On the evening of April 14, Beesley saw two women in the Second Class Library. They were identified as Mary Emma Corey and Claire Karnes. It was the last time these two were reported alive; they died in the sinking even though they were second class women.
One of the survivors of the sinking of the Titanic in April 1912, Beesley wrote a successful book about his experience, The Loss of the SS Titanic (June 1912), published just nine weeks after the disaster. He saw two second class women who tried to get on a lifeboat and were told to go back to their own deck and that their lifeboats were waiting there.
At the time of Lifeboat 13's launching on the Boat Deck, no women or children were in immediate sight, but it seemed there was room for more. As a result, Beesley was ordered to jump into the lifeboat just before it launched. He managed to survive a subsequent incident, where Lifeboat 15 nearly came on top of No. 13. The leading fireman in charge of boat No.13, Fred Barrett, managed to cut the ropes connecting the boat to the falls at the last minute, and those in both boats emerged unharmed. Beesley and the rest of the survivors were picked up by the RMS Carpathia early morning on April 15.
During the filming of A Night to Remember (1958), Beesley famously gatecrashed the set during the sinking scene, hoping to "go down with the ship" that time. But he was spotted by the director, Roy Ward Baker, who vetoed this unscheduled appearance, due to actors' union rules. These events are parodied in Julian Barnes' novel A History of the World in 10.5 Chapters, where Beesley makes a brief appearance as a fictional character.
Beesley was portrayed by actor David Warner (who went on to portray Spicer Lovejoy in the 1997 film) in the 1979 dramatization of the voyage and sinking, S.O.S. Titanic. He is the grandfather of New York Times science editor Nicholas Wade. Beesley was also portrayed by Lawrence Bennett in 1999 musical stage adaptation Titanic.