3 August 1878|
Birkenhead, Wirral, England, UK
|Died||9 December 1956
Paterson, New Jersey, US
|Spouse(s)||Anna E. Ripley Joughin (1872–1944) (her death) 1 child|
Charles John Joughin (3 August 1878 – 9 December 1956) was the chief baker aboard the RMS Titanic. He survived the ship's sinking, and became notable for having survived in the frigid water for an exceptionally long time before being pulled onto the overturned Collapsible B lifeboat with virtually no ill effects. He was depicted in two major films about the disaster.
Charles Joughin was born in Patten Street, next to the West Float in Birkenhead, England, on 3 August 1878. He first went to sea aged 11, in the year 1889, and later became chief baker on various White Star Line steamships, notably aboard the Olympic, Titanic's sister ship.
On the Titanic
He was part of the victualling crew of the RMS Titanic during its maiden and final trip in April 1912. He was on board the ship during its delivery trip from Belfast to Southampton. He signed on again in Southampton on 4 April 1912. In the capacity of Chief Baker, Joughin received monthly wages of £12 (equivalent to £1340 today, adjusted for inflation), and had a staff of thirteen bakers under him.
When the ship hit an iceberg on the evening of 14 April, at 23:40, Joughin was off-duty and in his bunk. According to his testimony, he felt the shock of the collision and immediately got up. Word was being passed down from the upper decks that officers were getting the lifeboats ready for launching, and Joughin sent his thirteen men up to the boat deck with provisions to the lifeboats: four loaves of bread apiece, about forty pounds of bread each. Joughin stayed behind for a time, but then followed them, reaching the Boat Deck at around 00:30.
He joined Chief Officer Henry Wilde by Lifeboat 10. Joughin helped, with stewards and other seamen, the ladies and children through to the lifeboat, although, after a while, the women on deck ran away from the boat saying they were safer aboard the Titanic. The Chief Baker then went on to A Deck and forcibly brought up women and children, throwing them into the lifeboat.
Although he was assigned as captain of Lifeboat 10, he did not board; it was already being manned by two sailors and a steward. He went below after Lifeboat 10 had gone, and "had a drop of liqueur" (a tumbler half-full of liqueur, as he went on to specify) in his quarters. He then came upstairs again after meeting "the old doctor" (possibly Dr. William O'Loughlin), quite possibly the last time anyone ever saw him. When he arrived at the Boat Deck, all the boats had been lowered, so he went down into the B Deck promenade and threw about fifty deck chairs overboard so that they could be used as flotation devices.
Joughin then went into the deck pantry on A Deck to get a drink of water and, whilst there, he heard a loud crash, "as if part of the ship had buckled". He left the pantry, and joined the crowd running aft toward the poop deck. As he was crossing the well deck, the ship suddenly gave a list over to port and, according to him, threw everyone in the well in a bunch except for him. Joughin climbed to the starboard side of the poop deck, getting hold of the safety rail so that he was on the outside the ship as it went down by the head. As the ship finally sank, Joughin rode it down as if it were an elevator, not getting his head under the water (in his words, his head "may have been wetted, but no more"). He was, thus, the last survivor to leave the RMS Titanic.
According to his own testimony, he kept paddling and treading water for about two hours. He also admitted to hardly feeling the cold, most likely thanks to the alcohol he had imbibed. (Large quantities of alcohol generally increase the risk of hypothermia - but there is also evidence to suggest that a certain level of alcohol can slow down heat loss and prolong survival in cold conditions.) When daylight broke, he spotted the upturned Collapsible B, with Second Officer Charles Lightoller and around twenty-five men standing on the side of the boat. Joughin slowly swam towards it, but there was no room for him. A man, however, cook Isaac Maynard, recognised him and held his hand as the Chief Baker held onto the side of the boat, with his feet and legs still in the water. Another lifeboat then appeared and Joughin swam to it and was taken in, where he stayed until he boarded the RMS Carpathia that had come to their rescue. He was rescued from the sea with only swollen feet.
After surviving the Titanic disaster, he returned to England, and was one of the crew members who reported to testify at the British Wreck Commissioner's inquiry headed by Lord Mersey. In 1920, Joughin moved permanently to the United States to Paterson, New Jersey. According to his obituary he was also on board the SS Oregon when it sank in Boston Harbor. He also served on ships operated by the American Export Lines, as well as on World War II troop transports before retiring in 1944.
He divorced shortly thereafter; however, a daughter Agnes was born from his first marriage. After moving back to New Jersey, he remarried Mrs. Annie E. Ripley, and together raised Annie's daughter Rose. Annie's death in 1943 was a great loss from which he never recovered. Twelve years later, Joughin was invited to describe his experiences in a chapter of Walter Lord's book, A Night to Remember.
Soon afterwards, his health rapidly declined, dying in a Paterson hospital on 9 December 1956 after two weeks with pneumonia at the age of 78 being buried alongside his wife in the Cedar Lawn Cemetery, in Paterson, New Jersey.
Joughin was also portrayed on the fourth season premiere of Drunk History on Comedy Central in 2016.
Notes and references
- Mr Charles John Joughin, Encyclopedia Titanica. Retrieved on 22 January 2012.
- British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry Day 6 – Testimony of Charles Joughin, Titanic Inquiry Project. Retrieved on 22 January 2012.
- Mr Charles John Joughin – General Information, Encyclopedia Titanica. Retrieved on 22 January 2012.