On the morning of 29 August 1782 Britain’s Channel Fleet, commanded by Admiral Lord Howe in HMS Victory, of 100 guns, lay at Spithead, the famous sea lane between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.
The ship was awaiting imminent orders to sail to Gibraltar which was, yet again, under a crippling Franco-Spanish siege. Anchored near the Victory was HMS Royal George, carrying 108 guns.
The flagship of the fleet’s rear-admiral, Richard Kempenfelt, it was much admired by onlookers for her old-fashioned beauty. Almost fully loaded with provisions, she was taking on last-minute supplies.
She was also undergoing a repair to her water pipe on the starboard side, so that she was on a slight heel. The cannon on her starboard side had been run over to her larboard (port) side to tilt and lift her out of the water sufficiently for the repair to proceed.
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This work, involving several artificers from Portsmouth Dockyard, began about 7 in the morning. Meanwhile, the captain, with the rear-admiral’s approval, allowed provisions to be unloaded in succession from each of two victualling vessels that stood alongside.
Women aboard the Royal George
The “Royal George” at Deptford Showing the Launch of “The Cambridge”, 1757 (Credit: John Cleveley the Elder, National Maritime Museum).
Unofficially, a small number of women, typically wives of warrant and petty officers, were tolerated aboard ships at sea. They proved useful in laundering and mending, in comforting the sick and injured, and even in fetching powder for gun crews.
While Howe’s Gibraltar-bound fleet awaited sailing orders, its men were allowed female company. Below decks, the Royal George teemed with visiting wives (many with children) and prostitutes. There were also traders hawking wares.
One of the wives was Elizabeth (“Betty”) Horn, née Badcock, daughter of a Plymouth shipwright.
Baptised in 1758, she had since 1778 been married to John Horn, an experienced seaman who was now a petty officer, serving as one of the ship’s quartermasters.
It is not known whether he was with Betty below decks that morning, or whether he was one of the 240 or so officers and men on watch duty.
The sinking of the ship
No one on watch seemed to notice that two of the lower gun ports were not fully closed, and that spray from the sea was entering them.
Becoming alarmed by the amount of water accumulating on the lower deck, and fearing she was beginning to sink, the carpenter reported his concerns to the captain on the quarterdeck but was rebuffed.
At around half past 9, the master – who had been in Portsmouth overnight – tardily joined the ship. Seeing how perilously low she lay in the sea, he scarcely had time to warn the captain when she made a sharp sudden lurch.
This prompted an attempt to right ship by moving the displaced guns from the larboard side back into their normal positions. But the rush of people to larboard made her tilt still more.
Those on deck jumped overboard, or scrambled up into the rigging. Those trapped below, including Betty, made for the portholes in droves.
To the sound of haunting screams
Spithead, with the exact situation and appearance of the Royal George, wrecked – with above 600 people on board, 1780s (Credit: Public domain).
A chivalrous seaman dragged the surrounded, struggling Betty out of one of them and threw her clear of the ship.
No sooner had he done so than the ship lurched further, so that the portholes were almost horizontally above the heads of people who had not yet managed to escape, and who consequently dropped back into the ship.
To the sound of haunting screams, the ship then sank, trapping most of her terrified occupants, and launching those who had sought refuge on her upturned keel into the sea.
The seaman who had thrown Betty clear was a good swimmer, and shortly after he surfaced having being sucked down in the vortex he saw Betty, barely conscious, float past.
At his urging a shipmate reluctantly took hold of her, draping her by the chin over one of the ratlin chains of the mizen shrouds. But she was immediately knocked backwards by strong waves and carried away, rolling repeatedly.
Her original saviour kept his eye on her and was able to point her out to rescuers. She was taken by boat to HMS Victory, where after a few days of rest and warmth she regained her vigour and was reunited with her husband.
Number of casualties
Engraving of wreck of the Royal George by H.E. Tozer (Credit: Public domain).
On the day of the disaster Lord Howe informed the Admiralty that 331 personnel were known to be safe (only those of warrant rank and above were listed by name): the captain, 6 lieutenants, three warrant officers (the boatswain, gunner, and purser, none of whom had been aboard), 13 midshipmen, two marine lieutenants, two marine sergeants, one of the surgeon’s mates, and the captain’s clerk.
The total number of casualties will never be known for sure; perhaps as many as 1200 were dead, but 800 seems a more reasonable estimate.
Based on the uniform that has represented the British Armed Forces since the 17th century.
Betty was one of very few women rescued, and the only one who subsequently recovered.
Most of the women, unable to swim, hampered from trying by their long skirts, had drowned outright. One casualty, a report claimed, was a female sailor disguised as a male.
About 60 children also perished, including babies swept from their mothers’ arms. The eventual discovery by divers of two entwined silk cloaks, one an adult’s and the other a child’s, testified to a mother and daughter’s tragic final embrace.
Surviving a tragedy
Dutch Medallion commemorating the loss of the HMS Royal George, 1782 (Credit: RedCoat).
Betty and her husband eventually retired to Essex, of which he was perhaps a native.
Following his death in 1827 Betty sunk into poverty and when, some months before her death on 1 February 1837, her situation — “indigent … poor but honest, rather infirm” — was made known to the “Sailor King”, William IV, he authorised payment to her of £50.
She was illiterate when she married, unable to sign her name. One wonders whether, over the succeeding decades, John taught her the alphabet, and whether she was able to read a list of everyone who had been saved from the Royal George that was said in 1834 to be in her possession.
Hilary L. Rubinstein has a PhD in history from the Australian National University. She has written books and articles on a variety of historical topics, and has a lifelong interest in naval history in the age of sail. Catastrophe at Spithead: the Sinking of the Royal George, by Seaforth Publishing, is her latest book.
The Only Female Survivor of the Sinking of the Royal George - History
Boylo/ Wikimedia Commons Violet Jessop, dressed in a British Red Cross nurse’s outfit.
From the moment Violet Jessop was born, it was clear that she was a survivor. Of her parents nine children, only six of them survived infancy, Violet being the first. When she was a child, she contracted tuberculosis and though doctors predicted her illness would be fatal, she survived it.
So it should come as no shock that she also survived the most famous ocean disaster of all time, the sinking of the RMS Titanic. What might be a surprise is that she also survived the collisions and sinking’s of the Titanic’s two sister ships, the RMS Olympic and the HMHS Brittanic.
The early 1900’s were a bad time for the White Star Line, but apparently not for Violet Jessop.
In 1910, after working as a stewardess with the Royal Mail Line for two years, Jessop took a job aboard the RMS Olympic. The Olympic was a luxury ship, the largest civilian liner of its time. In the fall of 1911, the Olympic left its port in Southampton and collided with a British warship, the HMS Hawke.
Wikimedia Commons/ New York Times photo archive The RMS Olympic at its port in Southampton.
There were no fatalities, and despite damage sustained by the impact, the ship made it back to port without sinking.
After experiencing the almost-sinking of the Olympic, one would think Jessop would be turned off to transatlantic sea travel. However, just seven months later she was back at work with the White Star Line, this time on what they claimed was their most unsinkable ship.
Jessop boarded the RMS Titanic as a stewardess four days before its famous run-in with the iceberg. In her memoirs, she mentions that she was ordered up on deck to serve as an example of how to behave for the non-English speakers who couldn’t understand the instructions being given to them.
“I was ordered up on deck,” she wrote. “Calmly, passengers strolled about. I stood at the bulkhead with the other stewardesses, watching the women cling to their husbands before being put into the boats with their children. Some time after, a ship’s officer ordered us into the boat (16) first to show some women it was safe.”
She watched as the lifeboats were loaded, and made it onto one herself. After spending one night in a lifeboat, Jessop and her fellow survivors were rescued by the RMS Carpathia.
Wikimedia Commons An artist rendering of the sinking of the RMS Titanic
Yet again, despite witnessing the tragedy of the Titanic and spending the night in a freezing lifeboat, Violet Jessop continued to serve as a stewardess.
In 1916, during World War I, the White Star Line converted some of their ships into hospitals. One of these converted ships was the HMHS Britannic, upon which Jessop was serving as a stewardess for the British Red Cross.
On the morning of November 21st, the Britannic sank in the Aegean Sea, due to a mysterious explosion. To this day, scientists have yet to reach a definitive conclusion as to what caused the blast, though British authorities believed that it was either struck by a torpedo or hit a mine planted by German forces.
She described watching the scene from her lifeboat in her memoirs.
“The white pride of the ocean’s medical world … dipped her head a little, then a little lower and still lower,” she recalled. “All the deck machinery fell into the sea like a child’s toys. Then she took a fearful plunge, her stern rearing hundreds of feet into the air until with a final roar, she disappeared into the depths.”
Frederic Logghe/ Wikimedia Commons A postcard featuring the HMHS Britannic upon its completion
The Britannic sank in 57 minutes, killing 30 people and nearly taking Jessop’s life as well. As the ship sank, the propellers were still spinning and began sucking lifeboats under them. Jessop jumped out of her lifeboat to safety but received a traumatic head injury in the process.
“I lept into the water but was sucked under the ship’s keel which struck my head,” she wrote, describing the incident in her memoirs. “I escaped, but years later when I went to my doctor because of a lot of headaches, he discovered I had once sustained a fracture of the skull!”
After surviving one near-sinking and two actual sinking’s, many expected Violet Jessop to retire from her life at sea. However, after a brief hiatus, she returned to work for the White Star Line in 1920 and later the Red Star Line.
During the rest of her sea-faring career, Violet Jessop would complete two around-the-world cruises and have a short-lived marriage before retiring to Great Ashfield in Suffolk, where she passed away at the ripe old age of 83.
Enjoy this story on Violet Jessop? Check out these never before seen Titanic photos. Then watch the only known footage of the Titanic.
