Debbie O’Brien, of Kendal, tells the story of her great, great uncle, who was an engineer on board the Titanic, which sank 100 years ago.
JOHN Henry Hesketh was the second engineer on board RMS Titanic on its doomed maiden voyage in April, 1912 John Henry Hesketh was born in Kirkdale, Liverpool on January 28, 1879.
He lived with his parents and had five sisters and a brother.
He entered the service of the White Star Line company as an apprentice engineer at the age of 14 and began his seafaring career as Sixth Engineer on the Afric. He also served on the Majestic and Olympic before moving to serve on board the Titanic.
His family said he was very excited when he got the position on board as Second Engineer.
He was selected for service on the Olympic and made some useful suggestions for the machinery spaces on both there and the Titanic.
John Henry or Harry, as he liked to be called, was the youngest acting second engineer in the White Star line and was known by other crew members to be a fine, steady, level-headed man.
It was said that he was seen in boiler room six by one of the stokers when the iceberg struck and they were hit by a jet of icy water. They managed to clamber through into boiler room five as the watetight doors closed – it was said he remained there trying to keep the pumps going as long as possible and died at his post.
His body was never recovered; although we did hear recently that the bodies of 2 Engineers unidentified are buried at the Titanic cemetery in Nova Scotia, so maybe he was laid to rest after all.
His family moved to Kendal around 1945 and most have lived here ever since. We were all brought up with his story and the tales of the Titanic and have always been very proud of our great great Uncle Harry – he is and always will be a very important part of our lives, and he will be remembered for many years to come.
My sisters and brother and I have brought our children up with the history of the Titanic and I have started to tell my grandchildren about him.
My mum donated some of his things to the Maritime museum in Liverpool just before she died where they are on display for all to see, including his picture.