Picture that revealed an icy horror

Monday 26 October 2015

Credit: Twitter/@itvnews

One of the most chilling photographs I have ever seen – chilling in more ways than one – is auctioned today in Devizes.

Its rarity value is indicated by the reserve: £15,000. It was taken 103 years ago in the North Atlantic. It shows the very iceberg that sank the Titanic.

I will come to the sheer eeriness of the photo in a moment. The picture was taken the day after the disaster by the chief steward of the liner Prinz Adalbert. But neither he nor anyone else on board had the faintest idea of the catastrophe that had struck less than 24 hours earlier and that the largest ship in the world lay thousands of fathoms directly beneath them, complete with corpses.

The Titanic was one of the very few vessels equipped with the brand-new wireless telegraph (indeed the liner transmitted the world’s first SOS). Most other ships at sea had no way of knowing the sensational news that everyone on land had woken to that morning.

The Prinz Adalbert’s log shows it was in the correct position to pass the iceberg when the photograph was taken. But there is additional, conclusive evidence that the crew and passengers were looking at an object that had just done for a great ship and 1,500 souls.

A document accompanying the photo and signed by the steward and crewmen reads: “The Titanic disaster was not yet known by us. But on one side of the iceberg red paint was plainly visible [the italics are mine], which had the appearance of having been made by the scraping of a vessel along the ice.”

This was the Titanic’s bright crimson paint, which encircled the lowest part of the hull, the section that smashed into the great floating chunk of ice. I’m sure bidding will be brisk today in Devizes. But I’ll tell you this: it’s not a picture I’d care to put on my wall.

Read Richard and Judy's Express column in full here.
Add a Comment

There are as yet no comments

Be the first to make a comment.