Mutiny on the HMS Bounty
Three weeks into a journey from Tahiti to the West Indies, the HMS Bounty is seized in a mutiny led by Fletcher Christian, the master’s mate. Captain William Bligh and 18 of his loyal supporters were set adrift in a small, open boat, and the Bounty set course for Tubuai south of Tahiti.
In December 1787, the Bounty left England for Tahiti in the South Pacific, where it was to collect a cargo of breadfruit saplings to transport to the West Indies. There, the breadfruit would serve as food for enslaved passengers. After a 10-month journey, the Bounty arrived in Tahiti in October 1788 and remained there for more than five months. On Tahiti, the crew enjoyed an idyllic life, reveling in the comfortable climate, lush surroundings and the hospitality of the Tahitians. Fletcher Christian fell in love with a Tahitian woman named Mauatua.
On April 4, 1789, the Bounty departed Tahiti with its store of breadfruit saplings. On April 28, near the island of Tonga, Christian and 25 petty officers and seamen seized the ship. Bligh, who eventually would fall prey to a total of three mutinies in his career, was an oppressive commander and insulted those under him. By setting him adrift in an overcrowded 23-foot-long boat in the middle of the Pacific, Christian and his conspirators had apparently handed him a death sentence. By remarkable seamanship, however, Bligh and his men reached Timor in the East Indies on June 14, 1789, after a voyage of about 3,600 miles. Bligh returned to England and soon sailed again to Tahiti, from where he successfully transported breadfruit trees to the West Indies.
Meanwhile, Christian and his men attempted to establish themselves on the island of Tubuai. Unsuccessful in their colonizing effort, the Bounty sailed north to Tahiti, and 16 crewmen decided to stay there, despite the risk of capture by British authorities. Christian and eight others, together with six Tahitian men, a dozen Tahitian women, and a child, decided to search the South Pacific for a safe haven. In January 1790, the Bounty settled on Pitcairn Island, an isolated and uninhabited volcanic island more than 1,000 miles east of Tahiti. The mutineers who remained on Tahiti were captured and taken back to England where three were hanged. A British ship searched for Christian and the others but did not find them.
In 1808, an American whaling vessel was drawn to Pitcairn by smoke from a cooking fire. The Americans discovered a community of children and women led by John Adams, the sole survivor of the original nine mutineers. According to Adams, after settling on Pitcairn the colonists had stripped and burned the Bounty, and internal strife and sickness had led to the death of Fletcher and all the men but him. In 1825, a British ship arrived and formally granted Adams amnesty, and he served as patriarch of the Pitcairn community until his death in 1829.
In 1831, the Pitcairn islanders were resettled on Tahiti, but unsatisfied with life there they soon returned to their native island. In 1838, the Pitcairn Islands, which includes three nearby uninhabited islands, was incorporated into the British Empire. By 1855, Pitcairn’s population had grown to nearly 200, and the two-square-mile island could not sustain its residents. In 1856, the islanders were removed to Norfolk Island, a former penal colony nearly 4,000 miles to the west. However, less than two years later, 17 of the islanders returned to Pitcairn, followed by more families in 1864. Today, just a few dozen live on Pitcairn Island, and all but a handful are descendants of the Bounty mutineers. About a thousand residents of Norfolk Island (half its population) trace their lineage from Fletcher Christian and the eight other British sailors.
On April 10, 1912, the Titanic set sail on its maiden voyage, traveling from Southampton, England, to New York City. Nicknamed the “Millionaire’s Special,” the ship was fittingly captained by Edward J. Smith, who was known as the “Millionaire’s Captain” because of his popularity with wealthy passengers. Indeed, onboard were a number of prominent people, including American businessman Benjamin Guggenheim, British journalist William Thomas Stead, and Macy’s department store co-owner Isidor Straus and his wife, Ida. In addition, Ismay and Andrews were also traveling on the Titanic.
The voyage nearly began with a collision, however, when suction from the Titanic caused the docked New York to swing into the giant liner’s path. After an hour of maneuverings to prevent the accident, the Titanic was under way. On the evening of April 10 the ship stopped at Cherbourg, France. The city’s dock was too small to accommodate the Titanic, so passengers had to be ferried to and from the ship in tenders. Among those boarding were John Jacob Astor and his pregnant second wife, Madeleine, and Molly Brown. After some two hours the Titanic resumed its journey. On the morning of April 11 the liner made its last scheduled stop in Europe, at Queenstown (Cobh), Ireland. At approximately 1:30 pm the ship set sail for New York City. Onboard were some 2,200 people, approximately 1,300 of whom were passengers.
Stewardesses of the Titanic
- LB-# or A-D - Survivor on Lifeboat 1-16 or Collapsible Lifeboat A-D
- P-BNR - Perished, Body Not Recovered or Body Not Identified
- MB – CS Mackay-Bennett (bodies 1–306)
- M – CS Minia (bodies 307–323)
- MM – CGS Montmagny (bodies 326–329)
- A – SS Algerine (body 330)
- O – RMS Oceanic (bodies 331–333)
- I – SS Ilford (body 334)
- OT – SS Ottawa (body 335)
Numbers 324 and 325 were unused, and the six bodies buried at sea by the Carpathia also went unnumbered. Several recovered bodies were unidentifiable and thus not all numbers are matched with a person.
Upon recovery, the bodies of 209 identified and unidentified victims of the sinking were brought to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Of those, 121 were taken to the non-denominational Fairview Lawn Cemetery, 59 were repatriated, 19 were buried in the Roman Catholic Mount Olivet Cemetery, and 10 were taken to the Jewish Baron de Hirsch Cemetery. The bodies of the remaining recovered victims were either delivered to family members or buried at sea.
5. Caroline of Brunswick—The Uncrowned Queen
George, Prince of Wales, was a far cry from his staid (and mad) father George III. A gluttonous, clever dandy, he was secretly (and unlawfully) married to Mrs. Fitzherbert, an elegant, graceful Catholic widow, and also had a series of stylish mistresses.
But George was broke, and needed the money that a proper royal marriage to a Protestant would bring. So, in 1795, it was arranged that he would marry Caroline of Brunswick. The future couple’s first meeting at St. James Palace was a comedy of errors. “She very properly𠉪ttempted to kneel to him,” eyewitness Lord Malmesbury recalled. “He raised her (gracefully enough) and embraced her, said barely one word, turned around, retired to a distant part of the apartment, calling me to him and said, ‘Harris, I am not well, pray get me a glass of brandy.’”
Caroline, bewildered and hurt, was not impressed with George, either. She thought he was “very fat and nothing like as handsome as his portrait.”
Things didn’t get any better at the wedding ceremony, and the wedding night at Carlton House was even worse. George got too drunk, and Catherine left him passed out under a grate. Remarkably, the couple conceived a daughter, Charlotte, in the early days of the marriage. But, within weeks the royal couple were living apart. Caroline held her own court at her home in Blackheath, adopted orphaned children, had affairs, and eventually roamed around Europe with her Italian boyfriend, Bartolomeo Pergami.
In 1820, the mad King George III finally died. But George IV was determined that Caroline would not be his Queen, and tried to prove in court that she was unfit to be Queen due to her indiscretions. The trial became a sensation, with the public firmly on Caroline’s side. The House of Lords, however, sided with the King by the slightest of margins. But the bill was never brought up in the House of Commons.
On July 19, 1821, Caroline attempted to crash her husband’s coronation, standing at the door of Westminster Abbey. She was denied entrance and died a month later. But she had her revenge. George IV was widely reviled during his reign. As a final dig, Caroline’s tombstone read, “Here lies Caroline, the injured Queen of England.”
Brief Overview of the Titanic Disaster and the Survivors Statistics
The Titanic was embarking on its very first voyage from England to New York City. Built to contain luxurious facilities, a good number of famous people boarded the classy ship. But on that very fateful day, money and fame were almost completely useless. When the ship started sinking hourly. As a result of a severe shortage of lifeboats, panic and fear engulfed the passengers. Amidst this dread, several brave individuals stepped up to plate to save the lives of vulnerable women and children.
Read more about some of these gallant individuals who sacrificed their lives to save other passengers on the Titanic.
The survival rates from the Titanic disaster was much higher for women and children, especially women in the first-class section of the ship. Investigations over decades have revealed that up to 97% of the 144 females in first-class cabins were saved. To some extent, male passengers in the first-class compartment were also lucky 32% of the 175 first-class men escaped the disaster. Regarding the second class section, the rate of male survival was very appalling. In fact, it was the worst. 14 males survived out of 168. About 24% of third-class passengers survived.
In the summer of 1940, the world watched with rapt attention as the citizens, airmen, sailors, and soldiers of Great Britain steeled themselves for imminent invasion by the victorious German Army. From July 31 to September 15, the daily air raids by the Luftwaffe rained death and destruction on airfields and cities.
Only the determined efforts of Royal Air Force Fighter Command denied the Luftwaffe its objective—air superiority. In the end, the German air raids were nothing more than vengeful reprisals against an implacable British spirit that refused to die. Hundreds of young and brave airmen had been lost while Britain fought on, but not all of those who died were combatants, or even adults. Some were innocent children doomed to die a cold and terrifying death far out to sea during what they thought was a great adventure.
On June 17, three weeks after the evacuation of Dunkirk, Under Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs Geoffrey Shakespeare had formed the Children’s Overseas Reception Board (CORB), which developed a means to evacuate children from the British Isles to relatives overseas. CORB, which was sanctioned by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his cabinet, was intended to save as many children as possible from starvation or death. The government would cover most of the cost of transportation. Applications were arranged through schools and churches.
In two months more than 211,000 children were registered with CORB. While traveling they would be accompanied by one teacher and one nurse for every 15 children. Traveling without passports, they were issued CORB numbered luggage tags and ID tags. The relocation was meant as a temporary measure, and the evacuees would be returned home after the end of the war.
By August, 24,000 children with 1,000 adult volunteers were ready to be sent across the sea. Canada would receive the largest percentage, followed by Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Others were bound for the United States. Ocean liners provided by several shipping companies would join organized convoys in Liverpool and sail west.
