The Real People of Titanic the Musical

The Real People of Titanic the Musical

Discover the real stories of the people aboard the famous Ship of Dreams, featured in Maury Yeston’s Tony-Award winning Titanic the Musical, playing at the Forum Theatre September 22-October 9, 2022.

*All biography content quoted directly from https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/
 

Thomas Andrews

(Played by Ted Dvorak)

Thomas Andrews Jr., 39, was born at Ardara House, Comber, Northern Ireland on 7 February 1873, a son of the Right Hon. Thomas Andrews and Eliza Pirrie; he was also a nephew of Lord Pirrie, principal owner of Harland & Wolff (the builders of the Titanic).

In 1884 Andrews entered the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, but at the age of 16 he left school and entered Harland & Wolff shipbuilders as a premium apprentice, gradually working his way up through various departments. He eventually became the managing director of H & W in charge of designing and was familiar with every detail of the construction of the firm’s ships. In 1901 Andrews became a member of the Institution of Naval Architects, and on 24 June 1908 he married Helen Reilly Barbour; two years later a daughter, Elizabeth, was born to the young couple and they lived at “Dunallon”, 20 Windsor Avenue, Belfast.

Thomas Andrews made a point of sailing with a team of mechanics on the maiden voyages of the Adriatic, Oceanic and Olympic in order to observe their operation and recommend improvements to future vessels slated to be built by his firm. It was for this very reason that Andrews planned to sail on Titanic ‘s maiden voyage to America, and the thirty-eight-year-old executive left his wife and daughter in Belfast while he accompanied the vessel first to Southampton and, later, out onto the vast expanse of the North Atlantic. In his final letter to Mrs Andrews he expressed his satisfaction with the new vessel:

“The Titanic is now about complete and will I think do the old Firm credit tomorrow when we sail”.

Andrews boarded with a complimentary ticket No. 112050.

At sea, Andrews had spent most of the journey making notes and assisting the crew with minor difficulties as they got to know the new ship. Always a popular man on these trips Chief Baker Charles Joughin had even baked Andrews a special loaf of bread.On the evening of April 14th, as usual, Bedroom Steward Henry Etches arrived at 6:45 to help Andrews dress for dinner which he usually took with Dr O’Loughlin the ship’s surgeon. After dinner Andrews returned to his cabin (A-36) to pore over blueprints and collate his notes. Andrews barely noticed the collision and was unaware of any problem until Captain Smith sent a message requesting his immediate presence on the bridge.Later, Saloon Steward James Johnstone described how he saw Andrews and Captain Smith touring the forward part of the ship, they visited the flooding mail room and the squash court which was also quickly filling with water. Back on the bridge Andrews broke the news to Captain Smith that in view of the damage the ship had suffered he did not expect her to stay afloat more than two hours.During the liner’s final hours Andrews wandered the decks encouraging passengers to wear their lifebelts and to make their way to the boats. He was reportedly last seen staring into space by the painting in the first class smoking room, his lifebelt discarded.

 

Joseph Bruce Ismay

(Played by Ted Woodward)

Mr Joseph Bruce Ismay was born at Crosby, near Liverpool on 12 December 1862. He was the eldest son of Thomas Henry Ismay and Margaret Bruce (daughter of Luke Bruce). Thomas Ismay was senior partner in the firm of Ismay, Imrie and company and founder of the White Star Line. The family lived at Dawpool, Cheshire.

Bruce Ismay was educated at Elstree School and at Harrow. When he left Harrow he was tutored in France for a year before being apprenticed to Thomas Ismay’s office for four years. He then went on a one year tour of the world and upon his return was posted to New York where he worked at the White Star Line office for a further year. At the end of that period he was appointed the company agent in New York.

In 1888 Ismay married Julia Florence Schieffelin (eldest daughter of George R. Schieffelin of New York) and together they had two sons and two daughters.

In 1891 Ismay and his family returned to England. That year he was made a partner in the firm of Ismay, Imrie and company.

In addition to his interest in the company his father had created, Bruce Ismay was, during his life, also chairman of the Asiatic Steam Navigation Company, chairman of the Liverpool Steamship Owners Protection Association and the Liverpool and London War Risks Association as well as the Delta Insurance Company. He was also a director of the Liverpool, London and Globe Insurance Company, the Sea Insurance Company, the Birmingham Canal Navigation Company and the London, Midland and Scottish Railway. Of the latter he had been offered chairmanship but had declined.

One summer evening in 1907 (the exact date is unknown), Bruce and Florence Ismay dined at Downshire House in Belgravia, the London home of Lord Pirrie. Pirrie was a partner in the firm of Harland & Wolff, Belfast shipbuilders with whom the Ismay’s firm had enjoyed a long and lucrative partnership.

Ismay and Pirrie decided that high speed, while desirable, was not the essential element in capturing the vital immigrant trade which was their main source of income at that time. They would concentrate on creating the largest ships to maximise steerage capacity while making them the most luxurious in first and second class accommodation in order to woo the wealthy and the prosperous middle class.

Ismay accompanied his ships on their maiden voyages and the Titanic was no exception.

On 10 April 1912 he boarded the Titanic with his valet Richard Fry and his secretary William Henry Harrison. While on board he was also assisted by Ernest Freeman who unlike the other employees was listed as a crew member.

Ismay was rescued from the Titanic in Collapsible C.

During his life Ismay would inaugurate the cadet ship Mersey for the training of officers for the merchant navy, gave £11,000 to found a fund to benefit widows of lost seamen and in 1919 gave £25,000 to establish a fund to recognise the contribution of merchantmen in the war. He divided his time between his homes in London and Ireland.

Joseph Bruce Ismay died on 17 October 1937 leaving an estate worth £693,305.

The Times obituary recalls some interesting insights into Ismay’s personality but fails to make any mention of the Titanic:

[He was a man] ‘of striking personality and in any company arrested attention and dominated the scene. Those who knew him slightly found his personality overpowering and in consequence imagined him too be hard, but his friends knew this was but the outward veneer of a shy and highly sensitive nature, beneath which was hidden a depth of affection and understanding which is given to but few. Perhaps his outstanding characteristic was his deep feeling and sympathy for the ‘underdog’ and he was always anxious to help anyone in trouble. Another notable trait was an intense dislike of publicity which he would go to great lengths to avoid. In his youth he won many prizes in lawn-tennis tournaments; he also played association football, having a natural aptitude for games. He enjoyed shooting and fishing and became a first class shot and an expert fisherman. Perhaps the latter was his favourite sport and he spent many happy holidays fishing in Connemara’.

 

Edward John Smith

(Played by Mark Mannette)

Titanic Captain Edward John Smith Lived Here - HistorianRuby: An ...Captain Edward John Smith was born at Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent on 27 January 1850, the son of potter Edward Smith and Catherine Smith. His parents later owned a shop1.

Edward attended the Etruria British School until the age of 13 when he went to Liverpool to begin a seafaring career. He apprenticed with Gibson & Co., Liverpool and joined the White Star Line in 1880 gaining his first command in 1887. Among the ships he would command were the first Republic, the Coptic, Majestic, Baltic, Adriatic and Olympic.

Smith served with distinction in the Boer war by commanding troopships to the Cape.

As he rose in seniority Smith gained a reputation amongst passengers and crew for quiet flamboyance. Some passengers would only sail the Atlantic in a ship commanded by him. As the most senior Captain in the White Star fleet it became routine for Smith to command the line’s newest ships on their maiden voyages. It was, therefore, no surprise that Smith took the Titanic on her maiden voyage in April 1912. This responsibility was rewarded with a salary of £1,250 per year and a no-collision bonus of $200. Because of his position as a Commander in the Royal Naval Reserve Smith had the distinction of being able to fly the Blue Duster of the R.N.R., most ships flew the Red Duster of the merchant marine.

Smith was married to Eleanor and they had a young daughter Helen Melville. The family lived in an imposing red brick, twin-gabled house “Woodhead” on Winn Road, Portswood, Southampton.

On April 10, 1912, Edward John Smith, wearing a bowler hat and a long overcoat, took a taxi from his home to Southampton docks. He came aboard the Titanic at 7.00 am to prepare for the Board of Trade muster at 8.00 am. He immediately went to his cabin to get the sailing report from Chief Officer Henry Wilde.

