Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Titanic: The last survivor

Titanic first class suite bedroom 'b58'. Photograph © National Museums Northern Ireland. Collection Harland & Wolff, Ulster Folk & Transport Museum

Millvina Dean, who died in 2009, aged 97, on the 98th anniversary of the launch of the Titanic, was nine weeks old when the ship went down.

She survived with her mother, Ettie, and elder brother, Bertram, who was nearly two at the time, but they lost her father, 27-year-old Bert Dean, who was taking his family to Kansas City to open a tobacconist’s shop. Travelling steerage, the Deans should have been sailing on another White Star liner, but by a piece of bad luck were transferred to the Titanic due to a coal strike. The family boarded at Southampton on Wednesday, April 10, with 493 other third-class passengers.

Towards the end of her life, Millvina, who did not discover her Titanic connection until she was eight years old, was short of funds for her nursing home and had to sell some of her mementoes.

James Cameron, the director of Titanic, helped out even though Millvina said before seeing his film that she’d only watch half – “the first half”.

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