British mariner Robert Hichens is best known for being at the wheel of the RMS Titanic when it hit the iceberg that resulted in its sinking. He was put in charge of lifeboat 6, which departed the sinking ship with only 28 of its 65 seats filled. His conduct aboard the lifeboat would later come under scrutiny after being accused of hoarding supplies and refusing to return to rescue more people.
Mariner and titanic survivor Robert Hichens was born on September 16, 1882, in St. Peter's Square, Cornwall, England. Hichens was the eldest son of a fisherman and worked on ships his entire life. He was hired as one of six Quartermasters for the maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic.
Hichens was at the wheel on April 14, 1912, when a warning came from the lookout that an iceberg had been spotted. He immediately turned the wheel as far as it would go to avoid the iceberg, but it was too late. He was put in charge of lifeboat 6, which departed the sinking ship with only 28 of its 65 seats filled. Hichens' conduct aboard the lifeboat would later come under intense scrutiny after female passengers claimed he lay uselessly huddled in blankets, drinking whiskey and refusing to return to the Titanic to rescue others. He refuted all claims.
Later Years and Death
During World War I, Hichens served in the Royal Naval Reserve and Labour Corps. In the 1920s, he and his family moved to Torquay, Devon, where his wife ran a guesthouse and he had an unsuccessful boat charter. In 1931, after his wife and children left him, Hichens became a heavy drinker. On December 1, 1933, he attempted to kill the man who sold him the boat for his failed business with the intention of killing himself afterward. He was released from prison in 1937 and died aboard a cargo ship three years later.
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