Chief Baker Charles Joughin

If there is any story that James Cameron missed when he wrote "Titanic," it is that of the ship's chief baker, Charles Joughin.  In a night filled with tragedy, Joughin's experiences were comical.  One can only marvel at such good fortune.  The following excerpt is from Walter Lord's A Night to Remember (1955, Bantam Books, pp. 132-35):

"The sea was silent too.  No one saw a trace of life in the waves that rippled the smooth Atlantic as the first light of dawn streaked the sky.

"But one man still lived--thanks to a remarkable combination of initiative, luck and alcohol.  Four hours earlier, Chief Baker Charles Joughin was awakened, like so many on the Titanic, by that strange grinding jar.  And like many others he heard the call to general quarters a little after midnight.

"But Joughin didn't merely report to the Boat Deck.  He reasoned that if boats were needed, provisions were needed too; so on his own initiative he mustered his staff of 13 bakers and ransacked the Titanic's larder of all spare bread.  The bakers then trooped topside carrying four loaves apiece.

"This done, Joughin retired to his cabin on E Deck port side, for a nip of whiskey.

"About 12:30 he felt sufficiently fortified to re-ascend the stairs to his Boat, No. 10.  At this stage it was still difficult to persuade the women to go; so Joughin resorted to stronger methods.  He went down to the Promenade Deck and hauled some up by force.  Then, to use his own word, he 'threw' them into the boat.  Rough but effective.

"Joughin was assigned to No. 10 as skipper, but he thought there were enough men to handle the boat; so he jumped out and helped launch it instead.  To go with it, he explained, 'would have set a bad example.'

"It was now 1:20.  He scampered down the slanting stairs again to his cabin on E Deck and poured himself another drink.  He sat down on his bunk and nursed it along--aware but not particularly caring that the water now rippled through the cabin doorway, swilled across the checkered linoleum, and rose to the top of his shoes.

"About 1:45 he saw, of all people, gentle old Dr. O'Loughlin poking around.  It never occurred to Joughin to wonder what the old gentleman was doing way down here, but the proximity of the pantry suggested that Joughin and the doctor were thinking along similar lines.

"In any case, Joughin greeted him briefly, then went back up to the Boat Deck.  None too soon, for the Titanic was listing heavily now, and the slant was much steeper.  Any longer, and the stairs might have been impossible.

"Though all the boats were gone, Joughin was anything but discouraged.  He went down to B Deck and began throwing deck chairs through the windows of the enclosed promenade.  Others watched him, but they didn't help.  Altogether he pitched about 50 chairs overboard.

"It was tiring work; so after he lugged the last chair to the edge and squeezed it through the window (it was a little like threading a needle), Joughin retired to the pantry on the starboard side of A Deck.  It was 2:10.

"As he quenched his thirst--this time it was water--he heard a kind of crash, as though something had buckled.  The pantry cups and saucers flew about him, the lights glowed red, and overhead he heard the pounding of feet running aft.

"He bolted out of the pantry toward the stern end of A Deck, just behind a swarm of people, running the same way and clambering down from the Boat Deck above.  He kept out of the crush as much as possible and ran along in the rear of the crowd.  He vaulted down the steps to B Deck, then to the well deck.  Just as he got there, the Titanic gave a sickening twist to port, throwing most of the people into a huge heap along the port rail.

"Only Joughin kept his balance.  Alert but relaxed, his equilibrium was marvelous, as the stern rose higher and corkscrewed to port.  The deck was now listing too steeply to stand on, and Joughin slipped over the starboard rail and stood on the actual side of the ship.  He worked his way up the side, still holding onto the rail--but from the outside--until he reached the white-painted steel plates of the poop deck.  He now stood on the rounded stern end of the ship, which had swung high in the air some 150 feet above the water.

"Joughin casually tightened his lifebelt.  Then he glanced at his watch--it said 2:15.  As an afterthought, he took it off and stuck it into his hip pocket.  He was beginning to puzzle over his position when he felt the stern beginning to drop under his feet--it was like taking an elevator.  As the sea closed over the stern, Joughin stepped off into the water.  He didn't even get his head wet.

"He paddled off into the night, little bothered by the freezing water.  It was four o'clock when he saw what he thought was wreckage in the first gray light of day.  He swam over and discovered it was the upturned Collapsible B.

"The keel was crowded and he couldn't climb on, so he hung around for a while until he spied an old friend from the kitchen--entrée chef John Maynard.  Blood proved thicker than water, Maynard held out his hand and Joughin hung on, treading water, still thoroughly insulated."

In Joughin's own words, at the British inquiry:

"I got on to the starboard side of the poop; found myself in the water.  I do not believe my head went under the water at all.  I thought I saw some wreckage.  Swam towards it and found collapsible boat ("B") with Lightoller and about twenty-five men on it.  There was no room for me.  I tried to get on, but was pushed off, but I hung around.  I got around to the opposite side and cook Maynard, who recognized me, helped me and held on to me." (Gracie, p. 221)

Eventually, two other boats, Nos. 4 and 12, came to the assistance of Collapsible B and Joughin finally came out of the water.


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