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Thursday, February 18, 1999 Published at 12:30 GMT


Titanic lovers tragedy revealed

The Titanic at berth in the Hollywood movie

A true tale of love and tragedy aboard the doomed liner Titanic has been told for the first time.

Echoing the plot of the recent Hollywood blockbuster starring Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslett, the tragic true-life story is revealed in a poem being auctioned next month.

[ image: DiCaprio and Winslett play doomed lovers]
DiCaprio and Winslett play doomed lovers
It was written by lady's maid Roberta Maoini just hours after she was rescued from the sinking ship, leaving her sweetheart to join the 1,513 lost at sea.

The 21-year-old had been travelling in first class when she fell for a young steward employed on the White Star Line flagship's maiden voyage across the Atlantic to America in 1912.


When the vessel hit an iceberg, the steward, whose identity was never revealed, sought out Roberta and helped her into a lifeboat.

As they parted, he pressed his White Star brooch into her hand.

He went down with the ship.

Roberta, with her employer, Countess Lucy Rothes, was among those saved by the Carpathia.

She was taken to New York, where hours later she wrote the moving poem, which is to be auctioned in Devizes, Wiltshire, on March 16.

Gaunt and fearful

Later, in 1926, she also wrote a poignant seven-page account of her experiences.

It tells how, in the final moments, groups of men and women stood on the Titanic's decks "looking gaunt and fearful".

[ image: An iceberg sank
An iceberg sank "the unsinkable"
From her lifeboat, she says, she heard "the terrible last cries of the fourteen hundred men, women and children left" as the huge liner was swallowed by the ocean.

Roberta, who later married wealthy Yorkshire businessman Cunliffe Boland, died in the 1960s and the memorabilia was bequeathed to her relatives.

Her niece, who has asked not to be named, said: "Roberta fell madly in love with a steward and he with her.

Touching souvenir

"On deck on the night the iceberg struck, her officer gave her a badge in the shape of a star.

"After the survivors were picked up from the lifeboats and all were safely on board and attended to, she put her hand in her pocket and there it lay in the palm of her hand, the Titanic star.

"She always wore the star very proudly."

The poem, her account of the sinking, the brooch and a photograph of Roberta are expected to fetch at least £10,000.

Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge, of Aldridge and Son's, who are holding the sale, said: "The poem is a dark and sombre recollection of Roberta's trauma.

"The account she wrote is an important eye-witness report. But the brooch is the most touching souvenir, a love token from the courageous young man she had grown close to."

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