Second Officer C.H.Lightoller - Timeline

There is some ambiguity as to many of the exact dates of events in Charles Herbert Lightoller's life, but this is the best attempt to accurately depict his timeline. It is open to review and future ammendments as further research is completed.



6th January

Father Frederick Lightoller born in Chorley, Lancashire, England


30th March

Born Chorley, Lancashire, England

Mother Sarah Jane Lightoller (née Widdows) dies of scarlet fever shortly after giving birth to Charles Herbert.


Lightoller’s father Fred abandons Herbert, aged 10, and moves to New Zealand, where he marries Joyce.



Aged 13, he begins a four year sea-going apprenticeship making his first trip aboard the Primrose Hill .


Holt Hill di-masted in a storm in the South Atlanticand forced to put into Rio de Janeiro during a revolution and smallpox epidemic. 

13th November

Holt Hill runs aground on an uninhabited island Île Saint-Paul.  


Rescued by the Coorong and taken to Adelaide, Australia. Lightoller joined the crew of the clipper ship Duke of Abercorn for his return to England



Lightoller returns to the Primrose Hill for his third voyage.


30th May

Second Mates Certificate



Third mate, Knight of St Michaels . Sailing ship, reg Liverpool, Greenshield, Cowe & Company. (9 months 29 days)


12/4/94 - 25/7/94

Third mate, Knight of St Michaels. (3 months, 13 days)


25/7/94 - 26/4/95

Second mate, Knight of St Michaels. (9 months, 2 days)


31/5/95 - 4/7/95

Third mate, SS Memnon. Steam ship, reg London, Elder Dempster Line. (1 month, 4 days)

20/7/95 - 20/8/95

Third mate, SS Memnon. (1 month)

20/8/95 - 24/9/95

Third mate, SS Memnon. (1 month, 4 days)


At age 21, First Mate's certificate


19/3/96 - 12/5/96

Third mate, Stuart Prince. Steam ship, reg Newcastle, Prince Line. (1 month 28 days)

13/6/96 - 1/10/96

Third mate, Moorish Prince. Steam ship, reg Newcastle, Prince Line. (3 months and 18 days)

9/10/96 - 2/2/97

Third mate, Moorish Prince. (3 months and 23 days)


9/10/96 - 2/2/97

Second mate, Benin. Steam ship, reg London, Elder Dempster Line. (2 months 24 days)


7/8/97 - 17/10/97

Second mate, Biafra . Steam ship, reg London, Elder Dempster Line. (2 months 10 days)

2/11/97 - 9/1/98

Second mate, Biafra . (2 months 7 days)


Canadian goldfields/cowboy, house painter, hobo


24/9/98 -6/12/98

Second mate, Jebba. Reg London, Elder Dempster Line. (2 months 13 days)

17/12/98 - 26/2/99

Second mate, Jebba. (2 months 9 days)


10/3/99 - 23/5/99

Second mate, Jebba. (2 months 13 days)

10th July and 17th July

Master’s certificate at the age of 23 - two attempts 10-7-1899, fails in "navigation" then 17-7-1899

Cattle steamer Knight Companion, third mate



Joins the White Star Line.


17th January - 22nd September

SS Medic – serving as 4th Officer

6 October

Fort Denison, Sydney Harbour prank

22nd September- 9th September 1901

SS Teutonic – serving as 4th Officer


26-7-01 / 29-7-01

Extra masters certificate, after two attempts

9th September- 25th January 1902

SS Georgic – serving as Third Officer


25th January - May 1903

SS Cymric – serving as 2nd Officer


May - 13th April 1904

SS Suevic – serving as 2nd Officer

Meets Sylvia Hawley-Wilson aboard the SS Suevic.

15th December

Marries Sylvia Hawley-Wilson in St James' Church, Sydney and returns to England on the return passage.


13th April - 1907

SS Germanic – serving as Second Officer


26 October

Frederic Roger Lightoller born, Blackburn, England.


