From the heroic to the tragic, these stories of Titanic survivors are still haunting more than a century after the doomed ship's demise.
Of the estimated 2,224 passengers and crew aboard the Titanic when it struck an iceberg and sank on April 15, 1912, some 1,500 died in the cold waters of the North Atlantic. A mere 700 people lived on. These are some of the most powerful stories of the Titanic survivors.
Titanic Survivors: The “Navratil Orphans”
Michel Navratil married Marcelle Caretto in London in 1907 and had two sons, Michel Jr. and Edmond, by 1912. That year, Navratil believed that his wife was having an affair and during a weekend apart, decided to take the boys to America. Buying a second-class ticket for the Titanic, he took his sons on the ship under the alias Louis M. Hoffman.
On the night that the ship struck the iceberg, Navratil was able to get the boys aboard a lifeboat. Michel Jr. later recounted that just before placing him in the boat, his father gave him a final message, “My child, when your mother comes for you, as she surely will, tell her that I loved her dearly and still do. Tell her I expected her to follow us, so that we might all live happily together in the peace and freedom of the New World.”
Soon after speaking those words, Michel Navratil died in the disaster. His sons, however, survived.
Following the wreck, the Navratil orphans stayed in New York until their mother recognized the boys from newspaper photos and was able to reunite with her sons on May 16, more than a month after the ship sank.
“The Unsinkable Molly Brown”
Famously known as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” Margaret Brown earned that nickname by effectively taking over one of the ship’s lifeboats and threatening to throw the quartermaster overboard if he didn’t turn back to look for more Titanic survivors, as she insisted.
Reports vary as to whether or not the lifeboat actually turned back and/or picked up any survivors, but Brown earned her fame and eventually saw both a Broadway musical and a film adaptation named in her honor.