Parents, who were understandably concerned for the safety of their children, were assured by CORB representatives that the ships would be escorted by Royal Navy warships. That was true, but only up to a point.
The Royal Navy had to stretch its assets as far as possible. With dozens of convoys on the open sea, 1,000 miles of coastline to patrol, and few experienced crews, priority was given to the protection of the Home Islands. But the threat of German submarines was deemed slight. Prior to the fall of France, German U-boats had sailed from Kiel and Wilhelmshaven on the Baltic coast of Germany and could not range far out into the North Atlantic for long periods. However, the Kriegsmarine quickly established U-boat flotillas in western France at the port cities of St. Nazaire, Lorient, Brest, and La Rochelle, adding greatly to the U-boats’ range. By August the undersea predators could stay on patrol in the North Atlantic for many days, and they were even able to reach the East Coast of the United States.
Given the German policy of unrestricted submarine warfare, no vessel, even an unarmed passenger liner, was safe.
Bess Walder was a 15-year-old London schoolgirl. She and her younger brother Louis had been among the first children to be registered for the CORB program. Her parents, Bernard and Rosina Walder, had followed the events on the Continent as far back as the Spanish Civil War. Stories of terrible atrocities and barbarism from Poland, Norway, Denmark, the Low Countries, and France left little doubt as to what lay in store for innocent civilians if the Nazis came. Finally, the letter from the CORB arrived. When the children were told they would be taking a ship to Canada, they were ecstatic with joy.
“Wonderful! When can we go?” exclaimed nine-year-old Louis, who thought it would be a great adventure and imagined he might see real cowboys and Indians.
On the morning of September 9, Bess and Louis, carrying their single small suitcases, were taken to Euston Station and boarded a train. Rosina hugged her daughter and said, “Now grow up to be a good girl.” Then she wept while her husband told Bess, “Look out for your brother.” Bess, not understanding the pain her parents were feeling, said she would.
After being adrift eight days in the rough Atlantic, survivors of the sinking of the SS City of Benares are finally rescued. This boatload includes five children.
After several train delays due to bombing, they arrived in the port city of Liverpool on September 11 and were directed to a large hall with hundreds of straw mattresses on the floor. A girl of Bess’ age, Beth Cummings was a Liverpudlian whose widowed mother was determined to get her daughter to Canada. The two girls became friends.
Colin Richardson, an 11-year-old from North London was wearing a thick red jacket made by his mother. It was stuffed with Kapok to make it into a lifejacket. “Never take this off,” she told him as they said their goodbyes.
The next morning, after a quick breakfast, the children were herded down the streets to the docks, where the ships of Convoy OB-213 were preparing to depart. Bess, Louis, and Beth stared wide eyed at the huge vessel towering over the dock, the Ellerman City Line’s SS City of Benares.
Queen of the England to India run, the ship was an 11,080-ton, 480-foot liner launched in 1935. She was known for her speed, which was her best defense against submarines, and was painted a dusky brown for camouflage. Some of her stewards were dressed in turbans, blue sashes, and pointed slippers to amuse the children on their first sea voyage. Bess remembered that the stewards called them “Little Madams” and “Little Sirs.” The liner was still fitted out for the comfort of her passengers. Among them was Mary Cornish, a concert pianist and CORB escort.
On Friday, September 13, the City of Benares, one of 20 ships in Convoy OB-212, left Liverpool for Quebec and Montreal. On board were 191 passengers, 90 of whom were children, along with 216 officers and crew.
Convoy OB-213 was commanded by Rear Admiral E.J.G. Mackinnon, who chose the City of Benares as his flagship. Captain Landles Nicoll maintained the lead position in the center line of the westbound convoy.
The children were given tours of the ship and shown their cabins. Each one was told where their lifeboat station was and how to put on the bulky lifebelts. Yet even with the dark reality of the danger that awaited them, few children felt any fear. Bess shared a cabin with two other girls. Comfortable bunks, wardrobes, and clean bathrooms were provided. The boys, who included Louis Walder, Fred Steels, and Paul Shearing, all not yet 12 years of age, occupied the port cabins, while the girls were on the starboard side of the ship.
The destroyer HMS Winchelsea and two armed sloops comprised OB-213’s escort. After the convoy had rounded the northwestern tip of Ireland, a large aircraft was seen to the south. It was a German Focke-Wulf FW-200 Condor reconnaissance plane on patrol, looking for convoys. Mackinnon and Nicoll knew their chances of avoiding German submarines had greatly diminished. The passengers and children were given lifeboat drills and told to sleep in their lifebelts.
On the morning of September 17, OB-213 reached 17 degrees longitude, where the escorts were ordered to join an incoming convoy. From that point on the ships of OB-213 were undefended. But the news that the RAF had claimed 180 German planes two days before only bolstered the spirits of the passengers and crews of the 18 remaining ships.
At 8 pm, 41-year-old Mary Cornish put the 15 girls in her care to bed and went to meet her friends for coffee in the lounge. After a couple of hours they decided to walk out on deck. At 10:02 pm, 250 miles off Rockall, Ireland, Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Bleichrodt, commanding U-48, a Type VIIB U-boat nine days out of Lorient, found OB-213.
A storm had been building all day, and by 11 pm the rain was slicing across the ship, driven by a bitter wind. A Force 10 gale was building. The ocean’s crenellated gray surface made it impossible to see a periscope, but an attack was unlikely during a storm. Bleichrodt, who would soon become known for his aggressiveness, continued stalking the convoy and chose the largest ship in the center line, the City of Benares, as his target.
With the weather steadily growing worse, U-48 was able to approach undetected. At 11:45 pm, Bleichrodt fired two torpedoes from his bow tubes. Both missed the ship, and the lookouts failed to see them in the turbulent waves. At one minute after midnight, Bleichrodt fired again. This torpedo struck the City of Benares on her port side just under the children’s sleeping quarters. The ship was mortally wounded. The torpedo destroyed a large area under the main deck, ruptured steam and water lines, and damaged the generators. The cold Atlantic rushed in.
Crewmen line the superstructure of the German submarine U-48, which sank the passenger ship SS City of Benares while the vessel was en route to Canada, carrying 90 British children away from the Blitz.
Mary Cornish was just stepping down to the main deck when she heard a loud thump and the entire ship shuddered. Suddenly, the stairway and corridor below were cluttered with fallen debris and water. She realized her girls were in danger and pushed her way along the dark corridor to reach them.
Young Bess Walder was asleep when the torpedo hit. Instantly she was awake, knowing what had happened. The three-berth room was heaving from the ship’s increasing list. The wardrobe door fell open, dumping things on the deck. She tried to get the girl in the lower bunk to awaken, but she refused, not recognizing the danger.
In one of the boys’ cabins, 11-year-old Fred Steels fell from his bunk and was instantly trapped under the fallen wardrobe. He heard alarms sounding and managed to force his way free. At the sink, water was spraying from burst pipes. The boy yelled to the others, “We’ve been hit!” However, like Bess’ roommates, they were slow to respond. Finally, Paul Shearing rose from the lower bunk, and the boys put on their lifebelts. With another boy they made their way out to the corridor. It was already crowded with running and screaming passengers and crew.
They had to get to the lifeboats, but every step was like climbing up a mountain in an earthquake. When they reached the upper deck, Steels saw a huge smoking hole in the deck. A dirty seaman picked him and Shearing up and threw them into a lifeboat.
Colin Richardson was reading a penny novel in his bunk when he heard the torpedo explode underneath his cabin. At first he thought the ship had collided with another, but the familiar scent of explosives told him it was a torpedo. He had been through German air raids before being sent to Surrey to live with his grandparents.
Fourteen-year-old Beth Cummings thought she was having a bad dream, but when she awoke to alarms and loud crashing sounds she tried to turn on the light. It did not work. That was when she realized the deck was slanted. The ship was sinking. She got into her lifebelt and reached the corridor, finding Bess already there. “We have to get to the boats,” she said, trying to be heard in the din of alarms and shouting. The two girls helped a third girl named Joan, who was very seasick.
Bess had lost her little brother, Louis. She had to find him, but in all the chaos she did not know where to look. The children were trying to do what they had been told about reaching the lifeboats, but the drill had been done in daylight on calm seas and without panic.
The boat deck was totally different from what they had seen a few days earlier. The lurching ship’s motion caused the hanging lifeboats to swing wildly in their davits while the crew tried to fill and launch them. Some adults were hysterical, while others remained calm and helped the children.
On the port side, the boats swung far away from the side of the ship, while those on the high starboard side were almost impossible to lower as they caught on the ship’s rivets. Cornish managed to corral some of her girls and get them into their assigned boat. She went below again to look for her last girl but was unable to find her.
Boat No. 2, carrying Colin Richardson still wearing the red jacket his mother had given him, was lowered into the water. As soon as it touched the waves, it was swamped, staying afloat only because of its buoyancy cells. Colin was sitting in freezing water up to his neck.
On the port side Boat No. 8, nearly overloaded, swung back and forth at the end of the falls and smashed into the unyielding side of the ship. Nearly every person in the boat was thrown into the heaving waves. One of them was young Louis Walder. He struggled to stay afloat until an older boy named George Crawford managed to pull him back aboard. When George tried to pull another child out, he fell overboard and was lost.
Fifteen minutes after the torpedo hit, the City of Benares was almost gone. The lifeboats were being tossed in the storm like corks. In water-filled Boat No. 8, four of the crewmen who had been working feverishly to bail succumbed to the cold and died. Young Colin helped to lift them from the boat and over the side. Removing the bodies helped to keep the boat afloat. An elderly nurse next to Colin sank into despair and listlessness. Colin tried to comfort her and keep her awake.
