Thursday, March 6, 2008
Fredrick Fleet was born on October 15, 1887. He never knew his father nor what happened to him and Fleet's mother abandoned him and went with a boyfriend to Massachusetts. He was raised in foster homes until age 12 when he was sent to sea. in 1903, he was a full fledged seaman. He had a contract with the Oceanic to serve as lookout for 4 years.
Once his contract was up, he was immediately transferred to the TITANIC where he was to be paid 5 pounds per month and an extra 5 shillings for being a lookout. On April 14, 1912, he and Reginald Lee had just relieved the other lookouts at 11:00. Their binoculars had been left at the home of a seaman inside a locked cabinet. The TITANIC was sailing at 22 1/2 knots. Suddenly, a black shape loomed out in the distance; Fleet rang the bell three times which meant "warning" and picked up the telephone. "What do see?" came the voice "Iceberg Right ahead!" said Fleet, "Thank You" came the reply. Fleet kept the phone in his hand and slowly saw the TITANIC turning. And then, he heard a groaning as the ship struck the iceberg. Fleet and Lee stayed in the crow's nest until they were relieved. Fleet went to the boat deck and helped 2nd Officer Lightoller load the passengers into boat No. 6 and then was put in charge of the boat along with Quartermaster Hitchens. He was later rescued by the Carpathia.
He served as lookout on the Olympic for a short time then resigned from the White Star Line because some considered him a coward. He later worked on the Union Castle and sailed on the Olympic on her last voyage before being scrapped. He left sea in 1936 and lived with his wife. His wife died on December 28, 1964 and he was evicted from his brother in-law's home where he was living. His body was found on January 10, 1956 hanging on a noose on his brother in-law's garden post. They concluded that he committed suicide. His body was placed in an unmarked grave until 1993 when they put the headstone (pictured above) on in 1993.