The Louletano Who Died In TITANIC
It was 12:15 pm on April 10, 1912 when the largest and most luxurious transatlantic ship was anchoring for its first voyage. Southampton, England, was teeming with excitement among the passengers who were going to inaugurate the Titanic, the family and friends who watched them leave or the simple curious delighted with the fame already achieved by the ship. It would be short-lived. Just four days later, the Titanic would be sunk in the Atlantic Ocean, along with thousands of people. Of the four Portuguese on board, one was from the Algarve and three were from Madeira. None survived the greatest peacetime maritime disaster.
José Joaquim de Brito began the great journey that was his life at 6:00 am on April 16, 1880 in São Clemente, Loulé, according to the parish book. The date of the tragedy is on the eve of turning 41 years old. In 1912, José de Brito, married, was a 1.62m man, with gray eyes, brown hair, long face, regular nose and mouth. This was the description that was based on passport number 325 given by the Municipal Archive of Faro, and published by the magazine’Saturday ‘.
Armed with this passport, the Algarvian would embark at Southampton. The final destination was São Paulo, Brazil, where he intended to meet with his parents, who lived there and where he himself had lived. But instead of buying a direct ticket between England and Rio de Janeiro, a regular career at the time, the Algarve decided to take a detour with a ticket in New York. José de Brito bought a 2nd class ticket, which means that he enjoyed a reasonable standard of living. The website Encyclopedia Titanica, which gathers information on the ship’s more than 1300 passengers, reveals that the Algarve had ticket number 244360, which cost 13 pounds at the time, which would equal 1212 euros today. The last address indicated was London and the contact was Fred Duarte, residing at 34 Mulgrave Street, Liverpool. The latter wrote the letter to Jornal de Notícias.
Before embarking on the Titanic, José de Brito was already a traveler. It is not known how but from the Algarve he traveled to São Paulo, where he worked in a store. He later went to Italy and then to England, where he found work at the Pinto Leite & Nephews bank branch, which had offices open in Liverpool, Manchester and London. It was in this last agency that this two years, where he “reached general sympathies”, according to a report by mr. B da Silva Salazar, who wrote to Diário de Notícias.
The ticket for the second class, meant that José de Brito would travel with some comfort. Your room would have a desk, sofa, closet and bed linen changed every day. Stewardships inferior to the 1st class of the Titanic, but similar to those found in the best rooms of other ships of the time. Open to the public, it also had a smoking room, library, dining room and covered deck. What was missing was a ticket for the other classes: 1st and 3rd, where the three Madeirans traveled, also killed in the greatest maritime disaster in peacetime.
The names of José de Brito and the remaining 1316 passengers, and the almost 900 crew members, which included Captain Edward Smith, could have stayed in history as the first to complete the Titanic’s maiden voyage. But on the night of April 14, 1912, everything precipitated. It was 11:40 pm when the indestructible ship hit an iceberg. Edward Smith had ignored warnings from the SS Californian, a boat passing through the area, for the existence of large blocks of ice.
On a dark night, with no clouds on the moon and calm waters, the Titanic, a name that derives from the word ‘titan’, the first passengers to wake up for the tragedy were those of the 3rd class. The ship had hit the iceberg and large bodies of water and ice began to penetrate the indestructible ship. Shortly after 1:00 am on April 15, the Titanic submerged in Atlantic waters.
It is not known what happened to the Portuguese. If the bodies were trapped in the ship because there was no passage between the different classes, in particular to the 1st where the lifeboats were, which as it turned out were insufficient to evacuate all passengers, or drowned in the freezing waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The bodies were never recovered and, if they were, it was impossible to identify them, as can be seen on the page Encyclopedia Titanica.