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Amazing Titanic Letters Found

Posted on Wednesday 8th February 2012

Chief officer Henry Wilde: “Give my little ones my best love”

Two astonishing letters written aboard Titanic during her doomed maiden voyage have been discovered and will go on display at Liverpool’s Merseyside Maritime Museum.

They were written by chief officer Henry Wilde, of Walton, Liverpool, who was number two in command to Captain Edward Smith.

You are invited to send a reporter and photographer to see the letters at 1030 hours this Thursday 2 August  2012. Meet Dickie Felton at the information desk at Merseyside Maritime Museum’s main entrance.

The remarkable items, which include Mr Wilde’s White Star Line cap and Royal Naval epaulettes, have been hidden away for more than a century.

Mr Wilde’s family have now decided to loan them to Merseyside Maritime Museum to be included in the free exhibition Titanic and Liverpool: the untold story which runs until summer 2013.

Henry perished in the sinking but was heralded a hero for saving lives by ushering women and children into lifeboats. The letters bring home the human loss of the disaster. 

The father-of-four reveals how he was transferred to Titanic at the eleventh hour:

“I have only just heard that I am really going…so I have to go. I am sending £10 enclosed and will be back in 18 days.”

He writes about his disappointment at not being able to return to Liverpool and being “so busy and unsettled”. He describes Titanic as being:

"a very fine ship, an improvement on Olympic in so many ways.”

In total three separate letters to his children Harry, Jane, Arnold and Nancy, and their nurse are on display; one from Olympic on 30 March then two written aboard Titanic on 9 and 11 April 1912. 

The two Titanic letters were sent from Queenstown (Cobh), Ireland which was the liner’s final stop before she headed into the Atlantic. They are written on Titanic letter headed paper.

News of the sinking would have sent shockwaves to Henry’s four children and their nurse in Walton. Only two years earlier Mr Wilde’s wife had died. The Titanic disaster meant Harry, Jane, Arnold and Nancy were orphaned. In one of the letters Henry writes:

“Give my little ones my best love.”

Ian Murphy, Deputy Director, Merseyside Maritime Museum, said: 

“This is an absolutely  remarkable find and we are honoured to be able to display the letters and belongings of Henry Wilde.
“Henry was second in command on Titanic and a hero for his role trying to save people when the liner struck the iceberg. These letters also tell a heartbreaking story of a father wanting to be back home with his children.”

Titanic and Liverpool: the untold story opened in March and tells of the little-known Liverpool links to the liner. Liverpool was the port where Titanic was registered but never visited. More than 130 members of the crew were from Liverpool or had Merseyside connections.

Titanic and Liverpool: the untold story is part of the National Museums Liverpool’s Liverpool and the World exhibition series part-funded by the European Union - the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). So far more than 300,000 visitors have flocked to this free exhibition.

On display are items including the only surviving Titanic first class ticket and the Ismay Testimonial Silver; a stunning parcel-gilt dinner service presented to White Star founder Thomas Ismay, father of J Bruce Ismay.

More information at www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/titanic|

Notes for editors

ERDF in the Northwest 

ERDF is making a real difference to people and businesses in the North West. With €755 million to invest between 2007 and 2013, ERDF is enhancing the competitiveness of the region’s economy by supporting growth in enterprise and employment. ERDF in the North West is managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government – for further information visit www.communities.gov.uk/erdf|.

About National Museums Liverpool

National Museums Liverpool comprises eight venues. Our collections are among the most important and varied in Europe and contain everything from Impressionist paintings and rare beetles to a lifejacket from the Titanic. We attract more than three million visitors every year. Our venues are Museum of Liverpool, World Museum, the Walker Art Gallery, Merseyside Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, UK Border Agency National Museum, Sudley House and the Lady Lever Art Gallery. 

Merseyside Maritime Museum is situated in the Albert Dock. Uncover objects from the great liners Titanic and Lusitania, find out about life at sea and learn about the port of Liverpool.

Please contact: Dickie Felton in the press office for more information on this release.