Frank Prentice


Jul 22, 2001
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Hello all. Whilst checking through a 1912 copy of my local paper I have found an interview with survivor storekeeper Frank Prentice. I am wondering if it is o.k to put it on here for others to read. In the article Mr Prentice describes what happened to him on the night of the sinking. Emma
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Depends on the paper I believe, Emma, and whether it's still publishing as to whether the copyright would be valid - but it would be great to read it :) Prentice seems to have given a few interviews after he arrived back in the UK (or at least several newspaper scribes were jotting down notes at once as he spoke) - I've pulled a few versions of his story out of the UK papers, so would be keen to see how the one you collected compares to the other published versions.

~ Inger
 
A

Andrew Williams

Guest
Emma- Have you by any chance got the audiocassette tape called:- Titanic Memories. Reporter: Dennis Skillicorn, Olympic Productuions 1993.

Prentice give a brilliant interview just before he passed away in May 1982.

Andrew W.
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Lol! Emma, I'm going to have to look through and see if he said anything similar in the interviews I have.

What I found utterly chilling was his remarks from the perspective of someone in the water - how they tried to stay together but as one by one the others died Prentice finally had to swim away from them and find some wreckage to cling to.

I still haven't sat down to listen to that tape, Andrew. Am kicking myself, as yesterday afternoon with the dismal rain pouring down would have been the perfect time to curl up on the couch with a warming drink of something hot laced with rum to listen to it. No doubt, with Winter well on the way, I'll have a few more such opportunities!

~ Inger
 
Jul 22, 2001
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Hello Inger, Frank doen't mention anything about being in the water in this interview. He does say that before he left the ship he took a bottle of brandy which caught the eye of the officer in charge of the lifeboat that picked him up. The bottle was taken from him ( before he had any of it!)and thrown overboard,in case it made matters worse as the women were all hysterical though he thought it may have helped 2 firemen that they picked up. one of the firemen died shortly after. I wonder who the other one was. Emma
 

Andrew Maheux

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Dec 4, 2000
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In a video documentary I think made in 1982 just before Frank Prentice's death he gives a great account of the sinking including survivors such as Ruth Becker Blanchard, Edwina Troutt Macenzie (sp?), George Thomas (3rd class) and Eva Hart.

The video is called "Titanic Survivors"

Best Regards to all

Andrew Maheux
 
Jan 29, 2001
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Hello:

Mr. Prentice also gave an exclusive interview in "Titanic, A Question of Murder". He goes in-depth about his last moments aboard Titanic atop the "WARNING: THIS VESSEL IS TRIPLE SCREWED
KEEP CLEAR OF THE BLADES".
board which was mounted on the poop railing.

He does talk of a shipmate, whom broke his leg during abandonment from Titanic.

Michael Cundiff
U.S.A.
 
A

Andrew Williams

Guest
>>}He does talk of a shipmate, whom broke his leg during the abandonment of Titanic.

Michael>> That man Frank Prentice is referring to is his best friend Mr Cyril.S Ricks. Position on board Titanic:- Assistant Storekeeper.

I recommend Michael that you purchase the audio-cassette tape (Titanic Memories) I mentioned early on. The whole story is a fascinating experience and gives the listener a chance to observe the various accounts from the survivors concern, such as Major Frank Prentice, and the other survivors also include Eva Hart, Edith Haisman and Millvina Dean with a further interview done back in 1937 with Second Officer Lightoller.

The tape is worth adding to your collection.

Best wishes

Andrew W. U.K.
 
Jul 22, 2001
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Hi Andrew,
That tape sounds fascinating! I have been keeping an eye out for a copy since your last post, but have had no luck as of yet. Any ideas as to where i might get a copy?
Emma - in UK
 
A

Andrew Williams

Guest
Hi Emma,

I've just checked your Profile and noticed you live in Britain. The best place to obtain this tape is from W.H.Smiths&Co.

I expect there could be a delay as they might have to place an order on your behalf.

Best wishes

Andrew W.
 
Jul 21, 2008
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Hey all,

I know from this site's bio that Prentice signed onto the Oceanic in July later that year, but does anyone else know any details on his life afterward? Did he keep working at sea? I know he was of course interviewed in "Titanic: A Question of Murder" shortly before his passing in 1982. Any help would be appreciated.

Marshall
 
Apr 27, 2003
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Hello Marshal - Below I append my biography of Mr. Prentice - please note the discrepancies in the different acounts and how the 'facts' change - I hope that it helps?
Best regards

