Moody graduated from the King Edward VII nautical school in London, where he passed his Master’s Examination in April of 1911. He then served for several months aboard the White Star liner Oceanic, running between Liverpool and New York, before taking up his posting on the Titanic.

He was paid about $37 a month (roughly £700 today) and was responsible for two, four-hour watches each sea day. These were from eight until twelve in the morning, and he had the same hours again in the evening.

The Titanic set sail on April 10 1912; the first four days of sailing had been calm and sunny.

On April 14, James Moody was on watch on the bridge with First Officer William Murdoch and Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall.

A close-up of the blue plaque for James Paul Moody in Scarborough.

At 11.40pm a triple chime from the lookout bell rang out, followed by a call to the bridge phone. It was James that answered the call.

“What did you see?” he asked.

“Iceberg right ahead!" replied lookout Frederick Fleet.

There were only 37 seconds between the iceberg being spotted and the collision. The kiss of the iceberg tore open the Titanic's hull and she began to take on water. It took just 160 minutes to be submerged.

James Paul Moody.

Recollections of that night record the heroic actions of James Paul Moody who helped to save passengers and crew from the freezing ocean water.

In the ensuing evacuation Moody helped in the loading of five lifeboats. Whilst loading number 16 he ordered stewardess Violet Jessop into the boat. At the inquiry into the disaster she described Moody as looking "weary and tired".

Whilst loading lifeboat 14 Moody insisted that Fifth Officer Harold Lowe should man the lifeboat instead of himself.

James Moody was last seen on the roof of the officers’ quarters, trying to free a couple of auxiliary boats that were lashed into place there. Soon after 2.10am a giant wave swept across that roof, consuming Moody and the boat deck.

James Moody went down with the Titanic the night she sank, his body was never recovered.

However, he is not forgotten. There is a memorial plaque to him in the Church of St Martin on the Hill, in Scarborough. It bears these words; ‘Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life’.

There is a blue plaque to James Moody at his birthplace on Granville Road, South Cliff.

It is lesser-known that Sir Edward James Harland - co-founder of Harland and Wolff, the shipbuilders who built the Titanic - was also born in Scarborough and has his own blue plaque on Newborough where Marks & Spencer now stands.

There is another memorial to Moody in Woodlands Cemetery, near the iron bridge. It reads; ‘Greater love hath no man than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends’.