Lightoller family moves to Netley Abbey near Southampton, after the White Star Line moved its large ocean liners from Liverpool to Southampton.


April - 14th May

SS Oceanic – serving as Second Officer

14th May - 24th November

SS Teutonic – serving as Second Officer

25th December - 9th November 1909

SS Oceanic – serving as Second Officer


28 April

Richard Trevor Lightoller born, S Stoneham, Hampshire


9th November - 1st January 1910

SS Oceanic – serving as First Officer


7th February - 6th April

SS Oceanic serving as Second Officer

6th April - 14th January 1911

SS Teutonic – serving as First Officer


12th February - 7th December

SS Oceanic – serving as First Officer

7th December - 9th March 1912

SS Majestic – serving as First Officer, and also temporarily chief officer


27 March

Joins RMS Titanic in Belfast as First officer, reporting to Chief Officer William Murdoch

2nd April

RMS Titanic sea trials

9th April

RMS Titanic bumped down from First officer to Second officer

10th April

RMS Titanic sailing day - station is on the forecastle with Chief Officer Wilde

14th April

Aboard RMS Titanic. Lightoller's last watch is from 6 - 10pm during which he calculates reaching ice at 9.30pm, hands over the watch to First Officer Murdoch at 10pm.

11:40pm Lightoller is in his cabin and still awake when the collision occurs. Runs out on deck and sees nothing.

11:50pm Fourth Officer Boxhall opens his door and tells Lightoller they have hit an iceberg. Lightoller dresses and exits his cabin.

12:05am Captain Smith orders the officers including Lightoller to uncover the lifeboats, swing them out and get passengers wearing lifebelts.

12:22am Lightoller gets Captain's Smith approval to begin loading

1:00am Lifeboat no. 8 launched by Lightoller with 25 occupants

1:10am Lifeboat 6 launched by Lightoller with 24 occupants

1:15am Guns issued to senior officers and Lightoller gets his lifebelt

01:20am Lifeboat 16 launched by Lightoller with 52 occupants

01:25am Lifeboat 14 launched by Lightoller with 40 occupants

01:30am Lifeboat 12 launched by Lightoller with 42 occupants

01:50am Lifeboat 4 launched by Lightoller with 42 occupants

02:05am Collapsible D launched by Lightoller with 20 occupants

02.15am Collapisble B, floats away upside down, 30 including Lightoller find refuge on it.

08.30am Lifeboat 12 was the last lifeboat taken aboard the Carpathia, with Second officer Lightoller in command, and he is the last person to climb aboard the rescue ship.

18th April

Carpathia docks in the evening. Lightoller and other surviving officers immediately served with subpoenas to appear at the US Inquiry.

19th April

US Inquiry begins. Lightoller appears as a key witness.

2nd May

Lightoller, along with the three other surviving officers, thirty crew members, and White Star President Bruce Ismay, were able to depart for England, boarding the Adriatic in New York City

2 May - 3 July

British investigation by the Wreck Commissioner on behalf of the British Board of Trade. Lightoller is a key witness and later describes it as a "whitewash." His wife Sylvia appears every day at the Inquiry.

23rd July - 5th November

Majestic – serving as First Officer


Publishes a 'testimony' in the Christian Science Journal crediting his faith in a divine power for his survival

5th November - 26th November

Majestic – serving as Chief Officer

526th November - 17th December

Majestic – serving as First Officer


6th January - 26th May

Suevic – serving as Chief Officer


He received a promotion from Sub-Lieutenant to Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve 

11 April

Sylvia Mavis Lightoller born, Mother: Hawley-Wilson, S Stoneham, Hampshire

1st July - 28th July

Majestic – serving as Chief Officer

28th July - 19th April 1914

Oceanic – serving as First Officer


1st June - 8th September

Oceanic – serving as First Officer

8 September

Oceanic runs aground on a reef at off the island of Foula of the Shetland Islands due to a navigational error. All passengers and crew were rescued

12th December

His father Frederick Lightoller commits suicide in Waipawa, New Zealand, aged 71.


