The Life and Mystery of First Officer William Murdoch
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Royal Naval Reserve

  • The Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) is the volunteer reserve force of the Royal Navy (RN) in the United Kingdom. The present Royal Naval Reserve was formed in 1958 by merging the original Royal Naval Reserve and the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR), a reserve of civilian volunteers founded in 1903.

    The original Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) was founded under the Naval Reserve Act in 1859 as a reserve of professional seamen from the British Merchant Navy and fishing fleets, who could/would be called upon during times of war to assist/serve in the regular Navy. The RNR was originally a reserve of seamen only but in 1862 this was extended to include recruitment and training of officers. From its creation, RNR officers wore a unique, distinctive lace consisting of stripes of interwoven chain.

    A number of drillships were established at the main seaports around the coast of Britain and Ireland and seamen left their vessels in the base ports to undertake gunnery training in a drillship for a period of one month annually. After initial shore training officers embarked in larger ships of the fleet (usually battleships or battle cruisers) for a one-year period to familiarise themselves with gunnery and naval practice. Although under the operational authority of the Admiral Commanding Reserves, the RNR was administered jointly by the Admiralty and the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen in the Board of Trade throughout its separate existence.

    Information: wikipedia

William Murdoch's Telescope

Lieutenant William McMaster Murdoch (RNR) was presented with a telescope by the British Royal Navy. This was likely in 1909 when he was promoted from Sub-Lieutenant to a full Lieutenant on 09/09/1909 in the Royal Naval Reserve.

The telescope has been loaned by the Murdoch family to a Spanish Titanic exhibition and is presently (2012) on display in Barcelona. Entitled "Titanic -The Exhibition" it comprises of nearly 200 original objects from the Titanic and numerous life-size reproductions of the inside rooms, and is moored at the Museo Marítimo de Barcelona. (Barcelona Maritime Museum). One notable aspect unlike many other Titanic exhibitions is that it lacks artefacts that have been extracted from the wreckage, with the exception of one piece of coal. In addition to First Officer Murdoch's telescope it also contains letters written by him whilst aboard Titanic.

The exhibition has toured parts of Europe including Berlin and Stockholm where it was located in the Maritime Museum. Presently, "Titanic -The Exhibition" will be in Barcelona for a limited time only: from March 23rd to September 30th 2012.

First Officer William Murdoch's telescope sits is in a glass case
in Museo Marítimo de Barcelona (Barcelona Maritime Museum)
as part of the Spanish "Titanic -the Exhibition"
(Click to enlarge)

Close up of the inscription on the telescope which reads:
"Lieut. W.M.Murdoch R.N.R."
(Click to enlarge)

The information below the telescope reads: "William Murdoch's telescope
presented to him as he was serving in the British navy."
(Click to enlarge)

Stockholm Maritime Museum Director Hans-Lennarth Ohlsson
and the telescope of Titanic's First Officer William Murdoch.

Images and information courtesy of Tiphaine Hirou, Valeria Gallone, Titanic -The Exhibition (Barcelona) and the Stockholm Maritime Museum