Drunk Man Survived Sinking Of The Titanic

Charles John Joughin
The Drunkard Whos Survived the sinking of the Titanic

Drunk Man Survived Sinking Of Titanic, Charles John Joughin

A local legend here in the Paterson Passaic N.J. area.

Charles John Joughin, of diminutive stature in his adulthood, stood at just 5′ 3½”. Joughin was aboard board the Titanic for her delivery trip from Belfast to Southampton, and when he signed on in Southampton for the maiden voyage on 4 April 1912, he gave his address as Elmhurst, Leighton Road. He had transferred from the Olympic, and as chief baker, he received monthly wages of £12. He recalled seeing his lifeboat assignment on Thursday, 11 April, in the galley. 

At the time of the collision, Joughin was off duty and, in his bunk, situated amidships adjacent to the engine casing on the portside along Scotland Road. The impact startled him, and he rose immediately; hearing no official orders, only murmurs of what was happening, which he described as “general orders” from up top, he began to make preparations to provision the lifeboats with bread.

Sometime around 12.15 am, he mustered his thirteen staff in the bakers’ shop on D-deck and had each carry four loaves of bread up to the boat deck to place in the boats; he then appears to have returned to his cabin for a short while.

Proceeding to E-deck on his way to his quarters from the bakers’ shop, he noticed women from third class carrying their belongings come up along Scotland Road heading through the “emergency door” that connected the working alleyway to the forward second class staircase; a shortstop in the D-deck kitchen area was also met with third-class passengers attempting to navigate their way to the boats.

Further disturbing and worrisome, Charles witnesses the interpreter steward Ludwig Müller attempting, with the help of other stewards, to assist non-English-speaking passengers at the aft-end of Scotland Road. While in his cabin, Joughin admitted to having “a drink.”

Joughin arrived at the boat deck around 12.30 am and went to his assigned boat, number 10, where he described “a large number of passengers gathered with Chief Officer Wilde conducting affairs, all the while shouting at the stewards to keep the men back. Joughin points out that there was no need for such orders as the men are staying back calmly or rushing. without panic or pushing.”

He assists some stewards and seamen in passing women and children into the lifeboats and describing the boat as only half full when they had difficulty finding any more women in the area willing to go, some even running away, proclaiming that they were safer where they were.

Together with three or four other crew descended to A-deck in search of more women and children, spotting several sitting or squatting on the bare deck, with no inclination of leaving; they forcibly rounded the stragglers up, some forcibly, and took them up to the boat deck, John escorting one mother and her child and another woman with her two children the other crew members doing the same.

TAt this point, the boat’s list to port (meaning the boats tilt to the side) has left lifeboat ten swinging about a yard and a half away from the ship’s side, forcing the women and children to be thrown into the boat.

One woman he had brought up, along with her child, attempted to step into the boat herself but, perhaps misjudging her footing, slipped between the lifeboat and the ship’s side. Miraculously Steward William Burke caught her.

The unfortunate woman hung upside down for a while before being hauled aboard into A-deck; Joughin had no recollection of seeing her again.

Although Joughin was supposed to be in command of boat 10, an officer (presumably Wilde) ordered William Burke and two seamen into the boat, but Joughin received no such orders and remained on deck before returning once again to his cabin for another touch of liquor; a small amount of water was already engulfed his quarters covering his feet.

While in his cabin, Joughin spotted Dr. O’Loughlin and the two fleetingly conversed before he returned to the boat deck, by which point he assumed all the lifeboats had left. Joughin then descended to the B-deck second class promenade where several other people had gathered, noting that the list to port had increased; here, he began throwing deck chairs through the large ports, which he estimated to be fifty in total.

Hoping to give himself something to cling to if he were to need to jump overboard.

With other things on his mind, though, Joughin once again scaled a staircase to A-deck and went to a deck pantry (presumably that located just aft of the first class lounge), where he got himself a glass of water; suddenly, he heard a booming crash as if the ship had buckled somewhere, with the sound of twisting and breaking metal rumbling through the ship. Followed by an overhead rush of footsteps; leaving the pantry, Joughin witnessed large numbers of people pouring down from the boat deck, presumably down the small staircase that ran flush with the third funnel and perhaps over the side from above. He assumed they were trying to make their way to the Poopdeck.

Trying to stay out of the crush of people, he followed them towards the Well deck; moments before reaching the Well deck, the ship lurched heavily to port, throwing the crowd he was following into a pile. 

