Third Officer Herbert Pitman
- Timeline


Father Henry Pitman born


Mother Sarah Marchant born


20th of November

Herbert John Pitman born in Sutton Montis near Castle Cary, Somerset


Father Henry Pitman dies, when Herbert was only three years old.

Sister Ida Pitman born


Joins the Merchant Navy, as an apprenctice at James Nourse Ltd

1895 - 1899

4 year apprenticeship aboard the Mersey, Forth and Bann

1899 - 1900

2nd May - 20th January

Third mate aboard the Forth


10th April

Applies for Second mate certification at the port of Bristol and fails in Navigation


17th April

Applies for Second mate certification at the port of Bristol for a second time and fails in Navigation once again


7th May

Applies for Second mate certification at the port of Bristol and passes - certificate is issued on the 14th of May to his address, Sandbrook, Galhampton, Bath.

1900 - 1901

11th August - 22 February

Third officer aboard the Clyde.

1901 - 1902

22nd February - 8th April

Second officer aboard the Clyde.


9th June

Applies for first mate certification at the port of Bristol and passes with certificate being sent on the 19th to his address at 25 Catherine Street, Frome.

1902 - 1903

23rd September - 6th July

Third officer aboard his first steamship - the SS Warrical.

1903 - 1904

7th October - 19th April

Switches to the Shire line, working as Third officer aboard the SS Denbighshire to Japan

1904 - 1905

2nd July - 9th February

Rejoins the Norse Line, aboard the SS Indus, as third officer and then second officer


10th January - 28th August

Promoted to first officer aboard the SS Indus

1905 - 1906

13th September - 3rd of July

First officer aboard the SS Indus


14th August

Successfully applies for his masters certificate


May - September

Joins the White Star Line - first serving aboard the SS Gothic as third officer

1907 - 1911

September - March

Works aboard the SS Delphic as second officer


4th March - August

Serves aboard the SS Majestic as fourth officer

1911 - 1912

4th August - March

Serves aboard the SS Oceanic, as fourth officer



While on holiday in Castle Cary, receives telegram appointing him to Titanic

26th March

Reports to the White Star Line’s office, Liverpool, at 9am to collect his ticket for Belfast

27th March

Arrives in Belfast at noon and reports to Chief Officer William Murdoch

2nd April

Officially joins as third officer at 6 am as Titanic begins her sea trials

10th April

As Titanic departs Southampton Pitman was assists First Officer Murdoch at the stern of the ship in supervising the casting-off of mooring ropes and taking on of tug lines.

14th April

6pm Pitman's "dog" watch begins; he firstly has dinner and then notices ice marked "on the North Atlantic Track Chart... Some miles north of it."

7.30pm Pitman makes "stellar observations" with Second Officer Lightoller and takes "a set of sights."

8pm In the chartroom, Pitman hands over his calcultions to Fourth officer Boxhall to finish them: "I simply said 'Here is a bunch of sights for you, old man. Go ahead.'" His watch finished, he returns to his cabin to go to bed.

11.40pm Pitman is woken up by a sound like that of a 'ship coming to anchor'

11.45pm - 11.50pm Pitman walks out onto the port side deck 'without dressing'. He does 'not see anything' so returns to his room and 'lit my pipe' thinking it might have been "a dream". On his return he meets Second officer Lightoller who confirms they have hit something.

11.55pm Pitman realises his watch starts at midnight (12am - 4am) so gets dressed. He is 'partly dressed' when Fourth officer Boxhall informs him they have hit an iceberg.

15 April

12.00am Pitman goes onto the port boat deck and sees lifeboats being uncovered. He speaks to Sixth officer Moody who says there is ice on the forward well deck and visits the well deck where he sees ice. Also visits the forecastle head to check for damage but sees nothing. Encounters a crowd of firemen who describe flooding on the starboard side. Looks down no.1 hatch and sees water.

12.10am Pitman goes to his lifeboat station at no.5 and begins work preparing the lifeboat for loading.

12.20am Bruce Ismay in his "dressing gown and pajamas" urges Pitman to load the lifeboat, but Pitman says he will await Captain's orders. He visits the bridge to speak to the Captain in person, who tells Pitman to "carry on."

12.25am Captain orders the loading of the lifeboats and Pitman begins loading lifeboat no.5

12.45am First officer Murdoch shakes Pitman's hands and puts him in charge of lifeboat no.5 saying "Goodbye and good luck". Lifeboat no.5 is lowered away minutes after no.7.

