James Moody was born in Scarborough, the son of John Henry Moody and Evelyn Louis Lammin. He went to sea at the age of 14 on the Nautical Training ship HMS Conway. He attended the King Edward VII Nautical School in London, gaining his Masters Certificate in April 1911.
James joined the White Star Line that same year and served on their liner RMS Oceanic along with fellow Titanic officer Charles Lightoller before being transferred to the RMS Titanic before her fateful Maiden Voyage in 1912 at age 24. At that time he was living with an uncle at St. James House in Grimsby.
Along with the other junior officers, Moody received a telegram early in 1912 ordering him to report to White Star's Liverpool offices on 26 March. From there he travelled to board Titanic at the Harland & Wolff yard in Belfast where Titanic had been built. Titanic then sailed for Southampton to take on passengers. Moody's service as Sixth Officer earned him about $37 a month, but he was allowed his own cabin as compensation for his poor wage!
On Titanic's sailing day, 10 April, Moody assisted, among other things, in aiding Fifth Officer Harold Lowe in lowering two of the starboard lifeboats to satisfy the Board of Trade that Titanic met safety standards. He was also in charge of closing the last gangway and most likely saved the lives of six crewmen who arrived too late to board by turning them away. Once the ship had put to sea, Moody stood the 4-5 PM watch and both 8-12 watches, which meant that he was on watch with First Office William Murdoch and Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall when the Titanic struck an iceberg at 11.40 PM on 14 April. After spotting the iceberg, lookout Frederick Fleet rang the warning bell three times and phoned the bridge. It was Moody who answered the call, asking, "What do you see?" Fleet replied, "Iceberg, right ahead!"
In the ensuing evacuation, Moody helped in the loading of Lifeboats No. 12, 14, and 16. While loading No. 14, Fifth Officer Lowe remarked that an officer should man the lifeboat. While the lower-ranked Moody would traditionally have been given this task, he deferred to Lowe. Moody went to the port side and gave Murdoch a hand until the water had come on the deck. It was a decision that would seal his fate. Moody was seen trying to launch Collapsible A, an emergency lifeboat, just a few minutes before the final sinking. Moody was last seen jumping into the sea from the deck, and although his final fate is unknown, it is likely that, like most of Titanic's victims, he succumbed to hypothermia in the frigid North Atlantic waters. He was 24 at the time of his death. His body, if recovered, was never identified. Moody was the only junior officer on the Titanic to die on the sinking.
A monument in Woodland Cemetery, Scarborough, commemorates Moody's sacrifice on the Titanic with the Biblical quote, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
Sixth Officer Moody was portrayed by Edward Fletcher in the 1997 blockbuster film Titanic. The film depicted Moody admitting steerage passengers Jack Dawson and Fabrizio De Rossi onboard the ship only moments before it departed Southampton. Moody appears later in the film and receives the iceberg warning from the lookouts. Moody is last seen in the film during the attempted launch of Collapsible A, and his death is not shown.
Scarborough Maritime Haritage Centre on Eastborough have a Titanic Exhibition running from April until June which explores Scarborough's links to Titanic and the
reasons behind its sinking. Entrance to the Centre is FREE and is open Wednesday to Sunday 11am until 4pm.
The SMHC is run entirely by volunteers and public donations, SMHC is a registered charity, number 1144532 & a company limited by guarentee in England & Wales number 6755717. The Centre's aim is to educate the public about Scarborough's maritime heritage and to make it available to all and for future generations.