Frederick Fleet


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To answer your question Nathan -- Frederick Fleet was on active service during the First World War. He was mostly in the Merchant Service doing conveying troop movements to various ports. He demobilized in the November of 1918, and went back to civic street. To quash all the rumours spreading around the answer falls on "yes" Fred and Eva did have a daughter who did marry and today a large number of grandchildren are in circulation.
 
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Fleet worked on the Olympic from 1920 until 1935 (including her final voyage). According to the crew manifests found on Ancestry.com he sailed on the Olympic at least 220 times as Able Seaman and Lookout. I always assumed a deal was done with the company to secure his discretion concerning the truth behind the Titanic disaster.


He can be found on 110 westbound crossings on the Olympic to New York from 1920 to 1935. The records do not show eastbound crossings, but one can assume he sailed the return journey each time as well, making a total of 220 crossings on the Olympic during those 15 years.

FleetOlympic.PNG



What is interesting is that his name has been crossed out in the below voyage in 1921. I understand the Olympic may been commanded by a different Captain around that time. I wonder if the Captain objected to Fleet being on the ship? e.g. "I don't care what the company said. Get off my ship!"


Fleet1921.PNG


He was back on the next voyage, so maybe the company had cautioned the new Captain and told him to let Fleet back on the ship again because they did a deal with him?

I noticed his profile is incorrect. This very website says: 'From June 1912, Fleet served briefly as Seaman on the White Star liner Olympic. (220 voyages spanning over 15 years is certainly not briefly). He found that White Star looked at the surviving officers and crew as embarrassing reminders of the recent disaster and he left the company in August 1912. (He left in 1935 when the Olympic went out of service). For the next 24 years Fleet sailed with Union-Castle and various other companies (Ancestry has no record of that, only the Olympic from 1920 to 1935), finishing with the sea in 1936. (Ancestry has no mention of him on any crew lists after April 1935 following the Olympic's retirement.)


I wonder why he chose to serve on that particular ship for the entire time and why he did not transfer to another ship after the Olympic retired?


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The other side of the story turns on his brother-in-law Philip Le Gros. His was also employed on the Olympic, mostly in the twenties.
 
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Somehow I missed all this level of replies and exchanges. Dave Fredericks has supplied all of the answers to your questions which I am happy about. Eva, Frederick wife, is buried in the family plot whereas Fred is buried among the paupers at Hollybrook Cemetery which is another huge cemetery based at Southampton.
 
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Thanks. I researched Philip LeGros on Ancestry and he appears on over 140 westbound voyages on the Olympic as a steward in the 1920's and 1930's. If he sailed on the return journeys then he might have made an incredible 280+ voyages on the Olympic. I wonder if he put in a good word for Fleet or vice versa, or perhaps they both found the Olympic to be a good reliable ship to serve on - hence her nickname 'The Old Reliable'.


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Difficult to say Aaron. I prefer the latter you quoted, possible case where Fleet recommended LeGros. Unfortunately we'll never know the full truth, although a nice thought to seriously think about. LeGros was formerly employed at Thornycrofts wayback in the day's I vividly remember when they became known as Vosper Thornycroft's and long before closure took place in Southampton moving all ship building operations down at Portsmouth. LeGros also served during World War One, so he saw a loads of bloody-battles and bloodshed. I managed to find a rare photo shot of him from a press cutting showing his group regiment, ready to face and undergo the horrors of warfare.
 
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Andrew Williams, can you provide source material for the date you have mentioned, and any info as to the ships Fred served on in WWI? I know he was on Olympic, but I have been unable to find the crew manifest, I'm guessing it's because there was no public listing of the crew of a troop transport vessel.
 
I've long though that Fred Fleet's last letter to Ed Kamuda is the most moving document in the Titanic canon. I wonder if a bit of practical help might have saved him, had it arrived in time.

I suppose Fred had some good times, but overall it seems a bleak existence. He wasn't the shiniest apple in the barrel, but I have a sense of the basic honesty of a man who did his best with the little he had. I suspect there were many like him among the workers of England.
And it is impossible to forget the fact that at that time, the PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) was not known from people of that time and without being sure, of course, but we can't dismiss completely the fact that the sinking must have played a part in Fleet' suicide. PTSD was not even known during World War II, and General's like Patton especially thought that soldiers just play a game to avoid combat when they were nerve-breaking on the battlefields. It almost cost Patton his job because in North Africa the slapped in the face a soldier who had lost his mind during combat. It then made a big deal and Eisenhower and the President Roosevelt called Patton back because of the bad publicity. It's History, but the fact is that when the TITANIC sank, they did know that PTSD could lead straight forward to a suicide later in life. And that was the case of few crew members and passengers (Thayer and 4 ou 5 other, if I am right).
 