Beth and Bess had managed to stay together. The crew herded them into Boat No. 5 on the starboard side. One of the last boats to be lowered, it was grossly overloaded. When it hit the water, it was almost immediately swamped. Then a heavy wave flipped it over, and everyone was dumped into the sea. Bess and Beth, choking on seawater forced into their mouths and nostrils by the wind, struggled to stay afloat. Bess was a good swimmer and tried to find the boat. She saw it in the dim light, managing to reach it and cling with numbed hands to the keel. And then she saw her friend Beth also holding desperately to the clinker planking. She saw a dozen other pairs of hands hanging on to the wet planks.
By the time Cornish was back on the boat deck her boat was gone. An officer ordered her to go to Boat No. 12, already filled with men and boys. She resolved to take care of them.
Number 12 was the last boat launched. It reached the water as the doomed City of Benares heeled far over and seemed to be descending like a huge steel cliff. The men began to pump the steel Flemings cranks that drove the lifeboat’s propeller and move it to the relative safety of open water.
Among the boys were Fred Steels and Paul Shearing.
Steels, freezing in the wind and spray, saw what the men were doing and bent to add his tiny weight to the task. At least it would keep him warm.
Cornish comforted and held a young boy who was shivering violently from cold and fear. As she rubbed his shoulders, she saw men and women in the water, some waving for help while others floated limply in their lifebelts. Already many of the ship’s passengers and crew had died, either from the explosion, drowning, or exposure to the near-freezing water. Cornish felt deep despair but tried not to show it. Holding the boy, she said in a soothing voice, “Don’t worry, it’s only a torpedo.”
Appearing shocked but grateful to be alive, Mary Cornish was photographed aboard the destroyer HMS Anthony shortly after her rescue.
Just then the glare of a searchlight cut through the dark night, spreading pools of light on the stormy seas. U-48 had moved into the area to see the results of its attack. At 12:30 am as Bleichrodt watched, the City of Benares sank, taking Mackinnon, Nicoll, and more than 250 others with her.
U-48 moved away, searching for more targets. Bleichrodt had no way of knowing he had sunk a ship carrying 90 children.
Back in Liverpool, the Royal Navy’s Office of Western Approaches copied a message that a ship in Convoy OB-213 had been torpedoed. The eastbound destroyer HMS Hurricane was ordered, “Proceed with utmost dispatch to position 56.43 North, 21.15 West, where survivors are reported in boats.”
Lieutenant Commander Crofton Simms immediately ordered his destroyer to make a 180-degree turn to the west and headed for the position. It was 300 miles away.
The weather was horrible. Even as the first storm abated, giving the weakened swimmers and people in the boats a glimmer of hope, a new, stronger storm came in. It scattered the boats and caused the swimmers to swallow seawater as their strength ebbed.
Bess and Beth and 10 other survivors tried to climb higher on their overturned boat, but their fingers were too numb to do more than hang on. One by one, other pairs of hands lost their grip and fell away until only Bess, Beth, and two Indian crewmen were left. There was no food, no drinking water, and no rescue in sight. However, Bess was not going to give up. Beth thought of her mother, now alone. She too was determined to live.
HMS Hurricane reached the area by mid-afternoon. The crew readied the longboats and skiffs and gathered blankets and slings to lift survivors. Lookouts clad in heavy foul-weather gear were posted on the bow and mast.
Simms heard calls of “Boat in the water!” The storm was still strong but seemed to be slacking off. Rescuers stopped alongside the first boat. Inside were only corpses. Each tiny body was carried in the arms of a Royal Navy sailor, weeping in sorrow. With deepening fear, Hurricane moved on to the next boat, No. 11 with 20 drenched survivors. Only two of 15 CORB children were still alive. One of them was Louis Walder.
These survivors were lifted by strong but gentle hands into the slings and up the ladders aboard the destroyer. Sailors threw woolen blankets over them and dispensed hot tea as they led them into warm and dry rooms where a surgeon tended to them. The children were given the officers’ quarters to sleep in.
Boat No. 9, which had carried 33 people, had only eight still alive. Colin Richardson was carried aboard. He was totally numb below the waist and wore only his pajamas and the red jacket that had saved his life.
The searchers finally reached the overturned boat with Bess and Beth hanging onto the keel. A Navy coxswain named Albert Gorman reached out to Bess. “Come on, darling, let go.” But the girls’ hands were so stiff they had to be carefully pried loose. Then the two girls were gently lifted into the boat and taken back to the ship.
Hurricane rescued 117 survivors. Simms stayed in the area for several more hours, but he finally turned east to Scotland.
Bess became despondent despite her rescue. She had lost her brother Louis and would never know what had happened to him. “I promised my parents I’d take care of him,” she wailed.
The next day the door to her room opened and in stepped Simms. “Sit up, miss. I’ve got a present for you.”
Behind him was Louis, safe and sound. He had not known Bess was on board. While being given a tour of the ship he recognized Bess’ dressing gown, and Simms realized they had both Walder children.
As Hurricane sped away the sea appeared empty but for scattered bits of floating wreckage, deck chairs, lifebelts, and broken planking, but there was still one more lifeboat out there, No. 12 carrying Mary Cornish, five boys, and 40 adults had not been seen. The storm had scattered the boats far and wide, and the broad gray-green swells hid the tiny craft from view. Steels, trying to remain brave, saw bodies in the water, and some of them were children.
For the next seven days the lone boat drifted aimlessly. The only officer, Ronnie Cooper, rationed out the small supply of water and tinned biscuits. The days dragged by. The pitiful human cargo grew weaker and weaker. On the eighth day, just after noon, a lone RAF Short Sunderland flying boat flew overhead. Low on fuel, it could not land, but Cooper knew it had seen them. Fifteen minutes later another plane flew low and dropped supplies and a note saying help was on the way.
On Thursday, September 26, the destroyer HMS Anthony found the lifeboat. The 46 survivors in Boat No. 12 were the last to be rescued.
Bess and Louis Walder were the only brother and sister to be rescued. Some families had lost two, three, and four children. A family named Grumman lost all five of its children. The final death toll among the 90 CORB children aboard the City of Benares was 77, ranging from six to 15 years old.
No more shiploads of children were sent overseas.
Bess Walder became a teacher and headmistress and later married Jeff Cummings, Beth’s brother.
By the end of the war Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Bleichrodt had sunk 24 ships, totaling more than 124,000 gross tons. He was charged with war crimes at Nuremburg, including the sinking of SS City of Benares. Bleichrodt maintained that the ship was a legitimate target and his actions were appropriate. Some of his crew expressed shock at the loss of the children.
Five of the rescued boys that survived the sinking of the SS City of Benares rest on the deck of the destroyer HMS Anthony after their rescue from the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Historians maintain that there was no way Bleichrodt could have known of the CORB evacuees on board the doomed ship. Such is the tragedy of war.
Author Mark Carlson has written on numerous topics related to World War II and the history of aviation. His book Flying on Film: A Century of Aviation in the Movies 1912-2012 was recently released. He resides in San Diego, California.
I recently read the story about Hedy Lamarr and how this incident from WWII was the inspiration for her and pianist to develop a way of jamming boat torpedoes. The invention was not used then but what it did was to be the bases for our cell phones in the 21st Century. Hedy Lamarr had escaped from Austria before the Nazi Invasion. She had to escape because her 1st husband sold ammunition to Nazis and the Italians, plus she was Jewish and he abused her. Her parents pushed her into a marriage that left her with a great deal of knowledge but no one in the US knew she was Jewish or anything about her life in Europe for she was a beautiful woman and actress. Thank you for giving the information about the boat. It makes tooth stories very clear.
Meet History’s Most Unsinkable Woman
When the Titanic hit the iceberg, Violet Jessop — a 24-year-old ship’s stewardess — set to work helping passengers into boats. Then she returned to her cabin until she was ordered on deck to take her own place in a boat. In the chaos, she was handed an unknown baby. The next day, when the shipwreck survivors gathered aboard the rescuing RMS Carpathia, a woman came and took the baby from Jessop without saying a word.
It wasn’t Jessop’s first voyage. At 17, she had applied to be a ship’s stewardess with the Royal Mail Lines but was told she was too young and too pretty to get the job. She was eventually taken on, but she was instructed to avoid makeup and to wear dowdy clothes to appear less attractive. Nonetheless, in her own early-20th-century #MeToo moment, Jessop was eventually fired from the position for refusing a ship captain’s advances.
That didn’t keep her on land though. Jessop was next hired by the White Star Line, and over the next several years would live through not just the Titanic’s sinking but also two other naval disasters. Her career as a nurse was perhaps overshadowed by her reputation as history’s most unsinkable woman.
Born to Irish immigrant parents and raised largely in Argentina, Jessop overcame tuberculosis as a child. The Jessops had nine children but only six survived to adulthood. Violet’s job as a ship’s stewardess was no picnic either: On the White Star Line she worked 17 hours a day, for which she was paid a little more than 2 pounds per month — two-thirds the cost of a third-class ticket on the Titanic. Still, Jessop welcomed the work as a means for traveling and seeing new places.
I knew that if I meant to continue my sea life, I would have to return at once. Otherwise I would lose my nerve.
Violet Jessop, Titanic survivor
In 1911, Jessop was working on the RMS Olympic, the largest civilian luxury liner, when it collided with a British warship. Despite holes punched in its hull, the Olympic managed to return to port under its own power, and the crash didn’t dissuade Jessop from continuing to work as a ship’s stewardess. She was reassigned to White Star’s newest ship, the Titanic. Less than a year later, the unsinkable liner steamed across the Atlantic on its maiden voyage with Jessop aboard.
Survivors of the Titanic disaster board a ferry at Plymouth after arriving in England on the SS Lapland.
Working conditions on the Titanic were better than on the Olympic. According to George Behe, author of On Board HMS Titanic: Memories of the Maiden Voyage, the ship’s doctor took a fatherly interest in Jessop’s welfare, which helped deter overzealous potential suitors and harassers who might otherwise have made her life difficult. “The doctor’s interest in me had an added advantage,” Jessop wrote in her memoir, Titanic Survivor. “It kept away one rather persistent man, whose work on board placed him in a favorable position and whose overtures rather inclined to nocturnal ramblings and disregard for other people’s feelings.”
