The youngest of nine children, 18-year-old Sidney Daniels of Portsmouth, England, signed on as a third-class steward aboard the RMS Titanic. He’d already worked for one year aboard the Olympic, and he had his superiors’ strongest recommendations. His son, Richard Daniels, states, “Dad’s steward’s uniform was impeccable. He had to make sure the rooms were spotless and the passengers well cared for.”
Titanic Steward Sidney Daniels
On the night of the sinking, a night watchman entered his room and woke Sidney in his bunk. He and his roommates thought it was drill, until he was told to dress immediately, wake the passengers in his care and help them to the lifeboats. Sidney did as he was instructed, assisting at least 24 passengers to the boat deck. Among them was first class passenger Ida Strauss, who refused to leave her husband Isidor. The couple perished together in the sinking.
Richard Daniels continues, “But when he had done his job and was back on deck there was only a collapsible lifeboat left. He helped cut it free but it bobbed over the rail with no one on board.
His superiors told him ‘jump now, lad. There’s nothing here.’ He looked over the rail into the pitch black icy water but was too petrified to jump.
“But he knew it was the only way and leaped off and began swimming from the boat.
“He made for a shape in the distance which turned out to be the collapsible lifeboat. It was upturned and had two dozen survivors on it.
“He got on and was about to fall asleep when someone on said, ‘if you fall asleep, son, it will be your last.’
“The man next to him died and another clung on to Dad’s leg.”
Sidney reported the men in the boat saying the Lord’s Prayer in unison. They were later rescued and brought aboard the Carpathia.
Page from Sidney Daniels' Diary
He returned to work aboard the Olympic, crossing the Atlantic more than 200 times to New York and back to Southampton. In 1914, he joined the Royal Army Service Corps, but to his dismay, saw no direct combat. He married in 1916, but his wife died two years later. In 1920, he remarried and had seven children.
Sidney Daniels was the last surviving member of Titanic’s crew. He died in Portsmouth at the age of 89.
Richard Daniels holding a photo of his father Sidney