This Woman Survived 3 Sinking Ships Including The Titanic The Story Of The 'Miss Unsinkable' Violet Jessop!

This Woman Survived 3 Sinking Ships Including The Titanic | The Story Of The ‘Miss Unsinkable’ Violet Jessop!

Imagine surviving not one, not two, but three of the most catastrophic shipwrecks in history, including the infamous Titanic! Meet Violet Jessop, a woman whose life story reads like an adventure novel, filled with danger, and resilience. Born on 2 October 1887, Violet was very ill and almost fatal in her childhood. Defying her troubled destiny, she later became recognized as ‘Miss Unsinkable.’ She worked as a nurse and stewardess on the three sister ships of the White Star Line. She survived the Olympic, Titanic, and Britannic—all ships that met their doom in the vast sea. She even jumped overboard to save her life from a sinking ship. Let’s dive into the life of Violet Jessop and uncover how she bravely became ‘Miss Unsinkable.’

Early Life of Violet Jessop AKA The “Miss Unsinkable”

Violet was the oldest of nine children. She was born to Irish immigrant parents William and Katherine Jessop. She was fatally ill with tuberculosis as a child. Even the doctors did not believe that she would live long enough. However, she managed to challenge her own destiny despite doctors’ predictions.

Jessop had to step up for the role of an adult at an early age. When she was 16 years old, her father died and her family moved to England. She attended a convent school and took care of her youngest sister while her mother was at sea working as a stewardess. When her mother fell sick, Jessop had to leave school to support the family. She followed her mother’s footsteps and applied to be a stewardess.

It was not easy for her to find a job. Her employers thought her youth and good looks would “cause problems” with the crew and passengers. Violet even had to dress herself in old clothes and no makeup to lose the attraction. With all the hardships, Violet was able to secure a job with the prestigious White Star Line. 

violet jessop
Image source: Wikipedia / Pinterest

Survival Against the Odds: RMS Titanic, Olympic and Brittanic!

Violet’s saga with the sea began with her service on the White Star Line’s sister ships: the Olympic, Titanic, and Britannic. Each vessel, a marvel of its time, faced disasters. Jessop’s roles aboard these ships varied, but her experiences during their sinking were remarkably similar.


Violet later found a job on the Orinoco, a Royal Mail Line steamer. She was hired by the White Star Line in 1908 and in less than 2 years she began working with the Olympic ship. A year later, a tragedy hit the vessel. The Olympic was sailing through the Solent Strait when the British Military cruise ship ‘Hawke’ came directly at it. Olympic vessel tried to take the ship away from a collision. However, it was too late. The ship straightly collided with HMS Hawke. Both ships sustained considerable damage, but they did not sink. The ship made it back to port and Violet came to the shore unharmed. Thankfully, no others were harmed from the ship’s collision. 

Image source: Brittanica


A couple of years later, Violet took a job on the Titanic, the famous “unsinkable” ship. Violet was just 24 years old when she boarded the ship. On April 10th, 1912, the Titanic started its maiden voyage from Southampton Port, England, to New York. On April 14th, it tragically collided with an iceberg in the Mediterranean. At the time of the collision, Violet was in her cabin resting.

She felt the ship move all of a sudden and was called to the ship’s upper deck by the crew. The ship started to sink and Violet went on to alert the non-English-speaking passengers of the emergency. She has even supported to pile them up onto a lifeboat. Luckily, Violet also escaped yet again another disaster, with the help of a lifeboat. She got on the ‘lifeboat 16’ with some other female passengers and a stranger’s baby in her arms.

“I was ordered up on deck. Calmly, passengers strolled about. I stood at the bulkhead with the other stewardesses, watching the women cling to their husbands before being put into the boats with their children. Sometime after, a ship’s officer ordered us into the boat first to show some women it was safe.”

Violet Jessop (Her memoir)
violet jessop
Image source: Wikipedia


On November 21, 1916, the British ocean liner Britannic—recognized as a hospital ship for its role in World War I, cruised the Aegean Sea. It was on its way to the bloody battlefield of Gallipoli in Turkey. Nurse Violet Jessop came from morning Mass and sat down to have her breakfast. A faint explosion jolted the ship. She realized something was not right. The ship was struck by a German mine and was quickly sinking.

Nearly 55 minutes after the explosion, the whole vessel sank in the depths of the sea. Around 30 of the 1066 people on board the ship tragically faced death. Not having enough time and not being able to secure a place in a lifeboat, Violet bravely decided to jump overboard. She swam to the closest lifeboat and got on it. However, she was still not safe. The propellers of the sinking ship were still working and it started pulling the lifeboat towards it. Not having any other choice to save her life, she again jumped overboard.

After jumping overboard from the lifeboat, she was pulled under the ship’s keel. She hit her head on the ship but did not lose consciousness or her life, thanks to her thick hair. Fortunately, another lifeboat came to her rescue and got her to safety.

After the war, Violet departed the White Star Line. She later joined the Red Star Line and served on a ship for several years. Fortunately, no other ship disasters followed her through. Violet retired at the age of 61 and passed away from congestive heart failure at the age of 84.

Despite the brutal experiences, Jessop’s resilience shone through. She managed to survive by making quick, life-saving decisions—such as remembering to grab her toothbrush, as advised by a friend, before evacuating the Britannic. 

“I leaped into the water but was sucked under the ship’s keel which struck my head. 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!”

Violet Jessop
Image source: Great ocean liners

Saving a Baby from the RMS Titanic!

According to the ‘women and children first’ rule, Violet was able to secure a spot on lifeboat number 16. While boarding, she held a stranger’s infant in her arms given by an officer of the Titanic. Violet was required to deliver the baby ashore safely. Fortunately, RMS Carpathia-a rescue vessel, soon saved Violet and the infant in her arms. The baby was reunited with the mother while they were on the Carpathia.  

According to records, the baby “Assad Thomas” or ” As’ad Tannūs” was the only baby that seemed to have got on the lifeboat 16. Assad passed away in 1931, only 19 years after surviving the Titanic disaster. That is sheer luck working at its best, isn’t it?

Years after Violet’s retirement, she claimed to have received a phone call. There was a woman on the phone and she asked Jessop if she had rescued a baby on the night that Titanic sank to the ocean depths. “Yes,” replied Jessop. Apparently, the voice then said “I was that baby. ” With a laugh, the person on the phone has hung up. However, Violet’s friend and biographer John Maxtone-Graham stated that it was most likely a child in the village being witty.

Image source: Encyclopedia Titanica (Thamīn Tannūs holding the baby As’ad Tannūs / Mrs. Thamīn Tannūs was born in Hardīn, Lebanon on 25 December 1895)


Violet Jessop’s life is a testament to human resilience and the will to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges. Her story of survival from three shipwrecks is not just about luck; it’s about the strength of the human spirit, a deep faith, and an unwavering will to live. Jessop’s tale is sure to inspire anyone fascinated by the mysteries of nature, the depths of human courage, and the incredible stories that history has to offer.

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