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Video: Interview with Titanic survivor Millvina Dean

Titanic disaster survivor Millvina Dean with a picture of the stricken vessel
Titanic disaster survivor Millvina Dean with a picture of the stricken vessel

By Gary Grattan

When Belfast man Keith Drury travelled to Southampton in 2009 to meet Millvina Dean, the last remaining survivor of the sinking of the Titanic, he didn't realise he would be one of the last people to speak to her.

For sadly Millvina, who was 97 and had never married, died of pneumonia just a few weeks after their encounter.

But luckily Keith had taken his camcorder with him and managed to record the last words she ever spoke on video.

At just two months and 13 days of age, Millvina was also the youngest passenger on board the ill-fated liner. Her father died after saving her.

Millvina Dean's parents decided to leave England and immigrate to Wichita, Kansas, where her father had family and his cousin owned a tobacco shop that her father was going to co-own.

The Deans were not supposed to be aboard the Titanic but owing to a coal strike, they were transferred to the ship and boarded it as third-class passengers at Southampton.

Her father felt the ship's collision with the iceberg on the night of April 14,1912, and after investigating, returned to his cabin telling his wife to dress the children and go up on deck.

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Millvina, her mother, and brother were placed in Lifeboat 10 and were among the first steerage passengers to escape the sinking. Her father, however, did not survive, and his body, if recovered, was never identified.

At first, Millvina's mother wanted to continue to Kansas to fulfill her husband's wish of a new life in the United States. However, after losing her husband and being left with two small children to bring up on her own, they returned to England aboard the RMS Adriatic.

Millvina and her brother were raised mostly on pension funds and educated in Southampton. It was not until she was eight years old, and her mother was planning to marry again, that she was told she had been a passenger on the Titanic.

She died in a nursing home in May 2009 - exactly 97 years and seven weeks after the Titanic set off for America.

In October that year her ashes were scattered from a launch at the docks in Southampton.

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