The Titanic: A true story of The Countess and the Able Seaman

Belles’ March 2018 meeting kept members enthralled as guest speaker Angela Young spoke about her great-grandmother the Countess of Rothes, one of the estimated 705 survivors of the Titanic disaster in 1912.

Angela, a novelist and author of Dance of Love, inspired by the life of her grandmother, described how the Countess never spoke about that fateful night and it was not until after her death, in 1956, that it was discovered how brave she had been and how she played a part in the rescuing of the Titanic passengers.

On 1912 RMS Titanic collided with an iceberg. The ship billed as the ‘Unsinkable’ sank to the bottom in a matter of hours killing between 1,490 and 1,635 people.  There were only 16 lifeboats on the Titanic nowhere near enough for the amount of passengers, however, as women and children took priority, the Countess was able to board lifeboat number 8 along with her maid under the care of Able Seaman Jones.  Because of her calming effect and knowledge of sailing Able Seaman Jones put her in charge of the women and put her at the Tiller; she also helped to row. There they remained until they were rescued by RMS Carpathia aboard which she was given the nickname  ‘Plucky Little Countess’ for her care of the injured, and looking to the wellbeing of her fellow female passengers by sewing blankets, translating and finding medicine and food.

Despite not talking about that night, it was obviously one that was never forgotten and this was evident in correspondence found in the Countess’ affects decades later where she had been in communication with Able Seaman Jones and had gifted him an engraved silver fob watch; he in return had kept the two plaques from lifeboat no. 8 as a momento and gave one to her.

It was a very interesting recount of the events that took place and gave members a more personal insight into the Titanic disaster.

To read in more depth about the Countess’ role that night, please see the link below to the article Angela wrote published in The Daily Mail in 2015.

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