One of the most famous disasters of all time – the Titanic – has a remarkable woman who survived it. Violet Jessop worked on the Titanic as a stewardess. But her amazing story starts long before she boarded the ill-fated ship.
Violet’s story starts with her childhood. Violet was born on October 2, 1887. She was the first of her siblings to survive infancy, having three siblings who died as babies. She also contracted tuberculosis when she was a child and was not expected to survive. Despite this she did survive her illness.
This remarkable ability to survive even the worst that life could throw at her followed her into adulthood where she would go on to survive three accidents aboard ships. And these were not just any ships. They were the RMS Titanic and her two sister ships, the RMS Olympic and the HMHS Brittanic.
Her first run in with the sister ships was onboard the RMS Olympic. In 1911, the Olympic collided with the HMS Hawke which was a British warship. There was some damage from the impact but the ship made it into a port.
Violet’s next encounter with the sister ships was the RMS Titanic. She was one of the fortunate passengers and crew who survived the tragedy that would befall the ship. Violet would later write her memoirs which mentioned what she went through on the Titanic.
She was on deck demonstrating how to behave and what to do for those who did not speak English. Finally, she was ordered into lifeboat 16 to show women on deck that it was safe to get into the lifeboats. This order saved her life.
The next time Violet was on board one of the sister ships was during World War I. The HMHS Britannic was converted into a hospital and Violet served as a stewardess for the British Red Cross on it.
On November 21, 1916, there was an explosion and the ship eventually sank in the Aegean sea. Unlike the Titanic where over 1,500 passengers died, only 30 of the 1,066 people on board at the time died. In 2016, it was determined that the ship had hit a deep sea mine which caused the mysterious explosion.
The fact that Violet survived this sinking was a miracle. The propellers were sucking lifeboats under the stern so Violet had to jump out of her lifeboat. This caused her to hit her head which caused a traumatic head injury which would give her headaches for years after the sinking. It was determined at a later doctor’s appointment that she had fractured her skull.
Despite her unfortunate brushes with death on the three sister ships, Violet never stopped working on ships and cruises. Her unique story earned her the nickname “Miss Unsinkable.” She lived a long life before dying on May 5, 1971 just a few months before her 84th birthday.