Walter John Perkis


Sam Brannigan

Member
Feb 24, 2007
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Hello all

I managed to catch the tail end of a programme on ITV in the UK tonight called "Find Your Family"
Normally I hate these typically sentimental, gut wrenching programmes, but one segment in it really caught my eye.
There was a gentleman who had checked his genealogy and discovered that he was a close descendent of QM Perkis of the Titanic.
The segment ended with this man standing at his ancestors unmarked grave weeping uncontrollably and chastising himself for doing so as he had only come to know of QM Perkis very recently. He could not give a reason for his emotional reaction, indeed he was quite embarrassed, but he was adamant that an unmarked grave was unfit for a hero and that he would take steps to remedy the situation.
I found myself thinking about salvaging items from the Titanic, and how I had thought that it would be Ok after the last survivor had passed away. Now I am not so sure. I have just seen a very poignant eye-opener.
It is remarkable how the Titanic disaster can still have such a profound effect on people today. Not just you and I who are fascinated by the subject, but also people like the man who stood at the grave of a long dead sailor and lamented his passing and the events of his life.
Perhaps some of you have had the privilege of meeting ancestors and relatives of those on the Titanic and I can only say that your perspective of the disaster must be much more universal, and in many ways sadder, than the rest of us. Mine has certainly become so after what I saw tonight.

I hope you will forgive me naming a conversation after Quartermaster Perkis, an ordinary/extraordinary man. Hopefully somewhere along this thread someone will report that his gravestone has been erected. Until then, although he rests in an unmarked grave I hope you don't mind me marking his name here.


Regards

Sam
 
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Andrew Williams

Guest
Sam, In Tuesday night's Echo (Southampton edition) they gave a beautiful artilce reporting about Perkis. In fact, I can confirm the whole family, relations as well, have clubed together and erected a headstone honouring the bravery of this man. If you wish to have a photocopy of this report, then you can contact me on TitanicARJHW@aol.com

Regards-Andrew Williams.

P.S-Sadly I missed this programme after speaking to one of the relations on Wednesday morning, and what a strange coincidence, would you believe she lives just a few hundred yards down the road from me!
 
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Andrew Williams

Guest
Yes I know Phil, and that upset's me more than anything else.

Still, I can only try and make contact with Meridian in Southampton, and see if I can obtain a video copy of the first programme.

Regards-Andrew.

Yes I am also including a copy for your web-site Phil.
 
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Robert Daniel

Guest
Sam,

I'm the gentleman to whom you refer.

I am from Southampton and my family were in the Merchant Navy. I've been past the Titanic Memorial in Southampton to the engineers many times, they say "every street in Southampton lost someone that night"

I also caught a programme on the TV the other week (not the one I was in)they showed a map of Southampton, then superimposed upon it a red dot at every address where a man was lost. It was shocking. Southampton was a mass of red dots - especially the inner city where the Merchant sailors who crewed her would have lived.

These are some of the reasons that have led me to feel for a long time that Titanic is a mass grave and should be respected as such. Personally I'd like to see the civic authorities in Southampton speaking out on this but I doubt they ever will.

So I'm glad that my experience of discovering Walter's Grave has had such an impact upon you.
(And share your dislike of sentimental, gut wrenching...) As you saw I was genuinely surprised at my own reaction.

Philip,

Can I add my thanks for such a great site. I believe it an almost unique example of truly exploiting the power of the internet. It must have contributed more to our knowledge and understanding of the Titanic then any amount of plundering artefacts could ever hope to achieve. I hope its name was on screen long enough for others to discover this treasure trove.

Andrew, Sam,

Carlton TV attended the short service of commemoration for Walter's headstone and they will broadcast it in the last episode of Find Your Family (Circa August 16th) - So Andrew, you've not missed it all.

Finally, I'd like to go on record to point out that the real research that enabled me to find my link to Walter and ultimately his grave was not undertaken by me but by other "cousins" of Walter's and finally Carlton TV and I'm very grateful to them.

Regards,

Rob
 

Kate Bortner

Member
May 17, 2001
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Rob~ our hearts are with you. Yours is a moving story I'm glad you (and Sam)shared it with us.
-kate bortner
 
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Andrew Williams

Guest
Hi Rob,

It's so good to see that somebody on this Board is possibly from the Southampton area just like myself.
I can share many stories with you Rob because I had a grandfather who was a Sotonian man, and he can vividly recall when the Town received the most devastating news when Titanic had founded.
Do remeber, Southampton was a large Town then before been granted as city-status in 1964.
It is true, "nearly every street in Southampton did loss someone or somebody that night"!
Perhaps the other surprise came when I was speaking to one of your relations, the day after the Southampton Echo had published the restitution of Perkis gravestone. So much so, I had such a shock I couldn't believe that we live roughly a thousands yards from each other. 'What a small world'!
Thank you also for bring to my attention that the programme will be repeated on the 16th August. I shall certainly make a note of this in my diary without fail.
If there is an occasion Rob that you want to make contact, than I will authorise to use my e-mail address what's already confirmed for Sam Brannigan.

All the best wishes and once again thank you-Andrew Williams.
 

James Hill

Member
Feb 20, 2002
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I don`t know quite what to say here.But very few websites and books with this site being a notable exception have mentioned Perkis as having gone back.After all he did pull 8 crewmen out of the water though unfortuanatly 2 died.What I`m saying is doesnt Mr Perkis deserve more credit.Anyone agree with me.
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
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UK
Whilst it might be argued whether Perkis alone made the decision to do so (there were several other highly experienced seamen on board) there is no doubt that his was the only boat's crew which rowed to the aft gangway as instructed, and waited there until it was no longer safe to do so. Thus they were still close enough to rescue several men from the water just before and after the ship sank. As you say, this achievement is one which has not been neglected in these threads. And Perkis' previously unmarked grave has recently been provided with a fine stone which draws attention to his role: 'Quartermaster RMS Titanic. Commanded lifeboat No 4. Rescued 8 from the sea on the night of 15th April 1912.'
 

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