Feb 03, 2011 - Sale 2235

Sale 2235 - Lot 54

Price Realized: $ 531
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 700 - $ 1,000
(CUNARD LINE.) "Lusitania." Carbon typescript of a statement made by passenger Fred J. Gauntlett concerning his last moments on the sinking ship. 4 pages; 4to; several short separations at folds. 24 May 1915

Additional Details

Statement probably offered in evidence at the official inquiry into the sinking of "Lusitania." Fred Gauntlett was travelling as assistant to Albert Lloyd Hopkins, President of the Newport News Shipping and Dry Dock Company, the premier shipbuilding firm in the United States. In their company was Samuel Knox, President of the New York Shipbuilding Co. The gentlemen were on their way to Great Britain to finalize contracts with the British government regarding shipping and possibly munitions.
The three men were dining when a torpedo from a German U-20 submarine hit the ship. They immediately disbanded. Gauntlett and Knox managed to survive the attack, but Hopkins did not. As survivors they were requested to give testimony by John Bingham, 1st Viscount Mersey, Commissioner of Wrecks. The present document is most likely part of that testimorny.
The British Admiralty did all it could to place blame for the wreck on the ship's captain, William Thomas Turner, even requesting crew members to perjure themselves. Winston Churchill was in the forefront of the attack on the Captain. Viscount Mersey saw through the subterfuge and dismissed the case, but all files and evidence were sealed by the government.
Gauntlett's testimony is given to describing his escape, being thrown overboard, finding a defective lifeboat, and finally saving 30 other passengers. The testimony closes, however, with a precis of testimony possibly given earlier in which Gauntlett refers to the Captain's handling of the ship, in particular as to the course and direction taken. He stated that he was unaware of the ship making zig-zag movement to avoid attack and puts the speed of the vessel at 18 knots. This was seminal testimony in affixing blame for the sinking.
A pencil note at the top of the first page possibly directs this testimony to Mrs. Charles Hopkins, sister-in-law to A.L. Hopkins who perished in the sinking.,