George Prangnell

A

Arne Mjåland

Member
In Southampton Echo April 9 1975 there weas an article about him. Sisters Jane and Leigh Russell had brought Titanic documents to Mike Fenton. The two sisters were great grandchildren of Mr, Pragnell. Mr Fenton was a teacher at St. Mary s Primary School in Southampton, and at that time the school was involved imn maritime topics.
During the rescue Mr. Pragnell s extraordinary ability as a swimmer is mentioned. He claimed he had been picked up by a Southampton based cargo ship, being revived with whisky (medically illadvised) by a crew man from his home port who recognised him.
I do not believe the story, because in the ET biography about him, he was rescued in Collapsible B.
According to the article , Mr. Pragnell remained at sea until the the mid-twenties, then worked in several demanding occupations, as a litter s mate at Vosper Thorneycroft in Woolston as a grain runner , a labourer. He also helped rebuild Southampton after war damages.
Pragnell was called to appear in the official inquiry into the disaster, but he never appeared.
Perhaps any of you have met the sisters Jane and Leigh Russell?. Anyway there seems to be a lot of things undiscovered about Mr. Prangnell. Anybody know which date and month he died in in 1953?
 
Brian J. Ticehurst

Brian J. Ticehurst

RIP
Dear Arne,
Below you will find the answer to your questions about Mr. Prangnell - the truth always comes out.
Regards Brian

PRANGNELL, George. Saved in Lifeboat B. Lived at 3 Brew House Court, St Marys, Southampton. Occupation - Greaser. 31 years old. (Born in Hampshire). Ship before the Titanic was the RMS Olympic.

In The Town Of Sorrow
(From our Special Correspondent)
Southampton April 29th.
Joy and sorrow, elation and depression are mingled in the homes here of the seamen, firemen and stewards of the Titanic.

Feelings of compassion for the heroes who died and for their dependants overshadow the joy at the return of the living. But the little children who cannot understand all that the loss of the Titanic means are happy now that father has come back.

''My two little boys wanted to keep awake all night, said Mrs. Pragnell, the wife of a surviving fireman. ''They were very anxious to see their father, but I told them to go to sleep and I would bring daddy home.''
One woman - Mrs. Priest - had her son restored to her, but each of her two daughters - Nellie and Emmie - lost a sweetheart.
(From the Daily Mirror April 30th 1912 page 4.)



Did this man survive three days in the icy ocean?
By far the most exciting story concerning a Titanic crewman has survived through Mrs. Louise Parker of Golden Grove, a surviving daughter of greaser George Prangnell. The story of Prangnell's escape is truly incredible, and is told here in print for the first time. I suppose there must have been many survivors who felt that they were the ''last to be picked up'', but Mrs. Parker truly believes her father was such. It is not my place to cast doubt upon the story she received from her father, as she and her husband related it to me in all sincerity - I merely wish to express that it remains and probably always will remain uncorroborated by anyone else.

The story came to light through another of my pupils, Jane Russell, Prangnell's great-grand-daughter. Following my reading extracts from Walter Lord's book at school, she turned up one morning with her great-grandfathers Titanic wages-slip, a Board of Trade letter requesting his presence at the disaster inquiry, and his discharge book, vital pieces of history which are significant sources of information about Prangnell's nautical career, various newspapers and documents contain several different spellings of his name, probably culminating through lazy speech, in the modern pronunciation of the name with the first 'n' silent.

George Prangnell was born in Southampton in 1881. His Discharge Book states that he had an anchor tattooed on his left hand. An entry in the front ''Renewal Book Original Lost Through Shipwreck'' refers to the loss of his original in the Titanic sinking, the uniformity of the handwriting throughout indicating that it was copied up from company records when he was re-engaged. He served on the Teutonic and the Majestic, earning entries on his conduct and ability as ''Very Good''. On November 29th, 1911, he was taken on by the Olympic the Titanic's sister-ship, as a fireman, then in March, 1912, he mysteriously quit the job. The record simply states ''Voyage not completed'', and one wonders why? Maybe it was because there was a chance of a job on the prestigious new Titanic? He gained in status on his engagement as a greaser on the new White Star Liner on April 10, 1912, the fateful day on which the Titanic left Southampton for the first and only time. The entry in the discharge book is logged with stark, bare simplicity: '' Voyage - Intended New York: Discharged 15th April, 1912 - At Sea''

