In 1953, the British Admiralty chartered a large salvage vessel called ‘Help’, and help was what they were after. They were searching for the wreck of the Titanic. We know that what’s left of the great ship still lies some 12,000 feet below the surface of the Atlantic. Even with today’s technology, reaching the wreck is not an easy matter, but 66 years ago it was an almost impossible task.
In 1980, the movie mogul, Lew Grade, produced a spectacular adventure film called, ‘Raise the Titanic’. It was a foolish idea for a film and lost something in the region of 30 million pounds. The disappointed Grade complained, “Raise the Titanic? It would have been cheaper to lower the Atlantic.” Locating the wreck in 1953 was difficult and salvaging anything from it was well nigh impossible. So, what was the Admiralty after? I believe it was gold.
In 1912, the British government was deeply concerned with the likelihood of an inevitable war with Germany. So too were the Americans. Notable amongst these was the fabulously wealthy tycoon, J P Morgan. He owned steel mills, railroads and shipping lines. One of these lines was the White Star, the creators and operatives of the Titanic and her sister ship, Olympic. Morgan had houses and museums in Britain full of priceless artefacts and decided that, with a European war looming, his treasures would be safer back home in the US. He also had huge amounts of Gold secreted away in London. This too needed to be transferred to the States. How could Morgan just move his precious items and his gold out of Britain without the proper authority? The man had a deal with the British government which allowed him to do just about anything he liked. The deal? When Morgan bought the White Star Line and added it to his vast mercantile fleet, the British Government only agreed to sanction this sale as long as they could commandeer the huge liners of this fleet to use as troop carriers and hospital ships, should the likely war with Germany break out.
Morgan wasn’t the only one with large amounts of gold that needed hiding from a possible German invasion. The British Government had gold aplenty. When Morgan let the British government know that he was going to be travelling to New York on the maiden voyage of the Titanic, together with his gold, the British authorities followed suit and placed many millions of pounds worth of gold on the liner too. However, came the day for the great ship to set off on her first, and only, voyage, Morgan was not aboard. Pleading sickness, he had cried off the journey, although an astute journalist found the billionaire holed up on the Riviera with one of his mistresses. But the great man’s gold was also not on board the Titanic. So, off went the doomed ship to her watery grave with the British government’s gold on board. I’m sure Morgan had the last laugh, although he died in the following year. The 1953 naval expedition may or may not have located the British gold, and yet, other dives by submersible vehicle in more recent years have failed to locate the missing hoard. At least, that’s what they say. Has some enterprising organisation raised the treasure in secret or did the British government at last find a way of recapturing their lost gold without telling anyone? There has been no official record of another Royal Naval expedition to the bottom of the Atlantic in search of the treasure. Maybe the Titanic still has it locked away in the deepest, darkest depths of what remains of her hull. To this day, the missing Titanic gold remains one of the sea’s great mysteries.
My latest book about the Titanic is a novel, ‘Sherlock Holmes and the great Titanic mystery.’ In it, I combine fact with fiction. The only senior officer to survive the sinking of the Titanic was my great uncle, Charles Herbert Lightoller. My grandmother was his sister and had many tales to tell me when young. Tales of her brave brother and the many mysteries of that tragic sinking. Who better to uncover the fiendish plot to sink a great ship? A plot that went terribly wrong and caused the loss of over 1,500 innocent souls. Sherlock Holmes has the secrets of that terrible event locked away in his case book. Secrets that will surprise even those readers who are convinced that they know the real story of the Titanic’s loss.