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Hello! Does anybody know whatever happened to Fleet's brother-in-law?, Is he dead? Thank you.
Are you serious ??? We are talking about men who were born in 1880's, that is to say whose average age would be at least 134 years old for Fleet, and his brother-in-law would have been around the same with just few years more or less than him.
You must be kidding, don't you ?
 

Arun Vajpey

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It's History, but the fact is that when the TITANIC sank, they did know that PTSD could lead straight forward to a suicide later in life. And that was the case of few crew members and passengers (Thayer and 4 ou 5 other, if I am right).
I think Titanic related PTSD had little or nothing to do with Jack Thayer's suicide. I know that he lost his father in the disaster but his statements and drawings do suggest that he retained his faculties quite well in the aftermath. He went to university, graduated, became a successful banker, married and raised a family. While it is impossible to state whether there was a Titanic scar in the back of his mind, it is generally believed that his suicide in 1945 was related to the death of his son in the Pacific Theater of World War II.
 
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And it is impossible to forget the fact that at that time, the PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) was not known from people of that time and without being sure, of course, but we can't dismiss completely the fact that the sinking must have played a part in Fleet' suicide. PTSD was not even known during World War II, and General's like Patton especially thought that soldiers just play a game to avoid combat when they were nerve-breaking on the battlefields. It almost cost Patton his job because in North Africa the slapped in the face a soldier who had lost his mind during combat. It then made a big deal and Eisenhower and the President Roosevelt called Patton back because of the bad publicity. It's History, but the fact is that when the TITANIC sank, they did know that PTSD could lead straight forward to a suicide later in life. And that was the case of few crew members and passengers (Thayer and 4 ou 5 other, if I am right).
Interesting post. You bring up some interesting questions. PTSD was just called by different names then. WW1 it was called shell shock, WW2 it was called combat fatigue. After Vietnam the preferred term became PTSD. They did then and still today know about it they just don't always know the best way to treat it. Another problem I see with it is that today too many people claim PTSD for frivolous reasons. The meaning has been diluted. Just look at all the people who claim to have to have PTSD for reasons that are comical in my opinion. I guess its all what you consider to be traumatic. As for Patton some recent historians claim that Patton was suffering from it himself. Not sure I buy that theory myself. What he did was wrong but I believe it was more out of frustration because the Sicily campaign was getting bogged down at least in his mind. Patton was a 1st century general that found himself in a 20th century war. At least he didn't try to bring back decimation...:eek:. But back to Titanic, like Arun I think it could have been a contributing scar but a lot of other factors were involved. But I don't know how one would ever be sure to what the tipping point was. Just my 2 cents worth. Cheers.
 

Arun Vajpey

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But back to Titanic, like Arun I think it could have been a contributing scar but a lot of other factors were involved. But I don't know how one would ever be sure to what the tipping point was.
PTSD is generally associated with personal suffering rather then as a third party, including bereavement. The most often understood examples started from US POWs who underwent bad treatment at the hands of the Viet-Cong but of course there were others before and after. PTSD almost always affects behavioral pattern in the aftermath of the event, which did not happen to Jack Thayer after he lost his father in 1912. He coped with the bereavement and got on with his life, but as I said before, it might have left a scar somewhere in the confines of his mind. Therefore, loss of his son 33 years later might have acted as a 'booster' to bring about the suicidal intent and deed. His personal sorrow undoubtedly led to the suicide but IMO that is not the same as PTSD.

You also have to remember that parents and other family of young people going off to fight in any war always have the fear/knowledge in the backs of their minds that their loved ones may not come back. Therefore, it is not as unexpected as losing a son or daughter in an accident, for example.


PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) was not known from people of that time and without being sure, of course, but we can't dismiss completely the fact that the sinking must have played a part in Fleet' suicide.
I have to disagree with that opinion. Fleet's experience on board the Titanic during its maiden voyage was not the sort of trauma that could have led to PTSD. He was one of the lookouts at the time, yes, but he did his duty properly as far as is known and he certainly would not have carried any guilt complex afterwards; sorrow for the loss of so many lives including colleagues, yes, but not guilt. He was rescued on an early lifeboat (#6) and so the experience on board the Titanic per se IMO had nothing to do with his suicide 53 years later.

