Blog,  We shall not forget - series

We shall not forget 01 – Frank Winnold Prentice – Titanic survivor

Welcome to my first illustrated and written article on my blog! I wanted to make a series about people of the world who we should not forget because of various reasons. Mostly because the people I write about have witnessed a historical event or have done something extraordinary in their life. Something we all shouldn’t forget wether it be about humanity or learning from disasters. Because every voice in our world has a story to tell.

As you all might know, I am a huge historical nerd. I dive deep into history to understand everything around it. I am also a huge titanic nerd so it probably is no surprise, that I write about a survivors story in my first issue.

I was about 2 1/2 years old when the Titanic was found by Robert Ballard. And it is one of my first memories because I could not stop thinking about the beautiful ship they had finally found. In my mind she was of course absolutely intact and they should raise it. (Remember I was very little) I didn’t understand why they didn’t raise it. I kept thinking about the titanic for many, many years until I was older and did proper research on it. And then I finally understood everything and the tragic disaster that had occurred.

One of the most fascinating stories of the survivors is the one of Frank Prentice. He was on the ship until it went down and was saved from the water. One of the very few Crew Members of the Titanic to survive and this is his story.

Frank Winnold Prentice – Titanic Crew Member Survivor

The story of the luxury liner Titanic is probably one of the most tragic ones of the last century. The fascination lasts until this day.

In the 1970th and at least after the wreckage was found in 1985 the story of the liner was made popular once more. Although many of the survivors of the Titanic never spoke about the most horrific night of their lives and went on taking their story to their graves, a few of them were brought to us in the 1980s by the brave men and woman who told the world about their experience of that fateful night. And every time they do tell their story, they know, they will relive the horror not only by telling it, but also in the following night as the titanic will haunt them in their dreams.

Frank Prentice sits down in a comfortable chair, now elderly but nevertheless clear minded. He will talk about the night that never left him. In his pocket he carries the watch, that was with him when he went into the water that night. It stopped on 20min past 2 when the titanic went under the surface and took away more than 1500 lives of men, women and children.

Prentice breathes in deeply, folds his hands in his lap and looks away from the camera. His voice is shaking but his word are clear as he tells his story.

„I was sitting with a pal of mine in our bunk when the Titanic just came to a hold. Just like a car, it just slowly stopped.“

Worried by this Prentice looked out of their window but couldn’t see anything but the clear moonless night. The water as calm as a lake. But Prentice an his pal go on the Deck just to make sure everything was alright. They found Ice on the Well deck and Prentice knew instantly that this wasn’t good.
Some of the passengers play snowball with the Ice and a gentlemen is mocking:“ I asked for Ice for my Brandy, but this is ridiculous.“

Short time later, Frank Prentice is ordered on Deck to help putting woman and children into the live boats.

„The women refused to go. We couldn’t persuade them to leave.“ Frank prentice is shaking his head, his eyes filled with sadness. „They refused to leave their husbands.“ His voice breaks and he stops talking, looking away from the camera.

Many of the women rather stayed with their children on the proclaimed unsinkable Titanic than to leave their husbands. This was not only done out of love, but also out of necessity. Back than a woman without a husband and with children to take care of was bound to be penniless. A woman on her own was not able to provide her own children with everything they needed. And bare in mind the ship was declared unsinkable. But they wanted to force you, to step on board a lifeboat that was hanging very high in mid air to be put down into pitch black darkness.

It only became apparent to the passengers that the titanic was indeed sinking, when she had reached a certain angle, then it was undeniably to anybody, that she would sink. The boats filled up fast by then and rowed away as quick as possible to avoid the suction. Many passengers of the third class were just then making its way to the lifeboats because they couldn’t find the way up on deck. But all the lifeboats were gone. It is too late.

Prentice remembers to help Mrs.Clark into a life jacket and urging her to step on a lifeboat. But Mrs. Clark is on her honeymoon and is worried for her husband.
The Titanic is sinking fast and the boats are now all gone.

„I decided to think a little bit of myself then.“ Frank Prentice smiles shyly as if he’d done something he shouldn’t. „I had hid a life jacket, so I went to get it.“

While he is running along the rail to the poop deck, he meets with his pals Michael Kieran and Cyrill Ricks. Little do they know, that the poop Deck they are standing on will be the breaking point of the Titanic in just a mater of time.
They clime on the railing to hang on to the Titanic as long as possible.

„The Titanic had two signs that said: „Keep clear of Propellor blades“ and I was on the port one. Hanging on to it.“ Prentice breathes deeply, brushing his mouth with his hands as if he wants to stop himself from talking about what happened next.

„Ricks and Kieran jumped and a short time later I decided to jump as well.“

Prentice jumped about 90 feet into darkness passing the propellor blades on his way down and landed with a loud crash in the water.

„I was lucky. I didn’t hit anyone in the water.“ His eyes look teared up as he is holding his hand tightly. „Many people, dead or alive were floating around. And all the debris. But I was lucky, I didn’t hit anything. I found Ricks. He didn’t talk much. He had hurt himself. His legs were broken.“

Prentice never found Kieran and decided to stay with Ricks. He looked above the Titanic which was sinking fast, taking everything and everyone with her.

People around them screamed for their lives, screamed for help.

„It became quite. Ricks died.“

The people died slowly in the freezing water. Hyperthermia took away the ones who made it into the water. We still don’t know how many of them were trapped in the Titanic and went down to the ground. And during all this tragic, Prentice stayed with Ricks until he died. Only then, he decided to swim because he guessed where the lifeboats had went. And he was right. He made it to the lifeboats and was rescued.

„There I meet Mrs.Clark again! She wrapped a blanket around me and saved me from freezing. So I guess we both saved our lives.“ he smiles and his eyes wander into the distance to memories only he can see.

When Frank Prentice is asked about the Titanic his eyes begin to glow. „You could have wandered for weeks on this ship and still found something new. She was a beautiful ship.“

Frank Prentice was one of the very few Crew members that survived the sinking and one of the very few that were saved out of the water that night. He kept on working as a crew member on various liners of the white Star line and even on the Titanic sistership the Olympic. He died on the 30th of May in 1982.

His testimony is one of bravery and friendship. Not many would have stayed with an injured friend, doomed to die because he could no longer swim, risking his own life with a high chance of being taken by hyperthermia.

Monia Baillieu is a professional illustrator and sculptor from northern Germany. Her illustrations are mostly eerie or haunted themed. Occasionally she creates some funny comics as well or ventures out into graphic novels. Sculptures are created with polymer clay and fit into the overall theme of her works.  

For professionell requests or collaborations please check her portfolio and send an email to info@millamo.com

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