Serves as the first officer during the trials of another former passenger liner, RMS Campania, which had just been converted into an aircraft carrier. 

Late 1915, he was given his own command, the torpedo boat HMTB 117

Whilst captain of HMTB 117 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for engaging Zeppelin L31 in a prolonged night battle.

14th September

Claire Doreen Lightoller born S Stoneham, Hampshire


Appointed captain of HMS Falcon, a C-class torpedo boat destroyer and for the next two years Lightoller served with the Falcon on the "Dover patrol".


19 January

Youngest son Herbert Brian born

23rd May

Decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross, for the loss of the German Zeppelin L31 while commander of torpedo boat HMTB 117.


1st April

Falcon was sunk on after a collision, in fog, with the trawler, John Fitzgerald


Lightoller was eventually exonerated in a court martial for the loss of the HMS Falcon.

Given command of the River-class destroyer HMS Garry.

19 June

German U-Boat UB-110, under the command of KapitänleutnantWerner Fürbringer, was depth charged, rammed and sunk off the Yorkshire coast by Lieutenant Commander Lightoller and the crew of HMS Garry. Lieutenant Commander Lightoller was awarded a Bar to the Distinguished Service Cross for sinking SM UB-110.


Promoted to acting Lieutenant-Commander


31 March

Placed on the retired list, with the rank of Commander.

29th January - 26th February

Listed as a standby for Vedic

26th February - 14th February 1920

Celtic – serving as Chief Officer


14 February

Lightoller officially resigns from the White Star Line.


Lightollers purchase a discarded 1912 Admiralty steam launch, refitted and christened Sundowner.


Writes his memiors.


His book "Titanic and Other Ships" released


January 13th - January 15th

Abridged version of Lightoller's book was serialised in the Dundee "Evening Telegraph."

15th of January

Titanic second wireless operator Harold Bride complaint about Lightoller's portray is published in Dundee "Evening Telegraph."

January 29

Lightoller's reply to second wireless operator Harold Bride complaint is published in the Dundee "Evening Telegraph."


Lightoller writes an article for June edition of The Blue Peter magazine, entitled "The Man on the Bridge."

1st November

Lightoller appears on BBC radio "I Was There" programme recounting his Titanic story.


Bay Tree paperback version of Lightoller's "Titanic and Other Ships" is released.



Lightoller approached by the Royal Navy and asked to perform a survey of the German coastline, under the guise of an elderly couple on vacation in their yacht, the Sundowner.

4 September

Youngest son Herbert Brian, an RAF pilot, was killed in action on in a bombing raid over Wilhelmshaven, Germany, on the first night of Britain's entry into the Second World War, aged 22.


1st June

Together with his son Roger and a young Sea Scout named Gerald Ashcroft, crosses the English Channel in Sundowner to assist in the Dunkirk evacuation


29 December

Received a mention in Despatches, recognising his action at Dunkirk.


9th March

Eldest son, Roger, serving in the Royal Navy killed during the Granville raid whilst commanding a Motor Torpedo Boat, aged 38.


Lightoller was 'demobbed' at age 72. 


24 May 1950

BBC radio broadcast of Lightoller describing Dunkirk.


8 December

Dies of chronic heart disease aged 78, in Richmond, London.


Sylvia Lightoller, widow, corresponds with "A Night to Remember" author Walter Lord mentioning that her husband was threatened with libel action over his book, and that they received only £15 out of the copies sold.


3 July

World Premiere of British Titanic film "A Night to Remember" at Odeon Leicester Square. Based on Walter Lord's 1955 book, the film stars Kenneth More as Second Officer Lightoller and is a leading role. Widow Sylvia was consulted during the making of the film and appeared at the premiere. There is film footage of her receiving a kiss from actor Kenneth More.


3rd October

Sylvia Lightoller (née Hawley-Wilson) dies in England.