When a Leeds Titanic survivor met one of his rescuers

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It was the moment a Titanic survivor came face-to-face with one of his rescuers.

Cecil William Fitzpatrick of Cambridge Row, Chapeltown Road, was a member of the Titanic’s engineering crew and was 21 at the time of the tragedy on the night of April 15, 1912 when the passenger liner sank in the North Atlantic Ocean after striking an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.

Mr Fitzpatrick who was 21 at the time, recalled how he was fast asleep when the Titanic , operated by the White Star Line, struck the iceberg.

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"The first thing I knew of it was when someone slapped me on the face and told me to get on deck,” he said. “Wearing a blue jersey, trousers, a pair of pumps and a lifejacket, I went out into the alleyway and saw water pouring in.

Titanic survivor Cecil William Fitzpatrick, left, with Mr. E. Mitchell and, on the right, Ernest William Varley, an electrical engineer on the Carpathia. PIC: YPNTitanic survivor Cecil William Fitzpatrick, left, with Mr. E. Mitchell and, on the right, Ernest William Varley, an electrical engineer on the Carpathia. PIC: YPN
Titanic survivor Cecil William Fitzpatrick, left, with Mr. E. Mitchell and, on the right, Ernest William Varley, an electrical engineer on the Carpathia. PIC: YPN

"I went on deck and helped to lower life boats and then with the second officer attempted to release collapsible boats on the hurricane deck.”

Of the estimated 2,224 passengers and crew aboard, more than 1,500 died, making it the deadliest sinking of a single ship up to that time.

He relived his experiences when was he was reunited with Carpathia crewman Ernest William Varley when they were special guests at a screening of Fox's Titanic at Bradford's Odeon cinema in August 1953.

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The Carpathia navigated the ice fields to arrive two hours after the Titanic had sunk, and the crew rescued 705 survivors from the ship's lifeboats.

Mr Fitzpatrick was born in April 1890 in Kilkenny, County Kilkenny.

He does not appear on the 1911 census and was likely at sea, having commenced his sea-going career around 1910.

When he signed on to the Titanic, Cecil gave his address as 93 Millbrook Road, Freemantle, Southampton. His previous ship had been the Oceanic and as a mess steward he could expect to receive monthly wages of £3, 15s.

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Mr Fitzpatrick lived for many years at Cambridge Row, Chapeltown Road, and in his later years worked for Leeds Corporation’s cleansing department.

He died in Leeds in July 1964 aged 74. He is buried (as William C. Fitzpatrick) at the Catholic Cemetery in Killingbeck. His widow Elsie passed away in Surrey in November 1976.

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