Prangnell had left a wife and two sons at home in Brew House Court in Southampton, and his wages slip records that he received £3 2s 4d, for his week with the Titanic, plus an advance of £1 which he had left with his wife to last them until his return. At. 2.20am on April 15, 1912, he like hundreds of others was desperately striving for life in 28 degree Atlantic water. A drifting life-raft came by and he tied himself to it with his braces, he drifted on the Atlantic, I am told, for three days, suspended half-in, half-out of the water. All other survivors, - according to documentation, were rescued by the Carpathia, so maybe Prangnell was the only survivor to be rescued by other means? He was picked up, half-dead, by a cargo vessel, the name of which may never now be discovered, and was recognised and revived with whisky by a Southampton seaman, Mickey Shields, who recognised him the moment he was hauled aboard. After being treated for severe frostbite, exposure and swollen genitalia in a New York hospital he re-enlisted with the White Star Line on July 20, 1912, as a fireman aboard the ''Oceanic''. Maybe a New York medical establishment contains a record of his admittance, or possibly there was tiny mention in an American newspaper of the time? George's story was never chronicled in a Southampton paper, despite the fact that he finally arrived home three months after the other survivors had returned - apparently, say his family, this was his way, shy of publicity. During his absence, he was presumed dead for days after the tragedy by his family, but another story from the Parker family tells how his dependants discovered that he was safe.

The Prangnell family lived at 9 Brew House Court, a tiny cul-de-sac off Brew House Lane, which ran between French Street and High Street, but now no longer exists. In those days mothers could watch from the windows here and see their children playing in the yard of St. John's School, in the days before the Blitz decimated the area and before French Street was truncated by Castle Way. Every day, as did many others, Mrs Prangnall made the sorrowful journey to the White Star Offices in Canute Road to see if her husband's name had been added to the lists of those saved: then one day she returned to the house to be greeted by the old lady who was looking after her two young sons, who informed her that she should not worry any more, for she had seen a vision of George in the flames of their fire, suspended from a life-raft! Several days later, his survival was confirmed with an official message from New York.

After his rescue and eventual return, Prangnell had four more children, and Louise Parker grins as she reflects that she would not even have been born had it not been for her father's iron will to live. She recalls how he never felt warm again, even in summer. He remained at sea until 1924, then worked at Vosper Thornycrofts, shipyard in Woolston and as a grain-runner for Fear & Colebrook in Chapel Road, living a full and active life until his death in 1953.
During 1953, Louisa Parker took her father to the Southampton Odeon to see the 20th Century Fox film, ''Titanic'', starring Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Wagner, this movie being the original film version of the disaster. She remembers her father describing the film as ''eyewash'', and in fact this first celluloid effort is generally remembered as being quite a dreadful film, much of it being quite fictitious, this view being confirmed by Southampton film expert John Edgar Mann, then Features Editor of the Southern Evening Echo.
John Mann, who joined the Echo in 1946, remembers the film well, and also how the Titanic was a taboo subject in those days, for it seems that the disaster was still too painful a memory in the 40s and 50s to be mentioned lightly in the pages of the local paper. Attitudes changed, however, with the release of the film ''A Night To Remember'' in 1958, starring Kenneth Moore, a far more representative and well researched movie, through being based on Walter Lord's book. Its appearance sparked interest in the story, and John can remember interviewing many Titanic survivors for his paper over the years. He also recalls being raised in the Thornhill district of the city, just across the road from a garage owned by two sons of Captain Rostron, of the ''Carpathia'' the Cunard liner which picked up the 705 survivors.
Reprinted from The Hampshire Magazine, 1980 - with permission.


Extract from letter from George Behe, (Titanic historian and author), May 20, 1989.
''A few years ago I found an interesting titbit which, I believe, clears up any mystery surrounding how he was saved. His photograph appears in the May 4, 1912 issue of the Illustrated London News along with other crewmen who had returned to England. The caption of the photo says that he was in the water for his hand and feet were frost-bitten. It seems clear that Prangnell was picked up by the Carpathia along with all the other survivors, and that he returned to England along with the majority of the crew. The only mystery appears to be, ''Why did he invent the story of being picked up by another ship?''. The photo makes it clear that he didn't remain in hospital in America for a long time after the disaster as he later claimed. We'll probably never know the whole story behind Prangnell's account, unfortunately, but I feel reasonably confident in saying that he was rescued by the Carpathia.
 
J

Jane Russell

Guest
Re: Did this man survive three days in the icy ocean?I AM THE GRANDDAUGHTER OF GEORGE PRANGNELL,MY NAME IS JANICE RUSSELL ,IM 65 AND STILL LIVE IN GOLDEN GROVE,AND THE OLDESST LIVING SON OF GEORGE IS BARN PRAGNELL WHO IS 88 AND STILL HAS ALL THE DOCUMENTS MENTIONED ABOVE. I REMEMBER BEING TOLD THIS STORY AS A GRANDCHILD,WHICH WE PASS ON TO OUR GRANDCHILDREN, WHO ARE FASINATED ESPECAILLY WITH SCHOOL TOPICS,HE DIED AT THE AGE OF 72 OF CANCER AND HIS BURIED IN STONEHAM CEMEMTERY,NEXT TO ANOTHER TITANTIC SURVIVOR
 
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