The Life and Mystery of First Officer William Murdoch

To the Bitter End
by Elizabeth Gibbons


By Dan Parkes

In the early 1990s Elizabeth Gibbons wrote a 34,000 word monograph about the life of First Officer William Murdoch entitled To the Bitter End. Part of the monograph was serialised in the Commutator, the US Titanic Society's magazine, although not in full as further printing was cancelled when Gibbons objected to some of their edits and the monograph was returned to her.

Later it was spine-bound by the Dalbeattie Galloway News at Gibbons's request and presented to Mr. Thomas Henderson of the Dalbeattie Museum Trust in July 1992. The monograph can now be viewed in the Dalbeattie Museum.

The bound monograph as seen in the Dalbeattie Museum

Otherwise it has been almost impossible to find a copy of this rare and detailed monograph. However I am pleased that Elizabeth Gibbons has graciously given permission to have it reprinted in full on this website. The original WordPerfect file is presented here unedited -although it has been divided into short chapters to make it more accessible.

Elizabeth Gibbons has a Bachelor of Arts in history from the Sacramento State College and a Master of Arts in American Colonial and Revolutionary History from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. She lived in California and is now retired and living in North Idaho.

While, as referenced elsewhere in this website, her conclusion is that "Wilde was the officer who shot himself" she does admit that there are no absolutes:

" My ultimate conclusion is that we will never know what happened or who thought what and when. Everyone's perspective is unique, hindsight and memory change things, particularly to those who have been terribly traumatized and are trying to create a coherent narrative to make sense of their experiences; 40 years in law offices has left me with a fairly jaundiced view of eyewitness testimony."

However Gibbons does admit that she is more than a little biased. When the original manuscript was reviewed by Walter Lord he responded: "Didn't they teach you at William & Mary not to fall in love with your subject?" She then adds; "Mr. Lord, as always, was spot on."