After departure at 12:00, the wash from the propeller caused the laid-up New York to break from her moorings and swing towards the Titanic. Quick action from Smith helped to avert a premature end to the maiden voyage. The unfortunate incident was seen by some as an ill omen and it was reminiscent of the Hawke incident in 1911 when that vessel collided with the Olympic which was under the command of Captain Smith.

During the voyage, Smith normally took meals at a small table in the dining saloon or in his cabin, attended by his personal valet, or “Tiger”, Arthur Paintin. On the night of April 14, however, he attended a dinner party held in his honour by George Widener and his family. The party was attended by the cream of 1912 society as it was represented on the Titanic. However, Smith was possibly concerned that the ship was entering the ice zone about which he had received ample warnings during the weekend. He excused himself early and went to the bridge.

Charles Lightoller was keeping watch and discussed the temperature with Smith for a while. Smith told Lightoller to alert him immediately if he was at all concerned. He then retired to bed.

About 11.40 p.m.  Captain Smith was awakened by the collision and rushed to the bridge. He received the report of the accident from First Officer William Murdoch and then made a quick inspection of the ship with Thomas Andrews. He immediately ordered the boats prepared but wavered when it came to giving the order to load and lower them Lightoller had to approach him for the order which he eventually gave.

Surprisingly little is known about Smith’s actions in the last two hours of the ships life. His legendary skills of leadership seem to have deserted him, he was curiously indecisive and unusually cautious.

He was last seen in the bridge area having given the final order to abandon ship. He appears to have made no attempt to save himself. His body, if recovered, was never identified.

 

William McMaster Murdoch

(Played by Chris Loucks)

William McMaster Murdoch was born at  “Sunnyside”, Dalbeattie, Dumfries, Scotland on 28 February 1873. He was the fourth of seven children of Captain Samuel Murdoch (1843-1917) and his wife  Jane ‘Jeannie’ Muirhead (1839-1914).

Although his father was a captain, Murdoch first went to sea on the barque Charles Cotesworth, commanded by Captain James Kitchen.  William joined the ship after signing the indentures for a five years apprenticeship on 1 August 1888.   Murdoch’s first voyage on the Charles Cotesworth was to San Francisco via Cape Horn (or Cape Stiff as it was called). On the return leg of the voyage which terminated in Dublin, they rounded Cape Horn once again. Within the Murdoch family, only a sailor who had been round Cape Horn could call himself a sailor – especially when it was rounded from East to West, which was harder due to the prevailing winds.

On 28 September 1896, Murdoch progressed further in his career by passing the examination for the Extra Master’s Certificate at the first attempt. The Extra Master’s Certificate was the highest qualification for a nautical officer at that time. Murdoch was also mentioned in Lightoller’s biography by Patrick Stenson:

There never was a better officer. Cool, capable, on his toes always – and smart toes they were. I remember one night – we had just come up on the bridge to take over the watch – when the lookout struck the bell for a light on the port bow. It was that awkward moment before you have your night vision, for we had just come up to take over from the First Officer and his junior. Murdoch went at once to the wing of the bridge. I didn’t see anything, for a while. I don’t think I ever did see that light until it was almost on top of us.

But Murdoch did! And realised on the instant what it was, and precisely what sort of ship was showing it and what she was doing. I never forgot what he did. Before I knew what was happening, he rushed to the wheel, pushed the quartermaster aside, and hung on to the spokes. The First Officer was still on the bridge.

“Hard-a-port!” the First shouted, suddenly seeing the light again, very close.

Murdoch kept the ship on her course.

“Hard-a-a-! My God, we’ll be into her!” shouted the First Officer. And then: “Midships the helm! Steady! Steady as she goes!”

But Murdoch had not shifted the helm. That was why he had jumped there, fearing a confusion of orders leading inevitably to a collision. As he stood there, coolly keeping our ship on what we all then realised was the only possible collision-free course, a great four-masted barque, wind howling in her giant press of sails, came clawing down our weather side. We watched, horrified. Would she hit us? But she went free. Just, but she went free! It was a matter of yards.

If Murdoch – or the quartermaster at the wheel who of course was there to obey orders and not to question them – had put that wheel over we’d have been into that sailing-ship. We couldn’t have helped it. If he had altered to port we’d have hit with our bow: if to starboard, with our stern. Our only chance was to keep our course and speed – to go straight. She was one of the great modern steel windjammers, 3,000 tons of her. She could have cut us down.

We were only two days out of New York at the time. None of us had seen a sailing ship there before. Remember, even the biggest sailing-ships carried only dim sidelights – oil lamps, generally stuck in towers. They were hard to see. We were looking down; she had a good breeze and was making 12 knots. Under all sail the swelling arch of her foresail would have hidden the sidelight from us. But Murdoch saw – just the one glimpse. It was enough for him. In a split of second he knew what to do. We others would have been too late. Upon the instant, he had her figured out! Good thing he did, too.

That man let nobody down aboard the Titanic, I’m sure of it.  

Adriatic’s maiden voyage started in Liverpool with the destination New York, but the round-trip terminated in Southampton from where White Star’s premium service to the USA would thence commence.  Adriatic’s was the third maiden voyage Murdoch took part in, and the second time he served as senior officer on a “maiden voyager”.

It seems as if Adriatic had a steadying influence on Murdoch’s life. He remained 1st officer of this ship until May 1911 – only the Charles Cotesworth, the ship on which he served his apprenticeship, saw him on her decks for a longer period of time. The crew agreements and ship’s logs show that many of the crew stayed with the same ship over many voyages.

Murdoch stepped out for one round trip in 1907 when he married Ada Florence Banks, his acquaintance from Runic, in Southampton on 2 September 1907. They settled in the city.

Titanic’s maiden voyage was the fifth maiden voyage Murdoch served as an officer. It was the fourth maiden voyage in which Murdoch took part in as a senior officer. And it was the third maiden voyage Murdoch took part in with Edward John Smith in command. Apart from that, it is also remarkable that no other nautical officer of the White Star Line had served as senior officer on the respective company’s flagship from January 1905 until April 1912.

When Titanic left Southampton 10 April 1912, she sailed into history. During Murdoch’s evening watch on 14 April 1912 she struck an iceberg and sank on 15 April 1912 2:20 am ship’s time. 

When the Titanic was evacuated, Murdoch was in charge of the boats on the starboard side. He followed the rule “Women and children first”, but when there was still space in the boat, men were allowed to fill it up. 

Murdoch died in the sinking, his body was never recovered.

The British Titanic Inquiry concluded that Murdoch was not to blame for the disaster.

Isidor Straus

(Played by John Dalton White)

Mr Isidor Straus, 67, was born in Rhenish Bavaria on 6th February, 1845. In 1854 he emigrated to the United States settling, with his family, in the town of Talbotton, Georgia. Straus’ father (Lazarus Straus) established a dry-goods business called “L. Straus & Company.” and Isidor is listed in the 1860 census as being a clerk at this store. Between 1656 and 1861 he was educated at the Collinsworth Institute in Talbotton. In 1862, the Straus family moved to Columbus and Lazarus Straus opened another dry-goods business. Isidor went to work for a company that engaged in blockade running for the Confederate States (it was the time of the American Civil War). After the war, Isidor moved to New York and with his brother Nathan, became involved in the firm of R.H. Macy & Co. Finaly acquiring ownership of the firm in 1896. In addition to his business enterprise he served as a Congressman for New York State between 1895 and 1897.

Early in April 1912 Isidor, his wife Ida and their daughter Beatrice had travelled to Europe on the HAPAG Liner Amerika, it was their custom to travel by German steamer wherever possible.

For their return (Beatrice was absent) they boarded the Titanic at Southampton, travelling with them were Isidor’s manservant John Farthing and Ida’s newly employed maid Ellen Bird. The Straus’s occupied cabins C-55-57 (ticket number PC 17483, £221 15s 7d).

Isidor Straus and his wife both died in the disaster. The body of Mr Straus was later recovered by the Mackay-Bennett (#96).

