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Titanic officer had 'queer feeling' about ship

By Rod Minchin

Published 20/10/2016

Captain Edward Smith (front row, second from right) and his officers on board the Titanic the day before the ship departed on its ill-fated voyage
Captain Edward Smith (front row, second from right) and his officers on board the Titanic the day before the ship departed on its ill-fated voyage
An extract from Henry Wilde’s letter

The officer who was second-in-command during the ill-fated Titanic voyage described having a "queer feeling" about the ship, letters due to be sold at auction have revealed.

Private letters written by Henry Wilde, who was the number two to Captain Edward Smith on the infamous liner, reveal his misgivings about his posting to the Belfast-built ship.

The letters, which are going under the hammer on Saturday in Devizes, Wiltshire, are written over a 20-year period and encompass Wilde's entire career with the White Star Line - from being a junior officer to his transfer to Titanic as Captain Smith's second-in-command.

The highlight of the collection is the final letter Wilde, who was chief officer, wrote while on board the Olympic before he left for the Titanic.

Written on March 31, 1912, Wilde describes how he was to be given command of the Cymric but was disappointed not to be taking it and was being transferred to the Titanic.

He says he is "awfully disappointed to find the arrangements for my taking command of the Cymric have altered. I am now going to join the Titanic until some other ship turns up for me".

In late March 1912, Wilde may have been expecting to remain as chief officer on the Olympic under her new skipper Captain Herbert James Haddock, but instead he was posted to Southampton to await orders.

Wilde only signed onto the Titanic on April 9, and reported for duty at 6am the following morning - the day of sailing.

In a letter to his sister, written on board Titanic and posted at Queenstown, Wilde gave some indication that he had misgivings about the new ship.

"I still don't like this ship ... I have a queer feeling about it," he wrote.

The maiden crossing went smoothly until the Titanic struck an iceberg on the evening of April 14, killing 1,500 crew and passengers, including Wilde.

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