This week, we feature Norman Harrison, a Liverpool ship’s engineer who was lost at sea but died a hero, saving others’ lives.
Assistant Second Engineer Norman Harrison was one of over 1,500 people who died when RMS Titanic collided with an iceberg and sank on 15 April 1912 on her maiden voyage.
Born in Liverpool on 15 September 1873, Norman apprenticed in the running, fitting and drawing office of Messrs Higginson & Co from the age of 16 until he was 21 years old. Having completed his apprenticeship, he joined the line of Messrs Elder Dempster & Co as a 4th engineer, later being promoted to 3rd and finally 2nd engineer. After serving on several ships belonging to the White Star line, he signed onto the Titanic in Southampton on 6 April 1912.
On board the Titanic, Norman was part of the engineering crew, which was responsible for keeping the ship’s engines, generators and other mechanical equipment running smoothly. Engineers were some of the highest paid crew members on board because of the technical expertise they needed to fulfil this role.
Engine Room Hero
When the ship began to sink, the engineers along with electricians and boilermakers stayed below deck and made repeated valiant efforts to keep the ship afloat. Sadly, Assistant Second Engineer Norman Harrison was lost along with all his colleagues when the ship went down. But it’s thought that their actions in trying to keep the ship afloat gave others time to get nearly all of the lifeboats launched, which helped save the lives of the survivors.
Norman left a wife, Mary. His body was never recovered, but his name is recorded on a grave in Knotty Ash Parish Church Cemetery. He is also remembered on a number of memorials, including the Grade II* listed Memorial to the Engine Room Heroes of the Titanic, a granite memorial in St Nicholas Place on the Pier Head in Liverpool.
Louise McTigue is a freelance writer and researcher, writing on behalf of Sarsfield Memorials