Let’s make history fun, learn about the story of “The Queen of Sinking Ships”.
This is the amazing story about a lady called Violet Jessop, who was a stewardess on the Titanic.
She was born in Argentina to an Irish family. Then when she was 16 her father died and the family came to England. Here she went to local convent while looking after her younger sister, while her mother was at sea working as a stewardess.
Unfortunately, her mother became ill. Now Violet decided that she would like to go to sea, so she made herself look less attractive and at the age of 21 became as a stewardess aboard the Royal Mail Line ship the Orinoco in 1908.
The first sinking
We first hear of her in 1911 when she became a stewardess aboard the SS Olympic. That is because in September that year the SS Olympic collided with the British warship HMS Hawke. Fortunately, there were no casualties, even though it was severely damaged, it was able to limp back to port for repairs.
Then after one frightening experience on board a ship, Violet signed up as a stewardess on board the latest, most fantastic Atlantic liner, the Titanic, as we all know, on its first transatlantic crossing. On that fateful night of 14th April 1912, it hit an iceberg and sank about two hours and forty minutes later.
In her memoirs she explains she was ordered up on deck to help those non-English speakers who didn’t understand the instructions being given to them. Then she was ordered into a lifeboat, and as the boat was being lowered, one of Titanic’s officers gave her a baby to look after. She was finally rescued the next morning by the RMS Carpathia and taken to New York City. Jessop also tells us that while on board the Carpathia, a woman grabbed the baby she was holding and ran off crying, without saying a word.
Anyway, Violet had now survived two sinkings.
You would have thought that it would have put her off going to sea again, but no.
But no, she went to sea again!
Believe it or not during World War I she joined the British Red Cross, and because of her experience they sent her to serve on the HMS Britannic. You guessed it, the ship hit an underwater mine and sank! Within 55 minutes! Fortunately, only 30 of the 1,066 people on board died. Again, she survived.
This time her experiences came to the fore, as she knew what happened when a ship went down. She knew that it created a great vortex into which if you were not careful you could be sucked. She didn’t want this so jumped out of the lifeboat just in time to make certain she wasn’t sucked under the ship’s propellers. Unfortunately, this time she was injured, resulting in a shocking head injury from which, of course, she survived.
An amazing story, even more so when I tell you that both the Olympic and Britannic were sister ships of the Titanic!
As a result of these experiences Violet Jessop, got the nickname “Miss Unsinkable”, especially as she lived to the ripe old age of 83, they also called her “The Queen of Sinking Ships”.
If you want to enjoy the story of the Titanic, we have a musical for children, The Ship Of Dreams – The Voyage of the RMS Titanic. It tells the story of the mighty Titanic, one the largest moving objects ever built, that sets sail on her maiden voyage. The passengers revel in her luxury, while waiting ahead in the dark, an unavoidable disaster looms.
You can download this 50-minute show at http://educationalmusicals.co.uk/product/the-ship-of-dreams/ supplied ready to perform by 15 to 100 children with script, (including stage directions) historical Fact Sheets, Art Pack showing how to make the scenery, costumes, and props along with 24 MP3 files, being both performance and rehearsal tracks.
Isn’t history fun?
For more on Violet Jessop
© Tony Dalton