It was perhaps the most catastrophic lapse of memory in history, costing over 1,500 lives. A sailor called David Blair, who should have left the crucial key on board the Titanic before its maiden voyage, forgot. Without it, his shipmates were unable to open a locker in the crow's nest containing a pair of binoculars for the designated lookout.
Those were the binoculars needed to look for signs of bad weather, including icebergs.
Lookout Fred Fleet survived and later told an official inquiry that if they’d had binoculars, they would have seen the fatal iceberg sooner. Questioned on how much time they might have gained, he said simply “Enough time to get out of the way”. Ninety-five years on, the key and a postcard from Blair expressing disappointment at missing the boat sold for £90,000 to a Chinese collector and are on display in Nanjing.
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