  1. 96 – MALE – ESTIMATED AGE, 65 – FRONT GOLD TOOTH (Partly) – GREY HAIR AND MOUSTACHE

CLOTHING – Fur-lined overcoat; grey trousers, coat and vest; soft striped shirt; brown boots; black silk socks.

EFFECTS – Pocketbook; gold watch; platinum and pearl chain; gold pencil case; silver flask; silver salts bottle; £40 in notes; £4 2s 3d in silver.

FIRST CLASS – NAME – ISADOR STRAUSS

Isidor Straus was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY.

40,000 people gathered for the couple’s memorial service which was held in New York City. Eulogies read included one by Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919). Two years later a second service was held to inaugurate Straus Square on Broadway and 107th Street.

Rosalie Ida Straus

(Played by Charleen Ayers)

Mrs Isidor Straus (Rosalie Ida Blun), 63, of New York, NY, boarded the Titanic at Southampton with her husband Isidor Straus, her maid Ms Ellen Bird and his manservant John Farthing. The Straus’s occupied cabins C-55-57.

Daily Sketch, April 19, 1912

Mrs Straus almost entered Lifeboat 8, – then she turned back and rejoined her husband, she had made up her mind: “We have lived together for many years. Where you go, I go.” Colonel Gracie and other friends tried to persuade her, but she refused. Mr and Mrs Straus went and sat together on a pair of deck chairs.

Mrs Straus’ body was never recovered.

She has a memorial on her husband’s grave at Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York.

 

Edward Beane

(Played by Eric Lawrence)

Mr Edward Beane was born in Hoveton, Norfolk, England on 19 November 1879.

He was the son of George Beane (1857-1914), a brewery worker, and Mary Ann Cox (1855-1945). Both his parents hailed from Norfolk and had married on 29 November 1877 and Edward was one of ten children, his siblings being: Sarah (b. 1878), George Herbert (b. 1881), William (b. 1882), Charles Archie (b. 1884), Caroline Augusta (b. 1886), Ernest Christmas (b. 1887), May Christine (b. 1890), Robert (b. 1892) and Bertie Stanley (b. 1893).

Edward was married in early 1912 to Ethel Louisa Clarke (b. 1889), a dressmaker and furrier and a former neighbour who also spent time living in Northumberland Street. The couple made plans to settle in New York and they boarded the Titanic at Southampton as second class passengers (ticket number 2908 which cost £26).

On the night of the sinking Edward and his wife managed to escape in lifeboat 9, Mr Beane being one of a very few number of second class males who survived. He would later claim that his wife was placed in the lifeboat which was lowered and he leapt off the deck into the ocean to swim to her lifeboat.

The couple settled in Rochester, New York and lived at 44 Michigan Street in that city for the rest of their lives and never returned to England. Edward continued to work as a bricklayer and was a member of the Bricklayers’ Union. Edward and Ethel welcomed two sons: Edward (1913-1982) and George (1916-1998) and during the rest of their lives spoke about the Titanic on seldom occasions, only giving the odd newspaper interview.

Edward Beane died in the Rochester State Hospital on 24 October 1948, just shy of his 69th birthday. He and his wife are buried in White Haven Memorial Park.

Ethel Louisa Beane

(Played by Mary Neuman)

Mrs Ethel Louisa Beane (née Clarke) was born on 15 November 1889 1 in Norwich, Norfolk, England.

Her parents were George Alfred, a brewer’s labourer born ca. 1868 in Norwich, and Lucy (nee Miles; b. ca. 1869 in Norwich) Clarke, who had married in early 1891 in Norwich, Norfolk. In 1901, she was 8 years old and lived at Nicholas Street in Norwich with her parents and siblings Sydney George, 10, Lily Flora, 5, Hilda Lucy, 4, and Agnes Hagar, 1. In 1911, there were five additional siblings: Ida May, 9, George Alfred, 6, Gladys, 4, Gertrud, 2, and Charles, 1.

She first appears on the 1891 census living at 172 Northumberland Street, Heigham, Norwich and would still be at this address by the time of the 1901 census. She was still living with her family by the time of the 1911 census, now at 21 Churchill Road, Norwich and was described as a single dressmaker and furrier.

Ethel was married in early 1912 (this article suggests, just three days before Titanic sailed) to Edward Beane (b. 1879), a bricklayer and a former neighbour who also spent time living in Northumberland Street. The couple made plans to settle in New York where Edward had spent a few years before his return to England to marry. They boarded the Titanic at Southampton as second class passengers (ticket number 2908 which cost £26).

On the night of the sinking Ethel and her husband managed to escape in lifeboat 9, Mr Beane being one of a very few number of second class males who survived. He would later claim that his wife was placed in the lifeboat which was lowered and he leapt off the deck into the ocean to swim to her lifeboat.

Ethel gave birth to a stillborn baby on 13 January 1913 so it is likley she was pregnant on board the Titanic.

The couple settled in Rochester, New York and lived at 44 Michigan Street in that city for the rest of their lives and never returned to England. They had two children, both sons: Edward (1913-1982) and George (1916-1998) and during the rest of their lives spoke about the Titanic on seldom occasions, only giving the odd newspaper interview.

Ethel was widowed in 1948 when her husband died aged 68 and she continued to live at the family home in Rochester before entering a nursing home in the last two years of her life. She died on 17 September 1983 aged 93 (although she had convinced everyone she was only 90) and was buried with her husband in White Haven Memorial Park.

Caroline Bonnell (Neville)

(Played by Felisha Trundle)

Miss Caroline Bonnell was born in Chicago, Illinois on 3 April 1882.

She was the daughter of John Meek Bonnell (1848-1884) and Emily Wick (1853-1926). Her father was English by birth, hailing from Bradford, Yorkshire, whilst her mother was native to Ohio and they had married on 26 August 1876. She had two brothers, Joseph Fearnley (1876-1952) and Hugh Wick (1880-1963).

Her father was a successful iron and steel merchant and he worked alongside an in-law, George Dennick Wick, as part of Wick, Bonnell & Co rolling mills in Chicago. She was educated in Miss Morris School, New Jersey and following the death of her father in 1884 had been living in Youngstown, Ohio, the birthplace of her mother. 

Being deeply religious, Miss Bonnell was an active member of the Youngstown First Presbyterian Church and helped to found the Christ Mission in that city, assisting the thousands of migrants flooding into the district, assisting them, amongst other things, to read and write English and become accustomed to the American lifestyle.

Leaving for a vacation in Europe in February 1912, Caroline was travelling with her cousin, George Dennick Wick his wife Mary and daughter Mary. They spent time in Naples, Venice, Paris and finally London. Whilst in France they had met Washington Roebling and Stephen Weart Blackwell who would also be aboard the Titanic on the voyage home. The family boarded the Titanic at Southampton as first-class passengers (joint ticket number 36928 which cost £164, 17s, 4d). Also joining them at Southampton was her English aunt Elizabeth Bonnell, her father’s sister. Whilst aboard Caroline shared cabin C7 with Mary Natalie Wick.

Caroline and Natalie were in bed the night of the 14 April. After feeling the collision with the iceberg they went up on deck. Caroline said to Natalie, “Well, thank goodness, Natalie, we are going to see our iceberg at last!” They found the sea “smooth as glass” and were amazed at the number of stars. Finding nothing wrong, they decided to return to their cabins when a crew member told them to go and put on their life belts.

Caroline and Natalie went to the cabin of Mr and Mrs Wick. George Wick did not believe anything could be wrong and the young women then went back to their cabin, only to have a crewmember knock on their door and tell them to go to A deck. Once there, they found Mr and Mrs Wick. Caroline went to find her aunt, Elizabeth Bonnell. When both women reached A deck they found crowds of people standing about. “Nobody seemed very excited; everybody was talking and it seemed to be the general idea that we would soon be ordered back to bed.” They were then ordered up to the Boat deck. They saw Mrs Astor sitting on a steamer chair with her husband, John Jacob Astor, next to her Mrs Astor’s maid was helping her to finish dressing.

