December 3, 2022
interesting facts

Arthur John Priest was not nicknamed the “unsinkable boiler fitter” for nothing, having survived the unprecedented events of 6 shipwrecks – including the Titanic.

In 1907, he started his career as a ship’s heater on the Asturias, but was involved in his first collision on his first voyage. A very similar accident occurred on the Olympic in 1911, which claimed 600 lives, but Priest was not among the victims.

The misfortunes did not dampen Priest’s spirits and by 1912 he was shovelling coal on the Titanic. Little did he know at the time that the ocean liner was about to collide with a huge iceberg. Although he had to fight his way up from the lowest deck of the ship, he miraculously survived the sinking. Priest took to the water again in 1916, but Alcantara was involved in a firefight with another battleship. Both ships ended up at the bottom of the ocean, but unlike nearly 70 of his comrades, Priest escaped. Recovering from his wounds, he continued working aboard Britannic later that year, but the ship ran into mines. Although most of the crew were evacuated, two lifeboats were so badly damaged that 30 people died, but Priest survived.

His last memorable adventure was on the Donegal in 1917, when the hospital ship was torpedoed and sunk. Priest escaped with a head wound but was forced to retire as no one wanted to serve with him after that. Interestingly, the legendary survivor’s death was ultimately caused by pneumonia.

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