We tend to toss around the word hero without much thought. We fixate on actors and athletes — people who’ve somehow lassoed fame long enough to walk red carpets and lure flash photographers. But sometimes we neglect to consider those who truly demonstrate heroic qualities — those who make crucial split-second decisions or plot carefully constructed plans to rescue people in danger, all while putting their own lives at risk.
In these amazing rescue stories, you’ll meet courageous people who braved death to save others.
A brave Titanic officer somehow survived to rescue troops from Dunkirk
On Apr. 15, 1912, Charles Lightoller was the second officer aboard the ill-fated Titanic. After helping as many passengers and crew as he could into lifeboats, he refused an order to escape on one of the final boats to make it off the ship. As Titanic’s bridge began to sink, he attempted to dive into the water and to the safety of one of the crew’s collapsible boats.
Except the Titanic sucked him down with her.
After all other boats had been loaded, thirty men had climbed onto the overturned Collapsible B. The survivors included two First Class passengers, Lightoller, Colonel Gracie, and the two Marconi Operators. The rest were all crew members, who embraced their last opportunity to escape death. One of the Marconi operators told Lightoller that the Baltic, Olympic and Carpathia were on the way to rescue the survivors. Three men aboard Collapsible B passed away as the survivors waited for rescue.
The Carpathia arrived at dawn and just in time. At this point, Collapsible B was slowly sinking. Lightoller found himself in lifeboat 12, designed for 65-capacity; the small boat now contained 75 survivors. Lifeboat 12 was the last boat to be rescued by the Carpathia. Lightoller had helped all the survivors out before he climbed aboard before struggling aboard the rescue ship himself. He was the last Titanic survivor taken aboard theCarpathia.
Lightoller was born in Chorley, Lancashire in 1874 and first went to sea when he was only 13 years old. When he was 15, he experienced his first shipwreck after the Holt Hill on which he was serving ran aground in 1889. Lightoller went on to have a series of adventures on the high seas during his youth, surviving cyclones, fires on board, and tropical diseases before he joined the White Star Line in 1900.