Frank “Lucky” Tower was a fireman by trade. These individuals were also called “stokers.” He tended the fires aboard steam engines. He was also the only individual known to survive the sinking of not only the Titanic, but also the RMS Empress of Ireland, and the RMS Lusitania.
A Towering Legend
Frank Tower was a fireman aboard the Titanic. This British passenger liner was deemed “The Unsinkable.” It was the largest ship afloat at the time of its maiden voyage, which started in Southampton, England headed for New York City. The White Star liner carried 2,224 people as it set out towards America. On April 15, 1912, the Titanic struck an iceberg. The death toll for the tragedy was 1,502 people. Tower barely made it out alive.
He worked for a couple of years aboard the RMS Empress of Ireland. The Empress collided with the Norwegian SS Storstad, on the Saint Lawrence River, outside of Quebec in 1914. This ship carried 1,477 persons and 1,012 died when it sank, the worst loss of life in any Canadian maritime accident during peace. Tower was greatly affected, but he was a fireman and that was his job. He tried his luck again with a more established ship named the Lusitania.
The RMS Lusitania was named after Lusitania, part of Portugal today. The Lusitania began service in 1907 and continued sailed for years without major issue. The ship’s dependability was no match for a German U-boat torpedo. German U-boat, U-20, identified and torpedoed the Lusitania on May 7, 1915. The death toll was 1,198 out of 1,959 passengers. It was symbolic of the changing sentiment, when many nations sided against Germany during the First World War.
Tower had no interest in his career afterward. He became discouraged and gave up the open seas for a nice, quiet life farming.
That Sounds Familiar
This leads back to an even older unsinkable character, named Hugh Williams. Williams was the sole survivor on a ship that carried 81 passengers, on December 5, 1664. Hugh Williams was also involved in a boat accident on December 5, 1785. His ship at that point carried 60 people, and 59 died. William’s apparently decided he would only sail in smaller boats. His decision didn’t help. He boarded a ship with a mere 26 passengers on August 5, 1820. He was passenger #26, and again the sole survivor.
What’s most ironic is that a man named Hugh Williams really did board the Titanic for America, but did not survive. His body was never recovered, but he is listed among the dead. He boarded the ship in Southampton, but his destination was unknown.
As you can probably guess, no such individual as Frank Tower exists. Passenger lists from all the respective ships have been examined, but no man named “Frank Tower” ever appeared on all three.
Frank Tower was a survivor aboard the Lusitania. William Clark survived both the Titanic and the Empress of Ireland. No known individual ever survived all three disasters. Due to age and obscurity, tracing the factuality of the Hugh Williams legend is impossible.
Fans of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery will recall the episode titled, Lone Survivor. It’s believed Serling based the episode on the story of Frank Tower.