The real J Dawson aboard Titanic
Aboard the maiden voyage of Titanic was a 23 year old man listed as J Dawson. Since the release of the 1997 Titanic film, his grave has been well visited by many fans of the film and the character Jack Dawson – with many flowers having been left upon the grave since.
Although some point to some similarities between them, the man buried there is not Jack Dawson, the character from the film, but is in fact Joseph Dawson, who served as a Trimmer aboard Titanic.
Joseph Dawson was born in Dublin, Ireland in September 1888. His parents were Patrick Dawson and Catherine Madden. He is said to have been a carpenter but when he was around 20 years old he moved across the Irish Sea to Great Britain, where he enlisted in the British Army, serving in the Royal Army Medical Corps, which provided the medical care needed to those serving in the army. He left the army in 1911, and sometime after, began his career at sea.
It is said that by the time he boarded Titanic, Joseph Dawson was courting a girl named Nellie Priest, the sister of Titanic Fireman and survivor John Priest.
In Southampton on 6th April 1912 he signed on as a member of Titanic’s crew as a Trimmer. Titanic’s crew Particulars of Engagements lists the last ship he served upon as being Majestic, a White Star Line ship. A Trimmers job was to deliver the coal to the fireman placing it into the boilers, and to keep the coal properly balanced and stored aboard the ship.
Joseph Dawson did not survive the sinking of Titanic. His body was recovered, listed as body No. 227, by the CS Mackay-Bennett. It was noted that he had light hair and a moustache, and that he had his National Sailors' and Firemen's Union card in his possession, card number 35638.
His body was taken to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, where he was, along with 120 other victims of the Titanic disaster, buried at Fairview Lawn Cemetery.
The following inscription is found on the memorial:
April 15. 1912.
After the release of the 1997 Titanic film, in which the leading male character was named Jack Dawson, the grave of Joseph Dawson, the memorial simply stating the name J Dawson, become a popular destination for fans of the film and the character Jack Dawson. Although there is no connection between the character Jack Dawson and the Titanic victim Joseph Dawson, with Jack Dawson in mind many flowers have been left at the grave, and, it is said, so have love notes been left there.