Wednesday 18 September 2019

Titanic officer's letter to go under the hammer on 100 year anniversary

A page from a letter written by Chief Officer Henry Wilde, second in command of the Titanic, while onboard the fateful ship, which is going under the hammer at auction in Wiltshire. Photo: PA
A page from a letter written by Chief Officer Henry Wilde, second in command of the Titanic, while onboard the fateful ship, which is going under the hammer at auction in Wiltshire. Photo: PA
Undated Henry Aldridge and Son handout photo of members of the crew of the Titanic. A letter written by Chief Officer Henry Wilde (second from the left, front row, sat next to Capt E.J Smith), who was second in command to Captain E.J. Smith is going under the hammer at auction in Wiltshire. Photo: PA
The menu for the last lunch on board the doomed RMS Titanic which is expected to fetch up to £100,000 when it goes under the hammer at auction. Photo: PA
The Thompson Graving Dock, where the Titanic was first fitted out, will undergo a preservation project
Binoculars found among the debris of the Titanic wreck in New York. Photo: AP
A bracelet from the RMS Titanic which was recovered from the ocean floor during an expedition to the site of the tragedy. Photo: AP
Currency, part of the artifacts collection of the Titanic, is shown at a warehouse in Atlanta. Photo: AP
Undated family handout of a copy of a letter written by Dr John Edward Simpson as the family of the officer who chose to go down with the Titanic have appealed for help to return it to his home town. Photo: PA

A LETTER written by the second in command of the Titanic is to go under the hammer to mark the 100th anniversary of the disaster.

The handwritten note from the cruise liner's Chief Officer Henry Wilde is expected to fetch between €30,000 and €35,000 when it is sold.



Mr Wilde was deputy to Captain EJ Smith and died in the disaster when the Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic on April 14 1912 with the loss of over 1,500 lives.



The letter holds particular interest because there are no known letters written by Captain Smith, and Mr Wilde's note gives a fascinating look behind the scenes of theTitanic ahead of its maiden voyage.



Ironically Mr Wilde, who died a hero, was only transferred to the Titanic from her sister ship RMS Olympic at the last moment.



The letter, which is dated April 7 1912, was written while he was on board in Southampton.



In the letter to his family he praises the Titanic, describing her as a "wonderful ship the latest thing in shipbuilding".



He writes: "My dear Norah & Edie,



"Thanks for your letter received this morning which I was glad to have & know that you were all right. I would have written to you but so busy & so uncertain what I was going to do.



"I am on the Titanic but I am not sure I am sailing on her yet, I tried to get to Liverpool yesterday but could not manage it but I am not quite sure of going yet. I am wondering whether Mother has had the business settled yet. Will you ask her to let me know.



"I think Mr Williams was arranging it for her without any expense ask her to let me know, if I go on this ship we sail on Wednesday & will be back in 17 days & I will try & come up then.



"I have been kept very busy on board all day on Good Friday & again today Sunday with the crew getting the ship ready she is very far behind to sail on Wednesday working on her night & day, she is an improvement on the Olympic in many respects & is a wonderful ship the latest thing in shipbuilding.



"I would like you all to see her I hope you like you new business & that you will get on there until something better turns up I don't think I have much more to say hope to see you all soon with very best love to mother & you both



"From Uncle Harry."



The letter is being sold on March 31 - the 100th anniversary of the completion of the Titanic at ship builder Harland and Wolff.



Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said: "Reports at the time show him as a hero who generally only allowed women and children into lifeboats and he was last seen trying to free Collapsible Lifeboats A and B from the roof of the officer's quarters shortly before Titanic sank.



"As there are no letters known to have been written by Captain EJ Smith, this letter is a blue riband item due to the fact is was written by Titanic's second in command.



"It gives the reader a fascinating snapshot into life behind the scenes on the Titanic, it represents a unique collecting opportunity."

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News