The Life and Mystery of First Officer William Murdoch
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White Star Line

  • The Oceanic Steam Navigation Company or White Star Line of Boston Packets, more commonly known as just the White Star Line, was a highly prominent British shipping company. In 1934 the line merged with its chief rival, Cunard Line, which operated as a separate entity until 2005 and is now part of Carnival Corporation & PLC. As a lasting reminder of the White Star Line, modern Cunard ships use the term White Star Service to describe the impeccable level of customer care expected of the company

    Information: wikipedia

White Star Line Service Records

First Officer William Murdoch's White Star Line "Record of Service In Company" has revealed that he was down to serve aboard the Majestic briefly before being transferred to Titanic. Whether or not he actually served aboard her is not unknown, but we do know that he was aboard Titanic in Belfast on the 27th March for her sea trials which began on April 2nd.

According to researcher Mark Barber the "Majestic was, in fact, laid up as a reserve ship in March-April 1912. She had made her last crossing in November 1911, and didn't return to service until May 1912, when she took Titanic's place on the Southampton service." (8.)

Another notable fact is the omission of the Germanic in 1904 which according to Susanne Stormer was a "set back" in his career when he was "transferred to Germanic, kept his rank as 1st officer though and made two voyages on this ship." Stormer believes this ship could possibly have been for 'testing' or training purposes which may explain its absence here.(13.)

Mark Barber also explains the omission: "By 1904, Germanic was no longer with White Star; she made her last White Star crossing in September 1903, and spent 1904 with IMM's American Line, although still named "Germanic," and then in 1905 became the Dominion Line's Ottawa."(8.)

We can also note that despite a quick climb through the ranks from fourth officer to second officer in the space of two years, Murdoch then stagnated in the role of First Officer for almost seven years -from 1904 - 1912 which emphasises why he was disappointed to have been demoted from Chief Officer on Titanic.

Document 1

First Officer Murdoch's White Star Line Record of Service In Company,
courtesy of Valeria Gallone and Find My Past (
(Click to enlarge)

It contains the following information:

Name in full?: William M Murdock [sic]
Where born? Liverpool [sic]
Date of Birth? 28.2.1873
Apprentice -Steam or Sail?: Sail
Period of Apprenticeship?: Four years
Name of Apprenticeship Employers? Cotesworth, Lyne & Co Liverpool
Date of joining Company's Service? 30.6.1899
Number and Grade of Certicate? Extra Master
R.N.R. Commision (if any)? Lieutenant
Naval Training previous to War? No
Service in Navy? No
First Medical Examination for Royal Insurance Co.? June 1901
Second " " " "
Final " " " "
Decorations or Medals
Special Notes:- First officer S/S "Titanic" drowned in disaster 15.4.1912

Record of Service in Company
Ship's Name Rank From To
"Medic" 4th 30-6-99 Apl '00
"Medic" 3rd Off Apl 00 June '01
"Runic" 2nd " June '01 June '03
"Arabic" " " June '03 24-5-'04
"Celtic" 1st " 24-5-'04 Nov '04
"Oceanic" 2nd " Nov '04 Feb '06
"Cedric" 1st " Feb '06 9-5-'06
"Oceanic" " " 9-5-'06 Apl '07
"Adriatic" " " Apl '07 23-5-11
"Olympic" " " 23-5-11 13-3-12
"Majestic" " " 19-3-12 10-4-12
"Titanic" " " 10-4-12 15-4-12

Lost "Titanic" disaster Apl 15th 1912

Document 2

First Officer Murdoch's White Star Line Record of Service In Company,
courtesy of Valeria Gallone and Find My Past (
(Click to enlarge)