And who is Charles Joughin?
Well, sit back and I’ll tell you all about him.
Charles Joughin was the chief baker aboard The RMS Titanic and April 15th, 2012 marks the 100th Anniversary of the disaster.
When Joughin found out that the ship was going down, he did what most of us would do when faced with an icy horrible death;
He stuffed his pockets full of tobacco and then got completely shit-faced on whisky!
During the sinking of The Titanic, Joughin and the other chefs assigned themselves the task of bringing food and supplies to put aboard the lifeboats. Along with stewards and other seamen, Joughin helped ladies and children onto the lifeboats, although, after a while, the women on deck ran away from the boat saying they were safer aboard The Titanic. He then went on to A Deck and forcibly brought up women and children and threw them into the lifeboat.
Charles was in no mood to mess around.
After knocking back a place for himself on one of the lifeboats, Joughin returned to his cabin where he hit the bottle. Later, he appeared up on the boat deck where he found that all of the lifeboats had been lowered so he decided to go down onto the B Deck promenade where he threw about fifty deck chairs overboard so that they could be used as floatation devices by people in the freezing waters.
Charles Joughin was the very last person to get off The Titanic and he got off with style.
This picture depicts The Titanic’s final moments and at this point, Joughin was at the topmost part of the ship.
He was on the outside of the ship, holding onto a safety railing and instead of dying from fright and a massive heart attack there and then, he rode the ship down like an elevator!
Joughin merely stepped off of The Titanic, into the water and by his own account, didn’t even get his hair wet!
The bad news was that he was now in the -2 degree Atlantic Ocean where the maximum life expectancy in those conditions on that night was 45 minutes but the good news was that he was completely hammered on account of all the booze he’d drank!
It is generally thought that Joughin survived in the water for almost 3 hours because of the alcohol in his system.
He swam around and treaded water until daylight where he spotted an upturned collapsible lifeboat with Second Officer Charles Lightoller and around twenty five other men standing on the side of the boat. He slowly swam towards it, but there was no room for him. A cook, Isaac Maynard, recognised him and held his hand as the Chief Baker held onto the side of the boat, with his feet and legs still in the water. Another lifeboat then appeared and Joughin swam to it and was taken in, where he stayed until he boarded The RMS Carpathia which rescued him.
Here is a photo of the upturned collapsible lifeboat that Charles Joughin clung to being found by The CS Mackay-Bennett:
In a letter to Walter Lord, author of “A Night To Remember“, Joughin recalled his experience of The Titanic disaster:
“Mr Walter Lord
Some secretaries brought to my notice your very splendid article “A Night to Remember” in the current issue of “The Ladies Home Journal.”
Most written accounts were hair-raising scenes which did not actually occur, except in the last few moments when those left behind made a mad rush towards what they considered a safer place, the Poop Deck. Fortunately I was all alone, when the big list to port occurred. I was able to straddle the Starboard rail (on A deck) and stepped off as the ship went under. I had expected suction of some kind, but felt none. At no time was my head underwater. just kept moving my arms and legs and kept in an upright position. No trick at all with a left-belt on.Your account of the upturned collapsible with Col.Gracie aboard was very correct. Most of the crew, were familiar with life boat and Fire stations as they had manned the “Olympic” (a sister ship) previously. Some curious things are done at a time like this. Why did I lock the heavy iron door of the Bakery, stuff the heavy keys in my pocket, alongside two cakes of hard tobacco.
My conclusions of cause: Grave error on part of Captain Smith kept course in spite of ice warnings and severe drop in temperature from 5 P.M.
Loss of life: life boat shortage, for the number of passengers and crew, but many more could have been saved, had the women obeyed orders. In those circumstances the crew are helpless.”
After surviving The Titanic, Joughin returned to England and was one of the crew members who reported to testify at the British Inquiry headed by the Viscount Mersey. In 1920, he moved permanently to the United States to Paterson, New Jersey and according to his obituary he was also on board the SS Oregon when it sank in Boston Harbour. He also served on ships operated by the American Export Lines as well as on World War II troop transports before retiring in 1944.
Joughin was invited to describe his experiences of The Titanic disaster in a chapter of Walter Lord’s book, “A Night To Remember”.
Charles Joughin died after a bout of pneumonia in Paterson, New Jersey on December 9th, 1956.
He was 78.
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