Violet Jessop: The Unsinkable Nurse Who Survived Two Downed Ships

Violet Jessop in her Volunteer Aid Detachment uniform

Violet Jessop: The Unsinkable Nurse Who Survived Two Downed Ships

Violet Jessop in her Volunteer Aid Detachment uniform
Violet Jessop in her Volunteer Aid Detachment uniform

Violet Jessop was born October 2, 1888, in Argentina.  Born to Irish parents, Jessop had several siblings. Her family moved to Britain after her father’s death.

Jessop followed in her mother’s footsteps and began working as an ocean liner stewardess. She was on the Olympic when it collided with another ship in 1911. The following year, she was aboard the Titanic when it sank and escaped on one of the lifeboats. Ironically, Jessop did not want to serve aboard the Titanic but was persuaded by others who told her she would have a wonderful experience.

Once in the lifeboat, Jessop was handed a baby to take care of. The mother found her child when the survivors were aboard the Carpathia and, according to Jessop, the woman snatched the baby from Jessop’s arms and ran away with it.

World War One

During the war, Jessop served as a Volunteer Aid Detachment nurse. She was on the HMHS Britannic when it sank and nearly drowned.

When the ship hit the mine, Jessop was calm. She had been through disasters before and knew what to do. She helped another nurse prepare and then went to her cabin to gather together her possessions including her toothbrush — the thing she missed the most when the Titanic sank.

“I leapt into the water but was sucked under the ship’s keel which struck my head,” Jessop later wrote in her memoirs. “I escaped, but years later when I went to my doctor because of a lot of headaches, he discovered I had once sustained a fracture of the skull!”

Jessop died May 5, 1971, in Suffolk, England.  She was the inspiration for characters in several Titanic movies.

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Updated: 14 August 2018
Melina Druga
Most kids have an active imagination. My imagination has stayed strong into adulthood, and I’ve funneled that creativity into a successful writing career. I write history, both fiction and nonfiction, because although your school history classes may have been boring, the past is not. My goal is to bring the past to life in all its myriad of colors.
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