8 elders missed voyage on Titanic

Published: Thursday, July 24 2008 12:03 a.m. MDT

While we were living in San Diego, the Scott Sonne family moved into our ward.

I soon became friends with Scott and asked whether he was related to the Alma Sonne who was a general authority who had interviewed me for a mission to the Far Eastern Mission (Japan). Scott said that Elder Sonne was his grandfather.

I told Scott that when my wife and I were called to serve in the Birmingham England Mission, I knew that his grandfather had also served a mission to England. I had heard that when his mission was finished he had booked passage on the Titanic. For some reason he was delayed and thereby his life was saved by taking a later ship. Scott then told me that there was more to the story.

Scott said that while growing up in Logan, his grandfather had a boyhood friend by the name of Fred. Fred was less active in the church, but when it was time for Alma to serve a mission, he talked Fred into also preparing to go on a mission. Whatever encouragement his grandfather gave Fred, it was enough that they both were called to the British Mission (England).

When their missions were completed and it was time to return home, Elder Sonne was put in charge of making arrangements for the missionaries to sail home to America. In addition to making arrangements for himself and Fred, Elder Sonne booked passage on the Titanic for six other elders who had finished their missions.

For some reason, Fred was delayed and wasn't able to make it in time to sail on the Titanic, which resulted in Elder Sonne's canceling all eight bookings, much to the disappointment of the other six missionaries. They had been looking forward very much to sailing on a new luxury liner that was making its maiden voyage.

In response to their voiced disappointment, Elder Sonne said, "We all came to England together and we will all return home together" — so the eight elders sailed on a later ship.

After learning of the Titanic's sinking, Elder Sonne said to his friend Fred, "You saved my life."

Fred replied, "No, by getting me on this mission, you saved my life."


Frank Millward lives in the Grove Creek 10th Ward in Pleasant Grove.

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