The Bonnell and Wick women were put into lifeboat 8. When they reached the water they found the cold to be terrible, especially for the women who were poorly dressed; Miss Bonnell took to an oar to help keep warm. She observed:

The Titanic was fading in the distance, but her lights were quite visible. About twenty minutes after we were put in the boat we noticed that the giant ship was sinking low in the water. Then we realised for the first time that it was in danger, and our lark turned into a frightened party of women. Lower and lower sank the Titanic. The faint strains of a band came to us. Then all of a sudden the lower lights seemed to go out. Only the lights on the upper deck were visible. And then we saw the ship sink—this great unsinkable liner. It didn’t plunge, as far as we could see, but seemed to settle lower and lower into the water and went down gently, grandly, to its grave. Then the full horror of the thing came over us. We were frightened. But the men in the boat tried to reassure us. They told us that those left behind on the boat would surely leave it—that they would be picked up in a short time. – Youngstown Vindicator, 19 April 1912

There was a lamp in the boat, however, it was difficult to keep it lit, so instead Mrs J. Stuart White waved a cane, which had an electric light in its end.

In the morning boat 8 reached the Carpathia and the passengers left the lifeboat by climbing onto a wooden seat about two feet long and a foot wide. The waves made it difficult to get onto the seat, but everyone was successful. After everyone was picked up, Caroline reported that the Carpathia moved about looking for other survivors. She saw some wreckage, a baby’s bonnet and a man’s glove in the water.

Following the disaster, Caroline returned to Youngstown and continued to live with her widowed mother. During the First World War she was one of three Youngstown women who completed the first home nursing and First Aid course offered in the city. Unable to leave her mother to go into service in Europe, she carried on the Red Cross work at home and acted for a period as executive secretary of Mahoning Chapter. During the early 1920s she travelled Europe, visiting Britain, Belgium, Switzerland and France and her 1923 passport described her as standing at 5’ 3” and with dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, an oval face with a medium mouth, chin and forehead and a “brunette” complexion.

She was married on 5 July 1924 to childhood sweetheart Paul Jones (b. 4 November 1880), a Youngstown-born federal judge. He was the son of William B. Jones and the former Mary Harris; his father was an auditor for the Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co where a young Jones worked over the summer months to help pay for his college tuition. 

 

James Farrell

(Played by Aaron Profit)

Mr James Farrell was born in Cloonee, Co Longford, Ireland around the latter half of 1886.

He was the son of John Farrell (b. 1856), a farmer, and Ellen McCarthy (b. circa 1858). One of nine children born to his parents, his known siblings were: Kate Anne (b. 1883), Michael (b. 1885), John (b. 1888), Mary (b. 1889), Edward (b. 1891) and Thomas (b. 1896).

The family, who were Roman Catholic, were shown on both the 1901 and 1911 census records living in Cloonee. By the time of the latter records James’ mother had passed away and he was described as an unmarried farmer’s son.

He boarded the Titanic at Queenstown as a third class passenger (ticket number 367232 which cost £7, 15s) and he was travelling to an address in New York City. Whilst aboard it appears he was acquainted with several others from Co Longford: Kate Gilnagh, Kate Mullin, the Kiernan brothers, John and Phillip, and Thomas McCormack. He may also have known the McCoy siblings, also from Co Longford.

On the night of the sinking, James and his Longford compatriots stayed together during the evacuation. When the women in the group were attempting to cross a barrier to a higher deck a crewmen prevented them from doing so. James intervened, shouting “For God’s sake man, let the girls past to the boats, at least!” The threat of an altercation from the burly Irishman made the crewman comply and the group passed through, James giving his cap to Kate Gilnagh. Kate never forgot the actions of James Farrell and later referred to him as her guardian angel.

James died in the disaster. His body was recovered by the MacKay Bennett (#68) and he was buried at sea on 24 April 1912.

 

Kate Gilnagh (McGowan)

(Played by Nora Graham)

Miss Kate Gilnagh was born in Rhyne, Cloonee, Co Longford, Ireland on 30 October 1894.3

Hailing from a Roman Catholic family, she was the second child of Hugh Gilnagh (b. 24 April 1865), a farmer, and Johanna Duffy (b. circa 1867) who had married on 7 August 1892.

She was the sister of: Mary Johanna (b. 7 September 1893), Ellen (b. 8 January 1896), Bridget (b. 16 October 1898), Thomas (b. 20 June 1897), Elizabeth (b. 27 February 1900), Margaret (b. 8 May 1902), Johanna (b. 29 March 1904), Hugh (b. 10 January 1906) and Annie (b. 7 May 1911). 

The family appear on the 1901 census living at house 18 in Rhyne, Cloonee and on the 1911 census at house 6 in the same locale. Her sister Mary “Mollie” had emigrated to the USA, leaving Ireland on board Laurentic on 9 April 1911. She lived and worked in Manhattan and soon sent for Kate to join her.

Kate joined the Titanic at Queenstown on 11 April 1912 as a third class passenger (ticket number 35851 which cost £7, 14s, 8d). Whilst aboard she roomed in cabin 161 on E-deck aft with three other Longford girls, Katie Mullin and the Murphy sisters, Margaret and Kate. She also became acquainted with fellow-Longford passengers James Farrell, Thomas McCormack and the Kiernan brothers, John and Phillip among other Irish passengers, including possibly Eugene Daly from Co Westmeath.

On the night of the sinking Kate and other steerage passengers had been enjoying a party in the communal third class areas. A rat scuttled across the floor, sending the party into excited disarray. 

Kate and her cabin mates later went to bed when a man with whom they were acquainted aboard rapped their door, telling them to get up as something was amiss with the ship. The four girls dressed and headed out to the upper decks but found their way to the lifeboats impeded by crewmen blocking their way and being determined to keep the steerage passengers in their place. When trying to pass through one barrier a crewman halted her but the intervention of James Farrell, who threatened the offending crewman with a punch if he didn’t let the women through, perhaps helped save her life and she later referred to Farrell as her guardian angel. 

Kate eventually managed to get to a higher deck with the lifeboats tantalisingly close in sight, but she couldn’t find her way any further. A man close by offered her a lift up on his shoulders, which she gratefully accepted, and she managed to climb over the railing to the boat deck. Spying a boat close by she made for it but a crewman again held her back, telling her it was full. Crying out that her sister was in the boat, the crewman relented and let her pass. In years later, Kate recounted that the magnitude of the disaster unfolding at the time escaped her and she naïvely thought that this was the regular, if difficult way to make it to America.

Kate eventually arrived in the USA aboard Carpathia and was described as a 17-year-old domestic and her destination address was listed as the home of a cousin Mrs Pedell at 239 East 55th Street, New York. She was eventually was reunited with her sister Mollie and to reassure her family back home that she was safe, Kate and Mollie had a portrait taken and posted to Ireland. 

Kate was eventually joined in America by another two siblings, Margaret (later Mrs Frank Murphy) and William. Her brother William died in 1917. Her sister Mollie (later Mrs Francis Vincent Boshell) died 12 October 1933. Back in Ireland her younger sister Elizabeth died as a young teenager from tuberculosis on 3 September 1913. Her father died on 6 September 1939 and her mother on 12 October 1941. 

Kate soon met her future husband, John Joseph Manning (b. circa 1893), a native of Co Roscommon who worked as a chauffeur. The two were married in 1917 and produced four children: John (b. 1919), Thomas (b. 1923), Catherine (b. 1924) and Joseph Eugene (b. 1927). The family appeared on the 1930 census as residents of 11 Cedar Street, Boston and on the 1940 census as residents of 3243 Steinway Street, Queens, New York. 

Kate was widowed when John Manning died on 19 April 1955 and in the following years became a member of the “Titanic Enthusiasts of America,” later the Titanic Historical Society, and she appeared on two television programs, To Tell The Truth and the Steve Allen Show and also recalled her experiences to Walter Lord when he was writing A Night to Remember, which told parts of her story. Her picture also appeared in a 1953 Life magazine account of the tragedy.

Kate Gilnagh Manning died on 1 March 1971 in Long Island City, New York aged 76 and was buried with her husband in Woodside Cemetery, Queens, New York.

In 2018 a ballet based on the story of her rescue was premiered, choreographed by Gilnagh’s great niece.

