Millvina Dean signing autographs at the Titanic Convention in Southampton in April 1999
|Born||Eliza Gladys Millvina Dean|
(1912-02-02)2 February 1912
Branscombe, Devon, England
|Died||31 May 2009(2009-05-31) (aged 97)|
Ashurst, Hampshire, England
|Cause of death||Pneumonia|
|Resting place||Cremated ashes scattered in Southampton, Hampshire, UK|
|Known for||Youngest passenger aboard the RMS Titanic|
Last remaining survivor of the Titanic
|Parent(s)||Bertram Frank Dean|
Georgette Eva Light
|Relatives||Bertram Vere Dean (brother)|
Eliza Gladys "Millvina" Dean (2 February 1912 – 31 May 2009) was a British civil servant, cartographer, and the last remaining survivor of the sinking of the RMS Titanic on 15 April 1912. At 2 months old, she was also the youngest passenger aboard.
Dean was born in Branscombe, England, to Bertram Frank Dean (1886–1912) and Georgette Eva Light (1879–1975). She had an older brother, Bertram Vere Dean, born 21 May 1910. She never married and had no children. Her father died on the Titanic; her mother died on 16 September 1975, aged 96; and her brother died on 14 April 1992, age 81, the 80th anniversary of the iceberg collision.
Dean's parents decided to leave the United Kingdom and emigrate to Wichita, Kansas, where her father had relatives, and his cousin owned a tobacco shop that he was going to co-own. They were not supposed to be aboard the Titanic, but due to a coal strike, they were transferred onto it and boarded it as third-class passengers at Southampton, England. Dean was barely two months old when she boarded the ship. Her father felt its collision with the iceberg on the night of 14 April 1912, and after investigating, returned to his cabin, telling his wife to dress the children and go up on deck. Dean, her mother, and her brother were placed in Lifeboat 10 and were among the first third-class passengers to escape.[i] Her father, however, did not survive, and his body, if recovered, was never identified.
Return to the United Kingdom
At first, Dean's mother wanted to continue on to Kansas to fulfil her husband's wish of a new life in the United States. However, after losing him and being left with two small children for whom to care, they returned to Britain aboard the RMS Adriatic. While aboard the ship, Dean attracted considerable attention. An article in the Daily Mirror dated 12 May 1912 described the ordeal:
|“||[She] was the pet of the liner during the voyage, and so keen was the rivalry between women to nurse this lovable mite of humanity that one of the officers decreed that first and second class passengers might hold her in turn for no more than ten minutes.||”|
Education and careers
Millvina and Bertram were raised mostly on pension funds and educated in Southampton schools, including The Gregg School. It was not until she was eight years old, and her mother was planning to remarry, that Dean was told she had been a passenger on the Titanic.
Dean worked for the British government during the Second World War and later as a purchaser for a local engineering firm. Other careers she held were as a cartographer, a secretary, and an assistant to a tobacconist.
It was not until Dean was in her seventies that she became involved in Titanic-related events. Over the years, she participated in numerous conventions, exhibitions, documentaries, radio and television interviews, and personal correspondence. In 1998, she travelled to the United States to participate in a Titanic convention in Springfield, Massachusetts, and another in 1999 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She had also been scheduled to appear at a commemoration of the 94th anniversary of the sinking in 2006, but a broken hip prevented her appearance. She also appeared in the History special Titanic's Final Moments: Missing Pieces.
In October 2007, Dean became the last Titanic survivor following the death of Barbara West Dainton, who died at age 96 in England.
In December 2007, Dean criticised the BBC and its television programme Doctor Who for including an episode with a starship "cruise liner" called the Titanic, that was similar in appearance to the historical liner. Speaking from her nursing home, she said: "The Titanic was a tragedy which tore so many families apart. I lost my father and he lies on that wreck. I think it is disrespectful to make entertainment of such a tragedy." A spokeswoman for the show said: "No offence was intended. 'Voyage of the Damned' is set on a spaceship called The Titanic and not a boat."
