The unsinkable Violet

The ability to understand English language gives us many opportunities to learn new things – some may concern us directly and some may be just interesting facts from nowadays or the past of our host country. At Training Centre Raya-London, we emphasize on the interesting stories. Stories which will provoke you to read more in both languages, comparing the specific ways of expressions and learning new words.

Today`s story is about a woman, who survived three shipwrecks and lived until the age of 83.

Violet Constance Jessop was born far away in 1887 in Argentina as a child of Irish immigrants. She became seriously sick from something that the doctors back then diagnosed as tuberculosis and predicted a lethal ending at an early age. She survived. After her father`s death though the family of 5 more kids had to relocate to England. The mother – Katherine Jessop – started work as a ship stewardess but she became sick and Violet didn`t have any other choice than to leave school and to try her luck in the water to earn for leaving. Her first assignment was on the British White Star liner RMS `Olympic` – a luxurious ship from the rank of RMS `Titanic` and the less known `Britannic`.

On 20th September 1911 RMS `Olympic` left the port in Southampton. On its way to the open see it encountered a warship `Hawke`, both vessels collided and RMS `Olympic` got badly damaged which necessitated an evacuation of all people and it had to be returned to the port. Fortunately, it didn`t sink and after it was repaired it continued to sail with Violet on its board.

In April 1912 Violet was transferred to the Titanic’s crew and on the fateful 10th April 1912 it sailed for America. She was 24 years old. We all know what happened four days later. The ship crashed into a huge, floating iceberg and got damaged fatally. It sank for approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes while the crew was trying to avoid the panic and put as many people as possible into lifeboats. Violet herself was standing on deck and was demonstrating how to put the life jackets on in front of the terrified people. At the end of the evacuation, she boarded lifeboat №16 and a baby was put into her hands by an officer from the crew. After a terrible, freezing night RMS `Carpathia` rescued the survivors. A crying woman run off at Violet and grabbed the baby from her hands. The mother of the baby had survived!

During the First World War Violet began working for the British branch of the Red Cross. She was given a job on HMHS `Britannic`, built after the unfortunate RMS `Titanic` and converted into a hospital ship. In the morning of 21st November 1916 HMHS `Britannic` bumped into a German naval mine in Aegean Sea and detonated it. It sank rapidly and the evacuation was panic. Some of the lowered lifeboats stuck into the ship`s propellers which were still swiveling. In such a lifeboat was Violet, who had to jump out into the water. As a result, she got a head injury but survived. Two other people, rescued from RMS `Titanic` – Arthur John Priest and Archie Jewell – were also both on board of this sinking ship.

Despite those fearful accidents, Violet returned to work on different ships for many years and right before her retirement in 1950 in Suffolk she had already travelled the world.

A strange event happened years later – during a stormy night Violet`s phone rang, and a woman asked her if she had saved a baby on the night that RMS `Titanic` sank. When Violet confirmed the voice said `I was that baby` laughing and the line cut off. Violet had never told the story about the baby grabbed by the crying lady to anyone during her life. Records indicate that the only baby on lifeboat №16 was a boy, who was given to another passenger who had died a long before this strange call.


Author: Iveta Radeva

Training Centre Raya London is a new and fastly developing English Language School specialized in teaching English as a second language. Founded in 2015 we are small enough to provide a personal service, but large enough to have very good facilities and resources for the students to learn English in UK.