On the other hand, his childhood experience of being abandoned by his mother, growing up in foster care etc would have left a major scar. That would have come back to haunt him in the 1964 when his wife died and her brother evicted Fred; that sort of scenario is just the sort of thing to aggravate latent suicidal intent.
 
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PTSD is generally associated with personal suffering rather then as a third party, including bereavement. The most often understood examples started from US POWs who underwent bad treatment at the hands of the Viet-Cong but of course there were others before and after. PTSD almost always affects behavioral pattern in the aftermath of the event, which did not happen to Jack Thayer after he lost his father in 1912. He coped with the bereavement and got on with his life, but as I said before, it might have left a scar somewhere in the confines of his mind. Therefore, loss of his son 33 years later might have acted as a 'booster' to bring about the suicidal intent and deed. His personal sorrow undoubtedly led to the suicide but IMO that is not the same as PTSD.

You also have to remember that parents and other family of young people going off to fight in any war always have the fear/knowledge in the backs of their minds that their loved ones may not come back. Therefore, it is not as unexpected as losing a son or daughter in an accident, for example.


I have to disagree with that opinion. Fleet's experience on board the Titanic during its maiden voyage was not the sort of trauma that could have led to PTSD. He was one of the lookouts at the time, yes, but he did his duty properly as far as is known and he certainly would not have carried any guilt complex afterwards; sorrow for the loss of so many lives including colleagues, yes, but not guilt. He was rescued on an early lifeboat (#6) and so the experience on board the Titanic per se IMO had noting to do with his suicide 53 years later.

On the other hand, his childhood experience of being abandoned by his mother, growing up in foster care etc would have left a major scar. That would have come back to haunt him in the 1964 when his wife died and her brother evicted Fred; that sort of scenario is just the sort of thing to aggravate latent suicidal intent.
Pretty much agree with all you said. The only thing I could add is that I've read accounts from survivors that have said listening to the screams and cries of the 1500+ people in the water never went away. It stayed with them their whole lives. My dad related something similar to me about his experiences of having to sail by torpedoed ships with survivors in the water which was also freezing. He couldn't forget it. I haven't read much about Mr. Fleet other than the general bio. But didn't he have serious health problems toward the end? Sometimes that can be the tipping factor for people to cash in their chips.
 

Arun Vajpey

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The only thing I could add is that I've read accounts from survivors that have said listening to the screams and cries of the 1500+ people in the water never went away. It stayed with them their whole lives.
Certainly. But that is a different kind of trauma and in a situation like with the Titanic, unlikely to lead to 'conventional' PTSD (if there is such a thing).

Also, one has to bear in mind that Fleet was rescued on Lifeboat #6, with QM Hichens in charge. If other survivor accounts are to be believed, he declined to go back anywhere near the sinking ship and by inference, might have been too far away to hear the screams and other sounds towards the end. But I'd like to be enlightened on this; did many survivors on board Lifeboat #6 report hearing them?
 
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I believe PTSD exists. Like I said the problem is that it has been over applied to where it has diluted the meaning for the legitimate cases. As for boat #6 I would need to research the people who were on it as I don't know. The one story I have always remembered was the survivor who lived next to the baseball field (I think it was Thayer) that when he heard the crowd cheer it always brought him back to the night of Titanic.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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I believe PTSD exists. Like I said the problem is that it has been over applied to where it has diluted the meaning for the legitimate cases.
Absolutely right on both counts. The issue is that being a relatively new diagnosis (in Mental Health terms), the boundaries are a bit hazy at this stage and likely over-applied.

During my GP days, I worked with the Mental Health team often in cases suspected to have PTSD. In most cases, those involved experiences in the Gulf War, Afghanistan etc, especially the latter for Brits. Depression, even the occasional suicidal intent associated with things like bereavement, estrangement, financial setbacks etc were not considered as PTSD.

