Titanic Rescuer Herbert Johnston dies at 104


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Dennis Foley

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Today's paper (Ft. Lauderdale "Sun-Sentinel)notes that Herbert Johnston, one of the last living rescuers of survivors of Titanic, died at age 104 in South Africa (per Durban "Daily News"). British-born Mr. Johnston served as a 15-year old apprentice aboard Carpathia in 1912 and helped rescue Titanic passengers. Mr. Johnston recalled holding a 9-month old baby girl during the rescue and 11 years ago that survivor (Millvena Dean???) sent him a letter of thanks." Do we know if there are any other Carpathia crew still alive??? Thought you all might find this interesting. Regards. Dennis
 
May 8, 2001
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Pat Cook

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Apr 26, 2000
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Just a quick note here. On another list, Brian Ticehurst posted that this account should be taken with a grain of salt. This claim was made years ago by Mr. Johnson and at the time some investigated and could find no mention of him on any of the Carpathia's ships registries.

Thought I'd pass that along since I don't believe Brian is a member here.

Best regards, all around,
Cook
 
Sep 20, 2000
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Pat: Looks like you beat me to it.

Indeed, Brian relayed that an extensive search of PRO's records was done some years back, and no Mr. Herbert Johnson could be located among the crew.

I'll admit it could be possible, but I'll take my rock of salt now, thank you.

Mike: Good find! (Do you ever wonder if the real cause of Titanic's sinking might have been the colossal weight of all those additional "unlisted" people who were aboard?) ;^)

Cheers,
John
 
Dec 13, 1999
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Yes, we've encountered Herbert Johnson before. It appears that he was manipulated by certain people with a financial interest in Titanic matters.

Geoff
 
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Mikael Jonsson

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Hi.

I read today that Herbert Johnston died today. He was on Carpathia when they rescued passengers from Titanic. He was 104 years old. The article says that he was one of the last from Carpathia's crew still alive. Are there any more alive? Are there any more Titanicrelated people from 1912 still alive except for the four titanicsurvivors?

/Mikael
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
G'Day Mikael...we've discussed this last week. It seems there's one very big problem with the story; Johnston (Or Johnson) is nowhere to be found on the Carpathia's crew list.

Seems this particular hoax has been around for several years now with the man's passing being the only new wrinkle in the story.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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Mikael Jonsson

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Why would anyone make a fake story like that? Are you sure he couldn't have been on Carpathia? Maybe he wasn't on the list because he wasn't a real crewmember. He was on the ship learning to be one.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Sorry Mikael, it doesn't work that way. Anybody aboard learning to be a sailor would be carried on the crew list somwhere. That includes officer apprentices. Any untrained hands not learning to be an officer would be carried as an ordinary seaman. Anyone not a member of the crew in any capacity would be carried on the passenger list.

Why would anybody fake a story like that? Well, it's a nice way to get into the public limelight and for glory seekers, that's all it takes.

Sorry to break the news to you, but this particular story is a confirmed hoax. Titanic lore is loaded with them.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Kyrila Scully

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Apr 15, 2001
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Hi, Mikael,

There are many reasons people "fake" being someone. One reason is that it gives them a special identity that attracts people to them who otherwise wouldn't give them the time of day. I have a newspaper clipping from a Cedar Rapids, Iowa newspaper dated 1926 where this fellow claims he was a steward aboard Titanic that fateful night. His name does not appear on any crew sign-in sheets, or survivor lists of any kind, and his story is so full of inaccuracies as to be hysterically funny. But the poor old man was all alone, and was a humble gardener, and being a "survivor" made people pay attention to him, and made his life less lonely. In my own family, a relative claims we lost a cousin on Titanic who worked as a stewardess. He is the only relative who remembered the cousin, and the only one who knew of her supposedly being on the Titanic. I doubt the cousin even existed, and certainly no such woman by that name was on the ship, but it gives this relative something to talk about and have people listen to. I hope this helps you understand why there are so many false claims of people who say they were on Titanic or Carpathia. I imagine it would be easier to fake being on the Carpathia as fewer people would know as much about that ship as they would the Titanic. So there you go.

Kyrila
 
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Mikael Jonsson

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Someone must have been preparing this story for a long time. I found this quote in a post which is almost one year old:

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........... ..........

Okey the whole story is probably fake, but it interesting to see how a story from South Africa can be spread all around the world. It was in the newspapers in USA and here in Europe (Sweden) there was an article about him this Monday.

I wonder if there are more famous stories or persons from Titanic that are not true. I mean
except for all the famous myths.
 
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Mikael Jonsson

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"Johnston can still rattle off lists facts and figures - without hesitation - about the Titanic and various other ships associated with her."

Since he know so much about the ship maybe he was a Titanicfreak who wanted to get famous before he died or something
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well enought about him...
 

Dave Gittins

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Mar 16, 2000
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Mikael, look on the list of unlisted passengers and crew on this site.

An interesting case is our local fraud, John Beattie Butler. His story seems to be a composite of several shipwrecks that he may have read about. The 200 Salvation Army victims may come from the 'Empress of Ireland' wreck. The passengers trying to escape through portholes couls be from the 'Noronic' fire. Some of his facts about 'Titanic' are quite correct. The human mind is a strange thing!
 
Sep 26, 1999
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In 1998, when the Titanic was at its zenith in popularity, there was a story on a local television station of a woman at a nursing home in the Charlotte NC area who was aboard the Carpathia. I wish I had paid more attention to the story.
 
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Andrew Neel

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We all feel sorry for the people who lost their lives on the titanic
 
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