Yarmouth Captain Advised Capt. Smith to Retire

Capt. Aaron F. Churchill a Warm Friend

(Savannah, Ga., News, April 21, 1912)

Capt. A. F. Churchill, of Savannah, was a warm friend of Capt. E. J. Smith of the Titanic, and had crossed the ocean with him on every ship he commanded except the Titanic. He warned him on the last trip that bad luck would overtake him and advised him to retire before it came.

Capt. Churchill says Capt. Smith told him he wad not going to retire until he had commanded the Titanic, but that after he had run that ship several months he would retire. Capt. Churchill thus relates his conversation with Capt. Smith in which the captain of the Olympic was urged to get out of the business and retire to the enjoyment of home life with "flying colours."


"I came out with him last summer on the maiden voyage of the Olympic, and we breakfasted together every morning, before many of the passengers were up. "One morning at breakfast I said: Capt. Smith, you are master of the largest steamship in the world; you have never had an accident in your thirty years of service in passenger steamships; you are over age, they are only keeping you on account of your ability as a shipmaster and never having had an accident; but you are only kept on suffrage, and are liable to be told to resign at any time, on account of your age. You are at the top of your profession. There will soon be another steamer afloat larger than the Olympic. Why not resign with "flying colors," and live at home with your wife and family the balance of your life? You haven't so many more years to sit around."

He said: 'Churchill, I am going to run the Olympic until the Titanic comes out. I will run her a few months and retire.'


"Smith, don't do it," I said; "retire now, because sooner or later bad luck overtakes most people, and especially in your profession. Don't make the 'last voyage', like a great many other captains do, and are never heard from. If they had retired the voyage before they would have been home, instead of never being heard from."

"He replied: 'Churchill, I would like to take your advise, but I am well and strong and have a great deal of ambition to command the two largest steamers in the world before I retire.'

"I said: 'Smith, don't you do it. Go home and stay there.' But I could not persuade him to take my advice.

"There never was a nobler or braver man who walked a ship's deck than Capt. Smith, and I know whereof I speak."

(Reprinted in the Yarmouth Herald April 30, 1912)
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