split image of Millvina Dean

Of the 2,208 people on board the RMS Titanic’s maiden voyage, an estimated 1,503 perished after the cruise liner struck that infamous iceberg.

There were 128 children aboard the ship, 67 of which were saved.

The youngest Titanic survivor was just two months old; her name was Millvina Dean (UK, b. 2 February 1912), and she wasn’t even supposed to be on board, nor were her family.

The RMS Titanic docked in Southampton, England

The Dean family had booked their passage to America on a different boat, however, due to a coal strike, Millvina, her two-year-old brother, and her parents were transferred to the Titanic as third-class passengers.

They were moving to Wichita, Kansas, where Millvina’s father planned to run a tobacco shop with his cousin.

For the Deans, being allowed to travel on the vessel’s maiden voyage was a happy stroke of luck, although it would soon turn out to be anything but.

The ship – which had been dubbed unsinkable by its owners, White Star Line – departed Southampton on 10 April 1912.

Millvina Dean boarding the Titanic with her mother Etta and brother Bertram

Four days later, disaster struck. At 11:40 p.m., an enormous iceberg rising 50-100 ft (15-30 m) above the water was spotted. Measuring 200-400 ft (60-120 m) in length, it was unavoidable.

The Titanic crashed into the iceberg 30 seconds later, and within three hours the ship had sunk.

Survivor Charles Dahl later claimed that in the immediate area of the sinking he spotted 19 icebergs from the lifeboat he was in.

On the fateful night, Millvina’s father felt the collision and hurried to his cabin to urge his wife and children to dress and go up on deck.

Millvina, her brother Bertram, and mother Etta were all ushered into lifeboat number 10. As space was prioritized for women and children, and because he was a third-class passenger, Millvina’s father could not join his family. Sadly, he did not survive.

Millvina Dean's father, Bertram Frank Dean (1886-1912)

Of the approximately 709 passengers who travelled in third class aboard the Titanic, only around 174 made it out alive.

To this day, the disaster is still the highest death toll from an iceberg strike.

The survivors – including Millvina – were rescued by the RMS Carpathia which arrived at about 3.30 a.m. on 15 April.

The Dean family spent some time in hospital in the USA, before heartbroken Etta decided to return to England, abandoning any notion she once had of living in America.

White Star Line offered the Deans passage back home aboard RMS Adriatic, where Millvina reportedly attracted considerable attention from other passengers.

In fact, she was so popular that officers imposed a time limit of 10 minutes on anyone who wanted to hold her.

Millvina Dean

Millvina went on to live a long life, however, in her later years she fell into ill health.

Her care home costs became difficult to manage until a fundraiser was set up and donations came in from Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, James Cameron, and Celine Dion, who had all profited greatly from the 1997 Titanic film.

Titanic was the first film to ever take one billion US dollars at the box office, and until the release of Avatar in 2009, it held the record of highest-grossing film at the global box office ($2.195 billion).

It remains the highest-grossing romance film and highest-grossing historial epic of all time.

However, Millvina vehemently refused to watch the film, having had nightmares after viewing A Night To Remember (1958), a film which recounts the final night of the tragic voyage.

Interestingly, Millvina was not just the youngest person to survive the Titanic, but before her death in 2009 at the age of 97, she was also the last living survivor.

After her passing, Millvina’s ashes were scattered at the docks in Southampton where she had set sail 97 years earlier.

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