But we all know how the story ends. A few days after it launched, the Titanic hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic. Within hours, it had sunk. A devout Catholic, Jessop said she’d just finished reading a Hebrew prayer meant to provide protection from fire and water when the Titanic collided with the iceberg. She wrote in Titanic Survivor, “I knew that if I meant to continue my sea life, I would have to return at once. Otherwise, I would lose my nerve.”
“A second reason why Violet didn’t change careers was her health,” Behe says. “During her childhood, she survived a lung hemorrhage, scarlet fever and other ailments that left her with weak lungs.” Those lungs, he explains, meant she needed constant fresh air. ”So, despite my fear,” she once told an interviewer, “I chose the sea.”
Four years later, Jessop found herself again in the path of disaster. She had retrained as a nurse for the Red Cross, and in November 1916 was working on yet another White Star liner, the HMHS Britannic, which had been converted into a floating hospital. An explosion, still unexplained, killed 30 people and sank the ship within an hour. Jessop made it to a lifeboat but came close to dying when the lifeboat was nearly sucked underwater by the propeller blades of the sinking ship. She jumped back into the water, and her head struck the keel of the ship, resulting in an injury a doctor diagnosed years later as a skull fracture and had caused her frequent headaches.
An emergency lifeboat carrying survivors from the Titanic was seen floating near the rescue ship Carpathia on the morning after the disaster. Many boats were launched carrying fewer than their 65-passenger capacity.
Undeterred by the disasters, Jessop — who later spoke of a brief marriage that has remained a mystery to researchers — returned to work as a ship stewardess and nurse until her retirement in 1950. This included a second stint with the White Star Line in the 1920s and five world cruises.
Jessop eventually died of natural causes in 1971 at the age of 83. About a year earlier, according to Titanic scholar John Maxtone-Graham, who edited Jessop’s memoir, she had received a phone call late at night from someone asking if she was the Violet Jessop who had saved a baby from the Titanic — a story she’d never recounted to anyone. Whether the person was a prank caller or truly a grown-up Titanic survivor, she never heard from them again.
The White Star Line(See main article: The White Star Line)The White Star Shipping Line was founded in 1850 to take advantage of an increase in trade following the discovery of gold in Australia.In 1867, the White Star Shipping Line was purchased by Thomas Ismay and set up to rival Cunard in Trans-Atlantic passenger traffic. Thomas’s son, Bruce, became a partner in the firm and took over as company director in 1899 when his father died.In 1902 the company was bought by wealthy American, J Pierpoint Morgan. Ismay retained his position within the firm as managing director. Morgan’s money meant that the company could build large luxury liners to attract the wealthy passengers.In 1907 Ismay suggested that the company build two liners which were heavier, bigger and more luxurious than any other ship in the World. They were to be called Olympic and Titanic. If these were successful a third, Gigantic, later renamed Brittanic, would follow.Construction(See main article: Titanic Construction: Building the Unsinkable Ship)The Titanic construction took place in Belfast by the shipbuilding company Harland and Wolff. The company was owned by Lord Pirrie, a friend of Bruce Ismay, managing director of the White Star Line (pictured below, left). The chief designer of the Titanic was his son-in-law, Thomas Andrews.Construction of the Titanic began in 1909. Harland and Wolff had to make alterations to their shipyard (larger piers and gantries) to accommodate the giant liners, Titanic and her sister ship Olympic. The two ships were to be built side-by-side.The giant gantries constructed by Harland and WolffWatertight CompartmentsTitanic was constructed with sixteen watertight compartments. Each compartment had doors that were designed to close automatically if the water level rose above a certain height. The doors could also be electronically closed from the bridge. Titanic was able to stay afloat if any two compartments or the first four became flooded. Shortly after Titanic hit the iceberg it was revealed that the first six compartments were flooded.BoilersThere were twenty-four double ended boilers and five single ended boilers which were housed in six boiler rooms. The double ended boilers were 20 feet long, had a diameter of 15 feet 9 inches and contained six coal burning furnaces. The single ended boilers were 11 feet 9 inches long with the same diameter and three furnaces. Smoke and waste gasses were expelled through three funnels.FunnelsTitanic’s four funnels were constructed away from the site and were then transported to the shipyard for putting on the Titanic. Only three of the funnels were used to expel smoke and waste gasses. The fourth was added to make the ship look more powerful.PropellersTitanic had three propellers which were powered by steam. The rotation of the propellers powered the ship through the sea.Titanic was launched in 1911. The next ten months were spent completing the interior of the ship. Details and pictures of the interior can be viewed on the layout page of this site. The total cost of the RMS Titanic was $7.5 million (1912).Amenities(See main article: Titanic Amenities)The Crow’s NestThe Crow’s nest was used by the ship’s lookouts. It was from here, at 11.40 pm on April 15 1912, that lookouts Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee first spotted the iceberg that caused the Titanic to sink.Officers’ QuartersThe Titanic’s officer quarters were located just below the boat deck so that they could quickly reach the bridge in case of emergency. Captain Smith retired to the officers’ quarters about an hour before the ship hit the iceberg.The BridgeThe Bridge was the place where the ship was operated from. There was always a senior officer on the bridge and it was first officer Murdock who ordered the Titanic ‘hard a starboard’ when the iceberg was spotted.First Class Grand StaircaseThe two first class staircases were very grand indeed. Over the top of both were glass domes which allowed sunlight to pass through.Marconi/Wireless RoomThe two wireless operators, Harold Bride and John Philips were employed to send telegrams on behalf of the passengers. They also received and sent messages to other ships. It was here that the messages warning of icebergs were received on the afternoon of 14th April 1912 and the SOS messages were sent when it was realised that the Titanic would sink.GymnasiumThe Titanic’s gymnasium had all the latest exercise equipment – a bicycle, rowing machine and electric horse. Separate sessions were available for men, women and children.First Class StateroomsThe first class staterooms were luxuriously furnished with curtained beds and tables and chairs. The most expensive even had their own private balcony.A la Carte RestaurantThe Titanic’s a la carte restaurant served the finest food. Passengers could reserve tables and book areas for private parties.First Class Smoking RoomThe First Class smoking room was open for most of the day. Passengers could purchase the most luxurious cigarettes and tobacco here.Cafe ParisienThis cafe was designed to look like a Paris street cafe and the waiters were French.Third Class Smoking RoomThis was one of the leisure rooms provided for the use of third class passengers.Second Class StateroomsSecond class staterooms were occupied by up to four people. By the standards of the day they were luxurious with mahogany furniture and linoleum floors.Refrigerated CargoIn order to ensure that food served at tables was as fresh as possible, the Titanic was fitted with a refrigerated storage area. There were different areas for meat, cheese, flowers and wines and champagne.Second Class Dining RoomThis large, pleasantly furnished room was where second class passengers took their meals. Food served to second class passengers was cooked in the first class kitchen.First and Second Class GalleyFood for both first and second class passengers was prepared in the same galley. There was a large ice-cream maker as well as refrigerated rooms for storing meat and perishable goods.First Class Dining RoomThe First Class Dining room was beautifully decorated with a huge glass dome roof and could seat over 500 people.Third Class Dining RoomThis was where the third class passengers took their meals. It was said to be like second class dining rooms on other ships.BoilersThe Titanic had 24 boilers each containing 6 furnaces and 5 boilers containing 3 furnaces. Coal was burned in the boilers to power the ship and the steam and smoke was released through the four funnels.Bruce Ismay, of the White Star Line, hoped that the Titanic would make the fastest ever crossing from Southampton to New York.First Class Reception RoomFirst class passengers met in the first class reception room. They would often enjoy a cocktail together before going into dinner.Turkish BathThe Titanic’s turkish baths was one of the most luxurious to be found in Europe.First Class ElevatorThe Titanic’s four electric lifts were one of the new features that made the Titanic special. Designed for use by first and second class passengers only, they each had their own lift attendant. None of the four lift attendants survived.Swimming PoolThe Titanic was on of the first ships to have a swimming pool on board. It was filled with sea water which was heated by the boilers. There were separate times for men and women.Squash CourtAs part of it’s recreational facilities for passengers, the Titanic had a full-size squash court.Because the squash court was located just below the bridge but above the watertight compartments, it was used by the ship’s officers to monitor the rise of the water.The Post OfficeThe Titanic had a fully equipped post office staffed by five mail clerks. Over three thousand mail bags were lost when the ship sank and over 7 million items of mail never reached their destination.Cargo RoomPassengers’ cargo was loaded into the cargo room by crane. Among the items lost when the Titanic sank were:
- A Renault 35hp car
- A Marmalade machine
- 50 cases of toothpaste
- 5 grand pianos
- Four cases of opium
- A jewelled copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
Third Class BerthsThird Class berths on the Titanic were used by up to eight people. As you can see in the picture above, they slept in bunks and used a communal sink.Fireman’s PassageThis was the passage between the boilers that was used by the firemen. In the film, Rose and Jack run through the fireman’s passage to the cargo room. However, on the Titanic the fireman’s passage was on the deck below the cargo room.Crew QuartersThe Titanic had a crew of some 890 men and women of whom only 212 were saved. The crew’s quarters were located at the rear of the ship on decks D, E and F.Cargo CraneThis was a lifting device to enable large objects to be lifted onto ships. In the film Titanic, a cargo crane is seen lifting crates and a car onto the ship.Total Number Onboard(See main article: How Many People Were on the Titanic?)Exact numbers of those traveling on the Titanic is not known, but the official total of all passengers and crew is 2,229. The number of survivors varies from 701-713.The table below features a detailed breakdown of passengers in each class and the crew, and the number who survived. It is compiled from the most widely used figures for passengers and crew. The numbers are for passengers in first, second, and third class.Many are taught that in the sinking of the Titantic, third-class passengers were locked into flooding passages so as to preserve lifeboats for the first class, most famously in James Cameron’s depiction of the Titanic sinking in film. Dramatic embellishment certainly occurred, but the fact remains that first-class passengers were more likely to survive than second or third-class passengers.In terms of a percentage breakdown of number of survivors based on their class, here are the relevant statistics.
