Never mind Boris Johnson – 9 real survivors from hanging victim to nuclear bomb

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Hapless PM Boris “Bozo” Johnson has been warbling Gloria Gaynor’s hit I Will Survive as he desperately clings on to power despite multiple “partygate” allegations.

But while his fate as PM may already be sealed, we can reveal some real heroes from history who have survived many disasters against all the odds.

A new series of Channel 5’s Tony Robinson’s History Of Britain includes the story of a crew member on the Titanic who not only escaped the doomed liner but three other sinking ships too.

Here James Moore reveals amazing tales of people who cheated death time and again…

Nuclear blasts

At 8.15am on August 6, 1945, Japanese naval draftsman Tsutomu Yamaguchi was walking to work at a Hiroshima shipyard when he heard an aircraft overhead.

Seconds later he was blown into the air by the blast of an atomic bomb dropped by the US aimed at ending World War Two.

Unlike 78,000 others the 29-year-old lived, albeit with bad burns. Yamaguchi, left, then returned to his hometown of…Nagasaki!

Incredibly, when a second bomb struck that city three days later, killing 70,000, a steel stairwell saved him. He died in 2010 aged 93.

Terror attacks

By the age of 19 American Mason Wells had survived three terrifying terrorist attacks.

He narrowly avoided injury at the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that killed three and injured 260 and was also caught up in the 2015 Paris Islamic terror attacks that saw 129 people die.

Mason went on to suffer shrapnel injuries and facial burns in the 2016 Brussels Airport attack.


British ex-trader Mark Weingard dodged death in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 when he was late for a meeting at the doomed World Trade Center.

A year later his fiancée was killed in the Bali bombings, which killed more than 200 – he only didn’t go himself because they’d had a row.

Mark, who later became a hotel owner, also survived the 2004 tsunami in Thailand when he climbed on the roof of his home in Phuket.

Lightning strikes

Park ranger Roy Sullivan, from Virginia, US, held the record for being struck the most times by lightning – and surviving.

The odds of being hit once are 300,000/1 but he was struck seven times between 1942 and 1977, even while driving a truck, and suffered multiple burns and singed hair.

Plane crashes

In 2003 eight-year-old Austin Hatch survived a crash in a small plane in the US, piloted by his dad, which tragically killed his mum, brother and sister.

But in 2011 his father Stephen and stepmother Kim perished in another plane crash which left him in a coma for weeks.

But Austin, now 27, recovered to become a top basketball player and marry.

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Killer animals

Lucky Dylan McWilliams, 20, survived a shark attack in 2018 while body boarding off Hawaii, leaving bite marks in his leg which needed stitches.

A year earlier, while camping in Colorado, he escaped a 300lb black bear that had clamped its jaws around his head by poking it in the eye, but the attack left him scarred.

Dylan had already recovered from being bitten by a venomous rattlesnake in 2015!


In 1885, despite weak evidence, John “Babbacombe” Lee was convicted of killing his employer Emma Keyse at her home in Torquay, Devon, and sentenced to death.

But three separate attempts to hang him at Exeter Prison failed when the trapdoor mysteriously didn’t open, despite being tested repeatedly.

The Home Secretary commuted his sentence to life imprisonment.


The RMS Titanic hit an iceberg on April 15, 1912, and went to the bottom of the Atlantic with the loss of 1,500 lives. But ship’s stoker Arthur Priest really did prove to be “unsinkable”.

The 25-year-old, right, from Southampton miraculously escaped from the bowels of the vessel to plunge into the freezing ocean and reach a lifeboat, suffering only frostbitten toes.

He also survived shrapnel wounds and burns fleeing the German sinking of HMS Alcantara in the North Sea during World War One, which killed 74.

With fellow Titanic survivor Violet Jessop, Priest also survived the mined sister ship Britannic in 1916 and he again escaped sinking hospital ship Donegal in 1917. Priest died in bed, on land, in 1937

Murder attempts

New York bar owner Tony Marino and pals insured the life of homeless “Iron” Mike Molloy, planning to kill him and make it look accidental to cash in with a sophisticated fraud.

But their attempts to use booze, rat poison and anti-freeze to kill him, leave him naked and unconscious in the freezing cold and even run him over all failed.

When they eventually resorted to simply gassing Mike to death in 1933, it led to them being caught and convicted.

Series 2 of Tony Robinson’s History of Britain starts on Channel 5 at 7.30pm tomorrow (Saturday, February 10).

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