Mr Thomas Ranger

Thomas Ranger

Thomas Ranger

Mr Thomas Ranger (Greaser) was born in Northam, Southampton, Hampshire, England on 10 December 1882.

He was the son of George William Ranger (1847-1909), a general labourer, and Ann Ashbolt (1852-1902). His parents, of Salisbury, Wiltshire and Southampton, respectively, had married in September 1871.

He had eight known siblings: Mary Ann (b. 1872, later Mrs Moses Evans), Ellen (b. 1874), George William (b. 1876), Elizabeth Maria (b. 1878), Francis Henry (1880-1881), Harry Amos (b. 1882), Kate (b. 1889) and Fanny (b. 1890).

In the year prior to Thomas' birth his family had been listed on the 1881 census living at 23 Trafalgar Place, St Mary, Southampton. He first appears on the 1891 census living on Whites Road in Sholing, Southampton with his father now working as a coal porter at the docks. The family appear on the 1901 census living at Church Road in Sholing but Thomas is absent, already at sea.

Thomas joined the Royal Navy as a stoker on 17 January 1901, first serving aboard the Duke of Wellington and aboard which he was listed on the 1901 census, then docked at Portsmouth Harbour. He then went to serve aboard Formidable, Caesar and Vivid II before being discharged on 8 September 1904, his last ship being the Firequeen II. Of very good conduct, physically he stood at 5' 3½" and had brown hair, hazel eyes and a fair complexion. He had a tattoo on his left forearm. Following his discharge he worked as a bricklayer, engaged in house building.

He was married in 1906 to Isabel Pendry (b. 1882 in Bashley, Hampshire), a former domestic servant. The couple remained childless and were shown on the 1911 census living at 81 Middle Road, Sholing.

When he signed on to the Titanic on 6 April 1912 Ranger gave his address as 81 Middle Road. His previous ship had been the Oceanic and as a greaser he could expect to earn monthly wages of £6, 10s. Whilst Ranger recalled no lifeboat drills throughout the voyage he was aware that his assigned lifeboat was boat 6.

On the night of the sinking Ranger was on duty in the electrical store on E-Deck repairing the electric fans with chief electrician Peter Sloan. A slight jar lifted the two men off their feet and after about two minutes they looked into the turbine engine casing and noticed how that engine had stopped. Sloan left Ranger and went below where he stood by the main lighting engines, instructing him to stop all the electric fans which he spent the next 45 minutes doing before returning to the electrical store and ascending the aft dummy funnel to the aft starboard boat deck to see what was happening. He then descended to B-deck aft in the second class section and noticed a crowd of around 20 firemen standing about who informed him that all the lifeboats had left. With that information Ranger returned to the boat deck and he and another greaser, Frederick Scott spied a lifeboat in the water below. They both scaled the aft-most portside davit and lowered themselves over the side. Scott dropped into the water but Ranger managed to lower himself successfully into boat 4, hauling Scott into the boat afterwards.

Ranger assisted in rowing boat 4 and noted that the boat had not cleared the side of the ship very long when she went down. He described the forward section of the ship separating from the stern section, the latter settling back on an even keel whilst the bow sank. The stern section then "turned up," the propellers clearly visible and the lights going out.

Once the ship had sank Ranger noted how the boat returned to the scene and pulled out seven men, including trimmer Thomas Dillon. 

Ranger was called to testify at the British inquiry into the sinking on 9 May 1912. He found the quarters he and the other crew were expected to stay in so filthy and infested with rats and insects that he preferred to sleep rough.

Thomas continued working at sea until at least the early 1920s; after leaving the sea he worked as a plumber's assistant.

Thomas became a widower on 4 December 1947 when his wife Isabel died aged 65, then a resident of 63 Northbrook Road, Southampton. He was remarried in 1954 to Emma Elizabeth Prince Elderfield, née Harnett (b. 21 December 1886), a Southampton-born widow with two marriages already under her belt (1).

Thomas Ranger died in Southampton on 23 July 1964 aged 81. His widow Emma died in 1972.

Credits
Gavin Bell

Notes
  1. Emma's first marriage was in 1906 to William John Prince (1885-1939), a ship's fireman. They had four children: Emma Elizabeth (b. 1907), William John (b. 1910), Arthur (b. 1914) and James (b. 1917). Widowed in 1939 she was remarried in 1941 to Seymour John Elderfield (1904-1954).
References and Sources
National Archives, CR10 Identity card c.1921
1891,1901,1911 Census
GRO Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths
Titanic Crew list: BT 100/259 and 100/260

Articles and Stories

Of Rats and Men: Titanic Survivor 'Sleeping Rough'

Titanica!  (2004) 

OF RATS AND MEN: TITANIC SURVIVOR 'SLEEPING ROUGH'

 
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