Belfast Telegraph

Medals of war hero who may have unwittingly helped sink Titanic go up for auction

By Staff Reporter

A special set of medals owned by a Titanic crew member whose memory loss may have sparked the liner's tragic demise is set to go under the hammer.

Crew member David Blair was a selfless man who once plunged into the sea to save a life and received an OBE - but he may have unwittingly caused the catastrophic sinking of the famous ship in 1912.

That's because Second Officer Blair was taken off the Titanic at the last minute - and accidentally held on to the key to a locker containing the crow's nest binoculars.

Titanic survivor Fred Fleet told the official inquiry into the tragedy that if they had the binoculars they would have seen the iceberg that took the ship to its watery grave sooner.

Retired Derby head teacher Murray Shaw (78) was so fascinated by Blair's story that he acquired an important set of nine medals awarded to Blair from a dealer seven years ago.

Those medals, including an OBE for war service and Sea Gallantry medal, are now coming up for sale at Hansons Auctioneers in Derbyshire on March 19 with an estimated auction price of £15,000-£18,000.

Mr Shaw said: "David Blair was standing by for three months in Belfast when the Titanic was being built and was signed on for the whole of the New York voyage.

"He would have been responsible for all the navigation equipment, but was taken off the ship in Southampton, surplus to requirements."

Adrian Stevenson, a militaria expert at auctioneers Hansons, said: "It's a fascinating story.

"It's astonishing to think that Mr Blair may have unwittingly caused the Titanic to sink - by simply forgetting to hand in a key."

Belfast Telegraph

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