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Family historians uncover story of ‘lost’ Titanic survivor

John Diaper & Family

Family historians researching into the history of the Diaper family in preparation for an exhibition at Southampton Maritime Museum later this year have solved the mystery of ‘missing’ Titanic crew member J Diaper.

 

It is well known that a J Diaper signed on for that fateful voyage in April 1912 as a fireman and that by some miracle he survived; but for years Titanic historians have been trying to identify who J Diaper was and what happened to him after the tragedy.

 

Unusual though the name of Diaper is generally, in Southampton it is a well known family, a family where almost all the adult males went to sea, and who used and re-used popular family first names such as John, Thomas, William and Mark. They also, not surprisingly had a penchant for nicknames. Researchers were not absolutely sure that the J Diaper in question was a John and there were at least three John Diapers who could have fitted the bill. Even the age of 24 given when he signed on for the Titanic may have been false. It was not unusual for mariners to knock a few years off their date of birth.

 

However in the course of compiling a family tree which now stands at nearly 5000 entries the Diaper family are pleased to announce that John Joseph Diaper did indeed sail on the Titanic and lived to tell the tale. He had helped launch lifeboats as the ship listed dangerously as it began to sink and was ordered into the last boat by an officer. Coming from the famous yachting and sailing family who were also prize winning rowers he would have been an asset to those who had unexpectedly found themselves in a small lifeboat adrift on an icy ocean.

 

On his return to England John soon gave up the sea, going on to serve in the army during the First World War. He married and had a family, including twin sons who are still living. John’s children have allowed access to precious family objects during the preparations for an exhibition about the Diaper family which opens on July 14 th this year. John’s boarding card for the Titanic, the telegram to his wife announcing his return to Southampton and family photographs still survive, and confirm this is indeed The J. Diaper .

 

It is hoped John’s name will be added to the Titanic archive, and that his remarkable story will be an addition to the Titanic story. As well as the information being shown at the exhibition, find out more about John’s story on the Diaper Heritage website www.diaperheritage.com or come along the to the dramatised talk: The Search for John Diaper on Feb 28, 7pm at Tudor Merchant’s Hall, Southampton

 

For further information contact: Cheryl Butler Tel 023 80 688187

 

To reserve your place at the talk: Tel 023 80 715105