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Titanic survivor’s letter set for auction

A photo of the Titanic survivors included Laura Francatelli, second from right. Standing to her right were her employers, Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon and Lady Lucy Duff-Gordon. A photo of the Titanic survivors included Laura Francatelli, second from right. Standing to her right were her employers, Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon and Lady Lucy Duff-Gordon.
Associated Press / October 8, 2010

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LONDON — She heard a terrible rumbling noise, then anguished cries for help as her rowboat pulled away from the sinking ocean liner Titanic that dreadful night in 1912.

Now Laura Francatelli’s first-person account of the disaster, in the form of a signed affidavit that was given to a British board of inquiry, is set to be auctioned.

It is a gripping firsthand account of how she and her two prominent employers — Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon and his socialite wife, Lady Lucy Duff-Gordon — managed to survive, fleeing in a rowboat with a capacity for 40 people even though they only had 12 people on board.

“You see a lot of documents that talk briefly about the incident, but this affidavit goes into strong details, it talks about Lady Duff being sick the whole time, about the lifeboat bobbing up and down, about the screams,’’ said Andrew Aldridge, an auctioneer at Henry Aldridge & Son, which plans to sell the affidavit and other Titanic memorabilia on Oct. 16.

He said the letter is expected to fetch between $16,000 and $23,800.

Francatelli, who died in 1967, was 31 when the Titanic struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912.

Her signed account was given as evidence to the first official British board of inquiry into the disaster.

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