Tribute to last man on Titanic

PUBLISHED: 15:56 29 August 2001 | UPDATED: 10:28 03 March 2010

AS preparations are made to auction off a piece of Titanic memorabilia, an Ipswich man has paid tribute to his brave and courageous uncle who was aboard the ill-fated liner.

AS preparations are made to auction off a piece of Titanic memorabilia, an Ipswich man has paid tribute to his brave and courageous uncle who was aboard the ill-fated liner.

Next month a deck chair from the Titanic will come under the auctioneers' hammer and it is expected to fetch £35,000.

This is believed to be one of the chairs thrown from the ship by Charles Joughin, the last man left standing on her as he desperately tried to save some of the hundreds of people fighting for life in the icy sea.

The chair carries the White Star Line emblem, a sign that places it on the Titanic which sank on April 15, 1912, after hitting an iceberg in the Atlantic.

Charles's nephew Theo Joughin lives in Montgomery Road, Ipswich, and he spoke to The Evening Star about his uncle and the chair which is one of the few remaining pieces from this story.

In 1912 Charles set sail from England for New York on the Titanic, the unsinkable and giant Transatlantic liner. But the voyage was doomed.

He was to be one of the few survivors on this great ship Titanic and one who through personal courage and initiative managed to save many lives.

Mr Joughin said his uncle had remained reticent about his time on the Titanic and it was only later he found out the whole story.

"Charlie was in the Merchant Navy for many years and was chief baker on the Titanic.

"He never spoke of his experiences on the ship and it was only through a book that was written about the Titanic and an article in the paper some while back about the chair that I realised the true extent of his bravery.

"I only met him a couple of times but my father often spoke about him, I think he was very proud of him."

The book in question is written by Walter Lord and tells the story of the Titanic and the night it sank with an account of Charlie's final hours on the ship.

It talks of how Charlie was woken by a strange grinding noise and he reasoned that if lifeboats were needed then food would be needed to.

He ransacked the larder for provisions for the passengers and when things got worse and the sudden realisation hit him that they had run out of lifeboats he began throwing the deck chairs in to the sea. They would float and act as buoyancy aids to save those already in the water.

"He was the last man standing on the Titanic. He did all he could to save lives and he himself was eventually rescued by the Carpathia and taken to New York.

"He had fortified himself with whisky and the doctors told him that this was probably what saved him, as others perished in the cold he was partly protected by the alcohol," said Mr Joughin.

The book, which has been signed by the author, gives glorious details of Mr Joughin's final hours on the boat when the search for a safe place became an almost impossible scramble for survival.

"He stood on the side of the boat and as she gave another hideous lurch he found himself sat on the rounded stern."

Eventually he was left on the very end of the ship and when there was nowhere else to go the book tells of how he, "casually tightened his life jacket and stepped in to the sea".

"If it hadn't been for the chair I would never have known about my uncle's true experiences," said Mr Joughin.

"We are very proud of him and even my grandchildren talk about it, to have something like this in your family history is wonderful … but I still can't believe someone will pay £35,000 for a chair."

Charles Joughin carried on in the Merchant Navy after surviving the Titanic disaster and only came back to England when his ship brought him home.

He had fallen in love with an English girl whose mother had forbidden her from marrying him. Unlike the modern day film they did find each other again and married in Patterson, USA, where he died at the age of 78.

The chair is to be auctioned at Devizes in Wiltshire in next month.

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