Commander Charles Herbert Lightoller, R.N.R.
Born in Lancashire, England, UK in 1877. Went to sea at thirteen, starting out in masted sailing ships, and survived a shipwreck, cyclone, malaria, near-drowning, panning for gold in the Klondike, herding cattle on the Canadian prairies, riding the rails as a hobo, another storm at sea on a cattle boat, a prank that got him temporarily banned from Australia (yes, the whole place; Boer War jokes aren’t funny DURING the Boer War), and that was BEFORE becoming the highest-ranking officer aboard Titanic to survive the wreck (where he was sucked under, trapped on a grate, made it back to the surface, and spent most of the night keeping twenty men balanced on an overturned collapsible boat).
After that, he spent World War I being the first spotter in an airplane launched from a ship to locate an enemy fleet, surviving another wreck (Oceanic) and the subsequent court-martial, pioneering depth-charge fishing, and eventually retiring…to take tours of German ports and sketching them for the Admiralty, and then piloting his personal yacht to Dunkirk to evacuate 130 trapped soldiers during the evacuation. And that’s skipping the part where he convinced a young lady passenger on the Australia run to make the return trip as Mrs Lightoller. Action, adventure, daring-do and a droll sense of humor about the whole thing. And pretty darn hot to boot.
A small correction here - “Lights” was never banned from Australia. The Australian authorities were never aware that he was behind the prank in Sydney Harbour whereby a Boer flag was raised at Fort Denison (located on a small island, Pinchgut, in the middle of the harbour) and firing the fort’s gun in a “one gun salute”. There was some discussion about it in the NSW Parliament, but the general reaction I’ve found through reading the newspapers of the time was bemusement. No one linked it with the “Medic”, Lightoller’s ship, and while some alarmists thought it indicated pro-Boer sympathisers, others recognised it was a joke.
Lightoller himself had to confess it to the WSL back in the UK after word of the prank leaked out aboard the “Medic”…it was the WSL officials, according to Lightoller, who decided to remove him from the Australia run for a while. Not for long, as he was soon back on the “Runic” where he met his Australian wife, Sylvia.
Today, visitors to Fort Denison are gleefully told the story of Lightoller’s ‘One Gun Salute” on tours.