Wikimedia CommonsThe last lifeboat to leave the doomed ship carries Titanic survivors to safety.
Of the estimated 2,224 passengers and crew aboard the Titanic when it struck an iceberg and sank on April 15, 1912, some 1,500 died in the cold waters of the North Atlantic. A mere 700 people lived on. These are some of the most powerful stories of the Titanic survivors.
Titanic Survivors: The “Navratil Orphans”
Wikimedia CommonsThe Navratil boys, Michel and Edmond. April 1912.
A dramatic divorce and scandal brought the young Michel and Edmond Navratil to the bow of the Titanic in 1912.
They were accompanied on the voyage by their father, Michel Navratil Sr., who was still smarting from his recent separation from their mother, Marcelle Caretto.
Marcelle had won custody of the children, but she had allowed them to visit Michel over the Easter holiday. Michel, believing that his wife’s infidelity made her an unsuitable guardian, decided to use that weekend to relocate with his children to the United States.
He bought second-class tickets on the Titanic and boarded the doomed ship, introducing himself to fellow passengers as the widower Louis M. Hoffman, a man traveling with his sons, Lolo and Momon.
On the night the Titanic struck the iceberg, Navratil was able to get the boys aboard a lifeboat — the very last lifeboat to leave the ship.
Michel Jr., though only three at the time, remembered that just before placing him in the boat, his father gave him a final message:
“My child, when your mother comes for you, as she surely will, tell her that I loved her dearly and still do. Tell her I expected her to follow us, so that we might all live happily together in the peace and freedom of the New World.”
Wikimedia CommonsThe Navratil brothers, still unidentified, in New York after the sinking of the Titanic. April 1912.
Those were Michel Navratil’s last words. Though he died in the disaster, his sons survived. They spoke no English and might have been in serious trouble in New York, but a friendly French-speaking woman who also survived the wreck cared for them.
The publicity surrounding the Titanic’s sinking was what saved them: their photographs appeared in newspapers around the world. Their mother, home in France with no idea where her sons had disappeared to, spotted their photo in the morning paper.
On May 16, more than a month after the ship sank, she reunited with her boys in New York, and all three returned to France.
Michel Jr. would later recall the splendor of the Titanic and the childish sense of adventure he felt while getting into the lifeboat. Only when he grew older did he realize what had been at stake that night and how many had been left behind.
Curse of the Titanic: What happened to those who survived?
At 12:25am on 15 April 1912 the Cunard liner Carpathia received a message to say that a ship, the Titanic, had struck an iceberg and required immediate assistance.
Within a few minutes, the captain of the Carpathia, Arthur Rostron, had altered his course and began steaming towards the site of the stricken liner 58 miles away.
By 4am, the Carpathia approached the spot of the collision and, in order to attract the attention of the survivors, the crew launched a spectacular array of rockets and Roman candles.
Over the course of the following four hours, lifeboat after lifeboat arrived at the Carpathia's side. The Titanic survivors were still enveloped by shock; Captain Rostron noted an atmosphere of stillness that accompanied them, many seemed to have been reduced to spectres by the experience.
“Through it all that quietness reigned,” said Rostron, “as though the disaster were so great that it silenced human emotion.
” The Captain insisted his ship steam around the site of the disaster in the hope of finding more survivors, but there was nothing to be seen on the surface of the water except for what witnesses described as a slight brownish discoloration, fragments of wood, a scattering of straw, the cork from macerated lifebelts and the occasional deck chair.
Survivors of the Titanic strained their eyes for the sight of other lifeboats in the hope that their loved ones might yet be saved. But none arrived.
“All were looking for k a husband, son, brother or sweetheart, who never came,” recalled Albert Caldwell, who had been travelling on the Titanic in second-class.
Grief settled over the Carpathia as the realisation of the scale of the loss sank in – while 705 people had escaped, around 1,500 had died after the Titanic had hit an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.
The survivors had escaped with only the clothes they were wearing that night, and they wandered around the rescue ship in various states of dress. As one first-class passenger observed a few days later, “For four days the company lived together… in this strange assortment of undress costume, some in ball gowns, many in nightdresses and only a few fully clothed.”
