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Pocket watch from Lusitania and Titanic memorabilia for auction

April 24th, 2024 12:00 PM

Pocket watch from Lusitania and Titanic memorabilia for auction Image
The Lusitania watch and, right, the anchor fashioned by Titanic survivor William McCarthy.

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BY PAULINE MURPHY

A RARE item from a dark day in West Cork will go under the hammer this week at an auction in England.

On Saturday, April 27th, maritime memorabilia will be up for grabs at Henry Aldridge & Son’s auctioneers, including a pocket watch that survived the sinking of the Lusitania.

Lot 35 is described as an extremely rare Ingersoll Eclipse white metal pocket watch.

The dial is heavily water-stained and the hands are frozen in time at 2:32pm – minutes after the Lusitania was torpedoed by a German submarine off the Old Head of Kinsale on May 7th 1915.

The watch was worn by second class passenger Walter Reinhold Storch.

The 29-year-old British man was able to get into a lifeboat which, in the chaos, took on water and overturned.

Storch managed to cling to debris until he was saved. Storch suffered cracked ribs and recovered in Cobh with the other survivors.

Also going under the hammer with Mr Storch’s pocket watch is his wedding ring and Lusitania books.

The lot, which is being sold via family descendants, is expected to fetch between £5,000 and £8,000stg.

At the same auction there is another Cork-related item with a connection to history’s most famous sunken liner.

Lot 157 is a small decorative wooden commemorative anchor made by Titanic survivor William McCarthy.

The engraving on the back of McCarthy’s tiny anchor.

 

Created with shells, it has a faded script to the reverse: ‘Constructed by AB Seaman William McCarthy, a survivor of the White Star liner Titanic.’

McCarthy was from Grattan Hill in Cork city and was working as a crewman on the ill-fated liner when it struck an iceberg on April 14th, 1912.

McCarthy helped to crew Lifeboat 4 and organised the rescue of people from the icy waters, including fellow Corkman and crew mate William Lyons.

Unfortunately, Lyons succumbed to hyperthermia even though McCarthy had tried desperately to save him.

His actions were noticed by one of those in Lifeboat 4, first-class passenger Virginia Estelle Clark.

After the disaster, she singled out the Corkman for his bravery and highly commended him.

McCarthy continued to work on the sea following the sinking of the Titanic.

He returned to Cork in later life where he died from a heart attack aged 69 in 1932 and was buried in Inch old graveyard at Whitegate.

McCarthy was known to make family and friends little ornamental anchors from driftwood and shells and now one of them can be bought at auction, with an estimated selling price of £300.

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