 

Kate Murphy

(Played by Abigail Hale)

Miss Kate Murphy was born in Fostragh, Killoe, Co Longford, Ireland on 6 October 1893.

She was the daughter of Michael Murphy (b. 1841), a farmer, and Maria Lyons (b. 1845), who had married in the Ballinalee Roman Catholic Church in Granard, Co Longford on 24 October 1872.

The youngest of twelve children born to her parents, with seven surviving into adulthood, Kate’s known siblings were: John (b. 8 June 1874), Anna Maria (b. 24 May 1875), Patrick (b. 10 October 1880), Bridget (b. 1881), Rose Ellen (b. 1884), Margaret (b. 17 March 1887), Michael (b. 22 July 1889) and Mary (b. October 1892). Her brother Michael died from quinsy aged eleven months on 24 June 1890 whilst sister Mary died from whooping cough aged two months on 12 December 1892. Another unidentified child was also lost in infancy.

Several of Kate’s siblings lived in the USA and sister Maggie had spent brief years there but returned home sometime prior to 1911. Around that year an old neighbour from Fostragh returned to the village to pay a visit from his new home in Jersey City, New Jersey, John Kiernan.  John and Maggie fell in love and hoped one day to marry once Kiernan had fully established a home back in America. When the time came for Kiernan to leave, Margaret had promised her mother to remain in Ireland until such times as her fiancé was settled and financially sound, but the thought of separation was out of the question so she, along with her younger sister Kate, made clandestine plans to slip away at the same time and join other siblings already in the USA: sister Annie lived in Brooklyn and brother Patrick is believed to have lived in Philadelphia. It was to the latter city that Kate and Maggie were headed to and they boarded the Titanic at Queenstown on 11 April 1912 as third-class passengers (joint ticket number 367230 which cost £15, 10s). The pair slipped away without the knowledge of their friends and family, as Maggie later related:

The night before the little group in our village was to leave to go aboard the Titanic, together with several other young women and men, I slipped away from my home, carrying all the clothes I could, and went to the Kiernan home, where a farewell party was being held. At that time I had promised to wait at home, until Mr Kiernan would come to this country and make a place. Then I was going to join him. But the thoughts of being separated from him was too much for me and I decided to run away from home. – Altoona Times, 2 May 1912

Whilst aboard the sisters shared a cabin on E-deck with two other Longford girls, Kate Gilnagh and Kate Mullin, and they were also acquainted with others from Longford, besides John Kiernan and his young brother Philip, including James Farrell and Thomas McCormack, the latter reportedly being a relative, possibly a second cousin. They possibly also associated with the McCoy siblings (Agnes, Alice and Bernard) and Ellen Corr, also from Longford, whilst aboard. 

On the night of the sinking, the sisters later recalled crewmen blocking their way up to the upper decks and they recalled seeing lifeboats leaving the ship only partially full. She also reported scuffles breaking out between some third-class men and crewmen determined to keep the steerage in their place whilst she saw women and children deep in prayer nearby. Lore has it that it was the intervention of Longford man James Farrell, who threatened to punch a crewman if he did not let the women past to the boats, who became the women’s saviour.

Kate, her sister and the two Kates from Longford were rescued (possibly in lifeboat 16) alongside an interloper, Thomas McCormack (he claimed to have been picked up from the water and helped into the boat by the two sisters.). The Kiernan brothers and James Farrell were lost in the sinking.

Upon landing in New York Kate had shaved a few years from her age and was described as a 16-year-old domestic. She and her sister gave their next of kin as their brother John back in Ireland whilst their destination was given as to the home of their sister Bridget Toomey in Manhattan. They were greeted by family and friends at the Cunard pier.

Kate never cared to discuss the Titanic disaster in later years and she was fated to outlive her sister Margaret with whom she escaped the sinking, the latter passing away in 1957.

 

Kate Mullin 

(Played by Ashley Strella)

Miss Catherine “Kate” Mullin was born in Rhyne, Cloonee in Co Longford, Ireland on 28 July 1890.

She was the daughter of Thomas Mullin (1846-1919), a farmer, and Mary Duignan (1847-1916) who were married in Ainbegs Roman Catholic church in Drumlish in their native Co Longford on 14 February 1871. 

The youngest of nine children, Kate’s siblings were: Michael (b. 28 April 1872), Patrick (b. 28 February 1874), Mary Anne (b. 22 December 1876), Rose (b. 1 April 1879), John (b. 9 August 1881), Eliza (b. 6 October 1883, later O’Flynn), Bridget (b. 7 July 1885, later Thompson) and Thomas (b. 26 July 1887) and she grew up in a Roman Catholic household.

Kate and her family appear on the 1901 census of Ireland living at house 7 in Rhyne, Cloonee and by the time of the 1911 census at house 23.

Kate boarded the Titanic at Queenstown as a third class passenger (ticket number 35852 which cost £7, 14s, 8d). She was destined for New York City where she had a sister; whilst aboard she shared cabin Q161 on E-deck with three other Longford girls, Kate Gilnagh and sisters Margaret and Catherine Murphy

On the night of the sinking Kate and her roommates had been in their cabin when another acquaintance, Longford James Farrell who came from the same parish as Kate, knocked on their door and told them to get dressed as something was amiss, the engines having stopped. The four girls did as they were bid and upon trying to find a way to the higher decks found their way impeded by physical barriers or crewmen redirecting them elsewhere. When one crewman tried to block their way James Farrell intervened, shouting the at the crewman to let the women through. Intimidated by this strapping Irishman, the crewman relented and the party passed through.

Kate was rescued, probably with Kate Gilnagh and the Murphy sisters (the exact boat number is uncertain). The last she saw of James Farrell was him kneeling by his suitcase reciting the rosary. She later wrote to her father describing her experiences and related how her boat was packed with over 50 persons and how the screams of those left behind had haunted her.

Landing in New York following their rescue by Carpathia, Kate was described as a 20-year-old unmarried domestic and was headed to the home of her sister Mrs Murray at 231 East 50th Street, New York. Assisted financially for the loss of her belongings, Kate later garnered employment as a domestic in her new home.

Kate was married in Manhattan on 2 January 1916 to labourer Martin Kearns (b. 5 April 1889), son of John Kearns and Margaret Larkin who had migrated from his native Co Galway in 1910. They had four children: Margaret “Peggy” (b. 1918), Mary (b. 1919, later Dormer), Eileen (b. 1922, later Wall) and John Thomas (b. 1925). 

The family spent two decades living in the Bronx, New York, their 1920 address being Miller Avenue and their 1930 address as St Anne Avenue. By the time of the 1940 census they had relocated to Queens, New York and were living at 65th Street in that borough–where they would live for many years–where Martin Kearns was by then working at the docks. 

Kate never cared to remember the Titanic disaster and it is not clear if she ever returned to her native Ireland. Both her parents remained in Ireland and died within a few years of her leaving, her mother passing away on 13 August 1916 from bronchitis and her father on 3 September 1919 from influenza. 

The loss of Kate’s son John in 1944 in the sinking of his troopship at age 19 took an especial toll on Kate in later years and for the most part she remained silent on the topic of Titanic but did, on a few rare occasions speak about it to family or the local media. Interviewed for the fiftieth anniversary of the sinking she simply thanked God for her survival but stressed she did not want to be reminded about that awful event. 

Kate Mullin Kearns died in Queens on 1 November 1970 aged 80; following a mass at St Sebastian’s Roman Catholic church she was buried in St Raymond’s Cemetery in the Bronx. Her death notice made no mention of her ties to Titanic. Her widower Martin Kearns died in Queens on 27 September 1976 and they are buried together.

 

Charles Valentine Clarke

(Played by Lyle Valentine)

Mr. Charles Valentine Clarke was born in Cosham, Hampshire, England on 14 February 1883 and was aptly named for that day.

He was the son of Harry Clark (b. 1857) and Jane Emma Hall (b. 1859). His father, a brewer and dairyman, was also born in Cosham whilst his mother was from Emsworth, Hampshire; they had married in 1880 and went on to have four children: Harry Leonard (b. 1882), Charles (b. 1883) and Edith Kate (b. 1885). Another child, George, was lost in infancy.