Sharing the full story, not just the headlines
With each mile the Carpathia sailed away from the scene, so the grief of its bereaved passengers intensified. Karl Behr, who had survived along with his sweetheart Helen Newsom, said, “Although the sinking of the Titanic was dreadful, to my mind the four days among the sufferers on the Carpathia was much worse and more difficult to forget.”
On Thursday 18 April, the “ship of widows” sailed into New York Harbor. The city was enveloped in fog, but as the liner drew closer, passengers could dimly make out the brilliantly lit skyscrapers of Manhattan. In the distance they could hear the mournful tolling of bells.
Survivor Edith Rosenbaum, who later changed her name to Russell, recalled that as she stepped off the ship and on to the pier she saw “thousands of people there” but heard not a sound, only “an intense silence, a silence of death… The quiet of the scene was broken by cries and sobs… All the time the bells kept tolling, and outside there was a cold drizzle of rain…
The cannonade of flashes from photographers' lamps as we went into the street seemed a cruelly inappropriate thing.”
It is at this point – when the Carpathia arrives in New York – that most accounts of the Titanic story end. Yet in many ways the Titanic is an ongoing narrative and today, as the 100th anniversary approaches, we remain as fascinated by the sinking and its aftermath as ever.
Witnesses said that after the ship went down, the sea was as calm as a millpond. But for survivors such as Madeleine Astor, Jack Thayer and Dorothy Gibson, and many others, the echoes of that night continued to reverberate throughout their lives, the memories refusing to die away.
I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic
IT BEGAN while I was visiting my elderly parents and uncle in , Florida. This was shortly before my uncle died a few months ago. As usual, we went to the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses on Sunday morning to attend a public talk.
We heard a fine discourse, “Will You Be a Survivor of the 'Last Days'?” On the way home, my uncle said: “That talk reminded me of when I survived a terrible disaster.
” He paused a moment, then added: “You know, I survived the sinking of the Titanic.”
Later I asked my uncle, Louis Garrett, to tell me about his experience on the Titanic.
“Let me go back to the beginning,” he said. “I was born in 1900, in Hakoor, Lebanon, a small mountain village about 80 to 90 miles (130 to 140 km) north of Beirut. My family owned and operated a water-powered stone mill that ground wheat into flour. My father was the village miller.
It was decided that the family would migrate to the United States. In 1904 my mother and my two sisters left Lebanon. Later, in 1906, my older brother left for the United States.
It was in 1912, to complete the family migration, that my father, my sister and I were to leave for the United States.
“In March 1912, we sailed to Marseilles, France. While there, we booked passage on the Titanic to sail on its maiden voyage to New York. The date of its sailing was April 10, 1912. My father had to be left behind in Marseilles because he could not pass the required physical examination due to an eye infection.
” My uncle smiled and exclaimed: “A very fortunate turn of events for him!” “My sister was 14 years old,” he continued, “and I was 12 when we boarded the Titanic. We were saddened to leave my father behind, but were excited about being on board the R.M.S.
Titanic, the largest, fastest and most luxurious ship of its time-and also said to be unsinkable! There were over 2,200 people on board, including some of the wealthiest and most influential people of that time. Many were on the Titanic to celebrate its maiden voyage. It was the “in” thing to do for the socially prominent.
The ship's speed was as expected. The anticipated arrival in New York was to be Wednesday, April 17. The water was calm, the weather typically chilly for April.
“On Sunday, April 14, our fifth day at sea, the weather turned exceptionally cold-so bitterly cold that not many people were out on the promenade deck. We heard that there were warnings of icebergs in the area.
None were expected to be sighted on the ship's course, so the Titanic maintained full speed ahead. However, the captain of the Californian, another ship in the North Atlantic, radioed a warning to the Titanic about icebergs being sighted in our path.
This was ignored. The price paid for overconfidence on the part of Captain Smith, nearly 700 fellow crewmen and over 800 passengers, was indeed very high. “At approximately 11:45 p.m. Sunday, April 14, my sister and I were awakened with a jolt.
She was in the upper berth of the cabin and screamed, 'Something's wrong!'
‘There was no great shock or anything’: How a baker survived the Titanic disaster by getting really drunk
They were supposed to be figuring out how the world’s largest ocean liner had sunk.
