Albert Pearcey

Sep 10, 2012
Greetings, everyone.

I'm sorry if this post should be under a more specific thread, but I didn't find any that seemed appropriate enough, and this is after all the section for general questions. And while I know the question I'm about to ask is complicated, I've seen answers to so many things given here that I was wondering whether this might be one more.

The question came up when I read this passage of the testimony of Albert Pearcey, a Third Class Pantryman, who left the Titanic in Collapsible C. In it, he explains the reason behind his escape.

10390. When you got to the boat deck will you tell us what you saw? - I saw two babies on the deck; I picked them up in my arms and took them to the boat.
10391. Do you know what boat it was you took them to? - A collapsible boat.
10392. Was there any Officer there? - Yes.
10393. Who? - The Chief, Mr. Murdoch.
10394. Do you remember whether the collapsible was on the starboard or the port side? - On the starboard side.
10395. Did Mr. Murdoch give you any order? - Yes.
10396. What was it? - He told me to get inside with the babies and take charge of them.

I know this may sound weird, but does anyone, by chance, know whether these two babies were ever reunited with their parents (or relatives), or who looked after them in case they weren't?

Or is Albert Pearcey's story of being told to look after two babies one which he fabricated to explain his presence in Collapsible C?

My apologies if it seems I'm calling the man a liar... but it's just something I couldn't help but wonder.

My thanks in advance to all those who took the time to read this.


3rd class steward Albert Pearcey testified at the Titanic Inquiry but in 1918 just a few weeks before the war ended he failed to report for duty and was handed over to the military authorities as an 'absentee'. Was that a capital punishment offence during the war? People were shot for cowardice and desertion. Here is a newspaper clip from August 17th 1918. The war was almost over and he may have mentioned saving people on the Titanic. Did this play some part in his release?




Aug 20, 2017
Albert Victor Pearcey was my great uncle. I must be somewhat unique in the fact that my wife also had a great uncle who sailed on the "Titanic", but her's died and mine survived. It must be remembered that in Edwardian times, in the (then) small town of Southampton, once a lad left school at 14, he was often taken down the docks and marched up the gangway of a liner, and signed on as a cabin or bell boy, so he could earn his keep.

Albert could not be described as my maternal grandmother's favorite sibling, neither was he without brushes with the law. He died in 1952, which would have made me about eight, but I can never recollect ever seeing him. He was however flesh and blood, and according to family lore, a survivor of the "Titanic" by reason of finding two babies on deck, and being told to look after them in a lifeboat. For seventy years I believed the family story, but on deep reflection something did not run true. The only truth was that Albert survived "Titanic" and was in Collapsible "C" when rescued. I began to explore possibilities, but everything would have to be purely conjectural or based on unconfirmed reports.

I found it hard to believe that he just sneaked unseen into a boat full of women and Bruce Ismay, whilst being launched by a senior officer and crew. Equally I found it difficult to believe that two babies would be abandoned on deck, and assuming that they were that he, as a young man, would be ordered into a boat full of women, to care for the babies. I checked the survivors list for Collapsible "C" and could find no unaccompanied infants listed.

Then I had a had my "Eureka" moment. I found the two Navratil infants in Collapsible "D", and a possibility arose. Albert had found these French infants, and had been ordered into the lifeboat with them. When rescued by the "Carpathia", after the trauma of recovering and caring for the survivors was over, when the records were being compiled, they had mistakenly been been put down as in "D" instead of "C". And so it was written in stone. Enigma solved.

But the Navratil boys were a red herring.

Enter the author Rupert Matthews and his book "Titanic"and a mention of Albert. Whilst directing passengers to the Boat Deck he had encountered Hinna Tumah, a Lebanese lady with two children aged 10 and 8. Hinna's husband had gone on ahead and settled in Michigan and she was joining him. Hinna was understandably in a distressed state and could not understand Albert's directions. Seizing the children he made for the Boat Deck knowing the mother would follow. By now "Titanic" must have been in her death throws, with most of the boats gone, but Albert found men crowding around Collapsible "C". Pushing his way through, he presented the family to Murdoch, who loaded them into the boat. The boat was about to be lowered in the falls when Murdoch realised that apart from Quartermaster Rowe at the helm, there were no crew aboard. Seeing Albert was fit and able, he ordered him and four firemen into the lifeboat as rowers.

Thus I came to the conclusion that this was the most likely scenario. But there was a twist.

Hinna Turma was reunited with her husband and the family lived in Michigan and prospered. She Anglicised her name to Hanna Thomas. Her grandson Joseph L. Thomas wrote a book entitled "Grandma Survived the Titanic". The book is available from Amazon although I have not read it. Reading reviews of it, instead of being a good "Titanic" yarn, only the first few pages are devoted to the liner, with the rest describing their family life in the U.S. In the book she describes how she went up on deck with her son, left him by a lifeboat, then returned to her cabin, collected her daughter, returned to her son standing by the lifeboat and was saved. There is no mention of Albert or anybody else aiding her. The vast ship has a rabbit warren of unfamiliar alleyways. The ship is sinking and there must be near panic and distress on board. A young woman who probably had little English, left her young son alone on deck in the semi darkness, in the middle of a distressed throng, and returned below to collect her daughter, whom for some reason she left behind. All done without any help.

As I said, everything is conjectural or from memories clouded by trauma.
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