Carpathia Crewman Celebrates Birthday


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Matthew Lips

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Mar 8, 2001
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Hi all.
I thought you might be interested in the following article which appeared on the front page of a local (Durban, South Africa) newspaper on Monday 6th August. (The Margate of the story is just down the coast here, NOT the one in England!)

The grand old man of Margate, Mr Herbert "Pops" Johnston, best known as one of the rescuers of the Titanic disaster, has celebrated his 104th birthday.

He is believed to be the only living witness of some of the events of April 15 1912, when the Titanic hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank. The only living survivor of the 2358 passengers and crew on the Titanic is Miss Lavinia Dean, of Southampton. She was nine weeks old when rescued from the ship and obviously remembers nothing.

But memories of the disaster are still fresh in the mind of Johnston, even after 89 years.

He was 15 at the time and serving as a cadet shipwright on the Carpathia, the first vessel to reach the scene of the disaster. "Our radio operator picked up the SOS signal from the Titanic just after midnight and our captain ordered the crew to direct all possible steam to the boilers. Our top speed was supposed to be 14 knots. We made 17 knots that night."

Johnston said at such speed in a sea full of icebergs the Carpathia was lucky not to join the Titanic at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

"At 3.30am we saw rockets fired from the lifeboats and reached the first survivors at 4am. All the lifeboats then started to make for the Carpathia and we picked up 711 people."

Johnston said the Carpathia had more than 1000 passengers of her own. "So we were terribly overcrowded. All the lounges were turned into hospitals and we had people all over the decks."

He said the Carpathia reached New York at 11pm on April 15. (sic). "It was quite a sight. The New York docks were floodlit and it looked as if the whole of the city was there to meet us. We must have been quite a sight as well, being so overcrowded and having all the Titanic's lifeboats on board."

Johnston can still rattle off lists facts and figures - without hesitation - about the Titanic and various other ships associated with her. He is still remarkably fit, although he is now deaf, and lives with his daughter, Mrs Marge Connolly.

She said Johnston was fiercely independent and usually demanded to look after himself. "He enjoys going out for a meal, and often comes with me when I go out to play bingo."

Johnston went to see the film Titanic, but was not greatly impressed.

Story ends. Sounds like an interesting old fella, doesn't he?

Cheers.
Matthew L.
 

Dave Gittins

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Mar 16, 2000
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He'd be a lot more interesting if he were on
Carpathia's crew list. See this site.

Yet another unresearched newspaper story. They should know that there are four living Titanic survivors for a start.
 
Jan 31, 2001
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"He'd be a lot more interesting if he were on Carpathia's crew list. See this site."

I thought this simply sounded too good to be true. Not to mention that the paper said Titanic was carrying 2,358 passengers. And, as Dave rightly pointed out, they had only one surviving passenger remaining.

I kinda suspected it wasn't true when his "account" included only information that you can find in basically any Titanic book.

"Johnston went to see the film Titanic, but was not greatly impressed."

Well it apparently impressed him enough for him to "remember" being on the Carpathia.
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Just how long has this ol' guy been making this claim anyway?


Cheers,
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-B.W.
 

Matthew Lips

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Mar 8, 2001
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Hi all.
Just how long has this ol' guy been making this claim anyway?

I wish I knew. This is the first I'd ever heard of him, too. For the sake of "authenticity" the article was accompanied by a photograph of the fella holding a framed picture of what probably is the Carpathia. Big deal, huh?

Sigh. There goes the illusion that I was living within a couple of hours' driving distance of the last genuine Titanic hero. Trust the ET folks to quickly get at the truth!

Cheers.
Matthew L.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
Well, the newspaper got one thing right; the Carpathia was lucky not to join the Titanic on the bottom.
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I'm sure Elizabeth Gladys "Millvina" Dean would be amused to find out her name is Lavinia too.
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The other three remaining survivors are Winnifred Vera Quick Van Tongerloo, Lillian Gertrude Asplund, and Barbera Joyce West Dainton.(See FAQ folder here on ET about that) Rumors of their demise are greatly exaggerated...especially it seems by the press.
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Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
D

Deleted member 173198

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OH NO NOT AGAIN! I don't believe it.

On Saturday 27th March 1999, I accepted a kind invitation to have afternoon tea with Millvina Dean and her friend Bruno.

During the process of that afternoon, Millvina passed a slight comment saying that she used to be in contact with somebody in South Africa, who claim that it was HIM who hoisted her out of the sack and kept her warm and comfortable until she was reunited with her Mother and Brother.

Poor Millvina, because for years afterwards she honestly thought that this guy was genuine, until it was only confirmed a few years ago that he never was a member of the Carpathia's Crew in the first palce.

It just proves what lengths some people will go to seek fame and fortune!

Regards-Andrew W.
 
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