But instead, one of the members of the British Titanic inquiry was grilling a survivor on how tipsy he’d been at the time of the disaster.
“This is very important,” said the questioner, shushing the wigged Wreck Commissioner when asked the purpose of this booze-related interrogation. “I think his getting a drink had a lot to do with saving his life.”
Before the inquiry sat Charles Joughin, the chief baker of the RMS Titanic and one of the most remarkable survival stories of that fateful night.
The baker had nonchalantly stepped off the stern of the sinking liner. Then, as 1,500 screaming, panicked souls drowned and froze to death around him, Joughin calmly paddled around until dawn. After being fished out by a lifeboat, he was back at work within days.
It was an almost physiologically impossible feat of survival. And according to the British Titanic inquiry, it was because the 33-year-old Englishman had the presence of mind to greet history’s greatest maritime disaster by getting smashed.
- To be sure, a good rule of thumb is that a drunk man will usually freeze to death faster than a sober man.
- The warming sensation of a glass of brandy (and the telltale red cheeks that sometimes results) is caused by vasodilation, the phenomenon of warm blood rushing to the surface of the skin.
- In a survival situation, having all that warm blood away from the vital organs means that the drinker is at greater risk of hypothermia.
- However, Canadian hypothermia expert Gordon Giesbrecht figures that in the -2 C temperature of the North Atlantic, the water was cold enough to quickly tighten Joughin’s blood vessels and cancel out any effect of the alcohol.
- “At low to moderate doses of alcohol, cold will win out,” said Giesbrecht, a University of Manitoba professor who has performed hundreds of cold-water immersion studies.
- What Joughin would have had, however, is the awesome, life-saving power of liquid courage.
Alcohol remains a leading cause of humans getting into fatal situations, including freezing to death. Nevertheless, the relaxing qualities of the drug have long been known to give humans an uncanny ability to survive trauma.
I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic Teaching Guide
People said it was unsinkable. But when the Titanic slams into an iceberg in the middle of the night, 2,229 passengers face a terrifying life-or-death situation. Among them are 10-year-old George Calder, his younger sister Phoebe, and his young but wealthy Aunt Daisy.
The year is 1912. George and Phoebe are sailing back to America with their aunt on the largest and most beautiful ship in the world. During the voyage, George explores the ship, learning about its maze of rooms and secret passageways.
Although he gets in trouble with his Aunt Daisy for his exploits, that doesn’t keep him from trying to find a mummy in the storage room.
While there, George meets a dangerous stranger and hears the sound of the iceberg ramming into the Titanic.
He runs back to his room to discover that Phoebe has disappeared. George and Aunt Daisy search for Phoebe while the rest of the ship’s passengers begin to realize that the ship is sinking with only enough lifeboats to save a fraction of them.
After George locates Phoebe, he helps his aunt, sister, and two friends escape from the ship’s hold. However, George is turned back from getting on the lifeboat.
His new friend Marco helps him jump clear of the ship, and they are rescued, after a freezing ordeal, by the Carpathia.
This compelling story brings to vivid life the swift and deadly sinking of the Titanic as seen through the eyes of a 10-year-old boy.
About the Author
Lauren Tarshis is the editor of Scholastic’s Storyworks and Scope
9 Ways To Survive The Titanic
When his ship hit the iceberg on the night of April 14, 1912, J Bruce Ismay, President of JP Morgan's International Mercantile Marine, the company who owned the Titanic, helped to load the women and children into the lifeboats before jumping into the third-to-last boat to leave on the starboard side.
He subsequently became, as a British headline put it, “The Most Talked-of Man in All the World.” “The humblest immigrant in steerage,” ran an editorial in John Bull, the newspaper of the working man, “had more moral right to a seat in a lifeboat than you.”
There are various other versions of Ismay's departure from the Titanic.
Some witnesses believed he quietly slipped into in the first lifeboat to be launched, others say he fought his way through the crowds and gun-fire to squeeze onto the very last boat to leave.
Ismay himself insisted that the deck was empty when he left the Titanic, that he saw no sign of the 1,500 people still remaining on the ship.
