Sunday, April 8, 2012

How Booze Saved My Life, The Charles Joughin Story

Sure the name Charles Joughin doesn't jump off the screen as a historically famous name, but he was part of the greatest maritime disaster. That's right its April 2012 which means only one thing, it's the sinking of the Titanic's 100 year anniversary. So instead of being like everyone else and talking about the ship, the iceberg or Mr. Ismay, I am going to start off with Mr. Joughin, a baker. Joughin fits right into Titanic legend and folklore, but unlike many Titanic myths, Joughin's story is true. 

titanicuniverse.com

Charles Joughin was born in West Float, Birkenhead, Cheshire, England (Fancy shmancy!) in 1878. At the time the area was extremely reliant on seafaring work. So at the tender age of 10 Joughin was sent out to sea to make a living. He worked his way around from ship to ship and would eventually be hired by the White Star Line. He was trained to be a baker and was assigned to the Olympic. However, fate had a different plan for Charles. When he was in Belfast, he was assigned to help stock the Titanic for her maiden voyage. As the ship made it's way back to Southampton, Joughin was offered the position of head baker and a staff of 13 or a baker's dozen (see what i did there?). Joughin's destiny was now sealed. He, the Titanic, 2222 other passengers and crew were days away from becoming the world's worst maritime disaster.

aveleyman.com

We will skip ahead past the excitement of baking bread on Titanic to the night of the sinking. As the iceberg ripped a hole in the ship of Titanic's hull, Joughin was in his bunk. When he found out the ship was doomed he sent his men to get bread and provisions from the bakery to the lifeboats on deck. Joughin assisted in the evacuation loading women and children into the lifeboats, even running back into the ship to find more passengers. When Lifeboat 10 was ready to be lowered Joughin gave up his seat to another passenger and headed below deck. Once away from the crowds Joughin began enjoying Titanic's well stocked bar. The ship left port with 1,500 bottles of wine, 15,000 bottles of champagne, 20,000 bottles of beer, 850 bottles of spirits, 70 cases of cognac and 191 cases of liquor. Joughin had been known to enjoy his whiskey. He figured he was about to face a watery grave so he did what any of us would do: he got shitfaced.

imdb.com

After doing his part to rescue as many people as he could Joughin hit the bottle and he hit it hard. He was drinking for at least an hour and he was drinking the good stuff. Yet he wasn't done helping. Hearing the thousands of screams from the water, Joughin began throwing deck chairs and furniture into the water giving those in the freezing water something to hold onto. As the ship began to buckle Joughin made his way to the stern of the ship. As portrayed in Titanic, Joughin drank until the ship went under, riding it down until it sank. He claims that his head never went under water and survived form 2 to 3 hours just treading water until he was rescued. He was eventually rescued by a returning lifeboat and then made his way onto the safety of the Carpathia.

encyclopedia-titanica.org

After the disaster, Joughin returned to England. He was called to testify to the British Inquiry Board about the events on April 15, 1912. However, Joughin continued to work in the shipping industry. He worked on several ships operated by the American Export Lines and even served on Liberty Ships during WWII. He would also go on to help Walter Lord when he was writing A Night to Remember.
He would live in Paterson, New Jersey for the remainder of his life and die at the ripe old age of 78 in 1956. Joughin died not being the last survivor but the last person to touch and leave Titanic. The man survived the ordeal by, well, getting drunk. Joughin was so drunk that the alcohol thinned his blood enough to were hypothermia could not set in. So in honor of Charles Joughin, have a nice glass of scotch or a bit of whiskey. Its what saved his life and could just be a small way to honor the man who helped in the rescuing and saving of lives in the ending moments of Titanic's existence. It makes you wonder how would you would react in a situation like that.

11 comments:

  1. I had always suspected he was the man attached to the great booze rescue!

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  2. great heroic spirit!!!truly deserve a bow!!

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  3. great man. stronger then anybody on Titanic.

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    1. great to see the so called demon drink had a positive effect on this occasion. Cheers.

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  4. He was some sort of relation to me story I were told He worked in the galley as it was going down he helped himself to a bottle of top shelf schnapps. He reckons they found him Schnapps frozen

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  5. truly a great story bring back the booze and fun ship with Charles Joughin aboard as captain.

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  6. Charles is one of my family members,and its was schnapps ,or at least thats what he cleaned up the story to my mother when she was a child, he also told here it was a ice berg,because the polar bear waved at him. He lived in town ,made my mothers birthday cakes as a child. This story is and will always be part of my life.I visit his grave he is family always

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  7. Charles is one of my family members,and its was schnapps ,or at least thats what he cleaned up the story to my mother when she was a child, he also told here it was a ice berg,because the polar bear waved at him. He lived in town ,made my mothers birthday cakes as a child. This story is and will always be part of my life.I visit his grave he is family always

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  8. He also survived because after trying to get on the overturned collapsible boat w/ 25 on board, and being thrown off he swam to the other side and was recognized by one of the bakers or cooks and this man held onto him until he as pulled onto another lifeboat.

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