1.00am Pitman orders lifeboat no.5 to be rowed about 100 yards from the side of the ship, first of all slightly towards the stern, as instructed by First officer Murdoch, but on seeing the aft gangway door closed, 300-400 yards to the north. They join with lifeboat no.7 and balance the load by exchanging passengers

2.20am Pitman removes his cap and checks his watch as he marks the exact time he sees the Titanic sinks. He reports a sound like a "big gun in the distance". Pitman initially orders the crew to return to pick up those drowning but is overruled by the women passengers

3.30am They spot the lights of the Carpathia

4.00am A "little wind" comes up and establishing it is definitely a ship they begin rowing towards the Carpathia.

17th April

Pitman sends a Marconigram to his sister, W.Taylor which simply states: "Safe. - Bert"

18th April

The Carpathia arrives in New York at Pier 54 and Pitman along with the other surviving officers are served with subpoenas.

20th April

Pitman appears at the end of day 2 of the Senate Hearings, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, to confirm he does not know about what happened to ship's log

23rd April

10.00am Pitman appears on day 4 of the Senate hearings in Washington, where he gives brief answers and at one point apparently becomes 'choked' and 'breaks downs' when being questioned about the sounds of people drowning.

24th April

Pitman submits two documents on the number of passengers and 'Ship's Run Data'

2nd May

12.00pm Pitman and other crew depart New York city for England aboard the Adriatic.

11th May

The Adriatic arrives in Liverpool, UK with Pitman and other crew from the Titanic.

22nd May

Pitman appears on the 13th day of the British Inquiry as witness number 45 and answers a total of 393 questions.

23rd May

Pitman's second day of questioning at the British Inquiry

28th May

Pitman's Masters certificate is reissued, having been lost in the Titanic disaster

29th June

British Titanic Inquiry memo addressed to Pitman states: "Herewith please find cheque for £16-17s 6d, being the amount due to you for subsistence."

10th July

Assigned as Third officer on the Oceanic.


Pitman fails a new eye test introduced in July, causing him to be stripped of his duties as Third officer. He becomes an assistant purser instead, firstly aboard Oceanic and then the Olympic.



The Imperial Merchant Service Guild publishes "The Case of an Officer of the Titanic" in a letter to the Editor of The Times"


Pitman serves aboard the White Star troop transporter the Teutonic. By 1918 he has been promoted to Lieutenant-Commander


24th January

Pitman writes to his sister: "Will be demobilised in a few days".


27th May

Pitman arrives in New York aboard the Adriatic in the capacity of Purser.


2nd November

Pitman arrives in New York aboard the Olympic in the capacity of Purser.



Pitman marries Mildred "Mimi" Kalman from New Zealand. - 9 years younger (born in October 1886), and her parents were Carl Simon Kalman and Marie Kalman.


Pitman receives the Reserve Decoration for his work during the war.


Pitman's stepfather, Albert Charles Candy, dies in Bridgwater, Somerset at the age of 68.


20 October

Herbert Pitman's wife Mildred dies.


Lieutenant-Commander Pitman serves aboard the SS Mataroa, still acting as purser and meeting the needs of troops being transported on the ship


Pitman retires


Lieutenant-Commander Herbert John Pitman, RD, RNR, was created a Member of The Order Of The British Empire (MBE)


27th August

A biographical article is published on Pitman in The Shepton Mallet Journal, City of Wells Reporter, and County Advertiser, as well as the Central Somerset Gazette.


4th July

Pitman writes to author Walter Lord to regarding his Titanic experience


3rd July

Pitman attends premiere of film "A Night to Remember" at Odeon Leicester Square, London.

2nd August

The Somerset County Herald (now known as the Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser) features an article on Pitman on the front page


7th December

84 year old Lieutenant-Commander Herbert John Pitman, MBE, RD, RNR, dies of a subarachnoid haemorrhage, a rare form of stroke. He is buried in the church yard of the village of Pitcombe


20th April

Auction of Pitman's belongings including a brass Thunderer whistle and telegram sent from Carpathia


17th April

Seven medals belonging to Pitman auctioned by Sotheby's for $7,300, including his MBE warrant certificate.



Three artifacts - a photograph, handwritten manuscript and discharge book, appear on the BBC's "Antiques Roadshow" in the possession of a relative who calls Pitman her "grand uncle."