His survival was regarded as not only cowardly, but criminal. Ismay was revealed to have been the man responsible for limiting the lifeboats on the ship to sixteen (the Titanic was fitted with davits which could hold three times that number)–Why clutter the decks, he is said to have asked at planning meetings, when the ship is herself a lifeboat?
He was known, on the day of the accident, to have been given by Captain E J Smith a Marconigram carrying an ice warning, which Ismay glanced at before absent-mindedly putting in his pocket.
It was rumored that he had ordered the Captain to maintain the ship's speed as they entered the ice region, and following his rescue, Ismay admitted that he had not inquired into the number of people who had died nor into the state and condition of those who had survived.
Messages he then sent to his New York office from the rescue ship, the Carpathia, suggested that Ismay was trying to avoid giving evidence at the American Inquiry. “Mr. Ismay cares for nobody,” concluded the New York American. “He cares only for his own body, his own stomach, for his own pride and profit.”
The right to survive the Titanic depended on the passengers' status on the ship.
Ismay's defense was that he was travelling neither as the captain nor as a member of the crew, but an ordinary First Class passenger and that he was therefore entitled to save his own life.
His argument was weakened by the admission that he had not paid for his ticket, and by the revelation that he conducted himself on board as the ultimate authority. Ismay was, according to the British Inquiry into the Titanic, a “Super Captain.”
But Ismay wasn't the only passenger on The Titanic to be scrutinized for surviving: women, children, and lifeboat captains were also regarded as cowardly and irresponsible.
Here are nine ways that you could have survived the Titantic.
How to Survive the Sinking of the Titanic
It was April 14, 1912. Charles Joughin had finally fallen asleep after a hard day’s work in the ship’s kitchens. Suddenly, he was woken by a tremendous jolt. He felt the vessel shudder violently beneath him. Then, after a momentary pause, it continued moving forward. Assuming that the danger had passed, Joughin tried to return to sleep. But at about 11:35 pm, just a few minutes after the jolt, he was summoned to the bridge. Here, he was given some most unwelcome information.
The End Is Here?
Captain Smith had sent an inspection team below decks to see if anything was wrong. The men had returned with the terrible news that the ship had struck an iceberg and that the force of the blow had seriously buckled the hull. Rivets had been forced out over a length of some ninety meters and seawater was now gushing into the ship at a tremendous rate.
Charles Joughin realized that he, as a member of crew, would not be given a place in a lifeboat. As the ship began listing at an alarming angle, he decided to drink himself into oblivion.
He descended into his cabin, downed a huge quantity of whisky (according to one account he finished off two bottles).
He then returned to the deck and, with drunken energy, began pushing women into the lifeboats.
It was not long before he found himself in the freezing Atlantic. “I got onto the starboard side of the poop,” he later recalled, “and found myself in the water. I do not believe my head went under the water at all. I thought I saw some wreckage.”
A Liquid Blanket
He swam towards the wreckage, not feeling the cold on account of all the whisky he had drunk, “and found a collapsible boat B with Lightoller and about twenty-five men on it.”
By this time, it was a miracle Joughin was still alive. The water temperature was two degrees below freezing. Most passengers and crew who had jumped into the water had died of hypothermia within fifteen minutes.
What happens to Joughin next? To find out the answer, listen to the full episode of our new podcast, Unknown History, in the top right hand player of this page, or on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify. Plus, c
Sinking of the RMS Titanic
“Sinking of the Titanic” redirects here. For the musical work by Gavin Bryars, see The Sinking of the Titanic.
1912 maritime disaster
Sinking of the RMS Titanic“Untergang der Titanic” by Willy Stöwer, 1912Date14–15 April 1912; 108 years ago (1912-04-15)Time23:40–02:20 (02:38–05:18 GMT)[a]Duration2 hours and 40 minutesLocationNorth Atlantic Ocean, 400 miles (640 km) east of NewfoundlandCoordinates41°43′32″N 49°56′49″W / 41.72556°N 49.94694°W / 41.72556; -49.94694Coordinates: 41°43′32″N 49°56′49″W / 41.72556°N 49.94694°W / 41.72556; -49.94694TypeMaritime disasterCauseCollision with iceberg on 14 AprilParticipantsTitanic crew and passengersOutcomeMaritime policy changes; SOLASDeaths1,490–1,635
The RMS Titanic sank in the early morning hours of 15 April 1912 in the North Atlantic Ocean, four days into the ship's maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City. The largest ocean liner in service at the time, Titanic had an estimated 2,224 people on board when she struck an iceberg at around 23:40 (ship's time)[a] on Sunday, 14 April 1912. Her sinking two hours and forty minutes later at 02:20 (ship's time; 05:18 GMT) on Monday, 15 April, resulted in the deaths of more than 1,500 people, making it one of the deadliest peacetime marine disasters in history.
