The sinking of the Titanic is a well-covered topic, earning blockbuster movies, bestselling books, and TV specials about the tragedy. Most remember the people who were lost in the sinking, but what about the survivors? Charles Joughin, a baker in the ship’s kitchen crew, made it out alive and some people think he had alcohol to thank for his survival.
Joughin was the chief baker on board the Titanic. His kitchen skills would not seemingly translate to survival skills, but a viral Twitter thread revealed Joughin’s quick thinking saved not only his life but also those of his coworkers.
Author Laura Keating posted a series of tweets about Joughin, sharing that he ordered his staff on deck shortly after the ship struck the iceberg. Once he saw the lifeboats were being prepared, he had his staff collect provisions for the passengers, then helped load women and children into the boats.
According to Keating, Joughin even chased down hysterical passengers who were too scared to board the lifeboats and began throwing them in. Despite being captain of Lifeboat 10, which secured him a place on the boat and off the sinking ship, Joughin refused to board and gave his spot up for someone else.
He continued to help get passengers on the lifeboats and off the ship. Once all the boats were gone, Joughin was trapped, along with thousands of others. So, he did what many would do in such a hopeless situation: he started drinking.
As Joughin walked the decks, steadily drinking, he also threw wooden deckchairs into the water as flotation devices for people who would end up in the water. The baker then heard a loud crash and ran to the back of the boat, where he climbed over the ship’s railing and calmly rode the sinking ship down into the water.
Joughin swam in the 28-degree Fahrenheit water for two hours—Keating pointed out that most people would not survive 15 minutes in such conditions. So, how did Joughin make it out alive?
How Drinking Saved Joughin’s Life
Some have hypothesized that Joughin’s multiple drinks warmed him up enough to help him survive in the frigid conditions. However, hypothermia expert Gordon Giesbrecht told the National Post that the water would have been too cold for the alcohol to sufficiently warm his body.
The alcohol did save Joughin, though. The “liquid courage” the drinks gave him meant that the baker kept his head while others were panicking. He was calm, cool, and collected as he helped others get into lifeboats.
This phenomenon isn’t new; according to a recent study of Illinois hospital data, the more inebriated a stab or gunshot victim was, the more likely it was they would survive.
Joughin suffered no serious injuries and ended up moving to the United States, where he lived until his death in 1956 at the age of 78. His amazing story of survival is a reminder to keep calm and help others in a crisis—as well as proof that sometimes a drink can save your life!