Born in England, he received a prestigious education and served the White Star Line aboard the luxurious RMS Oceanic.
James Paul Moody was born in Scarborough, England on 21 August 1887, the youngest of four children born to solicitor John Henry Moody and his wife Evelyn Louis Lammin. Moody's grandfather and namesake, John James Paul Moody, had been a prominent local figure. Moody attended the Rosebery House School before joining HMS Conway as a cadet in 1902. His two years in the ship, 1902-1903, counted as one years' sea time towards his Board of Trade Second Mate's Certification.
In 1904 he joined the William Thomas Line's Boadicea as an apprentice, and endured an horrific, storm-troubled voyage to New York, in which one of his fellow apprentices was driven to suicide.
After attaining his Second Mate's Certification, Moody went into steam and sailed in cargo and early oil-tankers, eventually attaining his First Mate's Certificate. After very briefly attending the King Edward VII Nautical School in 1910, a nautical "cram" school preparing officers for their Board of Trade examinations, he successfully obtained his Ordinary Master's Certification, and in August 1911 joined the White Star Line's Oceanic as her Sixth Officer. In March 1912 he received word that he was to be assigned to RMS Titanic as her Sixth Officer. Moody was somewhat reluctant to accept the assignment as he had hoped to spend a summer on the Atlantic in the Oceanic, after having endured a harsh winter, and was also hoping to take leave. His request for leave was denied.
Along with the other junior officers, Moody received a message in March 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. Titanic then sailed for Southampton to take on passengers. Moody's service as Sixth Officer earned him about $37 a month, although he was allowed his own cabin as compensation for his small salary.
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 Officer 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. 9, 12, 13, 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. It was a decision that would seal his fate. Moody went to the starboard side and gave Murdoch a hand until the water had come on the deck. Moody was last seen by the ship's lamp trimmer, Samuel Hemming, on top of the officers' quarters trying to launch Collapsible A, an emergency lifeboat, just a few minutes before the final sinking. Lightoller also said; "Mr. Moody must have been standing quite close to me at the same time. He was on top of the quarters clearing away the collapsible boat on the starboard side, whilst Mr. Murdoch was working at the falls. If that is so, we were all practically in the water together."
Moody was 24 at the time of his death. His body was never recovered. He was the only junior officer on the Titanic to die in 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." (see John 15:13)
He is also commemorated by a Blue Heritage Plaque at 17 Granville Rd Scarborough, the house where he was born.
He is also commemorated by a brass altar set presented by his aunt, Hannah Mountain, to the church of St Augustine of Hippo in Grimsby.Michael Bryant (1958) — A Night to Remember (British film)Edward Fletcher (1997) (Titanic)Jonathan Howard (2012) (Titanic) (TV series/4 episodes)