The Badass Story of Charles Joughin, The Chief Baker of the Titanic
And who is Charles Joughin?
Depicted in both A Night to Remember and the 1997 blockbuster Titanic movie, Charles Joughin is shown as the drunk guy hanging onto the side of the rail.
He was also the chief baker of the Titanic, so when the ocean liner started going down, he knew he wasn’t one of the people who would be saved.
During the sinking of the Titanic, Joughin and the other chefs assigned themselves the task of bringing food and supplies to put aboard the lifeboats. Along with stewards and other seamen, Joughin helped women and children onto the lifeboats. When, after a while, the women on deck refused to go to the boat saying they were safer aboard the Titanic, he then went on to forcibly brought them up and threw them into the lifeboat.
Then he went to his cabin and downed as much whiskey as he could, getting ready to die.
Later, he went down onto the B Deck promenade where he threw about fifty deck chairs overboard so that they could be used as floatation devices by people in the freezing waters.
Charles Joughin was the very last person to get off the Titanic, and he got off with style.
This picture depicts the Titanic’s final moments, and at this point, Joughin was at the topmost part of the ship. He was on the outside of the ship, holding onto a safety railing. Yes, the one depicted in the movie!
And instead of dying from fright and a massive heart attack there and then, he rode the ship down like an elevator. He merely stepped off of the Titanic, into the water, and by his own account, didn’t even get his hair wet!
Joughin spent three hours in the -2 degree Atlantic Ocean before he was rescued. Normally, that would have been enough time to kill anybody. But Joughin’s body had so much whiskey coursing through it that the alcohol actually fought off the cold and kept him alive.
He swam around until daylight where he spotted an upturned collapsible lifeboat with Second Officer Charles Lightoller and around 25 other men standing on the side of the boat. He slowly swam towards it, but there was no room for him. A 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, which rescued him.
Here is a photo of the upturned collapsible lifeboat that Charles Joughin clung to being found by The CS Mackay-Bennett:
In a letter to Walter Lord, author of A Night To Remember, Joughin recalled his experience of the Titanic disaster:
“Mr Walter Lord
Some secretaries brought to my notice your very splendid article “A Night to Remember” in the current issue of “The Ladies Home Journal.”
Most written accounts were hair-raising scenes which did not actually occur, except in the last few moments when those left behind made a mad rush towards what they considered a safer place, the Poop Deck. Fortunately I was all alone, when the big list to port occurred. I was able to straddle the Starboard rail (on A deck) and stepped off as the ship went under. I had expected suction of some kind, but felt none. At no time was my head underwater. just kept moving my arms and legs and kept in an upright position. No trick at all with a left-belt on.Your account of the upturned collapsible with Col.Gracie aboard was very correct. Most of the crew, were familiar with life boat and Fire stations as they had manned the “Olympic” (a sister ship) previously. Some curious things are done at a time like this. Why did I lock the heavy iron door of the Bakery, stuff the heavy keys in my pocket, alongside two cakes of hard tobacco.
My conclusions of cause: Grave error on part of Captain Smith kept course in spite of ice warnings and severe drop in temperature from 5 P.M.
Loss of life: life boat shortage, for the number of passengers and crew, but many more could have been saved, had the women obeyed orders. In those circumstances the crew are helpless.”
After surviving the Titanic, Joughin returned to England and was one of the crew members who reported to testify at the British Inquiry headed by the Viscount Mersey. In 1920, he moved permanently to the United States to Paterson, New Jersey and according to his obituary he was also on board the SS Oregon when it sank in Boston Harbour. He also served on ships operated by the American Export Lines as well as on World War II troop transports before retiring in 1944.
Joughin was invited to describe his experiences of the Titanic disaster in a chapter of Walter Lord’s book, A Night To Remember.
Charles Joughin died after a bout of pneumonia in Paterson, New Jersey on December 9th, 1956.
He was 78.