Titanic received six warnings of sea ice on 14 April but was travelling about 22 knots when her lookouts sighted the iceberg.
Unable to turn quickly enough, the ship suffered a glancing blow that buckled her starboard side and opened six of her sixteen compartments to the sea (the forepeak, all three holds, and boiler rooms 5 and 6).
Titanic had been designed to stay afloat with four of her forward compartments flooded but no more, and the crew soon realised that the ship would sink. They used distress flares and radio (wireless) messages to attract help as the passengers were put into lifeboats.
In accordance with existing practice, Titanic's lifeboat system was designed to ferry passengers to nearby rescue vessels, not to hold everyone on board simultaneously; therefore, with the ship sinking rapidly and help still hours away, there was no safe refuge for many of the passengers and crew. Compounding this, poor management of the evacuation meant many boats were launched before they were completely full.
As a result, when Titanic sank, over a thousand passengers and crew were still on board. Almost all those who jumped or fell into the water either drowned or died within minutes due to the effects of cold shock and incapacitation.
RMS Carpathia arrived on the scene about an hour and a half after the sinking and rescued the last of the survivors by 09:15 on 15 April, some nine and a half hours after the collision.
The disaster shocked the world and caused widespread outrage over the lack of lifeboats, lax regulations, and the unequal treatment of the three passenger classes during the evacuation.
Subsequent inquiries recommended sweeping changes to maritime regulations, leading to the establishment in 1914 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).
Titanic on sea trials, 2 April 1912
At the time of her entry into service on 2 April 1912, Royal Mail Ship (RMS) Titanic was the second of three[b] Olympic-class ocean liners, and was the largest ship in the world. She and the earlier, RMS Olympic, were almost one and a half times the gross register tonnage of Cunard's RMS Lusitania and RMS Mauretania, the previous record holders, and were nearly 100 feet (30 m) longer. Titanic could carry 3,547 people in speed and comfort, and was built on an unprecedented scale. Her reciprocating engines were the largest that had ever been built, standing 40 feet (12 m) high and with cylinders 9 feet (2.7 m) in diameter requiring the burning of 600 long tons (610 t) of coal per day.
The passenger accommodation, especially the First Class section, was said to be “of unrivalled extent and magnificence”, indicated by the fares that First Class accommodation commanded.
The Parlour Suites (the most expensive and most luxurious suites on the ship) with private promenade cost over $4,350 (equivalent to $115,000 today) for a one-way transatlantic passage.
Even Third Class, though considerably less luxurious than Second and First Classes, was unusually comfortable by contemporary standards and was supplied with plentiful quantities of good food, providing her passengers with better conditions than many of them had experienced at home.
Titanic's maiden voyage began shortly after noon on 10 April 1912 when she left Southampton on the first leg of her journey to New York.
 A few hours later she called at Cherbourg Harbour in north-western France, a journey of 80 nautical miles (148 km; 92 mi), where she took on passengers.
 Her next port of call was Queenstown (now Cobh) in Ireland, which she reached around midday on 11 April. She left in the afternoon after taking on more passengers and stores.
By the time Titanic departed westwards across the Atlantic she was carrying 892 crew members and 1,320 passengers.
This was only about half of her full passenger capacity of 2,435, as it was the low season and shipping from the UK had been disrupted by a coal miners' strike.
 Her passengers were a cross-section of Edwardian society, from millionaires such as John Jacob Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, to poor emigrants from countries as disparate as Armenia, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Syria and Russia seeking a new life in the United States.
Route of Titanic's maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City, the point where she sank marked in yellow
The ship was commanded by 62-year-old Captain Edward Smith, the most senior of the White Star Line's captains. He had four decades of seafaring experience and had served as captain of RMS Olympic, from which he was transferred to command Titanic.
