JFK WWII letter archive achieves $200,000 in RR Auction sale

An archive of four letters sent by JFK to the family of a crewmember killed aboard the boat he captained during WWII has sold for $200,000.

It exceeded its minimum bid of $10,000 by 1,900% when it sold at RR Auction on September 17.

JFK letters boat
Kennedy wrote the letters between 1943 and 1961

Harold W Marney was killed when the PT-109 torpedo boat was hit by a Japanese destroyer and sunk near the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific.

Kennedy famously managed to tow an injured colleague to safety using his teeth. The surviving crewmembers were rescued soon after.  

Three of the letters date to 1943-1944.

In the first, Kennedy writes: "This letter is to offer my deepest sympathy to you for the loss of your son. I realize that there is nothing that I can say can make your sorrow less; particularly as I know him; and I know what a great loss he must be to you and your family.

"Your son rode the PT 109 with me on the night of August 1-2 when a Japanese destroyer, travelling at a high speed cut us in two, as we turned into him for a shot.

"I am truly sorry that I cannot offer you hope that he survived that night. You do have the consolation of knowing that your son died in the service of his country."

Kennedy PT-109
Kennedy and the crew of the PT-109

The last letter dates to 1961, shortly after his election.

It reads in part: "I recently requested from the American Battle Monuments Commission a picture of the Manila American Cemetery, whose memorial wall bears the inscription of your son and my former shipmate."

"If ever you are in the Nation's capital, I would like very much to have the White House and other public places here shown to you."

We have some fascinating pieces of JFK memorabilia.

The sale included a selection of presidential memorabilia from the Raleigh DeGeer Amyx collection.

Among the highlights were a woollen cape belonging to FDR that made $68,750 and a pair of Abraham Lincoln's glasses that sold for $30,000.  

Click here to take a look at our incredible range of presidential memorabilia.

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