Unsinkable Survivors: Cursed or Blessed?
Legends of the sea have circulated since the oceans were first poured onto the land. Whether it’s a tale of mermaids, giant creatures or underwater cities that we speak of, the stories are chiseled and fine-tuned from one good storyteller to another; each version slightly more impressive than the last. Like the massive whale of Moby Dick, people have spoken of situations that have sparked from impossible circumstances. The tellers of tales eagerly pass their knowledge down over camp fires, while chugging down their ale in the taverns or while navigating the waters from under the light of the moon. Many of these stories seem too far fetched but there are times the tales you hear are very real. Recently two remarkable stories have been passed around, both about unsinkable survivors of the sea, both equally impressive. One thing is certain; we love strange events that seem too good to be true, especially when they are truly possible. Our first tale of the sea goes a little something like this:
The Tale of Hugh Williams: The Unsinkable Man
Over a period of 200 years, three ships perished at the same location off the coast of Wales. Each wreck was on the same day (December 5th) and all three wrecks had only one sole survivor. The three survivors all had the same exact name: Hugh Williams. But the story doesn’t end there because what many people don’t realize is that there was a fourth tragedy; one last wreck that actually had two survivors, a man and his nephew had escaped after a ship hit a mine and sank. While there were indeed two survivors during the fourth wreck, you’ll be pleased to know that both the man and his nephew were named Hugh Williams as well.
After doing a little research about this amazing coincidence I had to wonder if the name Hugh Williams is blessed or cursed. Digging a little deeper I did find that a portion of the tale was a smidgen stretched because these wrecks didn’t all happen on December 5th. I was pretty stoked to find out that they did actually happen though, and yes, Hugh Williams (all versions of himself) was quite the unsinkable sailor. I did find that one of these tales may have actually had a sole survivor that wasn’t named Hugh Williams but that hasn’t been proven, yet. If you combine the passengers of the four wrecks together there were over 200 lost souls to the sea within the 200 year span and only men named Hugh Williams had survived.
If you really want to wonder about the tales in a twisted light, you may even ask yourself if it was the same Hugh Williams that was in all four wrecks, and on the fourth wreck he happened to have brought his nephew, also named Hugh Williams. Since the name Hugh Williams was as common as John Smith a passenger without a real name may have chosen Hugh Williams to secretly fit in. He may not have caused the wrecks, but who’s to say he didn’t know they were going to happen before they happened? Is it possible? Could Hugh Williams have been an unsinkable passenger of doom?
Violet Constance Jessop: The Unsinkable Nurse
Born: October 2, 1887 – Died: May 5, 1971
There are times in which people achieve fame by surviving a historical tragedy. Violet Constance Jessop didn’t survive just one horrible event, she survived the cataclysmic wrecking of three extremely famous ships: the Olympic, the Titanic and the Britannic. Violet had known what it meant to be a survivor all of her life; she was the first of nine children and only one of six that survived. She contracted tuberculosis when she was young but fought hard to live. When her father passed away and her mother became ill, she left school and was given the opportunity to seek employment as a stewardess. In September of 1911, only a few months had passed since she had found her first position when she was asked to work aboard a great luxury ship called the Olympic. She was pleased to take on the new position but then the ship mistakingly collided with the HMS Hawke, a well known war ship that was created by Great Britain. Luckily the ship Violet was working on didn’t sink… that time. The Olympic barely made it home, but it never went under.
April of 1912, Violet took a position as a stewardess on the great Titanic; four days later they hit an iceberg and the ship literally broke in two and sank. The ship was full of rich and luxuriously known people that had the chance to enjoy the brilliant dining and dancing on the most famous ship ever created. Just below deck were poor travelers, most of them hired hands. As the ship began to take on water people trampled one another to get to the lifeboats, which only had the capacity for a little over half of the passengers on board. Many people fought to survive but fell into the freezing water to their demise as the ship began to tilt. Violet was lucky enough to make it into lifeboat number 16 when she was handed an infant to care for. She didn’t know who the baby belonged to or if its’ parents actually survived or not. The next day when she boarded the rescue ship someone took the baby from her arms and ran away without speaking to her. There were many bodies that lay to rest in the sea on that day. Overall there were around 2,224 passengers on the Titanic, but only 705 people had survived. They estimated the loss of around 1500 souls.
November of 1916, Violet was serving as a stewardess and nurse on the Britannic when the ship hit an underwater mine. As the ship began to sink, Violet grabbed her toothbrush and jumped into the water to make it to a lifeboat. She hit her head and was caught under one of the boats for a moment before being pulled up and saved. I’m unsure who Violet eventually married but I have to say that I think a great match for her would have been one Hugh Williams. And, like Hugh I wonder if she cursed these ships or if it was just fate that they would sink and maybe she had a guardian watching out for her. Violet Constance Jessop will go down in the history books as one of the luckiest shipwreck survivors of all time.
Tell us your stories, we look forward to you sharing them with us.