Violet Constance Jessop: nurse who survived 2 famous shipwrecks

The amazing case Jessop: the nurse who survived two famous shipwrecks and another brutal accident at sea

The amazing case Violet Constance Jessop: the nurse who survived two famous shipwrecks and another brutal accident at sea. All the seas forgave her: she was saved on the Titanic and the Britannic, in a clash between two ships, and went around the world five times on cruises as a nurse.

Violet Constance Jessop, waitress, and nurse, was 25 that fateful night of April 14, 1912. It could be one of the 1,523 souls that died in the Titanic, after the collision with an iceberg of that giant “whom neither God could sink”, as proclaimed the pride of its builders. But, minutes from the terrifying instant of the wreck, Violet boarded lifeboat number 16, and hours later she was rescued by the Carpathia.

“I was ordered to come up on deck. Calm, the passengers walked. I met with other waitresses, watching the women hugging their husbands before going down to the boats with their children. A little later, an officer from the Titanic ordered us to board the boat to show other women that it was safe. As the boat descended, an officer said to me, “Miss Jessop, here. Take care of this baby.” And he threw a lump in my lap. He was a beautiful baby I hugged to warm him up on the icy night of the North Atlantic.” (From her personal journal, then became a book)

She was not the only person that escape from death…

Born on October 2, 1887, she was one of nine children of farmers and sheep breeders William Jessop and Katherine Kelly, Irish from Dublin who emigrated to Bahía Blanca, in the south of the province of Buenos Aires. With little fortune. Tuberculosis took her father and several siblings, and she, also sick, doctors predicted a few months of life…

But Violet Constance defeated the bacillus of Koch, survived, and with her mother and brothers who did not get sick, she left for England, to her fate to the end. They made foot in Liverpool. In 1908 her mother died, and Violet, barely 19, took care of the family.

Violet Constance Jessop: nurse who survived 2 famous shipwrecks
Violet Constance Jessop worked as a nurse on different ships during the first half of her life

Jessop had learned from her mother the trade of waitress on board and got a job as such in the Orinoco, of the Royal Mail Line, in the worst conditions: minimum wage and seventeen hours of work per day… After two years, and after A step by the Majestic, she was hired as a bilingual waitress – Spanish and English – for the Olympic: the greatest and most luxurious giant of her time.

A year of bonanza… and the first border experience: the ocean liner crashed into the Hawke. The danger of shipwreck. Panic onboard but the bottom of the sea must have waited. There were no deaths. Violet Constance Jessop was still afloat…

On April 10, 1912, already 25 years old and also trained as a nurse, Jessop was one of the more than two hundred waitresses hired to serve in the Titanic, that monster of 269 meters long and four chimneys that could house almost three thousand souls.

Of course, her mastery of two languages, her beauty, and her fine craft set her up in the privileged first class: luxury never has seen on a ship, and among the passengers, several famous multimillionaires waiting for the promise: the Titanic would unite Southampton with New York in record time.

Onboard, everything was a party. But four days after raising anchors, at twenty minutes to twelve on a starry night and a sea as still as a mirror… the crash against an iceberg, and the funeral certainty of the construction engineers: “The Titanic will sink in two hours”.

Meanwhile, in the first-class salons, the orchestra played waltzes and melodic themes…

Violet received two orders. One, to calm the passengers five stars who were beginning to panic, and another, to descend to the Third Class – a rat trap built according to the canons of class difference of that time – to instruct also those who spoke Spanish and Italian and emigrated in search of work to the arms of the Statue of Liberty…

When she got on boat number 16 with the baby in her arms, Violet Constance Jessop was exhausted. Not believed to survive. But after eight long hours, from the newcomer Carpathia, she was thrown on a sea scale, climbed up, and wrote the second and a half chapter of her strange survivor’s fate: the defeat of tuberculosis, the Olympic crash against Hawke, and the greatest marine tragedy (and Legend) of all time.

But Violet Constance Jessop was still missing an appointment with that destiny.

It remained linked to the White Star Line company, and in 1914, First Great War, the Britannic – third ship of the Olympic class – was transformed into a floating hospital, and Violet was among the first summoned…

Dawn of November 21, 1916. The Britannic sails through the Kea Channel, Aegean Sea, when a terrifying explosion shakes its structure and almost immediately begins to sink in port, and in less than an hour, it disappears from the surface.

It was never known if the cause of the disaster was a marine mine or a German torpedo. But a thousand souls were floating… and one of the survivors was Violet: her last encounter with death, and her victory over death. She returned to Suffolk, England. Constance Jessop worked in a bank, but the sea continued to claim it. She sailed again at the Olympic, with no fright…

Violet Constance nurse who survived 2 famous shipwrecks
Jessop renounced the wrecks of the Titanic and the Britannic

At age 35 she married John James Lewis, 46. Profession: he falls as a mature man: merchant seaman! But she divorced a year, began working for the Red Star Line, and served as a waitress and nurse on five cruises around the world. In 1943 she wrote her memoirs, published only in 1997 by the decision of two of her nieces.

In 1950 she said goodbye to the sea: her world for more than four decades. Violet Constance Jessop sold her house and moved to a town: Great Ashfield, Suffolk. Strange metamorphosis: she stopped talking to the water and began a devoted dialogue with the earth.

Constance turned to be a gardener. She planted daffodils, tulips, roses, vegetables of all kinds, raised chickens and sold her eggs: her modest economy to increase somewhat a pension that was barely enough to survive: art in which she had been absolute queen.

In May 1971, at 83, Violet Constance Jessop heart was shipwrecked. And for her, there were no lifeboats or a providential Carpathia.

(Post scriptum. For years, and to this day, the character crowned as unmistakable was American millionaire Molly Brown, Titanic’s first-class passenger and Disaster survivor. But an equivocal legend multiplied that episode by three, and that so-called and repeated good fortune became a successful musical comedy: The unmistakable Molly Brown. Character in the epic film Titanic embodied the great actress Kathy Bates. So are legends and myths: half the world remembers Molly Brown… and only a handful of Violet Constance Jessop. The one and only unmistakable).

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