Joseph Groves Boxhall - The Last Man Standing
J.G Boxhall was born in Hull on 23 March 1884. Following in the seafaring footsteps of his grandfather, uncle and father Boxhall started his apprenticeship in 1899 and after completing his mates' certificate in 1903 he joined the Wilson Line, as 3rd Officer of the Iago. He passed his 1st mates certificate in 1905 and was 2nd Officer of Rosario in the same year.
He studied at Trinity House, Hull and in 1907, after successfully completing his exams, he joined the White Star Line and was appointed 6th Officer of Oceanic. In the following years he served on Oceanic, Arabic and in 1909 he was offered the position of 4th officer on Titanic
After picking up his ticket in Liverpool Boxhall travelled from Belfast to Southampton with the Titanic and on the 10 April 1912 she set out on her maiden voyage. On the night that Titanic sunk Boxhall was walking the bridge when heard the signal that an iceberg had been spotted ahead.
After the collision he was ordered by Captain Smith to go and check the forward part of the ship and was informed by the carpenter that the mail hold was rapidly filling with water. Boxhall calculated the ship's position and sent out the distress signal and later fired the distress rockets from the bridge trying to signal to a vessel which vanished over the horizon (thought to be the Californian but this was never proved).
Captain Smith informed the crew that Titanic would sink within an hour to an hour and a half and Boxhall was put in charge of Lifeboat 2. Carrying mainly female passengers, the boat was less than two thirds full when they were picked up by the Carpathia.
After the Titanic
Boxhall gave evidence at the U.S Senate Inquiry and at the Board of Trade Inquiry in Britain before returning to his duties in June 1912 as 4th Officer of the Adriatic. He was aboard HMS Commonwealth at the outbreak of war and was promoted to Lieutenant RNR in 1915 joining a torpedo boat at Gibraltar in the same year.
After the First World War Boxhall married Marjorie Bedells in Sheffield on 25 March 1919 and then joined Cedric as Second Officer on the Liverpool-New York run. Although Boxhall was never master of a vessel he was an experienced and capable officer and before retiring in 1940 he was 1st Officer of Berengania; another of the great 'Leviathans'.
A Night to Remember
Boxhall was reluctant to speak of his experiences on the Titanic but did agree to be technical advisor on the 1958 film 'A Night to Remember' and in the years that followed he gave interviews to a few researchers. His health deteriorated in the 1960's and he died in 1967. He was the last surviving crew member of the Titanic and his body was cremated and scattered on the spot where he had calculated that the Titanic had gone down.