The moment Violet Jessop was born, it was clear that she is a survivor. Out of nine children by her parents, only six survive infancy, with Violet being the first. At a young age, Violet was diagnosed with Tuberculosis and even though the Doctor proclaimed that she might not survive, she survived it.
In 1911, she began working as a stewardess for the White Star vessel RMS Olympic, Olympic was a luxury ship, the largest civilian liner at the time. On 20th September, 1911 the Olympic left it's port in Southampton and collide with a British warship 'HMS Hawke'. There was no casualties and the shop make it back to it's port without sinking despite damages.
Seven months after experiencing the almost sinking Olympic, she was back working with White Star Line this time on what they claimed as their most unsinkable ship.
Jessop boarded the RMS Titanic as a stewardess, four days later, on 14 April, 1912, it struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic , where Titanic sank about two hours and forty minutes after the collision.
In her memoirs, she mentions that she was ordered up on deck to serve as an example of how to behave for the non-English speakers who couldn’t understand the instructions being given to them.
“I was ordered up on deck,” she wrote. “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.”
She watched as the lifeboats were loaded, and made it onto one herself. After spending one night in a lifeboat, Jessop and her fellow survivors were rescued by the RMS Carpathia.
One would think that she would stop working as a stewardess on ships after this but she was on the HMHS Britannic when it sank in the Aegean Sea, due to a mysterious explosion.
In 1916, during World War I, the White Star Line converted some of their ships into hospitals. One of these converted ships was the HMHS Britannic, upon which Jessop was serving as a stewardess for the British Red Cross.
On the morning of November 21st, the Britannic sank in the Aegean Sea, due to a mysterious explosion. To this day, scientists have yet to reach a definitive conclusion as to what caused the blast.
She described watching the scene from her lifeboat in her memoirs.
“The white pride of the ocean’s medical world … dipped her head a little, then a little lower and still lower,” she recalled. “All the deck machinery fell into the sea like a child’s toys. Then she took a fearful plunge, her stern rearing hundreds of feet into the air until with a final roar, she disappeared into the depths.”
The Britannic sank in 57 minutes, killing 30 people. As the ship was sinking, the propellers were still spinning and began sucking lifeboats under them. Jessop jumped out of her lifeboat to safety but received a traumatic head injury in the process.
In her memoir she wrote..... "I lept into the water but was sucked under the ship’s keel which struck my head,...........I escaped, but years later when I went to my doctor because of a lot of headaches, he discovered I had once sustained a fracture of the skull!”
After that she went on to have more sea-faring career, that doesn't involve ship sinking.
During the rest of her sea-faring career, Violet Jessop would complete two around-the-world cruises and have a short-lived marriage before retiring to Great Ashfield in Suffolk, where she passed away at the ripe old age of 83.
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