- 37 percent of all passengers survived
- 61 percent of first-class passengers survived
- 42 percent of second-class passengers survived
- 24 percent of third-class passenger survived
Crew(See main article: Titanic – Crew)In all, the crew of the Titanic comprised some 885 people:
- Deck Crew – Officers, Masters at arms, Storemasters and able bodied seamen.
- Engineering Department – Engineers, Boilermen, Firemen and Electricians.
- Victualling Department – Stewards and Galley staff.
- Restaurant staff
- Post Staff
Captain Edward John SmithMonthly wage: £105The maiden voyage of the Titanic was to be 62-year-old Captain Smith’s last voyage before he retired. Smith was married with a young daughter. Very little is known about his actions on the Titanic after the collision – he was last seen on the bridge of the sinking ship. Captain Smith went down with his ship and his body was never recovered.Chief Officer Henry WildeMonthly wage: £25Henry Wilde was serving as Chief Officer on the Olympic but was transferred to the Titanic for her maiden voyage. Wilde was off duty when the ship hit the iceberg. He took control of the even numbered lifeboats and was last seen trying to free the collapsible lifeboats. Wilde’s body has never been recovered.First Officer William MurdochWilliam Murdoch, 39 years old, had served on a number of White Star ships. He joined the Titanic as first officer and was on the bridge at the time of the collision and gave the order to turn the ship. He helped to load women and children into the lifeboats. He did not survive the disaster and his body was not recovered.Second Officer Charles LightollerCharles Lightoller had begun his sailing career at the age of 13 and had been involved in a shipwreck before. Lightoller was keen to load the lifeboats as quickly as possible and was still trying to free the collapsible lifeboats when Titanic sank. He was sucked under the sea but blown to the surface by air escaping from a vent. He managed to climb onto the overturned collapsible lifeboat B. He survived the disaster and as the most senior surviving officer testified at both inquiries.Third Officer Herbert PitmanHerbert Pitman was in his bunk when Titanic hit the iceberg. After helping to uncover lifeboats he was put in charge of lifeboat number 5 by William Murdoch. After Titanic had sunk, Pitman wanted to return for more passengers but others in the boat persuaded him that they would swamp the boat and they would all die. Pitman was called to give evidence during the inquiry into the disaster.Fourth Officer Joseph BoxallJoseph Boxall, aged 28, had been at sea for 13 years. After the collision Boxall helped to fire the distress rockets and to signal the nearby ship with a morse code lamp. Boxall was put in charge of lifeboat number 2 and like Pitman was persuaded not to return for more survivors after the ship had sunk. Boxall also gave evidence at the inquiry.Fifth Officer Harold LoweLowe was fast asleep when the Titanic hit the iceberg. When he eventually woke up, disturbed by noise, the ship was already at an angle. Lowe helped to load women and children into the lifeboats and took charge of lifeboat 14. After the cries and screams from the water had died down, Lowe put passengers from his lifeboat into others nearby before returning to pick up survivors. Lowe only found 4 people alive and one died before being rescued by the Carpathia. Lowe gave evidence at the inquiry.Sixth Officer James MoodyJames Moody was on duty at the time of the collision and took the phone call from Frederick Fleet warning of the iceberg. He helped to load the lifeboats and was last seen trying to launch the collapsible lifeboats. Moody did not survive the disaster.Chief Baker Charles John JoughinMonthly wage: £12After the collision Joughin fortified himself with a quantity of alcohol before throwing deckchairs into the ocean for people to hold on to. As the ship neared its final moments Joughin climbed over the stern rails and ‘rode’ the ship into the ocean. He managed to reach collapsible B and because there was no more room to climb on, spent several hours in the freezing water. Joughin survived and was rescued by the Carpathia.Lookouts Frederick Fleet and Reginald LeeMonthly wage: £5Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee were on duty in the crow’s nest and were the first to sight the iceberg. Fleet radioed the information to the bridge. Fleet survived in lifeboat 6, Lee in lifeboat 13. Both men were called to give evidence at the inquiry.Radio Operators Jack Phillips and Harold BrideMonthly wage: £2.2s.6dThe two radio operators’ main duty was the sending of private telegrams for passengers. However, they also received seven iceberg warnings from other ships on the 14th of April. After the collision they were asked to send the distress signal CQD (Come Quick Disaster). The signal was changed to the new distress code SOS. After contacting the Carpathia both operators stayed at their post until water poured into the Marconi room. Bride survived by climbing onto the overturned hull of collapsible B. Phillips also reached collapsible B but died sometime before dawn.BandsmenMonthly wage: £4.00There were two bands on the Titanic. After the collision they grouped on the deck and played to keep the spirits of the passengers up. Some survivors state that the band played until the end and many claim that the hymn ‘Nearer my God to thee’ was the last song played. None of the bandsmen survived.First Class(See main article: The Titanic First Class: Profile of Passengers)The maiden voyage of the Titanic had attracted a number of rich passengers, which made up the Titanic first class. A first class parlour suite cost £870 while a first class berth cost £30.The following are some of the more well-known first class travellers.John Jacob AstorThe richest passenger aboard was multi-millionaire John Jacob Astor. He was travelling with his second wife, Madeleine, who was five months pregnant. JJ Astor did not survive but his wife did.Benjamin GuggenheimMillionaire Benjamin Guggenheim was travelling on the Titanic with a lady friend. His wife and family were at home in New York. Guggenheim and his manservant helped women and children into lifeboats. When all the boats had gone they changed into their best clothes and prepared to “Die like gentlemen.”Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff GordonLady Duff Gordon was a notable dress designer whose clientele included Isadora Duncan, Oscar Wilde and the British royal family. The Duff Gordons both survived but were called to testify at the court of inquiry and explain why their boat contained only twelve people. During the inquiry they were accused and cleared of bribing crew members not to allow more people into the boat.The ‘Unsinkable’ Molly BrownMolly was the daughter of a poor Irish immigrant family whose husband struck rich when mining for silver. She was travelling home to America aboard the Titanic. She survived the disaster in lifeboat number 6 and earned her nickname because she took control of the boat, kept the women rowing for seven hours and gave her furs to keep others warm.Isador and Ida StrausIsador Straus was a partner of Macey’s department store, New York. He and his wife were returning from a European holiday. Both died on the Titanic. Ida nearly got into lifeboat number 8 but refused saying to her husband “We have been living together for many years. Where you go, I go.”There were 325 first class passengers on board – 175 men, 144 women and 6 children.202 first class passengers survived – 57 men, 140 women and 5 children.Second Class(See main article: Titanic Second Class Passengers)The Titanic second class passengers enjoyed a level of luxury that rivaled that of first class on other liners. Titanic was also the first ship to have an electric elevator for second-class passengers.A second-class ticket cost about £13The following passengers are the most well known second-class travelers.Lawrence BeesleyLawrence Beesley was a public school teacher traveling to America for a holiday. He survived the disaster in lifeboat 17 and was one of the first people to publish an account of the sinking and rescue.Eva HartSeven year old Eva Hart was travelling to America with her parents. Eva’s mother had a premonition and refused to sleep at night during the voyage. Eva and her mother were saved in lifeboat 14. Eva never saw her father again.Juozas Montvila and Thomas BylesThese two men were Roman Catholic priests who conducted services for second class passengers. After the sinking they both helped other passengers to safety, heard confessions and prayed. Both died in the tragedy.Charles AldworthCharles Aldworth was first class passenger, William Carter’s chauffeur. Carter’s Renault 25 motor car was stored in the cargo hold. Charles Aldworth did not survive.There were 285 second class passengers on board – 168 men, 93 women and 24 children/118 second class passengers survived the disaster – 14 men, 80 women and 24 children.Third Class(See main article: Titanic Third Class Passengers)Many of the Titanic third class passengers traveling in rooms or steerage were emigrants traveling to the United States from Ireland and Scandinavia. In all some 33 nationalities were represented in the passenger lists. Accommodations were clearly more spartan than those for the first and second classes.A ticket for Titanic third class passage cost between £3 and £8.The information below contains statistics on some of the nationalities travelling in third class and survival accounts.IrishThere were around 120 Irish passengers on the Titanic most of whom were emigrants hoping for a better life in America. Most of them did not make it. However, Anna Kelly who had gone up on deck to investigate what had happened, survived in lifeboat 16. She later became a nun.FinnishThere were 63 Finnish passengers on the Titanic of whom only 20 survived. Mathilda Backstr was travelling to New York with her husband and brothers. She survived in one of the last lifeboats to leave – collapsible D. Her husband and brothers died.SwedishThere were about 26 Swedish passengers on board the Titanic of whom most were travelling third class. Many did not reach their destination. Mrs Hjalmar Sandstr, (Agnes Charlotta Bengtsson ) was travelling with her two daughters. They all survived the disaster in lifeboat 13.BelgiansThere were 24 Belgians on board the Titanic, 23 in third class. Two lucky Belgians, Emma Duyvejonck and Henri Van der Steen were turned away at Southampton. Only 4 Belgians, all men, survived the disaster.There were 706 third class passengers on board – 462 men, 165 women and 79 children.178 third class passengers survived the disaster – 75 men, 76 women and 27 children.Why the Titanic Was Thought Unsinkable(See main article: Why Did People Consider Titanic Unsinkable?)It seems incredible to us today that anyone could believe that 70,000 tons of steel could be unsinkable, and specifically the Titanic unsinkable, but that was the conventional wisdom of 1912 belief. The information on this page will seek to look at some of the reasons why people at the time had that belief.The shipbuilders Harland and Wolff insist that the Titanic was never advertised as an unsinkable ship. They claim that the ‘unsinkable’ myth was the result of people’s interpretations of articles in the Irish News and the Shipbuilder magazine. They also claim that the myth grew after the disaster.Yet, when the New York office of the White Star Line was informed that Titanic was in trouble, White Star Line Vice President P.A.S. Franklin announced ” We place absolute confidence in the Titanic. We believe the boat is unsinkable.” By the time Franklin spoke those words Titanic was at the bottom of the ocean. It would seem that the White Star Line President was also influenced by the ‘myth’.It is difficult to discover exactly where or when the term ‘unsinkable’ was first used. Listed below are some possibilities.
