Pictures which tell a tragic story... Photos by the Captain of the Lusitania are to sell

Charles Miller, an independent company which sells Maritime Models, Artefacts, Collectables and Navigation & Scientific Instruments gained a great boost to its reputation just over a year ago when it sold the most expensive Union Jack flag in the world (£384,000): the one flown on Admiral Lord Nelson's The Victory.

Their upcoming sale includes a remarkable private photograph album taken by Captain W T Turner, who was captain of Cunard Liners Mauretania and Lusitania and was subsequently made a scapegoat for the Lusitania tragedy on 7th May 1915 when it was torpedoed by a German submarine, U-20, and sank within 20 minutes with the loss of 1,200.

Cautiously estimated at £3,000-5,000, the fascinating album is believed to date from between 1904-10 and comprises approximately 400 private views taken by and of Turner.

Most photographs are pasted along top edge and annotated with characters and locations in pencil to reverse, approximately half taken aboard various commands, mostly Mauretania, but with several hitherto unseen views from Lusitania.

Captain W T Turner of the Lusitania
Captain W T Turner of the Lusitania

There are also interesting scenes taken opportunistically, including several views of the wreck of the U.S.S. Maine; several dockyard views of luggage being loaded; the boat train dining car; Turner posing with various passengers or relations, often wearing his hat or tunic, or of Turner taking a sight with his sextant.

Charles Miller comments: "Not intended to be of interest to any but himself and family, this wonderful album captures a rare view of the private side of a liner captain from the 'Golden Age'.

"Frequently larking around, Turner is often shot with a pretty girl, who is wearing his hat, or lying in a hammock. He was clearly a happy man and his sense of humour is much in evidence.

"One of the more striking shots is a view of Turner climbing the rigging of the main mast of Lusitania and holding his camera, the next view is the shot of the funnels and deck taken from that location.

"These rare views are unknown and unpublished, providing a wealth of interesting material about Cunard's most tragic Captain." The auction takes place on April 20 in London.


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