Based on that, IMO Frederick Fleet did not suffer from PTSD and his suicide 53 years after the disaster were almost certainly due to more personal issues - past and (then) present. He had quite a disturbed childhood and while details are limited, being an illegitimate son of an unwed mother who abandoned him and ran away to America with a boyfriend would have left a major scar. Added to that, being brought-up in different foster homes in those days would have resulted in its own baggage that he had to carry for the rest of his life. The scars would certainly would have been still relatively fresh when Fleet became a sailor. If anything, a completely different experience like the Titanic disaster in which he came through (from his own survival perspective) could have switched priorities and to some extent helped him to bury his own personal past. But the family difficulties in later life, death of his wife followed by eviction by his brother-in-law would have brought back long dormant personal memories and could easily have acted collectively as the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.
 
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Absolutely right on both counts. The issue is that being a relatively new diagnosis (in Mental Health terms), the boundaries are a bit hazy at this stage and likely over-applied.

During my GP days, I worked with the Mental Health team often in cases suspected to have PTSD. In most cases, those involved experiences in the Gulf War, Afghanistan etc, especially the latter for Brits. Depression, even the occasional suicidal intent associated with things like bereavement, estrangement, financial setbacks etc were not considered as PTSD.

Based on that, IMO Frederick Fleet did not suffer from PTSD and his suicide 53 years after the disaster were almost certainly due to more personal issues - past and (then) present. He had quite a disturbed childhood and while details are limited, being an illegitimate son of an unwed mother who abandoned him and ran away to America with a boyfriend would have left a major scar. Added to that, being brought-up in different foster homes in those days would have resulted in its own baggage that he had to carry for the rest of his life. The scars would certainly would have been still relatively fresh when Fleet became a sailor. If anything, a completely different experience like the Titanic disaster in which he came through (from his own survival perspective) could have switched priorities and to some extent helped him to bury his own personal past. But the family difficulties in later life, death of his wife followed by eviction by his brother-in-law would have brought back long dormant personal memories and could easily have acted collectively as the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.
Well you have experience in this so I will defer to your knowledge about the subject. Its interesting what you said about the Titanic disaster switching priorities. There are cases of something like that happening. I read once that after the attack on Pearl Harbor a lot of shrinks lost many clients because they realized their problems were pretty petty compared to the big picture and snapped out of whatever they were having trouble with. Either that or the war gave them a purpose. As for Fleet and Thayer the disaster didn't seem to hold them back from getting on with things for 30-40+ years.
 

Arun Vajpey

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I read once that after the attack on Pearl Harbor a lot of shrinks lost many clients because they realized their problems were pretty petty compared to the big picture and snapped out of whatever they were having trouble with. Either that or the war gave them a purpose.
True. The uncomfortable truth is that something like war brings out the best in most people. And there is a Titanic related example, but as it may ruffle a few feathers I hasten to add that it is just my opinion. Period.

No matter how others feel, I will always believe that during the time he was a Second Officer on board the Titanic, Charles Lightoller was a very self-indulgent individual to whom looking after Number One was a top priority. When the Titanic struck the iceberg and started to sink, things happened too unexpectedly and too fast for someone like Lightoller to sit back and take stock of the situation, including his own position. Therefore, he did his duty as he saw it almost instinctively but I'll always believe that at the back of his mind during those 2 hours and 40 minutes, he expected to survive himself. I am not claiming that he had any specific plan in mind, but went along as events transpired and eventually got on board the overturned Collapsible B. In my book, during the Titanic disaster and its immediate aftermath Lightoller was neither the hero that some made him out to be nor a villain; he was just an ordinary man and showed it.

But Lightoller the commanding officer who was twice decorated for valour in the First World War and the old sailor who took his private yacht Sundowner to assist in the Dunkirk evacuation of the Second World War was a different person altogether. With those situations, he had time to sit back, take stock of the situation and his position and make decisions based on them. But he was not alone; thousands of other people of all ages and backgrounds reached above their ordinary selves to help out. Given the right sort of situation (which I hope does not arise), some of us in these forums may also surprise ourselves by rising to the occasion.

Well you have experience in this so I will defer to your knowledge about the subject.
To be honest, anyone's 'experience' in Mental Health issues is really more limited than is generally believed. Unlike physical health issues, we are still scratching the surface with regard to complexities of the human mind, both normal and what we believe could be abnormal. Most of the current treatment procedures for mental illnesses is aimed at symptom control so that the patient is able to lead a relatively 'normal' life; but that's really not what you or I might call a 'cure'. There is still a long way to go.

I come from a culture where only a generation ago anyone with any sort of mental disturbance, including things like post-natal depression, was labelled as "mad", resulting in extreme social stigma, not only for themselves but also their families.
 

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