Letters reveal heroism and family love of Titanic steward from Portsmouth who perished in disaster

Clockwise, from left, Roberta Maioni, maid to the Countess of Rothes, who praised Charles Crumplin's heroism, one of Charles' letters home and the Titanic Pic: HAldridge/BNPS
Clockwise, from left, Roberta Maioni, maid to the Countess of Rothes, who praised Charles Crumplin's heroism, one of Charles' letters home and the Titanic Pic: HAldridge/BNPS

Two heart-rending letters that capture a tragic Titanic steward's devotion to duty and family have come to light.

Days before he died in the 1912 disaster, heroic Charles Crumplin, from Portsmouth, wrote a last letter home to his beloved wife telling her to 'kiss the children for me'.

He penned the poignant note on White Star Line-headed notepaper on board the doomed liner and posted it at its last port of call.

The letter has now emerged for sale for £20,000 along with a second note sent by a survivor to Charles' widow, telling her what a hero her husband had been.

After making sure the Countess of Rothes, one of Titanic's wealthiest passengers, was safely in a lifeboat along with her cousin and maid, he was last seen rushing to the aid of other women and children.

Charles, a first class cabin steward who lived in King Street, Portsea, went down with the ship and his body was never found.

His name is engraved on Ada's headstone in Kingston Cemetery.

After receiving the account of her husband's last courageous final moments, his widow Ada put a memorial in her local newspaper which stated: ‘In loving memory of our dear Charles...who gave his life to save the women and children in that awful catastrophe.’

Both letters are coming up for sale at auctioneers Henry Aldridge and Son of Devizes, Wiltshire, by a direct descendant of the family.

Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said: ‘Charles Crumplin was one of many brave souls who died on Titanic. 

‘It is impossible to have access to each individual story of those men and women who died but here we have a previously unseen  first hand account of the last moments of Charles Crumplin by an eye witness.

‘His letter home was dated April 10, 1912 which was the day Titanic sailed from Southampton.

‘It was probably the last letter he wrote. It is valued at £20,000 because it is written on Titanic-headed stationary on board the ship.

‘When Titanic stopped off at Queenstown, Ireland, on April 11, the ship was too big to dock so two tenders went out and collected sacks of post including this letter that he wrote to his wife.’

Charles came from Southsea and was 35 when he died.

He and Ada had two children, Frances, who was 12 at the time of the disaster, and Charles, 10.

He boarded the Titanic on April 1 in Belfast and was on the ill-fated liner as it steamed to Southampton ahead of her maiden voyage.

His letter home reads: ‘My darling, just like to let you know am going on alright but not many passengers but hope to have a few coming home.

‘I have the Countess of Rothes in one of my rooms.

‘Kiss the children for me. I hope they are well, also your dear self.

‘With all my love and kisses, your ever loving hubby Chas.’

Four days later the Titanic hit and iceberg and sank with the loss of 1,523 passengers and crew.

The maid for the Countess was Roberta Maioni, who wrote to Ada a month after the disaster on behalf of the Countess of Rothes.

Her letter, valued at £2,000, reads: ‘The Countess of Rothes...sends her deepest sympathy to Mrs Crumplin in her sadness.

‘Lady Rothes saw her husband towards the last as he came and helped her and Miss Cherry (her cousin) and put on their lifebelts and he was always so attentive and obliging. 

‘Lady Rothes did not see him after he got up on deck and is sure that he was helping other passengers and doing his duty with all the other magnificent men who went down on that terrible night.’

The letters are being sold on October 20.