Alexander James Littlejohn was born in St Georges, London, England on 6 March 1872.
He was the son of Alexander Littlejohn (b. 1841), a wine merchant clerk, and Emily Matilda Giles (1836-1886), both natives of Stepney, London who had married in West Ham in 1868. He had two known siblings: Emily (b. 1870) and Clement Francis (b. 1875).
Alexander first appears on the 1881 census living at 8 Clifton Terrace, Beach Croft Road, Leyton, Essex, the family having moved to that county sometime after his birth. His mother died aged 50 in 1886 and the remaining family were listed on the 1891 census living at 22 Leyton Road, Ilford, Essex. Alexander was absent.
He was married in Edmonton, Middlesex in 1899 to Annie Louisa Gocher (b. 1875 in Edmonton) and they would have three children: Alexander Francis (1900-1968), Henry Alfred (1902-1980) and Winifred May (1907-1987, later Mrs Christian Sorensen).
The family appear on the 1901 census living at The Priory Inn, Hammond Street, Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, and Alexander was described as a licensed victualler. He reportedly spent a great deal of his career thus far at the Crown in Hastings, Sussex.
Alexander's wife Annie died in early 1910 aged 34 and the following year he went to sea, joining the maiden voyage of Olympic. His children were cared for by his unmarried siblings Emily and Clement who appeared on the 1911 census living at 93 Carlyle Road, Manor Park, Essex.
Alexander initially signed-on to the Titanic in Belfast for her delivery trip to Southampton. When he signed-on again, on 4 April 1912, he gave his address as 11 Western Terrace, Chapel Road, (Southampton). His last ship had been the Olympic and as a saloon steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s.
Littlejohn was rescued in lifeboat 13 and gave an account to The Daily Telegraph:
“I got about 35 women and children into Boat 13. We shouted for more women but there were none forthcoming. We had a few first-class male passengers in. An officer ordered two of us to get in and help row the boat, and I happened to be one of the fortunate ones... We could see the Titanic sinking by the head. Her forward ‘E’ deck ports were under the water and we could see the lights gradually go out on the ‘E’ deck as she settled down. All her other lights were burning brilliantly and she looked a blaze of light from stem to stern. We watched her like this for some time, and then suddenly she gave a plunge forward and all the lights went out. Her stern went right up in the air; there were two or three explosions and it seemed to me the stern part came down again and righted itself. Immediately after there were terrible cries for help. They were awful and heart-breaking.”
Alexander returned to England and resumed a career at sea but curtailed that career in 1914 with his last voyage being on the Olympic, after which he worked for British Rail. The trauma of his ordeal manifested physically with his hair turning white within months and he rarely spoke of the disaster in following years.
He was remarried in West Ham in 1923 to Mary Elizabeth Tyler (1884-10 February 1947) and settled in Ilford, Essex where he died on 18 September 1949.
References and Sources
Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
Particulars of Engagement (Belfast), Ulster Folk and Transport Museum (TRANS 2A/45 381)
Gavin Bell, UK