Dalbeattie marks heroism of fallen son Murdoch

A THOUSAND people marched through the streets of Dalbeattie to pay tribute to William Murdoch, a senior officer on Titanic who was wrongly portrayed as taking bribes and committing suicide in James Cameron’s epic movie.

A senior executive of 20th Century Fox was forced to pay a visit to the town and apologise to the officer’s relatives following the film’s release in 1997.

However, yesterday, the residents reminded the world of the heroism of Lieutenant Murdoch – who was born in Dalbeattie and attended the local primary and secondary schools – who was in charge of launching the lifeboats from which three-quarters of those who survived escaped.

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In the final moments before the ship sank, Lt Murdoch was last seen hurling deckchairs into the water in a desperate attempt to assist those in the sea. He was, according to reports, swept away as the vessel sank.

Among the almost 1,000 people who took part in the march from the parish church, where a memorial service was held, were children from the local schools, where a prize in memory of the Titanic’s first officer is competed for each year.

The pupils walked through Dalbeattie along with their parents and other townspeople, some in period costume, others carrying lanterns and replicas of the Titanic, which they launched on the pond in Colliston Park.

They were paying tribute to not only Lt Murdoch, but the rest of the 1,516 who went down with the ship on its maiden voyage. To this day, Lt Murdoch is regarded as a hero in the town, made famous for its granite.

A monument to its most famous seaman is set in the front of the town hall, where yesterday community council chairman Erica Johnson laid a wreath in memory of the victims.