Second Officer C.H.Lightoller
- Death & Memorials

Lightoller's death certificate (Click to enlarge)

Herbert Lightoller died of chronic heart disease after a recent bout with bronchitis, on December 8th 1952, aged 78. A long-time pipe smoker, he died during London's Great Smog of 1952. It seems that significant historical events were constantly intertwined with the eventful life of Charles Herbert Lightoller.

His body was cremated, and his ashes were scattered at the Commonwealth "Garden of Remembrance" at Mortlake Crematorium in Richmond, Surrey. Opened in 1939 Mortlake Crematorium was equipped with a Garden of Remembrance for the burial or scattering of ashes, and also offered panels and niches in which ashes could be deposited. The Crematorium is noted for also cremating Tommy Cooper, Sir Michael Redgrave and Margaret Thatcher.


1. Duck's Walk Plaque

Duck's Walk Plaque. (Click image to enlarge)

A plaque can be found at Number 1 Duck’s Walk in Twickenham, London, where Lightoller's old boatyard existed along the Thames. The actual house the Lightollers lived in was torn down, despite local resident's objections. The stand alone plaque has the following written on it:

• Commander Lightoller was the senior surviving officer of the Titanic in 1912.  Going down with the ship, he took charge of an upturned lifeboat and was the last survivor to be rescued. • In the First World War, he served with the Royal Navy, commanding three MTB/Destroyers and rose to the rank of Commander RNR.  He won the DSC in 1916 and was awarded a bar to it in 1918 after sinking a U-Boat.

• In 1940 Commander Lightoller took his motor yacht Sundowner to Dunkirk and rescued 127 men from the beaches.  Sundowner is preserved at the Maritime Museum in Ramsgate.

In 1947 in partnership with an old friend and his surviving son, he took over the small boat building business of Richmond Slipways.  He lived there on the boatyard at 1 Duck's Walk with his wife Sylvia until passing away peacefully on 8th December 1952.

2. Yarrow House Plaque, Chorley

A blue plaque can be seen on the gates of the high school, Albany Science College. The Chorley Civic Society commissioned the plaque, which was unveiled by Lightoller’s granddaughter, Lady Louise Patten, on her first visit to the town on Friday, September 9th 2011. 25 people gathered for the event, the plaque is situated near the site of Yarrow House, where the Lightoller family lived.

3. Millennium Gardens, Southampton

A brick bearing his name can be found at the Millennium Gardens in Woolston, Southampton, placed there when the grounds were opened in April 2002.

4. Sundowner, Ramsgate, Kent.

Sundowner, Ramsgate, Kent. (Click image to enlarge)

After Lightoller died in 1952, his wife Sylvia continued to cruise in Sundowner, taking the helm when she led the Armada of Little Ships on the 25th Anniversary return to Dunkirk in 1965. After Sylvia's death in 1969 and passing through several other owners, the Sundowner was purchased in 1986 by the East Kent Maritime Trust who fully restored Lightoller's boat, and it is now based at Ramsgate, Kent in southern England. The ship was restored in 1990 to take part in the 50th anniversary celebrations of Dunkirk. In 2000 Sundowner also took part in the 60th anniversary flotilla, once more sailing to Dunkirk. On 3 June 2012, Sundowner participated in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant (among other "Dunkirk Little Ships").

Lightoller's Sundowner can be viewed from Pier Yard in front of Ramsgate Maritime Museum, adjacent to the Dunkirk Memorial Stone Plaque (postcode CT11 8LS). There is further information in a small exhibition entitled ‘Evacuation from Dunkirk in 1940’ and video on display in Ramsgate Maritime Museum