Like a microcosm of the event itself, their fate would be decided by luck, heroism and tragedy.
Among the most glamorous would be 47- year-old divorcee John Jacob Astor IV and his 18-year-old bride, Madeleine, who had eloped to Europe to escape censure in America.
Their hopes for a triumphant return would never be fulfilled alas, with only Madeleine and her unborn child – named John Jacob after his father – arriving home.
Mr Astor had to jump four times into the lifeboat with his wife before persuading her to save herself and leave him.
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