Sheila Macbeth Mitchell

NURSE

(Michail Michailakis collection)

  During the preparation for the 1976 Britannic expedition the Cousteau Society placed advertisements to several British newspapers searching for Britannic survivors. Jacques Cousteau believed that a survivor's memory of the disaster would be very useful on the Calypso during the expedition. Some responded but only Sheila Macbeth Mitchell accepted the invitation to make the trip. She was the only survivor who ever visited the wreck.

 She arrived on the Calypso, using the ship's small helicopter, determined to retrieve an alarm clock and a ring she had left in her cabin! With the help of two canes she stood on deck and introduced herself to J. Cousteau and William Tantum (the vice-president of the Titanic Historical Socety). With her she had brought the ultimate resource for all Britannic researchers, her small scrapbook filled with photos and notes. Most of the photos you will see in this website and in various books and documentaries come from this scrapbook. Sheila became very popular among the divers and crew members and after three attempts she managed to get into the tiny submersible (despite her 86 years and a replaced hip joint) and see the Britannic after sixty years. When she returned back home in Scotland she became a local celebrity and gave many newspaper, radio and TV interviews. Her feat was also immortalized in an episode of the  Cousteau Odyssey series, making her the best-known Britannic survivor. She kept in touch with the Titanic Historical Society and offered her material to its journal, The Titanic Commutator.

 (Michail Michailakis collection)

 In 1920 she married John Mitchell and had three children. She spent many years in India following her husband, who was working in the Civil Service, and after his retirement they settled in Edinburgh. In order to fill their time they worked for the Scottish Genealogy Society, recording all the pre-1855 inscriptions in every cemetery of eight Scottish counties. For this important work Sheila Mitchell was awarded the MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in 1980. In her last years, she moved to Bath in Somerset where she died at 103 on February 15, 1994.

 

The telegram sent to Sheila's mother after the sinking of the Britannic (Titanic Historical Society Archives)

 

Researched  by Michail Michailakis. No unauthorized usage allowed.

Sources

- The Titanic Commutator Vol.15;No.3;1991

- Hostage To Fortune - Simon Mills