Page last updated at 17:27 GMT, Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Titanic survivor's letters sold

The Titanic sails from Southampton
Archie Jewell was a watchman on the Titanic when it struck an iceberg

Letters written by a Cornish sailor who survived the sinking of the Titanic and its sister ship, the Britannic, have been auctioned for 17,500.

Archie Jewell, from Bude, was a lookout on the Titanic when the ship struck an iceberg in the Atlantic in 1912.

He escaped in a lifeboat and went on to serve on the Britannic, which sank in 1916.

Two letters he wrote to his sister about his shipwreck experiences were auctioned at Sotherbys in London.

I shall never forget the sight of that lovely big ship going down
Archie Jewell, Titanic survivor

Mr Jewell was the watchman on the Titanic who first noticed "ice and growlers" nearby.

He was relieved from his shift 90 minutes before the ship struck an iceberg.

In his letter to his sister he wrote: "I shall never forget the sight of that lovely big ship going down and the awful cries of the people in the water.

"You could hear them dying out one by one, it was enough to make anyone jump overboard and be out of the way."

Jewell escaped in lifeboat number seven, the first to be lowered from the deck of the Titanic.

Extract from Archie Jewell letter (Pic: Sotheby's)
He wrote to his sister about his shipwreck experiences

He was the first survivor to give evidence at the inquiry into the disaster, in which 1,503 passengers and crew died.

He wrote to his sister again after his next ship, the Britannic, sank off a Greek island in 1916 during World War I.

The vessel, which was larger than the Titanic, had been sailing to pick up wounded troops and went down in just 57 minutes, with the loss of 30 lives.

Mr Jewell was one of three people to survive both the sinking of the Titanic and Britannic.

But he was killed in 1917 after his final ship, the SS Donegal, was torpedoed.

His letters were sold to an unknown bidder at Sotherbys auction house.

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