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Letters written on Titanic rescue ship set to fetch £8,000 at auction

Letters written on Titanic rescue ship set to fetch £8,000 at auction

A pair of letters written onboard a ship that came to rescue survivors of the Titanic are set to fetch up to £8,000 at auction.

Eleanor Danforth, a passenger of RMS Carpathia, described seeing the “glimmer” of the iceberg the liner struck on April 14, 1912.

Her account of the rescue is dated three days after the collision, which claimed the lives of more than 1,500 passengers and crew.

In one 11-page letter, on Royal Mail Steamship Carpathia stationery, Miss Danforth told how she awoke at 2.30am.

“I realised that the engine had quickened the speed and it flashed into my mind that possibly we were hurrying to some ship in distress,” she wrote.

“I tried to get it out of my mind, but I finally rang for the steward and then minutes later we were dressing with all haste.

“I went on deck, and even in the darkness I could see the glimmer of the iceberg they had struck -then some five miles away.”

She told how she was taken back to her room but discovered a port hole in a passageway where she could see.

“I watched the first boat come in, the people climbing the ladder up the side of the ship or being pulled up in a swing sort of thing,” she wrote.

“A bag was let down for the babies and children. Shortly after we went up on deck again, and the boats came in one by one.

“We seemed to be so perfectly helpless, there didn’t seem to be much to do except stand around and watch.”

Miss Danforth said she was able to reach two little French children, aged about 18 months and three years old, who came on “half naked”.

She “got them dressed and fed and warm and taken care of”, before giving away her clothing to help survivors.

“Everything and everywhere is filled with people,” she wrote.

“We have two people in our stateroom – a girl and her mother who are both ever so nice, and we were fortunate in having people who have the rest of their family on board as they are much more cheerful.

“The staterooms are all full – people sleeping in the bathtubs, on the floors, on and under dining room tables where mattresses have been placed, men all mixed up with each other in the smoking room.”

She said the Titanic survivors had “wonderfully good treatment” aboard the Carpathia.

The second letter up for auction was written by Miss Danforth on April 13 – the day before the Titanic hit the iceberg.

A photograph of Miss Danforth, published in the Boston Globe on April 23, 1912, is also included.

Andrew Aldridge, auctioneer at Henry Aldridge and Son in Devizes, Wiltshire, said the lot was expected to fetch between £5,000 and £8,000.

“The level of detail in this letter is really quite incredible,” Mr Aldridge said.

“It has never been published in its entirety before, so it is fresh to the market for both collectors and historians.”

The letters will be auctioned on April 21.

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