It’s rarely a good idea to drink on the job. But a hankering for hooch may have saved the life of Charles Joughin, the chief baker on the RMS Titanic.
Of all the survival stories from that infamous evening, when the presumably unsinkable luxury liner was brought down by an iceberg in the North Atlantic, that of the 33-year-old Englishman may be the most amazing.
How it played out: Joughin was resting in his cabin when, minutes before midnight, the mother of all collisions occurred. Jolted by the impact, he rounded up the kitchen staff and instructed them to stock the lifeboats with provisions, such as bread and biscuits.
Then he returned to his cabin for a couple of good, stiff drinks, before returning topside to help toss terrified passengers into lifeboats — quite literally, by the way, since some women were hesitant to abandon ship.
The last of the lifeboats were unloaded by about 1:30 am, but Joughin wasn’t in any of them. Instead, he returned to his cabin and downed another drink. More accurately, he nursed the drink, taking his sweet old time, even though the frigid water of the North Atlantic was starting to fill his quarters.
Upon taking his last sip, Joughin returned to the liner’s topside and started flinging deckchairs over the railing into the churning sea below, figuring they could eventually be used as flotation devices. Then, struggling through waist-deep water, he went to the pantry and tossed back yet another glass (water this time).
At 2:20 am, when the Titanic finally split in two, Joughin was on the stern. Not unlike Jack and Rose in 1997’s Titanic, the baker held on tight and “rode” the ship right into the sea.
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