Violet Constance Jessop was a woman who some might say had bad luck while others may say had very good luck. One things is for sure, Violet Jessop beat the odds. Born in 1887 to Irish immigrants, Violet was the oldest daughter of nine children. As the oldest of 6 surviving sibling, she spent much of her time looking after her brothers and sisters. Violet was diagnosed with Tuberculosis and given just months to live, but she proved the doctors wrong and lived a full life. At 16 her father died and her family moved to England. Her mother then became ill causing Violet to look for work in her mother's industry of ship stewardess. But being attractive worked against her and she had a hard time finding a job. In order to get hired she dress down and attempted to make herself unattractive. It worked and in 1908 she got her first stewardess job aboard the Royal Mail Ship the Orinoco.
This ship was the largest luxury civilian liner of its time. It was a normal work day for Miss Jessop aboard the Olympic on September 20, 1911 when the ship left Southampton. But what started out as normal ended up a frightening adventure as the British warship the HMS Hawke collided with the RMS Olympic. The ship was able to limp back to port without sinking, making this her first of three maritime ship accidents.
One year later on April 10th 1912, Violet at age 24, found herself aboard the luxury liner of the RMS Titanic as stewardess. But only four days aboard the brand new liner, the Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic and once again Violet found herself facing a maritime disaster. This time the ship began to sink within 2 hours of striking the iceberg. In Miss Jessop's
memoirs, she tells how she was ordered up on the deck to be an example to people who couldn't speak English. She was then told to get into lifeboat 16 and then promptly handed a baby to look after by one of the Titanic officers.
It wasn't until the following morning that she was rescued by the RMS Carpathia where the baby and mom were reunited. Of the 2224 passengers over 1500 perished in the tragedy, but once again Violet Jessop lived to tell about it.
Four years passed and Violet now served as a stewardess for the British Red Cross during World War I. The morning of November 21st 1916, Violet was aboard the HMHS Britannic, another sister ship of the Titanic. The ship had been converted to a hospital ship with 1066 passengers traveling the Aegean Sea. An explosion possibly caused by either a German torpedo or a mine, sank the ship in less than 55 minutes killing 30 people. Violet ended up in the sea where she
sustained a head injury but survived. In her memoirs she tells of her frightening ordeal, "The white pride of the ocean's medical...dipped her head a little, then a little lower and still lower. 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."
In 1920 Miss Jessop once again return to the job of stewardess for the White Star Line. Violet died in 1971 at the age of 83.
What about you? Do you think you could get on another ship being on 3 ship disasters?