The family appeared on the 1891 census living in High Street, Cosham at the King and Queen Inn which his father ran. Still present at this address on the 1901 census, Charles was listed elsewhere as a boarder at 2 Hill Side, New Haven, Sussex, the home of a Mr and Mrs John Gay who were seamen missionaries with Charles apparently their clerk. Charles later followed in his father’s footsteps and became a dairy vendor.

He was married on 29 June 1908 to Ada Maria Winfield (b. 14 December 1883), a resident of Netley, Hampshire. The couple would have no children and appeared on the 1911 census living at Sea View on Solent Road, Drayton, Hampshire.

Charles and his wife boarded the Titanic at Southampton on 10 April 1912 as second class passengers (ticket number 2003 which cost £26) and their last address was Colaba, Grange Lane, Netley, the home of his wife’s parents. They were destined for San Francisco, California.

April 10, 1912; On board R. M. S. Titanic. 

Dear father and mother, 

Just a line to let you know we are both well and are doing justice to what we have paid for. I hope everything in the business is going on all right. What sort of time did you have at Easter – plenty to do, as you had the races extra?

We are well on the way to Queenstown, which we expect to reach about noon tomorrow. We spent quite a long time at Cherbourg. A tender brought all the passengers to our ship. We nearly had a collision on leaving Southampton, which I will tell you about in my next letter if we reach New York.1 We had a roll before we got into Cherbourg. We are just going to bed now, as the time is getting on. 

Kind regards from us both, I remain your loving son, Charl.

Charles died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.

 

Harold Sydney Bride

(Played by Clayton Reitz)

Harold Sydney Bride was born on 11th January, 1890 in Nunhead, South London, the youngest of three sons on Arthur John Larner Bride and Mary Ann Lowe.

After leaving school Bride trained as a Marconi operator, he completed his training in July 1911 and went to sea soon afterward. His first ship was the Haverford, he later served on the Lusitania, La France and finally the Anselm, before joining the Titanic.

Bride and his colleague John ‘Jack’ George Phillips boarded the Titanic at Belfast.

When he signed onto the Titanic at Southampton on 9th April,1912, Bride gave his address as Bannisters Hotel (Southampton). As an employee of the Marconi company, he received monthly wages of £2 2s 6d.

Sharing the wireless equipment with John Phillips the two agreed that Phillips would take the 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift and Bride the 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. shift.

On the night of the sinking Bride relayed messages to and from Captain Smith on the bridge regarding the progress of the Carpathia and other ships in the vicinity, whilst Phillips worked the key:

“I was conscious of waking up and hearing Phillips sending to Cape Race. I read what he was sending. It was a traffic matter. I remembered how tired he was and got out of bed to relieve him. I didn’t even feel the shock. I hardly knew it had happened until after the captain had come to us. There was no jolt whatsoever.

I was standing by Phillips telling him to go to bed when the captain put his head into the cabin.

‘We’ve struck an iceberg,’ the captain said, ‘and I’m having an inspection made to tell what it has done for us. You better get ready to send out a call for assistance. But don’t send it until I tell you.’

The captain went away and in ten minutes, I should estimate the time, he came back. We could hear a terrible confusion outside, but there was not the least thing to indicate that there was any trouble. The wireless was working perfectly.

‘Send the call for assistance,’ said the captain, barely putting his head in the door. ‘What call should I send?’ Phillips asked. ‘The regulation international call for help. Just that.’

Then the captain was gone. Phillips began to send CQD He flashed away at it and we were joking while he did so. All of us made light of the disaster. We joked that way while he flashed signals for about five minutes. Then the captain came back.

‘What are you sending?’ he asked.

‘CQD’ Phillips replied.

The humour of the situation appealed to me. I cut in with a little remark that made us all laugh, including the captain.

‘Send SOS,’ I said. ‘It’s the new call, and it may be your last chance to send it.’

Phillips with a laugh changed the signal to SOS.”

Both operators stayed at their post after their release, but were forced out onto the deck by the water surging into the wireless room:

“I noticed as I came back from one trip that they were putting off women and children in lifeboats. I noticed that the list forward was increasing. Phillips told me the wireless was growing weaker. The captain came and told us our engine rooms were taking water and that the dynamos might not last much longer. We sent that word to the Carpathia.

I went on deck and looked around. The water was pretty close up to the boat deck. There was a great scramble aft, and how poor Phillips continued to work through it I don’t know. He was a brave man. I learned to love him that night and I suddenly felt a great reverence to see him standing there sticking to his work while everybody else was raging about. I will never live to forget the work of Phillips during the last awful fifteen minutes.

I looked out. The boat deck was awash. Phillips clung on sending and sending. He clung on for about ten minutes, or maybe fifteen minutes after the captain had released him. The water was then coming into our cabin.

While he worked something happened I hate to tell about. I was back at my room getting Phillips’s money for him, and as I looked out the door I saw a stoker, or somebody from below decks, leaning over Phillips from behind. Phillips was too busy to notice what the man was doing. The man was slipping the life belt off Phillips’s back.”

Bride and Phillips managed to deter the stoker and left the wireless room and headed out to the boat deck:

“From aft came the tunes of the band. It was a ragtime tune, I don’t know what… Phillips ran aft and that was the last I ever saw of him alive.

“I went to the place I had seen the collapsible boat on the boat deck, and to my surprise I saw the boat and the men still trying to push it off. I guess there wasn’t a sailor in the crowd. They couldn’t do it. I went up to them and was just lending a hand when a large wave came awash of the deck.

“The big wave carried the boat off. I had hold of an oarlock and I went off with it. The next I knew I was in the boat.

“But that was not all. I was in the boat and the boat was upside down and I was under it. And I remember I realised I was wet through, and that whatever happened I must not breathe, for I was underwater.

I knew I had to fight for it and I did. How I got out from under the boat I do not know, but I felt a breath of air at last…

I felt I simply had to get away from the ship. She was a beautiful sight then. Smoke and sparks were rushing out of her funnel. There must have been an explosion, but we heard none. We only saw the big stream of sparks. The ship was gradually turning on her nose, just like a duck does that goes down for a dive.

Bride recalled that he could hear the band playing right up to the end, but not ‘Nearer My God To Thee!”: he recalled them playing ‘Autumn’. He also recollected that there was little suction when the ship went down. He was finally able to climb aboard the upturned hull of Collapsible B.

“There was just room for me to roll on the edge. I lay there not caring what happened. Somebody sat on my legs. They were wedged in between slats and were being wrenched. I had not the heart to ask the man to move. It was a terrible sight all around – men swimming and sinking. I lay where I was, letting the man wrench my feet out of shape. Others came near. Nobody gave them a hand. The bottom-up boat already had more men than it would hold and it was sinking.”

Harold Bride had survived but suffered from badly frozen and crushed feet, due to the effects of the cold and the position in which he was sitting on the collapsible’s hull. He described the rescue by the Carpathia:

“One man was dead. I passed him and went up the ladder, although my feet pained terribly. The dead man was Phillips. He had died on the raft from exposure and cold, I guess. He had been all in from work before the wreck came. He stood his ground until the crisis had passed, and then he collapsed, I guess. But I hardly thought that then. I didn’t think much of anything. I tried the rope ladder. My feet pained terribly, but I got to the top and felt hands reaching out to me. The next I knew a woman was leaning over me in a cabin and I felt her hand waving back my hair and rubbing my face.”

On the voyage to New York aboard Carpathia Bride and an exhausted Harold Cottam worked together to send countless personal messages and names of the saved to land. Incidentally, Bride and Cottam had met before the disaster and were good friends. After the tragedy they stayed in contact for many years.

After a spell in hospital, Harold Bride returned to England and finally returned to work as a wireless operator. During the First World War, he served on the steamer Mona’s Isle as a telegraphist.

Harold was married [c. 1919] to Lucy Johnstone Downie, and the couple had three children. Harold disliked discussing the Titanic, being deeply disturbed by the whole experience, particularly by the loss of his colleague and friend Jack Phillips, whose bravery and steadfastness never left him; he also disliked the celebrity that went along with being a Titanic survivor. He eventually moved with his family to Scotland where he worked as a travelling salesman for a pharmaceutical company.

