Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Violet Jessop

Violet Constance Jessop was an ocean liner stewardess and nurse who achieved fame by surviving the disastrous sinkings of sister ships RMS Titanic and HMHS Britannic in 1912 and 1916 respectively. In addition, she had been on board Titanic and Britannic's other sister ship, RMS Olympic, when it collided with the HMS Hawke in 1911.

At age 23, Violet Jessop boarded the RMS Olympic on October 20, 1910 to work as a stewardess. The Olympic was a luxury ship that was the largest civilian liner at that time, being nearly 100 feet longer than any other ship. Olympic's first major mishap occurred on 20 September 1911, when she collided with a British warship, HMS Hawke off the Isle of Wight. Although the incident resulted in the flooding of two of her compartments and a twisted propeller shaft.

Violet boarded the RMS Titanic as a stewardess on 10 April 1912 and four days later on 14 April, at around 23:40 the Titanic struck an iceberg and began to sink. Violet described in her memoirs that she was ordered up on deck because she was to set a good example to the foreign speaking people (they did not speak English) where she watched as the crew loaded the lifeboats. She was later ordered into lifeboat 16, and as the boat was being lowered, one of the Titanic's officers gave her a baby to look after. The next morning Violet and the rest of the survivors were rescued by the RMS Carpathia. According to Violet, while on board the Carpathia, a woman grabbed the baby she was holding and ran off with it without saying a word.

During World War I Violet served as a nurse for the British Red Cross. In 1916, she was on board His Majesty's Hospital Ship Britannic when the ship apparently struck a mine and sank in the Aegean Sea. While the Britannic was sinking she jumped out of a lifeboat to avoid being sucked into the Britannic's propellers. She was sucked under the water and struck her head on the ship's keel before being rescued by another lifeboat. She had also made sure to grab her toothbrush before leaving her cabin on the Britannic, saying later that it was the one thing she missed most immediately following the sinking of the Titanic.

Violet Jessop died of congestive heart failure in 1971.

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violet_Jessup