TITANIC SURVIVOR STORIES - VIOLET JESSOP

Occasionally, historical events are so anomalous that seems impossible that they are factual.  Such is the case with Miss Violet Jessop, the twenty-four year old stewardess who was working  on Titanic’s maiden voyage.  Born and raised in Argentina,   she was the oldest child of Irish immigrants .  After her father’s death, the family returned to England.  When her mother subsequently became ill, Jessop   left covenant school to become a stewardess.  Initially she worked for the Royal Mail Line, but then proceeded to be employed by White Star.

Violet Jessop was working aboard the Olympic when it collided with HMS Hawke in 1911.  The event was jarring, but no one was seriously injured or killed in the accident.  While the subsequent inquiry proved a legal and financial nightmare for  the White Star Line, the fact that damage was minimal reinforced the company’s claim that their three great liners were immune to disaster.  When asked whether she would like to begin serving on Titanic, Jessop reportedly was swayed by her friends’ insistence that it would be a wonderful experience.  What is the source of this statement.

Jessop was a devout Catholic, and had much faith in the power of prayer.  She carried a rosary in her apron, and also held close to a translated copy of a Hebrew prayer of protection.  Of course, before embarking on theTitanic, she had no way of knowing how important these symbols of her faith might become.

Onboard   Titanic, Jessop and the other crewmembers were very satisfied by their quarters.  In her memoirs, Jessop mentions ship designer Thomas Andrews by name, and speaks of him fondly.   She recalls, "Often during our rounds we came upon our beloved designer going about unobtrusively with a tired face but a satisfied air. He never failed to stop for a cheerful word, his only regret that we were 'getting further from home.' We all knew the love he had for that Irish home of his and suspected that he longed to get back to the peace of its atmosphere for a much needed rest and to forget ship designing for awhile." Did this come from her memoirs or a secondary source?

Jessop was not quite asleep when Titanic hit the iceberg.  She later wrote, ''I was ordered up on deck. Calmly, passengers strolled about. I stood at the bulkhead with the other stewardesses, watching the women cling to their husbands before being put into the boats with their children. Some time after, a ship's officer ordered us into the boat (16) first to show some women it was safe. As the boat was being lowered the officer called: 'Here, Miss Jessop. Look after this baby.' And a bundle was dropped on to my lap.'This story has never been verified.

After eight hours, Jessop became one of the small percentage of Titanic passengers and crew  rescued by theCarpathia. She was still holding fast to the baby she had been given, when the mother of the child found her and snatched the child away.  Jessop denied that she was ever thanked for seeing the child safely through the disaster.  Again not verified.

Even after the sinking of Titanic, Jessop continued to work for White Star, and went on to serve as a nurse on the RMS Britannic, the third of Ismay’s  trio of dream ships during World War I.  Requisitioned as a hospital ship in 1915, her name changed to HMHS Britannic which stood for His Majesty’s Hospital Ship Britannic. On November 21, 1916,  Brittannic suddenly sank in the Aegean Sea between troop tours. In an uncanny repetition of Titanic, Britannic sank in a mere 50 minutes.   Among those rescued  was none other than Violet Jessop. 

After some forty-two years at sea, Jessop returned to England and lived quietly in a cottage in Suffolk.  She died in 1971.