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Frank John William Goldsmith (December 19th, 1902 - January 27th, 1982) was a survivor of the sinking of the Titanic. He later wrote a book about his experiences on the ship, and had his story featured in the documentary, Titanic: The Legend Lives On, as well as a children's book about the disaster, Inside the Titanic, and Echoes In the Night.

Early lifeEdit

Frank was born in Strood, Kent, the eldest child of Frank Sr. and Emily Alice Goldsmith.[1] Frank Sr. was originally from Tonbridge. His parents married sometime between October and December 1901,[2] and Frank was born the following December. He was joined by a younger brother, Albert John "Bertie" Goldsmith, in early 1905. He died in late 1911 of diphtheria.[3][4]

RMS TitanicEdit

Frank and his parents boarded the Titanic out of Southampton as third class passengers, en route to Detroit, Michigan. Frank Sr., a tool maker, was bringing his bag of tools with him, and these were stored in the ship's cargo hold. Accompanying them were Frank Sr.'s friend, Thomas Theobald, and Alfred Rush, the son of a family friend.

Alfred celebrated his seventeenth birthday on April 14th on board the ship, celebrating his transformation from a boy to a man as he no longer had to wear knickers, but now long pants.[5]

Frank spent his time on board the ship playing with a group of young English-speaking third class boys that were about his age: William Johnston, Willie Coutts, Harold Goodwin, James and Walter van Billiard, and Albert and George Rice. They climbed the baggage cranes and wandered down to the boiler rooms to watch the stokers and firemen at work.[5] Of these boys, only Frank and Willie Coutts would survive the sinking.

When the ship struck the iceberg, Frank Sr. woke Emily and Frank, and, together with Thomas and Alfred, they made their way to the forward end of the Boat Deck, where Collapsible C was being loaded. There was a ring of seamen standing around it, letting only women and children pass through. Frank wrote of the experience in his book, Echoes in the Night: "Mother and I then were permitted through the gateway, and the crew member in charge reached out to grasp the arm of Alfred Rush to pull him through because he must have felt that the young lad was not much older than me, and he was not very tall for his age, but Alfred had not been stalling. He jerked his arm out of the sailor's hand and with his head held high, said, and I quote, 'No! I'm staying here with the men.' At age 16, he died a hero."[6]

Thomas gave Emily his wedding ring, asking if she would give it to his wife if he did not survive.[5][7] Frank later recalled: "My dad reached down and patted me on the shoulder and said, ‘So long, Frankie, I’ll see you later.’ He didn’t and he may have known he wouldn’t."[8] Frank Sr., Thomas, and Alfred all died in the sinking. Of the three, only Thomas' body was recovered.

Frank and Emily were rescued by the RMS Carpathia in Collapsible C. As the Carpathia headed to New York City, Emily entrusted Frank into the care of one of the surviving firemen from the Titanic, John Collins, asking him if he would look after Frank to get his mind off of the sinking. While Emily was busy sewing clothing from blankets for women and children who had left the ship in only nightclothes, Frank accompanied John down to visit the Carpathia's stokers, and the men offered to make Frank an honorary seaman by having him drink a mixture of water, vinegar, and a whole raw egg. He proudly swallowed it in one go, and from then on, considered himself a part of the ship's crew.[9] He remembered John telling him, "Don’t cry, Frankie, your dad will probably be in New York before you are."[6]

Later lifeEdit

After arriving in New York, Frank and Emily were housed by the Salvation Army, which provided train fare to reach their relatives in Detroit. They moved to a home near the newly opened Navin Field, home of the Detroit Tigers. Every time the crowd cheered during a home run, the sound reminded him of the screams of the dying passengers and crew in the water just after the ship sank; as a result he never took his children to baseball games.[6]

Growing up, Frank still held on to the hope of Frank Sr.'s survival. It took him months to understand he was really dead, but for years afterward, he used to tell himself "I think another ship must have picked him up and one day he will come walking right through that door and say, 'Hello, Frankie.'"

Frank married in 1926, and he and his wife, Victoria, had three sons: James "Jim" Goldsmith, who lives in Urbana, Ohio, Charles "Charlie" Goldsmith, who use to live in East Millinocket, Maine but now lives in Mansfield, Ohio; and Frank Goldsmith II, who lives in Altamonte Springs, Florida.[10]

Frank served as a civilian photographer for the U.S. Air Force during World War II. After the war, he brought his family to Ashland, Ohio, and later opened a photography supply store in nearby Mansfield, Ohio.

Frank wrote an autobiography entitled Echoes in the Night: Memories of a Titanic Survivor and published by the Titanic Historical Society. Walter Lord wrote the foreword to the book, which is the only book written by a third class passenger about the sinking.

Frank died at his home on January 27th, 1982 at the age of 79. Several months after his death, on April 15th, the 70th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, his ashes were scattered over the North Atlantic, above the place where it rests, reuniting him with Frank Sr. in death. Ruth Becker and Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall also had theirs scattered over there.[11]

A 1977 clip of him describing his Titanic experience can be see in the 1995 film Titanica. Survivor Eva Hart is also featured.

ReferencesEdit

  1. England & Wales, Birth Index: 1837-1983. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes. General Register Office, London, England.
  2. England & Wales, Marriage Index: 1837-1983. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes. General Register Office, London, England.
  3. England & Wales, Death Index: 1837-1983. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes. General Register Office, London, England.
  4. Mrs Emily Alice Goldsmith Encyclopedia Titanica
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Hugh Brewster, Inside the Titanic (A Giant Cutaway Book), 1998.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Goldsmith, Frank J.W. (1991). Echoes in the Night: Memories of a Titanic Survivor. Titanic Historical Society. 
  7. [1] Titanic Historical Society
  8. "That Unforgettable Night". National Postal Museum. http://www.postalmuseum.si.edu/titanic/unforgettable.html. Retrieved 2008-05-09. 
  9. Geller, Judith B. (October 1998). Titanic: Women and Children First. W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 140. ISBN 978-0-393-04666-3. 
  10. Book report on Frank Goldsmith and later life Encyclopedia Titanica
  11. Titanic Today: Exhibition of Titanic Artifacts
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