Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 26 October 2014

Titanic: Did Duff Gordons' bribe the lifeboat crew?

Belfast Telegraph:Page One/Titanic. 16/4/1912
This is an undated photo showing the bow of the Titanic at rest on the bottom of the North Atlantic, about 400 miles southeast of Newfoundland. The first tourists to see the bow up close viewed it from the portholes of a tiny submersible in early September. (AP Photo/Ralph White)
The Titanic Building will immortalise one of history's most enduring tales

Among the great and the good enjoying the luxuries of what was supposed to be a first class trip to America were Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff Gordon, also known as Lucile.

The woman who coined the word “chic” and was famous for her style, little knew as she looked back at the chaos from the safety of their lifeboat that her fortunes were about to change for the worse. With their secretary, Frankie, the couple must have felt immense relief as they put some distance between themselves and the broken Titanic.

Yet Sir Duff Gordon's actions minutes after the sinking, when he signed cheques for £5 for each of seven crewmen in the same lifeboat, supposedly to buy them new kit, would lead to questions that never quite disappeared. Did he direct the crew in their half-empty lifeboat to row away from potential survivors, leaving them to drown?

In the event, after testifying at the London inquiry, the Duff Gordons went on to lead a not-quite-so-charmed existence, although she continued to inhabit fashionable society until they both ended up side by side in graves in a Home Counties cemetery.

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