Titanic steward Walter John Williams
Walter John Williams was born in Southampton, Hampshire, England on 27 July 1883. He was the son of Eli James Williams (b. 1854) and Elizabeth Barnett (b. 1857), both Southampton natives who had married in 1881.
He had two known siblings: Eli Herbert (b. 1881) and Florence Elizabeth (b. 1888).
He first appears on the 1891 census when he, his mother and siblings (his father absent, apparently at sea) were listed as living at 3 Northbrook Road, St Mary, Southampton. By the time of the 1901 census, Walter and his family were living at 50 Clovelly Road, Southampton and he was described as a plumber.
He was married in Southampton in 1907 to Emily Eva Landick (b. 1878 in St Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands, daughter of William and Sarah Landick). The couple went on to have six children: Walter John (b. 1910), Eveline (b. 1912), Gwendoline (1915-1915), Ronald Walter (1916-1992), Herbert H. (b. 1919) and Walter Donald (1922-1982).
Walter would be absent from the 1911 census but his wife and first child Walter were listed as living at 49 South Front, Southampton.
Williams signed-on to the Titanic on 4 April 1912, and gave his address as 52 North bld (?) Road, (Southampton). He had transferred from the Olympic. As a second class steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s.
Williams recalled that the ship was in an unfinished state and that paint on some of the lockers was still wet. He was surprised that no lifeboat drills had been held at any point during the voyage. He claimed that in 1911 he had expressed concern, whilst working on the Olympic, that there were insufficient lifeboats. He was later on board when that ship had its collision with H.M.S. Hawke, which necessitated a trip to Belfast for repairs.
On the night of 14 April 1912 a colleague joked to Walter, "We've only hit an iceberg. It's another job for Belfast."
Walter made a jump for lifeboat 13 and he later recalled that many lifeboats were far from full.
"During the night we were passed by what looked like a sailing ship. As we got closer we realised it was a small iceberg."
Walter Williams continued working at sea and lived the rest of his life in Southampton. His wife passed away in 1956 and he later lived at 100 Salisbury Road, Totton. He died on 11 February 1971 aged 87.
References and SourcesBritish Census 1881
Donald Hyslop, Alastair Forsyth and Sheila Jemima (1997) Titanic Voices: Memories from the Fateful Voyage, Sutton Publishing, Southampton City Council. ISBN 0 7509 1436
Southern Daily Echo, 10 May 1962