‘Blue riband’ letter by Titanic officer to go under hammer

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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 £25,000 and £30,000 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 the Titanic 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”.

The letter is being sold on March 31 – the 100th anniversary of the completion of the Titanic at ship builder Harland and Wolff – in a sale at Henry Aldridge & Son in Devizes, Wiltshire.

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.”