 The vast majority of the crew who served under him were not trained sailors, but were either engineers, firemen, or stokers, responsible for looking after the engines; or stewards and galley staff, responsible for the passengers.
The six watch officers and 39 able seamen constituted only around five percent of the crew, and most of these had been taken on at Southampton so had not had time to familiarise themselves with the ship.
The ice conditions were attributed to a mild winter that caused large numbers of icebergs to shift off the west coast of Greenland.
A fire had begun in one of Titanic's coal bins approximately 10 days prior to the ship's departure, and continued to burn for several days into the voyage, but it was over on 14 April.
 The weather improved significantly during the course of the day, from brisk winds and moderate seas in the morning to a crystal-clear calm by evening, as the ship's path took her beneath an arctic high-pressure system.
14 April 1912
The iceberg thought to have been hit by Titanic, photographed the morning of 15 April 1912 by SS Prinz Adalbert's chief steward. The iceberg was reported to have a streak of red paint from a ship's hull along its waterline on one side.
On 14 April 1912, Titanic's radio operators[c] received six messages from other ships warning of drifting ice, which passengers on Titanic had begun to notice during the afternoon. The ice conditions in the North Atlantic were the worst for any April in the previous 50 years (which was the reason why the lookouts were unaware that they were about to steam into a line of drifting ice several miles wide and many miles long). Not all of these messages were relayed by the radio operators. At the time, all wireless operators on ocean liners were employees of the Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Company and not members of their ship's crew; their primary responsibility was to send messages for the passengers, with weather reports as a secondary concern.
The first warning came at 09:00 from RMS Caronia reporting “bergs, growlers[d] and field ice”. Captain Smith acknowledged receipt of the message.
At 13:42, RMS Baltic relayed a report from the Greek ship Athenia that she had been “passing icebergs and large quantities of field ice”. This too was acknowledged by Smith, who showed the report to J.
Bruce Ismay, the chairman of the White Star Line, aboard Titanic for her maiden voyage. Smith ordered a new course to be set, to take the ship farther south.
At 13:45, the German ship SS Amerika, which was a short distance to the south, reported she had “passed two large icebergs”. This message never reached Captain Smith or the other officers on Titanic's bridge. The reason is unclear, but it may have been forgotten because the radio operators had to fix faulty equipment.
SS Californian reported “three large bergs” at 19:30, and at 21:40, the steamer Mesaba reported: “Saw much heavy pack ice and great number large icebergs. Also field ice.” This message, too, never left the Titanic's radio room.
The radio operator, Jack Phillips, may have failed to grasp its significance because he was preoccupied with transmitting messages for passengers via the relay station at Cape Race, Newfoundland; the radio set had broken down the day before, resulting in a backlog of messages that the two operators were trying to clear. A final warning was received at 22:30 from operator Cyril Evans of Californian, which had halted for the night in an ice field some miles away, but Phillips cut it off and signalled back: “Shut up! Shut up! I'm working Cape Race.”
Although the crew was aware of ice in the vicinity, they did not reduce the ship's speed, and continued to steam at 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph), only 2 knots (3.7 km/h; 2.3 mph) short of her maximum speed.
[e] Titanic's high speed in waters where ice had been reported was later criticised as reckless, but it reflected standard maritime practice at the time.
According to Fifth Officer Harold Lowe, the custom was “to go ahead and depend upon the lookouts in the crow's nest and the watch on the bridge to pick up the ice in time to avoid hitting it”.
The North Atlantic liners prioritised time-keeping above all other considerations, sticking rigidly to a schedule that would guarantee their arrival at an advertised time.
They were frequently driven at close to their full speed, treating hazard warnings as advisories rather than calls to action. It was widely believed that ice posed little risk; close calls were not uncommon, and even head-on collisions had not been disastrous.
In 1907, SS Kronprinz Wilhelm, a German liner, had rammed an iceberg and suffered a crushed bow, but was still able to complete her voyage.
That same year, Titanic's future captain, Edward Smith, declared in an interview that he could not “imagine any condition which would cause a ship to founder. Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that.”
“Iceberg right ahead!”
Titanic enters Iceberg Alley