He died at Stobhill Hospital, Springburn on 29th April 1956, aged 66 leaving his widow Lucy. He was cremated at Glasgow Crematorium, and his ashes were scatted at the fountain in the garden of remembrance next to the chapel; there is also a plaque to him at the wall of remembrance put there 2019.

 

Henry Samuel Etches

(Played by Greg Dalton White)

Mr Henry Samuel Etches was born on 12 October 1868 in Freemantle, Southampton, Hampshire, England. 

He was the son of John George Etches (1829-1887) and Caroline Elizabeth Newman (1833-1902). His father was Scottish by birth and his mother was from Southampton and they had married in the latter city on 12 May 1853. 

One of a dozen children, Henry’s siblings were: Elizabeth Maria (b. 1854), Sarah Isabella (b. 1855), Caroline (b. 1857), John George (b. 1859), Catherine (b. 1861), Mary Ann (b. 1863), Alice (b. 1865), Thomas Charles (b. 1867), Helen (b. 1870), Francis Edward (b. 1872) and Walter William (b. 1874).

When he signed on to the Titanic he gave his address as 23A, Gordon Avenue, Southampton. His previous ship was the Oruba and as a bedroom steward, he could expect to earn wages of £3, 15s per month. He was in charge of eight aft portside first-class cabins on B-deck and one (A-36) on A-deck, that of Thomas Andrews.

During the voyage, Etches reported at the cabin of Thomas Andrews every morning at 7.00 am, describing how Mr Andrews seemed to be busy all the time working on his new ship. Etches stated that Andrews had charts rolled up by the side of his bed and papers of all descriptions on his desks and was constantly taking notes on any improvements that could be made. He would see him at other points during the days aboard, mainly on E-deck and always with an entourage, taking notes for improvements.

On Sunday 14th April Etches had been on watch until 9.00 pm when he turned in, being required back on duty by midnight. He was asleep in his own E-deck quarters amidships when the collision occurred. Something stirred him awake but he could not say what it was and called out to his mate “What time is it that they are going to call us next?” His mate replied “I don’t know” and Etches turned to go back to sleep again but had only just done so when he heard an “extra loud” shout, “Close watertight bulkheads,” recognising the voice as belonging to boatswain Nichols. Etches got up and looked out of his quarters and saw Nichols and a seaman running up Scotland Road towards the stern.

Etches then began to dress but before finishing doing so again looked out onto Scotland Road; within this short space of time third-class passengers had started filing aft from the quarters in the bow, many carrying all their belongings. He started out into the corridor for another look and had only walked a few metres when he met a passenger carrying a chunk of ice who asked “Will you believe it now?” before throwing the article to the deck. 

Possibly unnerved, Etches returned to his quarters to complete dressing after which he went out into the corridor to make his way up top, brushing past bedroom steward Edmund Stone who was just coming off his watch. Etches asked Stone the time but Stone dismissed the question and said “Never mind about that; there is something else for you to do. I saw them pull up bags of mail, and the water running out of the bottom of them.” 

Etches then ascended to A-deck and saw the bedroom steward he was supposed to relieve assisting passengers there, most of the cabin doors having been flung open with half-dressed passengers standing around. He asked the steward “Have you called all of your people?” and the steward replied that he had, retorting “Yes, but I can’t get them to dress.” Etches then went to B-deck to summon his own charges, including Benjamin Guggenheim and his manservant Victor Giglio. Etches stated that Guggenheim answered his door immediately; the steward entered and took down the lifebelts from the top of the wardrobe. The millionaire quipped “This will hurt.” to which Etches replied “You have plenty of time, put on some clothes and I will be back in a few minutes.” 

Etches arrived at the starboard boat deck just as lifeboat 7 was being loaded; he asked the quartermaster if it was lifeboat 5 (his assigned boat) but was told that it was not. He then went to lifeboat 5 which was still being prepared so he assisted in launching lifeboat 7, describing how himself, officers Murdoch and Pitman, Bruce Ismay, a quartermaster and two other stewards were present at as the boat was being filled. He described one baby boy (Trevor Allison?) with a small woollen cap over his head entering the lifeboat.  

After boat 7 was lowered without difficulty Etches moved forward and began assisting at lifeboat 5, standing at the forward fall with a quartermaster Alfred Olliver and three other stewards. The boat was only partially filled when no more women were in sight; both officer Murdoch and Bruce Ismay called out for more women several times but initially, none came forward until one solitary woman appeared, Ismay asking her to get into the boat. The woman (who Etches later identified as Mabel Bennett) said “I am only a stewardess” to which Ismay replied “Never mind, you are a woman, take your place” and she got in, the last woman Etches saw entering the boat. He described there being two firemen already in the bow of the lifeboat with officer Pitman standing on the boat deck waiting, whilst Etches waited with another steward and quartermaster Olliver on deck. Pitman asked him if this was his assigned lifeboat and he replied that it was; he was ordered in, to be followed by Alfred Olliver. First Officer Murdoch then ordered Pitman into the boat, the two shaking hands and exchanging a “goodbye and good luck” shortly before the order was given to lower the boat. Only moments prior to that he observed a woman who had been placed in the boat stand up and place her arms around her husband’s neck, reportedly a stout American man, whom she told “I can’t leave you.” Etches turned his head away from this emotional farewell but when he glanced back he noticed the man had climbed into the bottom of the boat, with a disembodied a voice calling out to have him expelled. It was too late however as the lifeboat had already begun lowering. As several first-class men escaped in this boat, it is unclear as to who this supposed interloper was.

After boat 5 was launched, with what Etches related as holding 42 persons, he stated that officer Pitman gave the order to head away from the ship and they pulled away about a quarter of a mile before the men laid on their oars. From this vantage point Etches watched the final throes, as described at the US inquiry:

She seemed to raise once as though she was going to take a violent dive, but sort of checked, as though she had scooped the water up and had levelled herself. She then seemed to settle very, very quiet, until the last, when she rose up, and she seemed to stand 20 seconds, stern in that position (indicating), and then she went down with an awful grating, like a small boat running off a shingly beach.

After the ship had foundered, with Etches stating that there was little disturbance of the water, lifeboat 5 held back a few minutes before officer Pitman gave the order to return to the scene of the wreck. This was met with widespread opposition from ladies in the boat, with two ladies sat near Etches in the bow asking him to “appeal to the officer not to go back. Why should we lose all of our lives in a useless attempt to save them from the ship.” Etches assured the women he had no such sway over the officer. The protestations worked however and lifeboat 5 did not return to the wreck to pick up survivors.

After he arrived in New York Etches was called before the U.S. Senate Inquiry into the sinking. 

In years after the disaster Etches continued to work at sea and would spend the entirety of the 1920s serving aboard Olympic as a bathroom steward; crew manifests describe him as standing at 5′ 7½” and weighing 162 lbs. By the advent of the 1930s, he had transferred to the Calgaric as bathroom steward, serving on the Havana-New York-London run. 

By 1939 Henry and Lillian were living on Grosvenor Road, Southampton but within the next few years moved to his wife’s birthplace of Pershore, Worcestershire; his last recorded address was at Eaton Villa, Fladbury in Pershore.

Henry Etches died in Pershore on 30 September 1944 as a result of chronic myocarditis; he was 75 and left his estate valued at £824 to his widow Lilian.

Lilian Etches rallied for a further decade before her death in Pershore on 19 February 1954. 

 

Frederick Barrett

(Played by J Clayton Winters)

Mr Frederick William Barrett was born in Bootle, Lancashire, England on 10 January 1883 and was later baptised on 4 October that same year in St John’s, Bootle. His address at the time was 14 Howe Street.

He was the only surviving child of Henry Charles Barrett (b. 1862), a labourer from Devon, and Mary Morgan (b. 1864) of Birkenhead. 

When Barrett first went to sea is not certain; he first appears on crew manifests in 1903 when he was a fireman aboard Campania, his address at the time being 69 Lyon Street. During 1904 he served aboard the Parisian and Cedric and again aboard Campania in 1906.

