Miss Josephine Mary Brandell

Josephine Brandell
Saloon Passenger
Saved
[No Picture Provided]
Born Josephine Mary Brandell
26 November 1891
Bucharest, Kingdom of Rumania (present-day Romania)
Died August 1977 (age 85)
New York, New York, United States
Age on Lusitania 23
Ticket number 46031
Cabin number D 30
Traveling with Mabel Crichton
Lifeboat 12 (upset), picked up by 15
Rescued by Wanderer (Peel 12)
Occupation Actress
Citizenship United States
(later British through marriage)
Residence New York City, New York, United States
Other names – Josephine Brandeis
– Josephine Lawson-Johnston
– Josephine Repton
– Josephine Bingham
– Josephine Annesley
– Countess Annesley
– Viscountess Glerwaly
Spouse(s) – Bernard Black Brandeis (1907 – 1910, divorce)
– John Ormiston Lawson-Johnston (1920 – ?, divorce)
– George John Seymour Repton (1929 – 1943, his death)
– Beresford Cecil Bingham, 8th Earl of Annesley and 9th Viscount Glerawly (1945 – 1957, his death)

Josephine Brandell (1891 – 1977), 23, was an opera singer traveling aboard Lusitania with Mabel Crichton. The two women were at lunch with Francis Bertram Jenkins and Max Schwarcz when the torpedo struck. The men assisted the women to the port side boat deck, and there Edgar Gorer gave Josephine his lifebelt. Jenkins assisted Brandell and Crichton into what was possibly lifeboat 12, which upset while lowering. Josephine was picked up by lifeboat 15 and subsequently saved.

Contents

  1. A star is born
  2. Lusitania
  3. Torpedoed
  4. A life changed
  5. Related pages
  6. Links of interest

A star is born


Josephine Mary Brandell was born 26 November 1891 in Bucharest, Rumania (present-day Romania), the daughter of Philip Brandell. The Brandells immigrated to the United States in 1900 and settled in New York. Josephine had ambitions of becoming an actress. Her dreams were temporarily put on hold when she married Dr. Bernard Black Brandeis, also of Rumania, on 15 February 1907. She was 15 at the time. The marriage was brief and they divorced in September 1910.

Josephine resumed her pursuit of a stage career after her divorce. She toured Europe and America in Night Birds, a comic opera by Johann Strauss. She garnered favorable reviews, in which she was compared to the lead actress, Fritzi Scheff. In 1914, Josephine was the leading lady in the London Opera House’s production of Come Over Here, which allowed Josephine to showcase her operatic abilities.

Lusitania


As she had many performance engagements, Josephine was no stranger to transatlantic travel. In 1914, Josephine took Lusitania to New York with William Crichton, the husband of her friend Mabel. Lusitania was once again her ship of choice when she crossed the Atlantic again in February 1915.

Once more, Josephine was traveling to England aboard Lusitania for what was to be the ship’s fatal crossing. Josephine’s cabin ticket for the crossing was 46031 and she stayed in cabin D-30, for which she paid $142.50. Her friend Mabel Crichton was accompanying her. Yet, Josephine was worried that Lusitania could not outrun a submarine and admitted that for much of the voyage that she was “in a state.”

During the voyage, she often went around tables during meals to collect tips for members of the orchestra. Her table mates for meals in the first class dining saloon were Mabel Crichton, Francis Bertram Jenkins, and Max Schwarz. Brandell was so nervous about the ship being torpedoed that she worried her friends. Jenkins thought that there were a lack of lifebelts on the ship, but Josephine believed that there were plenty on board.

She was often seen in the company of Charles FrohmanRita JolivetCharles KleinJustus Miles FormanGeorge Vernon, and Wallace Phillips.

Josephine was present at Charles Frohman’s party in his stateroom on 6 May.   Later that night, Josephine and Rita were at the ship’s concert but did not perform. As professionals, she and Rita would not perform in public.  Instead, they were sitting with “men friends they had met on board” (Hickey and Smith, 154).

That night she asked Mabel Crichton to share a cabin as the talk of submarines had made her rather nervous.  Mabel spent most of the night trying to calm Josephine.  On her way to breakfast the actress had noticed that some people, so afraid of the submarines, had gathered their blankets and slept in the lounges.  The foghorn also did not do much to comfort her, making what she described as “a noisy hooting”.

Torpedoed


Josephine had just finished collecting for the orchestra and was finishing her lunch with Mabel Crichton, Francis Bertram Jenkins, and Max Schwarz when the torpedo struck.  Upon hearing the explosion, Mabel jumped and exclaimed, “They have done it!”

