The extraordinary story of sailor who survived both Titanic and Lusitania disasters

George Beauchamp told Titanic inquiry he heard a ‘roar like thunder’ when the ship hit the iceberg

Henry Austin
Tuesday 23 April 2019 16:10 BST
George Beauchamp is believed to be the only person who survived both the sinking of the Titanic and Lusitania
George Beauchamp is believed to be the only person who survived both the sinking of the Titanic and Lusitania

A sailor was the only person to survive two of the worst maritime disasters of the 20th century – the sinking of the Titanic and RMS Lusitania – his relatives have claimed.

George Beauchamp lied about his age to get a job as a fireman stoker aboard the Titanic.

He told the White Star Line shipping company he was 32 when he was really 10 years older.

After the ship hit an iceberg and sank in the Atlantic Ocean in 1912, he was called to give evidence at the British inquiry into the disaster. Transcripts of his testimony remain on record.

Beauchamp said he heard a “roar like thunder” on impact, and was up to his waist in seawater before he was permitted to leave the engine room.

He then went up on to the deck and helped passengers into Lifeboat 13 before getting in himself and rowing to safety.

“I went ... on to the boat deck and across to the starboard side,” he told the inquiry. “I had one foot on the deck and one on the lifeboat and I was helping ladies and children into the lifeboat. We had difficulty keeping the lifeboat away from the ship’s side and prevent[ing] water coming in.

“We pulled on the oars to get away as far as possible from the suction of the ship as it went down. I saw the ship go down bow first and I could still see the stern and then that went too. It was a roar like thunder as it went down and I heard cries as the ship sank.

“We would have gone back for others but we were full up.”

Titanic sank due to enormous uncontrollable fire, not iceberg, experts claim

Lifeboat 13 was rescued by RMS Carpathia, a passenger steamship that braved treacherous conditions to rescue 705 people from the Titanic.

His family also believe he was on board RMS Lusitania when it was sunk during the First World War.

Once the world’s largest passenger ship, it was torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1915.

After the second disaster, Beauchamp supposedly said: “I have had enough of large ships and I’m going to work on smaller boats.”

His family, from Hull, East Yorkshire, have paid tribute to him 75 years after his death.

His great granddaughter, Susan Norton, said she’s proud of him and the “part he played in saving the lives of some passengers”.

Born in London, Beauchamp moved to Hull, where he spent 10 years working on trawlers and other ships.

He then moved to Southampton, where he died in 1944 at the age of 72.

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