Mr Frank Winnold Prentice

Frank Winnold Prentice

Frank Winnold Prentice was born in Downham, Norfolk, England on 17 February 1889 1.

He was the son of Henry "Harry" Frank Warner Prentice (1867-1961) and Elizabeth Sherwood (1868-1940). His father was a native of Worksop, Nottinghamshire and his mother from Norfolk and they had married in Westminster, London on 20 October 1886, he at the time being described as an assistant hotel manager, his father Henry Warner Prentice being a hotel proprietor (guesthouse). He would hold various jobs according to census records, including that of postmaster, a horse-riding instructor and later an equestrian clothing merchant. Frank had three siblings:  Harry Victor (b. 1887), Eva Maud (b. 1891) and Annie Kathleen (b. 1895).

Frank appears on the 1891 census living at Bexwell (?) Road in Downham, Norfolk, his father then described as a post master. Moving to Bexhill, Sussex by the time of the 1901 census, Frank and his family appear at the address of his grandmother Annie Prentice who continued to operate her guesthouse, Winnold House on De La Warr Parade.

Frank Prentice
Frank Prentice as a young man

Frank's parents were late estranged and living at different addresses by the time of the 1911 census. His father was living at 29 Courtnell Street, Paddington, London, describing himself as a traveller for horse clothing, and was cohabiting with a woman named Susan, thirteen years his junior whom he claimed to have been married to for five years although they were never officially married. Frank's mother and siblings were listed elsewhere at 14 York Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent where they ran an apartment house. Frank himself appeared on the 1911 census lodging at 71 Denzil Avenue, Southampton and he described himself as an unmarried ship's storekeeper.

When he signed-on to the Titanic, on 4th April 1912, Frank gave his address as 71 Denzil Avenue, (Southampton). He transferred from the Celtic. As an Assistant Storekeeper he received monthly wages of £3, 15s.

At the time of the collision, Prentice was in his berth on the port side of E deck (a cabin he shared with 5 other kitchen storekeepers) sitting on his bunk talking to another storekeeper. He didn't notice anything strange other than the ship stopping. He went up onto the promenade deck to survey the scene and saw the forward well deck covered in ice.

He either helped to load the lifeboats or watched the loading, but later in the night he ended up on the poop deck chatting with his mates. When the poop deck became crowded with people, Prentice, with his colleagues Cyril Ricks and Michael Kieran, climbed over the port side railing and jumped into the icy water. He found Ricks floating in the water and unconscious, apparently having hit floating wreckage, but remained with him until he died. Prentice began swimming and found Lifeboat 4 and the occupants pulled him aboard.

Surviving the disaster, Frank returned to England and signed-on to the Oceanic on 10 July 1912. He later recalled that he was on board when one of Titanic's lifeboats was found drifting in mid-Atlantic.

Frank continued working at sea well into the 1920s and served several voyages on Olympic and also saw military service during the First World War. He was married in Fulham, London in 1919 to Mabel Riley (b. 1897), a native of Halifax, Yorkshire, and the couple had three children: Pamela (b. 1920), Anthony (b. 1922) and Gerard Winnold (1923-2002)

Frank gave frequent interviews to newspapers, magazines and on television about his experiences and in 1982 told his story in the British documentary Titanic: A Question of Murder in which he later claimed that he could smell ice and said he encountered that smell before Titanic struck the iceberg.

Frank died in Bournemouth, Hampshire on 19 May 1982 aged 93. He was cremated at Bournemouth Crematorium UK, George Scott & Son and their records show that his ashes were collected from them for private disposal by a family member, whereabouts of the remains are unknown.   His death left only one surviving member of the crew, Sid Daniels of Portsmouth.

Notes

  1. He gave his year of birth as 1890 in his circa 1920 crew card
 

Pictures

Mr. F. W. Prentice
Kent and Sussex Courier  (1912) 
MR. F. W. PRENTICE
Frank Prentice, Edward Brown and William Lucas
FRANK PRENTICE, EDWARD BROWN AND WILLIAM LUCAS
Frank Prentice
FRANK PRENTICE
 

Articles and Stories

Chicago Daily News (1912) 
 

Videos

Titanic Survivors: What They Saw (2)
Interview with Major Frank Prentice
BBC South Today  (1982) 
 

Comment and discuss

  1. Emma Richardson said:

    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

  2. avatar

    Inger Sheil said:

    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

  3. Emma Richardson said:

    Hello Inger, In part of the interview he says he is thinking of showing himself off as a high diver from the end of brighton pier!!

  4. Andrew Williams said:

    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.

  5. avatar

    Inger Sheil said:

    Lol 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... Read full post

  6. Emma Richardson said:

    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

  7. Andrew Maheux said:

    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

  8. Michael Cundiff said:

    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.

  9. Andrew Williams said:

    >>}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... Read full post

  10. Emma Richardson said:

    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

  11. Andrew Williams said:

    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.

  12. Emma Richardson said:

    Thanks Andrew! I shall go into town and order it! Cheers, Em

  13. Marshall Garvey said:

    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

  14. avatar

    Brian J. Ticehurst said:

    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... Read full post

  15. Marshall Garvey said:

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

  16. Steve Shortman said:

    A recording of Frank Prentice from 1966.

  17. Thomas Ozel said:

    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.

Leave a comment

Credits

Trevor Baxter, UK
Gavin Bell, UK
Chris Dohany, USA
Inger Sheil, Australia
Kerri Sundberg, USA
Brian J. Ticehurst, UK
Bill Wormstedt, USA

References and Sources

John Balls (1999) Titanic: The Norfolk Survivors. Nostalgia Publications, Dereham
Crew Particulars of Engagement, Public Record Office (BT100/259)
Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen, Agreements and Crew Lists Oceanic January ? August 1912
Titanic: A Question of Murder. TVS 1982
United States Senate, Washington 1912. n° 806, Crew List
Search archive British newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2018) Frank Winnold Prentice (ref: #2060, last updated: 15th August 2018, accessed 3rd July 2020 15:55:49 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/frank-winnold-prentice.html