Arthur Claude Orchard or “Curly”, as he was affectingly known set out on foot as usual on this cold morning of the 17th April 1912 towards Bembridge. The Marconi telegram he was carrying was sealed and thus he had no understanding that the momentous contents would enlighten the family of the managing director of the Wight Star Line of the disaster that had beheld the Titanic and the fact that their son Bruce Ismay was alive and a survivor.
Ismay the writer of the telegram – who was later dubbed the Coward of the Titanic – had to be treated with opiates to help him cope with the shock of the sinking.
Ismay was the managing director of White Star Line and he was depicted in the 1997 Kate Winslett movie Titanic encouraging the liner’s captain to go faster.
He later told the official enquiry into the disaster that he had to turn and look away in the lifeboat at the moment the Titanic sunk at 2.20am on April 15.
On the 17th April 2012, Nigel Bennett will be re-enacting his grandfather’s walk from the Marconi Radio Station (Culver Haven) at the top of Culver Down, Brading to that of Graylands, being the home of the Ismay family in Bembridge on the 17th April 1912.
Nigel’s mother remembers her telling him that there was great consternation as ‘Curly’ waited for a reply. The exact telegram delivered has been lost, however only recently has a very similar one as seen below, been auctioned for several thousand pounds in New York.
Interesting further reading
Oct 2010: a very interesting account of the last minutes prior to the Titanic hitting the iceberg has recently been published by Lady Louise Patten , the truth about the sinking.
Island Eye Page & Video – http://www.islandeye.co.uk/history/shipwrecks/titanic-telegrams.html