Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Titanic: Forty year wait for compensation

Belfast Telegraph:Page One/Titanic. 16/4/1912

The hold the Titanic has on the descendants of victims and the men involved with the boat is like a strong current.

Journalist Susie Millar, owner of Titanic Tours, remembers hearing stories about her great-grandfather Thomas, an engineer who worked on the ship and met his end on board, aged 33, and a widower who left his two young sons orphaned.

She says: "Tommy was an assistant deck engineer on board the Titanic. He left a good job as an engine fitter at Harland & Wolff to sign up with the Red Star aboard Gothland and then (went on) his second voyage with Titanic.

“His two sons, Tommy junior, aged 11 and William Ruddick, aged 5, were orphaned by the Titanic disaster and brought up by their father's aunt, who had eight children of her own, and received 5s weekly allowance.

“Ruddick went on to become a playwright and author and wrote many stories about his father and the effect the Titanic's sinking had upon his young life. He lived at 27 Hillman Street, Belfast, which no longer exists as the area has been redeveloped." It wasn't until 1952 that Tommy Junior and Ruddick received any compensation from the National Disasters Relief Fund (Titanic) when each of them received £200 in "full and final settlement".

Susie's grandfather died two years later, aged only 46. He and Ruddick left a poignant legacy, two pennies their father gave them before boarding the ship, saying "Don't spend them until we're together again." These are currently on loan to a Titanic show in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

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