Miss Olga Elida Lundin was born in Hallaryd, Kronoberg, Sweden on 9 January 1889. She was the daughter of Edvard Lundin (b. 13 April 1865 in Göteryd), a soldier, and Gustafva Eriksdotter (b. 1 October 1857 in Hallaryd) who were married in Hallaryd on 20 October 1888.
The eldest of five children, Olga's siblings were: Jenny Alfrida (b. 9 July 1890), Hulda Annette (b. 29 May 1892), Hjalmar1 (b. 17 January 1896) and Hjalmar (9 February 1900-12 December 1897).
Olga’s father reportedly emigrated around 1907, possibly abandoning his family who reportedly never heard from him again. After a brief education, Olga worked as a farmhand to help supplement the remaining family’s income.
Early in 1912 an acquaintance of Olga's (some sources state that he was a cousin), Nils Johansson, had returned from his new home in the USA to Sweden after several years, enthralling Olga with tales of America. They became engaged and made plans to return to the USA and marry.
Olga's journey by sea began in Malmö on 5 April 1912 and from there went to Copenhagen and then to Britain and Southampton. She boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a third-class passenger (ticket number 347469, which cost £7, 17s, 1d) and travelling with her were her fellow Swedes: her fiancée Nils Johansson, Pål Andreasson, Albert Augustsson and Karl Jonsson. Whilst aboard she shared a cabin with Gerda Ulrika Dahlberg.
It was later claimed that, due to severe seasickness, Nils Johansson paid the extra to have Olga upgraded to second class to give her a more comfortable crossing. It is unclear as to the veracity of this and a 1912 account alludes to her remaining in third class. However, in his book The Loss of the S.S. Titanic, Lawrence Beesley described how:
…Another interesting man was travelling steerage, but had placed his wife in the second cabin: he would climb the stairs leading from the steerage to the second deck and talk affectionately with his wife across the low gate that separated them. I never saw him after the collision, but I think his wife was on the Carpathia…
Miss Lundin recalled that on Sunday 14 April she and her shipboard acquaintances had enjoyed much jollification and dancing in third-class that evening and it was late when she went to bed. Seemingly sleeping through the impact, she was awakened shortly after midnight by a steward who told her and her cabin mates that the ship had struck an iceberg but assured them that there was no immediate danger. Although they dressed hurriedly, she recalled not being alarmed and left her cabin and went out into the communal areas where large crowds were gathered, some people "madly excited" whilst the crew circulated, offering assistance.
Perhaps an embellishment, Olga recalled that on deck she witnessed the scene of a man whose wife fell into the ocean and who, in his grief, became a "raving maniac," his dark hair turning grey. This description may have been lost in translation and described other events that she had heard of occurring during and after the sinking.
One of the young men travelling with her, although she does not identify him (but probably Nils Johansson), attempted to follow her into a lifeboat but he was held back by an officer. Realising that he was to remain and meet his fate, the young man embraced Olga and said "Olga, you must go now and I will remain here to die. Remember me to [illegibile] at our old home and to our friends to whom you will go." With those words ringing in her ears Olga described taking her seat in a lifeboat which was filled rapidly.
After the lifeboat was lowered Olga recalled witnessing groups of people gathering at the stern of the Titanic, some calmly waiting whilst others were wildly gesticulating. She recalled hearing no music being played by the orchestra, the din of everything else unfolding making this impossible. In the lifeboat she recalled the calm waters, piercing cold, the clear night and a sky filled with stars. Following a series of explosions, which Miss Lundin attributed to the boilers exploding, the ship began to settle more rapidly.
After the ship had foundered Miss Lundin recalled seeing wreckage and bodies, some having to be manually pushed away so as not to hinder the path of the lifeboat. Many in the lifeboat were weeping whilst one man attempted to cheer the atmosphere by beginning to sing, only breaking down into sobs shortly after. Whilst Olga was sure the man was good-intentioned, she found the notion of singing at such a time to be disrespectful.
After being rescued by Carpathia Miss Lundin described being treated kindly by the passengers and crew of that ship. By then it had transpired that out of her travelling group only she and Karl Jonsson had survived.
After arriving in New York, and unable to speak English, Miss Lundin was described as an unmarried domestic and her destination given as Meriden, Connecticut, the home of her sister Jenny at 89 Crown Street; the Women's relief Committee later gave her $75 to help her on her way. Through the throngs of people gathered at the pier she marched down to the White Star offices where she was met by her uncle and aunt John and Susie Anderson and returned with them to their home at 109 Franklin Street in Meriden, Connecticut. There she received a warm welcome from friends and relatives and from where she gave an interview, via an interpreter, to the Meriden Morning Record. In that interview, Olga stated that she would make her home in Meriden permanently as she did not care for the thought of taking another ocean voyage ever again.
Olga did not stick to her guns and Swedish-American church records indicate that she did not remain in Connecticut and in March 1913 removed herself to California. She and her sister eventually returned to their family in Hallaryd but within the decade both returned to the USA, Olga in October 1923, that time sailing from Göteborg to New York aboard the Stockholm; she was again destined for home of her sister Jenny who was by then residing in Englewood, New Jersey. Olga was described as a baker and as standing at 5' 4" and with a fair complexion, blue eyes and dark hair. It was during this time that she had fallen in love again and became engaged a second time; using her time in Sweden to save money for her marriage, her return to the USA brought further sorrow when the young man she was engaged to died shortly before their wedding.
Heartbroken, Olga again returned to Sweden but her wanderlust had her returning to the USA in November 1929 aboard the Kungsholm, that time headed to her friend Ivy Lee at East 66th Street, New York. During this stay, she appeared on the 1930 US census living and working at East 57th Street, New York as cook to a Frank Marzagelli. It is said that Olga later worked for, among others, the Norwegian Crown Prince Olav during his exile in WW2.
In Washington DC, on 15 June 1935, Olga was married to Charles Andersson (b. circa 1892), a builder originally from Mönsterås, Småland. The childless couple remained in Washington for many years before returning to Sweden permanently in the early 1960s. Olga, who as a young woman in 1912 had set foot on American soil unable to speak English, had reportedly developed a strong American-English accent after many years away.
Widowed in 1964, not long after returning to Sweden, Olga made her home in Osby, Skåne. A newspaper published on 10 July 1961 related how she had donated 10000 Kr to the Hässleholm Hospital as thanks for good treatment.
Olga Elida Lundin-Andersson died in Osby on 1 March 1973 aged 84. She is buried in Hallaryd Cemetery.