At time of the collision Barrett was on duty in boiler room 6 in stokehold 10 and stated that there were eight firemen and four trimmers on duty there. He was standing in conversation with engineer James Hesketh when a bell sounded and a red light flashed on; making a split-second decision to shut the dampers there was a crash at the same time and water began coming through the side of the ship about two feet above the floor plates. Barrett and Hesketh retreated into boiler room 5 just as the watertight door dropped and here they noticed that the damage extended into that section. Out of the eight firemen and trimmers working there at the time Barrett recalled seeing only one of them after, George Beauchamp.

Returning to number 6 boiler room with engineer Jonathan Shepherd about 10 to 15 minutes after the collision, Barrett claimed that the water was already eight feet deep; upon his return to boiler room 5 Herbert Harvey ordered all firemen up top but ordered Barrett to remain at his post with engineers Shepherd and Wilson. Whilst waiting there the lights went out and he was ordered to go and fetch lamps. Upon doing so the men were able to see that there was no water in the boilers; Barrett scaled the emergency ladder and spotted two firemen on Scotland Road; he ordered them to round up other firemen to come down and draw the fires. Around fifteen firemen in total returned and spent twenty minutes keeping the furnaces drawn after which Barrett sent them back up top.

Harvey ordered Barrett to open a manhole cover which gave them access to some valves; after doing this Jonathan Shepherd came hurrying past but, with the air thick with steam, did not see the open hole and fell into it, breaking his leg. Barrett and Harvey lifted him and carried him to the pump room where they tended to him. About fifteen minutes later there was a violent rush of water as the bulkhead separating boiler rooms 5 and 6 gave way. Harvey order Barrett up top as the section was inundated and he never saw he or Shepherd again. 

Barrett made his way up to A-deck promenade and moved aft; he arrived where boat 13 had been lowered flush with that deck and claimed to see only a few stewards and a few third class men and women, with some more steerage women filtering forward from aft. Boat 13 was already nearly full when he climbed in, with a handful of people following him in after. From above he heard the order “Let no more in that boat, the falls will break” and the boat was lowered to B-deck momentarily before beginning its full descent. Lifeboat 15 began lowering just moments later. 

When lifeboat 13 hit the water the discharge coming from the side of the ship caused her to drift aft, directly under lifeboat 15. Calls from those in the boat to stop lowering fell on deaf ears and Barrett had to scramble over women to cut the falls and push the boat free; his quick thinking undoubtedly saved the lives of those in the boat, which he estimated to be about 70 persons in total. The boat was so crowded that Barrett estimated the gunwale was less than six inches above the water.

Barrett took the tiller once boat 13 had gotten clear; after the Titanic had sunk he relinquished the tiller to another crewman as he was too cold to continue, wearing only his light clothing designed for work in the hot boiler rooms. A kindly lady put a cloak around him and he fell asleep. 

Barrett was called to testify at both the American and British Inquiries into the sinking; his later testimony hinted that the bulkhead that gave way may have been weakened by a fire that smouldered in the bunkers throughout the voyage.

A few weeks later, on 25 May, Frederick Barrett was working on the Olympic. When Senator Smith was given a tour of the Titanic’s sister by Captain Haddock as part of his investigation, Haddock mentioned that one of his stokers had been aboard Titanic, and Smith then went down to the engine room to talk with Barrett and get a better impression of how conditions had been aboard Titanic in the boiler rooms at the time of the collision. He was still working at sea at the advent of the 1920s but for how long is not for certain.

Barrett was described as a fireman when, on 16 February 1915, he was wedded in St Nicholas’ Church, Liverpool to Mary Ann Jones (b. 1882), daughter of carter Thomas Jones; both their addresses was given as Robert Street.

It is uncertain as to how many children Frederick and Mary had and it may have been the case that several children did not survive early infancy. One of their younger children was Harold (b. 1921). 

Frederick lost his wife Mary Ann in 1923 aged just 39; he did not remarry and remained in Liverpool and later worked on shore as a timber labourer, later living at 22 Brasenose Road. Being afflicted with pulmonary tuberculosis in his last years he died on 3 March 1931 aged 48. His death left his son Harold an orphan and the only surviving member of the family.

Young Harold was raised by an uncle in Bootle; he married Josephine Teresa Berry (1923-2004) in 1951 and had twins, Frederick and Susan (b. 1955). He died in Liverpool in 1974. 

 

Frederick Fleet

(Played by Denver Fankhouser)

Mr Frederick Fleet (Lookout) was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England on 15 October 1887 and was the illegitimate child of Alice Fleet (b. 29 June 1870).

Alice Fleet was born in Liverpool, the daughter of dock labourer Richard Fleet and his wife Ann, née Walkington and came from a large family. By the time of the 1881 census she was a resident of 99 Hodder Street in Everton.

The exact timeline of events are not clear but Frederick was abandoned by his mother and whilst it is uncertain whether he ever had contact with both his maternal grandparents they both died in the 1890s.

Frederick was raised by a succession of foster families and distant relatives via orphanages and Dr Banardo Homes. He first appears on the 1891 census living at 272 Parliament Street in Toxteth Park, Liverpool, the home of a Mrs Annie Shaw, a hospital matron. At the age of 12 he was sent to a training ship and appeared on the 1901 census with scores of similarly aged boys under the care of Captain Frederick Charles Gilbert Longdon, a seafarer at Llandegfan in Anglesey, Wales where Fleet was described as “learning a sea life.” In 1903 he went to sea as a deck boy, working his way up to Able Seaman. By 1908 he was working aboard Oceanic, a ship he served aboard for four years, but had never served as a lookout prior to Titanic.

At the time of the collision Fleet was on duty in the crow’s nest with Reginald Lee, having began his watch at 10pm. They had relieved lookouts Archie Jewell and George Symons who advised them to keep a “sharp lookout for small ice.”

Just after seven bells, Fleet saw a black mass ahead, immediately struck three bells and telephoned the bridge. He reported “Iceberg right ahead,” receiving the reply “Thank you.” While still on the telephone, the ship started swinging to port. The lookouts saw the starboard side of the ship scrape alongside the iceberg and saw ice falling on the decks. They had thought that it had been either a close shave or a near miss. The lookouts remained in the crow’s nest until relieved about 20 minutes later.

Fleet then made his way to the Boat Deck where Second Officer Charles Lightoller put him to help Quarter-Master Robert Hichen load and launch lifeboat 6, the first boat to be launched from the port side. After loading some 28 women and children, the boat was lowered to the water. As it was being lowered, Lightoller realised that it was undermanned and called for a experienced seaman. Major Arthur Peuchen volunteered as he had experience as a yachtsman. Lightoller told him “If you are sailor enough to get out there – then go down”; and he proved he was by going down the fall to the boat. In the morning, Lifeboat 6 was picked up by the Carpathia.

Fleet was detained for questioning at both the American and British Inquiries into the sinking. From June 1912 he served briefly as Seaman on the White Star liner Olympic but found that White Star looked at the surviving officers and crew as embarrassing reminders of the recent disaster and he left the company in August 1912. For the next 24 years Fleet sailed with Union-Castle and various other companies, finishing with the sea in 1936. Ashore, he worked for Harland and Wolff as a shipbuilder, and later was the shore Master-at-Arms for Union-Castle Mail Steamship Co.

He was married in 1917 to Eva Ernestine Le Gros (b. 1891), born in St Helier, Jersey and a former resident of St Peter’s Port, Guernsey, both in the Channel Islands. The couple had a daughter named Dorothy Frederica Ernestine on 24 November 1918.

In the last years of his life Fleet worked as a part-time street vendor for the Echo newspaper with a pitch on Pound Tree Road, Southampton and he and his wife lived with his brother-in-law Philip Joseph Le Gros (1894-1972). He maintained contact with the Titanic Historical Society and wrote to them often.

On 28 December 1964 Fleet lost his wife. Her brother, with whom the couple lived, then evicted Frederick and in a state of despondency he committed suicide two weeks later, his body being discovered on 10 January 1965. He was buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave at Hollybrook Cemetery, Southampton. In 1993 a headstone was erected through donations by The Titanic Historical Society.

His daughter Dorothy was married in 1939 to Michael Patrick Shanley (1909-1972) and had two known children. She died in Southampton in early 1979.

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