An extract from a White Star Line publicity brochure produced in 1910 for the twin ships Olympic and Titanic which states ??these two wonderful vessels are designed to be unsinkable. Some sources state that this wording was used on an advertising flyer while others point to an illustrated brochure. The White Star Line insist that the words used in the publicity brochure (shown above) only point to Titanic’s being designed to be unsinkable, not that it was claimed to be unsinkable.On June 1, 1911, the Irish News and Belfast Morning News contained a report on the launching of Titanic’s hull. The article described the system of watertight compartments and electronic watertight doors and concluded that Titanic was practically unsinkable.In 1911, Shipbuilder magazine published an article on the White Star Line’s sister ships Titanic and Olympic. The article described the construction of the ship and concluded that Titanic was practically unsinkable.”God himself could not sink this ship!” This quotation, made famous by Cameron’s film, is reputed to have been the answer given by a deck hand when asked if Titanic was really unsinkable.Whatever the origin of the belief, there is no doubt that people did believe Titanic to be unsinkable.Passenger Margaret Devaney said “I took passage on the Titanic for I thought it would be a safe steamship and I had heard it could not sink.”Another passenger, Thomson Beattie, wrote home “We are changing ships and coming home in a new unsinkable boat.”It was the beginning of the twentieth century and people had absolute faith in new science and technology. They believed that science in the twentieth century could and would provide answers to solve all problems.The sinking of the ‘unsinkable’ Titanic shattered much confidence in science and made people more skeptical about such fantastic claims.Five Theories on the Sinking of the Titanic(See main article: Why Did Titanic Sink? Five Theories)Numerous theories have coalesced over the years, and they each have their defenders. Some are more plausible than others, but they each have a shred of plausibility due to the complexity of maritime navigation in the North Atlantic, and steering a massive, untested ship. But why did the largest, most advanced ship of the century sink?Below are theories on why the Titanic sunk.It was Captain Smith’s faultThis was Captain E. J. Smith’s retirement trip. All he had to do was get to New York in record time. Captain E. J. Smith said years before the Titanic’s voyage, “I cannot imagine any condition which would cause a ship to founder. Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that.” Captain Smith ignored seven iceberg warnings from his crew and other ships. If he had called for the ship to slow down then maybe the Titanic disaster would not have happened.It was the shipbuilder’s faultAbout three million rivets were used to hold the sections of the Titanic together. Some rivets have been recovered from the wreck and analysed. The findings show that they were made of sub-standard iron. When the ship hit the iceberg, the force of the impact caused the heads of the rivets to break and the sections of the Titanic to come apart. If good quality iron rivets had been used the sections may have stayed together and the ship may not have sunk.It was Bruce Ismay’s faultBruce Ismay was the Managing Director of the White Star Line and he was aboard the Titanic. Competition for Atlantic passengers was fierce and the White Star Line wanted to show that they could make a six-day crossing. To meet this schedule the Titanic could not afford to slow down. It is believed that Ismay put pressure on Captain Smith to maintain the speed of the ship.It was Thomas Andrews’ faultThe belief that the ship was unsinkable was, in part, due to the fact that the Titanic had sixteen watertight compartments. However, the compartments did not reach as high as they should have done. The White Star Line did not want them to go all the way up because this would have reduced living space in first class. If Mr Andrews, the ship’s architect, had insisted on making them the correct height then maybe the Titanic would not have sunk.It was Captain Lord’s FaultThe final iceberg warning sent to Titanic was from the Californian. Captained by Stanley Lord, she had stopped for the night about 19 miles north of Titanic. At around 11.15, Californian’s radio operator turned off the radio and went to bed. Sometime after midnight the crew on watch reported seeing rockets being fired into the sky from a big liner. Captain Lord was informed but it was concluded that the ship was having a party. No action was taken by the Californian. If the Californian had turned on the radio she would have heard the distress messages from Titanic and would have been able to reach the ship in time to save all passengers.Both America and Britain held inquiries into the disaster. both reached the almost identical conclusions.The American inquiry concluded that Captain Smith should have slowed the speed of the boat given the icy weather conditions. The British inquiry, on the other hand, concluded that maintaining speed in icy weather conditions was common practice.Both inquiries agreed on who was most at fault – Captain Stanley Lord of the Californian. The inquiries stated that if Lord had gone to Titanic’s assistance when the first rocket was seen then everyone would have been saved.Both inquiries made recommendations:
- All ships must carry sufficient lifeboats for the number of passengers on board.
- Ship radios should be manned 24 hours a day.
- Regular lifeboat drills should be held.
- Speed should be reduced in ice, fog or any other areas of possible danger.
Why There Were Too Few Lifeboats(See main article: Titanic: Lifeboats)One of the factors that makes the sinking of the Titanic so memorable is the fact that lives were needlessly lost. There were not enough Titanic lifeboats on board to hold all the passengers and crew, and when the lifeboats were launched they were not filled to capacity.The information on this page represents some of the main facts relating to the lifeboats on board Titanic.At the British Inquiry into the Titanic disaster Sir Alfred Chalmers of the Board of Trade was asked why regulations governing the number of lifeboats required on passenger ships had not been updated since 1896. Sir Alfred gave a number of reasons for this (question 22875):Due to advancements that had been made in ship building it was not necessary for boats to carry more lifeboats.The latest boats were stronger than ever and had watertight compartments making them unlikely to require lifeboats at all.Sea routes used were well-travelled meaning that the likelihood of a collision was minimal.The latest boats were fitted with wireless technology.That it would be impossible for crew members to be able to load more than sixteen boats in the event of a disaster.That the provision of lifeboats should be a matter for the ship owners to consider.Sir Alfred also stated that he felt that if there had been fewer lifeboats on Titanic then more people would have been saved. He believed that if there had been fewer lifeboats then more people would have rushed to the boats and they would have been filled to capacity thus saving more people. (questions 22960/1)
Facts on Titanic LifeboatsThe Titanic carried 20 lifeboats, enough for 1178 people. The existing Board of Trade required a passenger ship to provide lifeboat capacity for 1060 people. Titanic’s lifeboats were situated on the top deck. The boat was designed to carry 32 lifeboats but this number was reduced to 20 because it was felt that the deck would be too cluttered.At the British investigation, Charles Lightoller as the senior surviving officer was questioned about the fact that the lifeboats were not filled to capacity. They had been tested n Belfast on 25th March 1912 and each boat had carried seventy men safely. When questioned about the filling of lifeboat number six, Lightoller testified that the boat was filled with as many people as he considered to be safe. Lightoller believed that it would be impossible to fill the boats to capacity before lowering them to sea without the mechanism that held them collapsing. He was questioned as to whether he had arranged for more people to be put into the boats once it was afloat. Lightoller admitted that he should have made some arrangement for the boats to be filled once they were afloat. When asked if the crew member in charge of lifeboat number six was told to return to pick up survivors, the inquiry was told that the crew member was told to stay close to the ship. (questions 13883 – 13910) Lifeboat number 6 was designed to hold 65 people. It left with 40.Titanic also carried 3500 lifebelts and 48 life rings Useless in the icy water. The majority of passengers that went into the sea did not drown, but froze to death.Usage of Titanic LifeboatsMany people were confused about where they should go after the order to launch the lifeboats had been given. There should have been a lifeboat drill on 14th April, but the Captain cancelled it to allow people to go to church.Many people believed that Titanic was not actually sinking but that the call to the Titanic lifeboats was actually a drill and stayed inside rather than venture out onto the freezing deckThe inquiry was concerned that there was a delay of more than an hour between the time of impact and the launching of the first lifeboat – number 7. As a result there was not enough time to successfully launch all the Titanic lifeboats. Collapsible lifeboats A and B were not launched but floated away as the water washed over the ship. Collapsible B floated away upside down. People tried unsuccessfully to right it. 30 people survived the disaster by standing on the upturned boat.The Californian: The Rescue Ship That Never Was(See main article: The Californian)So near but yet so far away….The Titanic was not the only ship in the North Atlantic ice field on the night of 14th April 1912.At around 10.30pm the liner Californian had stopped at the edge of the ice field for the night. They had turned off their radio and the operator had gone to bed.The night crew of the Californian noticed a big passenger liner stop some six miles to the south at 11.40pm. Shortly after midnight the Captain of the Californian was told by his crew that the big passenger liner was firing rockets into the sky. They concluded that the ship had stopped for the night and was having a party.At 2.20am it was noticed that the big ship had disappeared and the crew believed that it had steamed away.At 3.20am more rockets were seen and by 4.00am another ship, the Carpathia, could be clearly seen in the last noted position of the big liner. The Californian’s wireless operator was awoken at around 5am and the crew learned of the fate of the Titanic.In the British and American inquiries into the disaster, Captain Stanley Lord of the Californian maintained that his ship was positioned nineteen miles north of the Titanic not six and could not have reached the Titanic in time to rescue passengers.However, many of Titanic’s survivors testified that there was indeed another ship about six miles north of Titanic. The inquiries concluded that the Californian had indeed been just six miles to the north of Titanic and could have reached the Titanic before it sank.A New Theory on the Titanic Sinking(See main article: Titanic Sinking: A New Theory)By now the story of the sinking of the Titanic is well-known and well-worn: Man creates an “unsinkable ship” and, in his hubris, brings along too few lifeboats. An iceberg cures his of his arrogance by tearing a hole in the side of the ship, sending it and thousands of passengers to the icy depths of the North Atlantic.But according to a new documentary, the iceberg may not have been the sole reason for the sinking of the Titanic. Instead, in an extraordinarily stroke of bad luck, the iceberg may have struck in the exact spot where the hull had been weakened by a coal fire that blazed in the depths of the ship prior to disembarking.Irish journalist Senan Molony argues in his January 2017 documentary “Titanic: The New Evidence” the hull of the ship was compromised weeks before its ill-fated voyage. He examined photos and eye-witness testimonies to determine that a fire spontaneously lit inside one of Titanic‘s coal bunkers and severely weakened a segment of the ship’s hull.