As part of the research for a book on the Titanic disaster, Dr. Nick Barratt of the Family History Show interviewed Millvina Dean, the last living survivor of the Titanic. You can feel the tragedy in the life-changing experience for Millvina Dean, her family and many others, as she relates her personal story to Nick Barratt, one of the U.K.’s leading authorities on genealogy.
To read the full collection of stories from the doomed vessel, you can order a signed copy of ‘Lost Voices from the Titanic’ for £10 including postage and package.
As her family left for America, at the urging of a cousin who was already in the U.S., a last-minute change in ships placed them on the Titanic, due to coal strikes. Any coal available was gathered from the other ships and placed on the Titanic, consolidating the passengers. Millvina Dean was only 9 weeks old at the time of this historically-notorious event, but her family’s emotional and intimate story remains part of the largest maritime disaster in history.
As the Titanic has since been found in a watery-grave, 12,000 feet under the ocean waters, few real artifacts remain. You can only imagine the horror of the final moments, except by stories told of those who were on board and stories passed down through their family and the generations.
On the 15th of April in 1912, the Titanic sailed on her maiden Trans-Atlantic voyage to New York, in the United States. There was never an inkling of impending doom, as the new luxury cruise-liner was believed to be unsinkable and many families were headed towards new opportunities. A collision with a giant iceberg changed the fate of thousands of passengers on board and more than 1500 people lost their lives. The remaining survivors waited anxiously in lifeboats on the icy ocean waters for more than four hours, before being rescued.
As a baby, Millvina Dean was placed in a canvas bag and put in a lifeboat with her mother, although a shortage of lifeboats made them a rare commodity for all passengers. Her two-year-old brother became lost in the shuffle of boarding, but the family was reunited after the rescue, due to the care of a fellow passenger, who watched after the little boy through the traumatic ordeal.
Listening to Dr. Nick Barratt and Millvina Dean reliving this emotional tale puts a real face to the Titanic tragedy. As the last remaining survivor of the Titanic disaster, she credits her father’s speedy and logical reaction, as the reason they lived through the sinking of the Titanic. As a skeptic, he didn’t want to take chances on whether the ship was truly unsinkable and gathered the family on the top deck, from their 3rd class steerage cabin.
Many other passengers perished because they believed the ship was unsinkable and the shortage of lifeboats caused many additional lives to be lost. Millvina Dean retells the event as though it happened yesterday, although the rest is history. Millvina Dean died May 31st of 2009, but she will be remembered through the genealogical efforts of Dr. Nick Barrett and other historians, who document historical events.