Rare photo of iceberg ‘most likely’ behind sinking of Titanic emerges over 100 years later

Photo was taken by Captain W Wood onboard SS Etonian

Matt Mathers
Monday 15 June 2020 19:44 BST
Titanic violin sold at auction

A photograph of an iceberg that “most likely” sank the Titanic has emerged more than 100 years after the disaster took place.

It was taken by the captain of another passenger ship crossing the Atlantic, less than two days before the Titanic went down.

The black and white picture was taken by seaman W Wood – a keen photographer – while he was serving as captain on board the SS Etonian on 12 April, 1912.

Capt Wood made a note of his geographic coordinates when he saw the iceberg – they were almost the same for when the Titanic struck an iceberg 40 hours later and sank.

Capt Wood got the photo developed when he completed his journey and arrived in New York. He printed a copy of the photo and sent it to his grandfather along with a letter.

The photo is dated 1913 but auctioneers say Capt Wood’s letter corroborates the image.

He wrote in the letter: “I am sending you a sea picture, the Etonian running before a gale and the iceberg that sank the Titanic.

“We crossed the ice tracks 40hrs before her and in daylight so saw the ice easily and I got a picture.”

He wrote a caption in black ink on the photo, noting “iceberg taken by Captain Wood SS Etonian in 41°50N 49°50W April 12th at 4pm”.

The Titanic struck an iceberg at 10.20pm on 14 April and sank several hours later, claiming some 1,522 lives.

The photo and the letter are now being sold at auctioneers Henry Aldridge and Son of Devizes, Wilts, for an estimated £12,000 ($15,000).

Photo was taken onboard SS Etonian
Photo was taken onboard SS Etonian (BNPS)

Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said: “There were never any photographs taken on board the Titanic of the iceberg, only images of ones in the same area in the days before and after.

“But Captain Wood’s photograph must be the most likely of all of these images.

“Fredrick Fleet was the lookout who first spotted the iceberg and he later drew a sketch of it, as did crew member and eye-witness Joseph Scarrott.

“Their sketches both appear similar to the iceberg in this photo and have the same distinctive odd shape at the top.

“But the letter from Captain Wood adds far more weight to this iceberg being the one. He seems unequivocal that this one was the iceberg that sank the Titanic.

“It was pure luck that Captain Wood took the photo when he did.”

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