Memories of RMS Titanic, the British passenger liner sank on her maiden voyage, never die. The fateful night of Sunday 14 April 1912, which witnessed the death of more than 1,500 passengers and crew in the North Atlantic Ocean, still haunts us. The RMS Titanic was a vessel unlike any. Sleek and designed to perfection, the most noteworthy feature of the ship was its imperviousness to sinking. This noteworthiness of the ship ironically proved to be glaringly wrong, when the ship collided with an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean and sank into its depths.
The story of the Titanic has often been verbally recounted and poignantly depicted in the movies. However, these verbal anecdotes and visual representations cannot change the emotions and sentiments that must have coursed through the people whose lives came to an abrupt end on that day.
The tragic story of the iconic ship was once again in the limelight recently when a letter written by one of the victims of Titanic disaster has sold for a record-breaking price at auction. The letter written by Alexander Oskar Holverson, addressed to his mother, just a day before the ship struck an iceberg has sold for £126,000 at an auction in England. This was the last-known letter written on board by a victim, describing the life inside the most luxurious liner of that time, days before its tragic destiny.
However, the other side of the Titanic story is inspiring. The stories of who survived, roughly 700 people, including the wife of Holverson. Over one hundred years after the accident, what more fascinates people now is the life of Titanic Survivors – the saga of the ones who survived the incident and lived on share their experiences remain at our disposal. These evocative memories shared by them reminds the world across of what actually transpired aboard the Titanic on its fatal voyage and how these brave individuals survived to tell the tale to generations anew. The life stories of those voyagers, whose lives were spared in the unexpected accident in the middle of the icy waters of the Atlantic, are brilliant instances of survival and heroism. It’s their life after the tragedy that fascinated and inspired the world more than the stories they brought with from the icy waters. Hundreds of books have been written already, with stories they had to tell and the stories picked from their life after. However, those vivid accounts of how the Titanic tragedy happened still remain significant as those stories are the direct connection to one of the fatal accidents in the human history.
Since it would be an arduous task to list each of the over seven hundred Titanic survivors, the most remarkable sagas of few can very well be exposited, enabling the world to understand the actual transpiration of that day with a better clarity.
One of the most famous, and bizarre too, Titanic survivor stories is that of Charles Joughin. Joughin, who was a part of the crew of the Titanic, survived the incident in the most unique manner possible. In order to combat the bitter cold after the vessel started sinking in the middle of the North Atlantic, the passengers started drinking alcohol to generate and provide inner body warmth. Joughin used this idea to utmost perfection and literally binged on alcohol, as depicted in the movies such as A Night to Remember and Titanic, while the ship was sinking. Yet even as he was consuming alcohol, Joughin did not forget his duty as a shipman, helping numerous other passengers get into the lifeboats that were deployed. And when the ship finally sank, he was left waiting in the frigid waters of the Atlantic for over three hours, before being rescued, going on to live for another 44 years. Later, who documented the story of Joughin confirmed that his survival in the icy water was a direct result of his blood alcohol level. Charles Joughin, years after his unbelievable survival, died at age 78 in 1956 in Patterson, New Jersey.
Margaret Brown was an American philanthropic socialite whose story as a Titanic survivor is one that inspires confidence than despondency. Called as Maggie by her friends and depicted as ‘Molly’ in various movies, Margaret Brown is remembered for her effort to exhort the crew in her lifeboat to return to the debris field after the accident to look for more survivors and Brown was later called “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” posthumously. More than her anecdotes of survival, Margaret Brown is associated with raising funds to help the financially impoverished survivors. Margaret had taken efforts to establish the Survivor’s Committee and raised almost $10,000 for destitute survivors by the time the rescue vessel Carpathia reached New York harbour with Titanic survivors. The life story of Margaret Brown was documented in a 1960 Broadway musical, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, based on her life and also its 1964 film adaptation in the same title. Margaret Brown died on October 26, 1932, at the Barbizon Hotel in New York City, New York, from brain tumour.
Eva Miriam Hart was one of the youngest survivors of the sinking of the RMS Titanic. Eva was seven years old when she boarded the vessel with her parents. Eva was sleeping when the accident occurred and Eva’s father placed his wife and daughter in Lifeboat No. 14. Eva’s father didn’t survive and his body, if recovered, was never identified. Eva and her mother were later rescued up by the RMS Carpathia. Eva later worked as a professional singer in Australia and a Conservative Party organizer as well as a magistrate. Eva was one of the Titanic’s most outspoken Titanic survivors and criticised the lack of sufficient lifeboats abroad the vessel. She was also vocal against any salvage attempts of the Titanic, noting that it is a grave site and should be treated as such.
Dorothy Gibson was American silent film actress, model and singer, who is now best remembered as a survivor of Titanic tragedy. Dorothy was on board the Titanic with her mother and they both escaped from the ship on the first lifeboat launched. Dorothy came close to death even in the lifeboat when a hole was found in the bottom of the lifeboat. However, the rush of icy cold water through the hole was later blocked using dress of people abroad the boat. After reaching New York, Dorothy starred in the first motion picture based on the disaster- ‘Saved from the Titanic. The 22-year old had to re-enact the experience a mere five days after the accident and also by wearing the same clothes she had been wearing when the ship met with the accident. However, report say Dorothy gave up acting shortly after the release of the movie. Dorothy died on 17 February, 1946, at the age of 56.
The Titanic last survivor was Eliza Gladys “Millvina” Dean, a British civil servant and cartographer. Millvinia Dean went from being the youngest voyager on board the vessel when the tragedy struck to the oldest survivor of the Titanic incident. Dean was only nine weeks old when she started her journey abroad Titanic along with her parents and brother. Protectively cloaked in a sack to ward off the frigidity, Millvinia started life afresh in Southampton in Great Britain – where she lived until her death in 2009 – with her brother and mother; survivors themselves. Dean’s father did not survive and also his body, if recovered, was never identified.
The Titanic survivor stories are proof that miracles occur even in the face of adversity. It is up to those who have been a recipient of the miracles to engage their lives more purposefully. Each of the seven hundred survivors of the Titanic contributed their share of goodwill to the world before they met their end, in the timeliest and most appropriate manner.
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