Brian

PRENTICE, FRANK GEORGE Saved in Lifeboat number 4. Lived at 71 Denzil Avenue, Nicholstown, Southampton. Occupation - Assistant Storekeeper, Kitchen. 23 years old. (Born in Norfolk). Ship before the RMS Titanic was the RMS Celtic. Died 1982.
(From The Courier, Tunbridge Wells, April 19, 1912).
Local Men On The Titanic
Mr. Frank W. Prentice, aged 22, son of Mrs. Prentice, of 14, York Road, Tunbridge Wells, formed one of the great liner's crew. He had been connected with the mercantile marine since he was fourteen years of age, and had held appointments on the Adriatic, Celtic, Oceanic, and other big liners. It is hoped that he may prove to be among the survivors and much sympathy will be felt with his relatives in their distressing anxiety.
(From The Courier, Tunbridge Wells, April 26th, 1912).
Tunbridge Wells Men Saved
On Friday, the first news arrived in England of the actual scenes which occurred at the sinking of the Titanic, and also the names of the members of the crew who were saved. From that the joyful tidings were received that the two Tunbridge Wells men who formed part of the ship's crew were among the survivors. Telegrams received early in the morning announced that Mr. A. Haines, the Boatswain's Mate, brother of Mr. C. Haines, of Queens Road was safe and also that Mr. F. W. Prentice son of Mr. Prentice of York Road, was among the survivors.
(From The Courier, Tunbridge Wells, May 3, 1912).
Mr. F. W. Prentice, the son of Mrs. Prentice, of York Road, Tunbridge Wells was among the survivors who were interviewed on arrival, at Southampton.
Among the survivors who were sunning themselves at the dockside outside the offices of the Board of Trade, says the Daily Telegraph Special Correspondent was a Mr. Prentice, a storekeeper on the Titanic.
He did not appear to be much the worse for the trying experience he had gone through. In conversation, he said:
''I was in the storekeeper's room when the collision occurred, and did not notice any impact at all. for some time after the order had been given to go on deck none of us anticipated any real danger. I and other storekeepers chatted on deck and smoked cigarettes. As the forepart of the ship became unseaworthy, we got on to the poop, eventually climbing to the extreme end. I heard crowds of passengers singing hymns just before the vessel went down. I hung on by the rail and then let myself drop into the sea. The distance to the water was quite 75 feet, and I thought I was never going to get there. When I did come into contact with the water, it was like a knife cutting into me. my limbs and body ached for days afterwards. However, when I came to the surface I was able to strike out. Before leaving the ship I went to the store and got a bottle of brandy, which I put into my pocket, and it caught the eye of the seaman in charge of the lifeboat which was coming to save me. When he dragged me into the boat he took away the bottle of brandy, which I had not made use of, and threw it into the water, with the remark that he would not let anyone have it in the boat. The women in the boat were hysterical, and he was afraid that the brandy, if drunk, might have a worse effect, but, it might have been the means of saving life, as we picked up two firemen who had been in the water a long time, and one afterwards died in the boat as the result of exposure. The other fireman went crazy, and kept trying to clamber out of the boat, but I managed to keep him down. He is now recovered''.
In response to congratulations on his escape from a watery grave, and on his feat in jumping from such a height, Mr. Prentice jokingly rejoined: ''I'm thinking of exhibiting myself at Brighton Pier in the summer as a high diver.''
We also quote the following from the Daily Mirror.
One of the most interesting survivors among the stewards is a young fellow named Prentice, who jumped 100ft into the water from the deck when the stern had risen high in the air.
''He had first made a raft (which he threw over and found in the water) out of two chairs and some cushions. He was floating over two hours before he was picked up.
''According to him, it was failure to realise the imminence of danger that caused the deaths of hundreds. Passengers and crew alike believed the ship to be unsinkable.
(Newscutting Southern Evening Echo 15 April, 1982.)
Note discrepancies from above. Age. Storekeeper not Purser etc.
Frank Prentice was 18 when he joined the Titanic as an assistant purser but after the massive liner struck the iceberg which was to sink her he found himself doing a job which was the worst anyone can do.
He had to part women from their husbands to get them into the lifeboats as the crew carried out the famous order ''Women and Children First''.
At the very end of luxury liner's life Frank was still on board at the stern of the ship and escaped by diving 100 ft into the icy Atlantic.
''I was hanging on to a board on the ship's rails. I was one of two warning people to keep clear of the propellers,'' he said, adding as the stern rose like a giant finger in the sky he was lying flat on the board.
He was finally picked up by one of the Titanic's lifeboats, and, frozen stiff, was later rescued by the Carpathia.
Frank later joined the army - and now Major Frank Prentice MC aged 87 lives in his retirement in Bournemouth, perhaps the only crew member still surviving from the Titanic disaster.
When he dived into the Atlantic over the Titanic's dripping propellers Major Prentice was convinced he would die as he floated away from the stern of the ship.
Major Prentice believes the Titanic committed suicide. ''She was sacrificed for speed''.
(There is some doubt as to whether the title Major is right?)

Cheers Brian
 
Jul 21, 2008
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Brian,

Thank you so much! This really helps and will add well to his interview in "Question." Great to read more about him.
 

Thomas Ozel

Member
May 17, 2012
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Hello everyone

In this BBC South Today interview, Frank Prentice is addressed by the interviewer as "Major", is described as working in the Purser's office and only being 18 years old at the time of the sinking. Prentice says nothing to contradict him on any of these points, so presumably this information is correct.

I hope this helps.

Thomas.

Titanic Archive - Frank Prentice - YouTube
 

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