Josephine and Mabel clung to Schwarcz and Jenkins, asking the men to stick with them. Schwarcz and Jenkins assured them that they would. Schwarcz and Jenkins got the women to the boat deck as quickly as they could, which took about five minutes, as the ship was listing badly to starboard.

“When we finally reached the top deck,” Josephine recalled, “I saw very few of the first class passengers. I was simply horrified with fright. Mr. Schwarcz [was] trying to calm me”. Jenkins would not leave the ladies, as he was anxious to get them into a lifeboat. They were on the port side of the boat deck.

Art dealer Edgar Gorer, seeing how terrified Josephine was, “put a lifebelt on me . . . and told me to be brave.” Gorer went to look for more lifebelts and was among the lost.

Jenkins assisted Mabel first into a lifeboat, perhaps #12, and was assisting Josephine into the boat. Jenkins recalled that he had one foot on the boat when “one of the ropes broke or one of the sailors loosed their hold and the thing collapsed and went into the water.”

Josephine remembered the lifeboat’s upset differently, recalling that “our boat was lowered, but immediately it hit the water it upset throwing all the occupants out.”

The lifeboat floated upside down beside the ship. Josephine grabbed for an oar, to which other people were clinging, but some dropped off soon afterwards. A rope was thrown to them and some people caught hold of it. To Josephine, “The cries for mercy, the people drowning and coming up again within three minutes time barely touching me was too terrible,”

In the water, she was able to find a floating deck chair and held on.  Other people in the water asked her whether she had seen their loved ones.

She was in such bad condition when Assistant Purser Harkness pulled her out of the water that she had been mistaken for dead. Josephine near hysterical when she arrived in Queenstown, and a survivor in the same hotel room had to calm her down.

Josephine collected herself and tried to sleep the rest of the night. She was able to find Francis Bertram Jenkins the next day, but not Mabel Crichton, Max Schwarcz, or Edgar Gorer. Josephine pressed on to 34 Parliament Hill, London, N. W., Hampstead, where a she informed William Crichton personally of his wife’s death. Crichton died a broken man a year later.

Josephine herself would never fully recover from this tragedy, and would have memories and nightmares of the event years later.

A life changed


After the Lusitania sinking, Josephine Brandell did not continue her acting career despite her promising start. She chose not to pursue starring roles and appeared only sporadically in small roles.

On 19 May 1920, she married John Ormiston Lawson-Johnston. Lawson-Johnston had been previously married and divorced. He was one of several sons of a meat-extract fortune, Bovril, and would later be the uncle-in-law to another Lusitania survivor, Audrey Pearl. As with John Ormiston Lawson-Johnston’s previous marriage, this one with Josephine Brandell was unhappy and ended in divorce.

On 1 June 1929, Josephine entered a third marriage, this time with Captain George John Seymour Repton of the Irish Guards. This marriage was harmonious and happy. During World War II, Brandell founded the organization, “The American Friends of Britain,” of which she was also chairwoman. On 10 May 1943, in the middle of the war, George Repton died suddenly.

Josephine married again on 7 December 1945, this time to her fourth husband, Beresford Cecil Bingham. He was 8th Earl of Annesley and 9th Viscount Glerawly, making Josephine the Countess Annesley. Bingham was a Pilot Officer in the Royal Air force Volunteer Reserve during World War II. He had also been a Lieutenant, previously, in the 6th Battalion Royal Fusiliers. Their marriage lasted until his death on 29 June 1957.

After Bingham’s death, Josephine, Countess Annesley, returned to New York where she led a normal, unassuming life. She died in August 1977 at the age of 85. She had no children, despite four marriages.

Related pages


Josephine Brandell at the Mixed Claims Commission

Links of interest


Encyclopedia Titanica: Lest We Forget – Part 1


Contributors:
Jim Kalafus
Michael Poirier
Judith Tavares

References:
Kalafus, Jim and Michael Poirier (2005) Lest We Forget : Part 1 ET Research. <http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/lusitania-lest-we-forget.html>

Minutes of evidence as given at the Mersey Inquiry.

Hickey, Des and Gus Smith.  Seven Days to Disaster.  G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1981.

Preston, Diana.  Lusitania:  An Epic Tragedy.  Berkley Books, 2002.

“Josephine Brandell.” Wikipedia: Die freie Enzyklopädie. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 22 July 2004. Web. 7 August 2011. < http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephine_Brandell >

About the Author