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Sunday, November 8, 2020

Violet Jessop: The Luckiest Nurse Ever Lived

Is it hard to believe that a person can be so lucky? We have heard of inspiring tales of an average joe winning billions of dollars in a lottery, we also have heard of people surviving near-death experiences, and we have also heard of miraculous feats and medical breakthroughs that we're able to save countless lives.  Yet have you heard of a lady so fortunate that she was able to survive ship encounters and disasters not once, not twice, but thrice? Help people? And lived long enough (barely scathed) to tell the tale? 

Violet Jessop, Titanic
Image: Mysteries Unsolved

Let me introduce, Violet Constance Jessop, an Argentinian born in 1887 from Irish immigrants and a sister to five other children. In childhood, one could say that Violet was a very lucky girl. She survived tuberculosis (which was fatal at that time), she was among the surviving progenies of her parents, she was able to attend a convent school as an immigrant in England, and she was able to outlive both World War I and World War II serving as a ship stewardess. 

From the memoirs copiously compiled in Titanic Survivor: The Newly Discovered Memoirs of Violet Jessop Who Survived Both the Titanic and Britannic Disasters, she recalled the tragedies that struck her voyages and the birth of her reputation as Miss Unsinkable.

At age 21, shortly after her mother’s death, she served aboard the Orinoco which was her first work as a Stewardess. Years later, she was able to serve an Olympic Class luxury cruiser named HMS Olympic established by the White Star Line Company in 1910. 

Violet Jessop, Luckiest Nurse
Image: Random Ploughs

At HMS Olympic, her first near brush with death occurred. While leaving Southampton in a narrow strait, the ship collided with the warship, HMS Hawke. The reason cited was either failure of navigation or negligence. Either way, the ship was able to go back to port with zero casualties.

Down the line, she was able to serve another luxury ship (A famous ship popularized by the film directed by James Cameron), named RMS Titanic. In case you are not aware, the ship sank after it crashed into an iceberg in North Atlantic Ocean. 

Aboard the ship, Jessop was ordered to go up the deck to be emulated by other passengers who were not native English speakers. She was assigned to lifeboat 16 wherein a woman asked her to carry a baby. Once again, Jessop survived after being saved by RMS Carpathia, saving a life in the process.

The final tragedy she was in was more traumatic, HMHS Britannic, a converted hospital ship from White Star Liner company. This time, Jessop was serving as a Voluntary Aid Detachment for British Red Cross for wounded soldiers and civilians during World War I.

While en route in the Aegean Sea, an unexplained explosion (in 2016, the cause was determined to be a German deep-sea mine) caused the ship to malfunction and sink. This tragedy took 30 lives. Jessop survived because she was able to jump out of her lifeboat after being nearly caught in the propeller of the boat. Whereas the rest were unfortunate and have gotten killed, Jessop received a traumatic head injury.

Despite her three brushes with death, Jessop continued to serve White Star Line until her retirement. Eventually, the baby she saved in the RMS Titanic was able to thank her through a telephone call. Her last breath was spent fighting Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) and finally, her demise came at age 83.

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