“The ship is a single-skin ship,” Molony told Smithsonian.com. He means that while modern ships contain two hulls, Titanic, like other early twentieth-century vessels, had only one. Such a structure typically made for a weaker vessel, but in the Titanic‘s case it proved fatal. The bunkers where the crew stored engine coal was located next to the hull. The heat from the fire transferred directly to the ship’s metal structure.The ah-ha moment for Molony came when he discovered a trove of previously unknown photographs. Four years ago he purchased them from a descendant of the engineering chief of Harland and Wolff, the Irish company that built the Titanic. He was startled to see a thirty-foot-long black streak documented on the outside of the ships hull, near where the iceberg struck its blow.When Molony asked naval architects what the streak in the photograph could be, nobody knew but everyone was intrigued. “The best suggestion at the time was that this was a reflection.” But when the photograph was taken, there was no road or dock on the shore that could have been reflected in the hull.Other engineers believed the streak to have been caused by a fire in one of Titanic‘s three-story-tall coal bunkers. Molony assembled the facts in his own timeline in order to create a new narrative. He argues that the fire began as early as three weeks before the Titanic launched its voyage but was ignored due to pressure to keep the ship on schedule and fears of bad press. Britain ruled the seas but was facing increased pressure from Germany and others for the valuable immigrant trade.An article from the New York Tribute published shortly after Titanic survivors made landfall in the United States corroborates this theory:Stokers Agree Blaze Was in Progress from Time of Leaving Southampton Till 2 P.M. SaturdayEvery stoker who was interviewed declared that the Titanic was afire from the time she left Southampton until Saturday afternoon at 2 o’clock. This story was first told by an officer of the ship, who requested that his name be withheld, saying that all the men had been warned not to talk about the disaster.“The fire was in the coal bunkers, forward,” said this man, “in stokeholes 9 and 10, on the forward end, in what is known as the second and third sections. The fire must have been raging long before she pulled out of her pier in Southampton, for the bunker was a raging hell when, one hour out past the Needles, the fire was discovered.”“Immediately we began to work on the fire, and it took us until Saturday afternoon to extinguish it. We were compelled to dig out all the coal from these sections. In my opinion this fire played no small part in the disaster, for when the bow was stove in[,] the waters readily tore open the watertight bulkheads, behind which had been the coal. If the coal had been still in the second and third sections when the vessel struck the iceberg it would have probably helped the bulkhead to resist the strain.”This account was one of the first explanations of the Titanic‘s sinking it was mentioned by British officials in their official inquiry in 1912. But the narrative was downplayed by the judge who oversaw it, Molony said.“He was a shipping interest judge, and, in fact, he presided at a toast at the Shipwright’s Guild four years earlier, saying ‘may nothing ever adversely affect the great carrying power of this wonderful country. So he closes down efforts to pursue the fire, and he makes this finding that the iceberg acted alone.”Molony’s theory is plausible, but not everyone buys it. Denying the iceberg explanation, after all, puts him in odd company. A number of Titanic “truthers” have emerged over the decades, offering less-than-convincing explanations, such as a torpedo from a German U-boat sinking the ship. Others, as Dan Bilefsky of the New York Times notes, blame the sinking on an Egyptian mummy’s curse.The conventional wisdom still holds that the iceberg is the main culprit. “A fire may have accelerated this. But in my view, the Titanic would have sunk anyway,” Dave Hill, a former honorary secretary of the British Titanic Society, told Bilefsky.Molony believes that his version holds up due to the shakiness of the original inquiry’s findings. The same inquiry stated that the Titanic had sunk intact, while it was found later to be broken in half on the sea floor.“Just because an official finding says it doesn’t make it true,” Molony says.To read more about “Titanic: The New Evidence,” click here.Seven Amazing Stories Surrounding the Titanic(See main article: 7 Amazing Stories Surrounding Titanic)1. The First Film about the Titanic Premiered Just 29 Days after the Vessel SankYou may have seen James Cameron’s theatrical version of the Titanic, a movie that has accrued over $1.84 billion in total gross sales since its release in 1997. But we can confidently bet that you have never laid eyes on Saved From the Titanic, a 1912 silent motion picture starring actress and survivor of the RMS titanic, Dorothy Gibson.Ms. Gibson was one of the 28 people that safely made it out in the first lifeboat launched from the sinking ship, which floated around aimlessly for 5 hours until it was rescued. When she landed in New York, she co-wrote the script and played a fictional role of herself in the film. The plot involves her retelling the story of the incident to her family, with occasional flashbacks depicting what took place.The entire movie was filmed in a New Jersey studio, and aboard a ship in the New York Harbor. It was the first film in history to tell a story about the disaster, and was released just 29 days after it happened. Unfortunately, the movie is considered a lost film, as the only existing prints were destroyed in a fire in 1914.2. The 1997 Titanic Film Cost more to make than the Original RMS ShipThe Titanic vessel took 3 years to build and cost about $7.5 million. If we take inflation into account, then that would be roughly equivalent to $174 million in today’s dollars. The 1997 movie cost $200 million to film, which is way more than the Titanic itself.3. A Person Survived the Sinking of both the Titanic and her Sister Ship, BritannicViolet Constance Jessop may be the bravest ocean liner stewardess/nurse in history. Not only did she survive the unfortunate sinking of the RMS Titanic, but she also survived the sinking of her sister ship HMHS Britannic. Additionally, she was also onboard the RMS Olympic, their other sister ship, when it struck a protected cruiser.After the war, she continued to work for different ship lines. Years after she retired, Violet claims to have received a call from a woman who asked if she had saved a baby on the night of the Titanic. Violet replied, “yes,” and the woman replied with, “I was that baby.” The person then hung up. Violet claims to never have told anyone that story before the call.Ms. Jessop, who was often referred to as, “Ms. Unsinkable,” died of heart failure in 1971 at the age of 84.4. Not One Single Engineer aboard the Titanic Survived the Disaster They Sacrificed Themselves in Order to Give Others a Chance to EscapeWhen the order came to “abandon ship,” it was far too late for the engineers aboard the Titanic to escape. They could not make their way through the confusing passageways deep in the heart of the Titanic, and many of them most likely did not try. They probably did not drown, but were instead crushed by the boilers and machinery that broke when the vessel sank deeper.They died carrying out their duty, and sacrificed themselves so that others would have a chance at surviving.5. The Only Japanese Survivor of the Titanic was Condemned as a Coward in Japan and Lost his JobMasabumi Hosono was the only Japanese passenger aboard the Titanic to survive the disaster. When he arrived in Japan, he was condemned by the public for his decision to save himself rather then go down with the vessel. As a result, he lost his job, but was soon re-employed and continued to work until 1939.To be fair, a lot of the men that survived the Titanic were frowned upon, because they were supposed to let women and children on the lifeboats first. However, Mr. Hosomo was the only survivor who reportedly lost his job as a result.6. A Mexican Drug Lord had Two Watches Made From the Metal of the TitanicWhen the feds captured Gulf Cartel Leader, Jorge Eduardo, they found a lot of expensive jewellery in his mansion, but nothing was as rare as the two watches made from the original metal of the Titanic ship.7. A Priest Refused a Spot on a Lifeboat Twice, and Instead Decided to Stay BehindAn English Catholic priest named Thomas Roussel Davis Byles remained on board the Titanic as it was sinking, listening to confessions and giving absolution. He was portrayed in the 1997 film by actor James Lancaster.The “Titan”: A Prophesy of the Titanic Sinking?(See main article: Titanic – Futility)Robertson’s novel features a ship, the Titan, ‘..which was the largest craft afloat and the greatest of the works of men’. No expense was spared on making the ship luxurious and the steward’s cabin is described as being ‘equal to that of a first class hotel.’The latest technology was used in the building of the Titan including the addition of ‘..nineteen water-tight compartments.. With nine compartments flooded the ship would still float, and as no known incident of the sea could possibly fill this many, the steamship Titan was considered practically unsinkable.’Because Titan was considered unsinkable she only carried the minimum number of lifeboats required by law – 24 – able to carry 500 people. This was not enough for the 2000 passengers on board.Morgan Robertson’s Titan hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean and sank. 2987 people died in the disaster.Morgan Robertson republished Futility after the sinking of the Titanic with some notable changes suggesting that he was trying to cash in on the Titanic disaster.Nevertheless, the similarities between The Titan and Titanic are striking:Did the book predict the Titanic disaster?Uncanny, but true!Bibliography(See main article: Bibliography)Titanic and other White Star Line Ships – Mark M NicholTitanic’s Mail – James H BrunsTitanic Facts and Figures – Jim SadurThe Unsinkable Molly Brown – Danuta BoisThe Grave of Titanic – Gulf of Maine AquariumTitanic Disaster – Karl MetelkoEncyclopedia Titanica – (comprehensive passenger information)The Californian – a manufactured mystery – George BeheTitanic Titanic – Over 2,500 pages of factsBritish and US Inquiries into the DisasterHow Titanic became ‘unsinkable’ – George Behe’s Titanic TidbitsTitanic Photographs