In April 2008, Dean had accepted an invitation to speak in Southampton at an event commemorating the 96th anniversary of the sinking, but ill health resulting from a respiratory infection forced her to cancel.
In December 2008, at age 96, Dean was forced to sell several of her family's possessions to pay for her private medical care following a broken hip. These included a letter sent to her mother from the Titanic Relief Fund, and a suitcase given to her and her mother in New York following the sinking. Their sale raised approximately £32,000. In February 2009, she announced that she would be selling several more items to pay for her increasing medical costs which she said exceeded £3,000 a month.
Dean died of pneumonia on the morning of 31 May 2009, 97 years and seven weeks after the Titanic sailed, at a care home in Ashurst, Hampshire. She was cremated, and on 24 October 2009, her ashes were scattered from a launch at the docks in Southampton where the Titanic set sail.
The Millvina Fund
In response to the escalating cost of Dean's healthcare, The Millvina Fund was set up in April 2009 by the Belfast, British, and International Titanic Societies with the exclusive aim of taking care of her nursing home bills. It was given a boost by the Irish author and campaigning journalist, Don Mullan, at the opening of his worldwide Nokia photographic exhibition, A Thousand Reasons for Living, (featuring a portrait of Dean) in Dublin on 22 April 2009. Mullan introduced an additional portrait of Dean's hands, as she signed a card for a Titanic autograph collector, which he produced as a limited edition of 100 copies. He made the edition available at €500 each and then challenged the director and stars of the film Titanic (1997) - James Cameron, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Kate Winslet - singer Celine Dion, and the corporations Sony Music, 20th Century Fox, and Paramount Pictures to match him euro-for-euro to support her with her bills. DiCaprio and Winslet led the way with a joint contribution of US$20,000. Cameron and Dion donated US$10,000 each.
- i The first third-class passenger to escape the ship was Fahim Leeni in Boat 6. Neshan Krekorian and Florence "Kate" Thorneycroft were two fellow third-class passengers who escaped in Boat 10 with the Deans.
Masabumi Hosono, 42, a civil servant from Tokyo, was the only Japanese passenger on the Titanic. He joined the vessel at Southampton and was rescued in lifeboat 13 (?10)
Hosono began to write a letter in English to his wife on Titanic headed notepaper but after his rescue he wrote in Japanese of his experience.
Hosono was woken by a knock on the door of his second class cabin. He raced outside but, as a foreigner, was ordered to the lower decks, away from the boats. 'All the while flares signalling emergency were being shot into the air ceaselessly, and hideous blue flashes and noises were simply terrifying. Somehow I could in no way dispel the feeling of utter dread and desolation,' Hosono wrote.
Making his way back to the upper deck. 'I tried to prepare myself for the last moment with no agitation, making up my mind not to leave anything disgraceful as a Japanese. But still I found myself looking for and waiting for any possible chance for survival.'
His chance came when an officer loading lifeboats shouted 'Room for two more.' A man jumped in. 'I myself was deep in desolate thought that I would no more be able to see my beloved wife and children, since there was no alternative for me than to share the same destiny as the Titanic. But the example of the first man making a jump led me to take this last chance.'
'After the ship sank there came back again frightful shrills and cries of those drowning in the water. Our lifeboat too was filled with sobbing, weeping children and women worried about the safety of their husbands and fathers. 'And I, too, was as much depressed and miserable as they were, not knowing what would become of myself in the long run.'
Hosono was rescued in lifeboat 13 but was attacked in his own country for doing so when so many others had died. His ministry sacked him, Japanese papers calumnied his cowardice, textbooks cited his survival as a model of shameful behaviour, and a professor of ethics denounced him as immoral. When a Japanese liner sank in 1954, Hosono was again dragged through the mud. Hosono died in 1939, a broken man.
His family had known for years that this diary existed but it remained hidden at the bottom of a drawer until recently. Hosono's granddaughter Yuriko made the find public.