Aldeburgh: Titanic survivor’s tale to be told by grandson

THE grandson of a survivor of the Titanic is getting ready to step back in time and relive the notorious night that the infamous ship sank.

Actor David Quilter’s grandfather, Lawrence Beesley, was a second class passenger on the giant vessel when it struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912.

He wrote an account of his experience entitled The Loss of the SS Titanic, while he also advised on the 1958 Kenneth More film A Night to Remember.

Mr Quilter, who lives in Snape, near Aldeburgh, will soon be reading exerts from the book as part of a fundraising effort for the RNLI.

The 69-year-old said: “I will be giving a reading of his account and what happened to him on the course of the journey.

“Interestingly he never spoke to us about what happened, I think he had a strong survivor’s guilt about it. He never said a word to any of us.”

According to accounts Mr Beesley was in his cabin when the collision with the iceberg occurred. He only noticed a slight heave in the engines and the regular dancing movement of his mattress seemed to stop.

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A steward informed him that everything was OK and he went up to the deck where the boats were being loaded before returning to his cabin, putting on a lifejacket and stuffing some books into this pocket.

When he returned to the deck the list was worse and he found men were now being allowed to board a lifeboat.

He boarded the boat, which had 64 people aboard, and as it descended it came perilously close to an outfall that was discharging water. Only the shouts of the boats occupants prevented them from being flooded.

Mr Quilter’s reading, which is happening next Saturday at the Aldeburgh Lifeboat Station, coincides with the 100th anniversary of the disaster.

The 69-year-old continued: “My grandfather was 35 when he went on the Titanic.

“I feel like I’m doing it partly for him and partly for the 1,500 people who died. It’s certainly not a commercial enterprise. The aim is to raise as much money as possible for a very worthy cause and I would encourage everyone to come along and take a look. It’s a fascinating story and captures the imagination.”

Mr Quilter has also made three 15 minute films based on his grandfather’s story which he has posted on video sharing website, YouTube, entitled, Titanic - A Survivor’s Story.

His reading is taking place at 7pm and tickets are �3, with all proceeds going to the Aldeburgh Lifeboat Station.

The Titanic set off on its maiden voyage on Wednesday, April 10, 1912.

It was the largest passenger ship ever assembled and it claimed that it was “unsinkable”.

The height of luxury and class, the vessel began its journey from Southampton to New York.

In compliance with the safety standards of the time, the Titanic did not possess enough lifeboats to accommodate everyone on board.

When the large vessel struck an iceberg in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, one of the largest maritime disasters in history took place, claiming 1,500 lives. Only 700 people survived.

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