As Titanic sank, 5 postmen struggled to carry mail to safety

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The band played on, engineers fought to maintain power and the captain remained at his post as the Titanic went down on the night of April 14, 1912.

To these stubborn acts of courage can be be added those of the ship’s five postmen.

This month the keys and chain of the postmaster of the Titanic mail room, prised from his frozen body, emerged for auction, and with them a bewildering story of postal heroism...

[Postmaster Oscar Woody] had no intention of letting the holing of the vessel by a giant iceberg stand in the way of their safe delivery...

They rushed down to the mail storage room in the forward hold of G deck, where the bitterly cold seawater was already two feet deep. For several hours the five struggled up four flights of steps, carrying 100lb (45kg) sacks of sopping mail...

Alfred Thessinger, a bedroom steward who survived the ordeal, was one of the last to see the men alive. “I urged them to leave their work,” he said. “They shook their heads and continued. I saw them no more.”

[The keys and chain are expected to fetch about £50,000 when they are auctioned by Henry Aldridge and Sons in Wiltshire on April 21.]

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