He climbed out onto the starboard hull and carefully navigated his way to the poop deck, continuing to straddle the ship’s side before grasping hold of the railings, later maintaining that the ship did not achieve a perpendicular stance before plunging. Not seeing anyone around him, he began to wonder what to do next; he wasted precious moments transferring items from one pocket to another and tightened his belt when he felt the ship slide, and he found himself in the water. However, he was not pulled under and barely got his head wet.

In The Water

Joughin, a strong swimmer, estimated that he was paddling and treading water for about two hours with day breaking before he encountered a collapsible boat,  Initially spying on what he believed to be some wreckage, Joughin began to swim toward the mass but slowly when he got near enough he recognizes it as a collapsible boat, half-submerged and lying on its side and with an officer (Lightoller) and an estimated 20-25 men standing atop it, leaving no room for himself to board safely.

Upon reaching the Carpathia, Joughin felt well, apart from swollen feet, and tackled the ladder up the ship’s side on his knees. In an attempt to pull himself aboard, he told that he was pushed off again, so he hung around waiting and swam to the opposite side where Isaac Maynard recognized him and extended his hand to him. Joughin remained in the water, holding Maynard’s hand, until another lifeboat came within fifty yards of the submerged collapsible, calling out that they could take ten people. He immediately let go of Maynard’s grasp and swam towards the boat and was pulled in, later stating that he felt colder while in that lifeboat than he had been when in the water.

After He Survived, He Survived Another Two Boats Sinking

Following recovery in New York, Joughin returned to England; he was called to testify at the British Inquiry into the sinking on 10 May 1912.
After the disaster, Joughin and his family returned to Liverpool, and he also spent time working aboard Olympic. The outbreak of war in Europe in 1914 saw him serving with the marine fleet during the conflict, and during that time, he would survive further calamity when, on 14 September 1916, he was baker aboard the SS Congress, which was en route from San Francisco to Seattle. While between 30-50 miles offshore, the ship caught fire in one of the holds and soon spread, later destroying the ship. The quick-thinking captain attempted to beach the vessel and was successful (not a single life was lost), with Joughin escaping in one of the lifeboats in the process:  

Safe back in Britain by 1919, Charles and his family were expecting another addition to the family; his wife Louise was carrying their third child but died from complications in childbirth, and her new son, Richard, was also lost. 

Shortly after his loss Charles, leaving his two surviving children in Liverpool, resettled in Paterson, Passaic, New Jersey around in the early 1920s and began working on mainly US ships; he declared his intention of becoming a US citizen in June 1927, and this was finalized in June 1930. As a seaman and an American citizen, in 1931, he completed a US seaman’s passport; at the time, he was working aboard the ship American Banker and was described as standing at 5′ 4″ and having grey hair, brown eyes, and a ruddy complexion.  

He was remarried on 10 September 1925 to Annie Eleanor “Nellie” Howarth Coll, née Ripley1 (b. 29 December 1870)2, a native of Leeds, Yorkshire, who had first come to the USA in 1888. Nellie was a widow twice over and had a daughter, Rose (b. 1891); she had lived at 574 East 23rd Street in Paterson for many years, and this is where Charles would live for the rest of his life. 

While in the USA, Joughin served as a baker aboard several ships, appearing on crew lists for Fort Victoria (1920-1921, Kroonland (1923-1924), Mongolia (1925-1926), Belgenland (1927), American Banker (1928-1929), American Trader (1928-1939), Manila (1940), City of Los Angeles (1940), Jamaica (1941), Deer Lodge (1941) and Pan Rhode Island (1943). Throughout this, and towards the tail-end of his career, Joughin would face further disaster; on 10 December 1941, the US freighter SS Oregon, just south of Nantucket Lightship, was accidentally rammed by USS New Mexico and sank. There were seventeen fatalities, but Charles Joughin was named as a survivor3

Charles was widowed for a second time on 22 April 1944 when his wife Nellie died, a loss from which he never fully recovered. He also outlived his son Roland. During the 1950s, he would communicate with Walter Lord when he was writing A Night to Remember, but he never lived to see the whole fruits of the Lord’s endeavor.

With a colorful life under his belt, Charles Joughin died at the Barnert Memorial Hospital on 9 December 1956 and was buried with his wife Nellie in Cedar Lawn Cemetery in Paterson. His occupation was given on his death certificate as “Baker on Titanic,” and his estate was divided between his daughter Agnes and his step-daughter Rose.

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