...And The Strange Case Of Great Uncle Bertie

Valentine PALMER

Fantom Publishing - 2012

TV actor, producer and screenwriter Valentine Palmer sets out to write the definitive account of the Titanic's sinking. As the 100th anniversary of the fateful night approaches, Palmer follows up innumerable conflicting stories and theories that still, to this day, surround the doomed liner.

The senior surviving officer of the tragedy was Charles Herbert Lightoller, Palmer's great uncle, 'Uncle Bertie' to the family. It was only after the great man's death in 1952 that his sister Gertrude, Palmer's eccentric grandmother, began to speak to her young grandson about the contradictory accounts of both her brother's supposed heroism and his suspect testimonies at the investigations into the sinking.

Palmer's grandmother doesn't mince words when she talks to her grandson about Joseph Bruce Ismay, Managing Director of the White Star Line, the nominal owner of the Titanic, but also Chairman of the major multinational that controlled many of the companies plying the lucrative transatlantic route. This, she hints, is the man who made her brother 'an offer he couldn't refuse'!

In depth research by a number of parties over the past 100 years reveals that something was not quite right about the testimonies of both Ismay and Lightoller. Britain's preparation for possible war with Germany (which followed two years after the sinking), tales of gold and priceless treasures aboard the doomed liner and a possible insurance fraud of unimaginable complexity are just some of the mysteries and possible conspiracies that Palmer seeks to shed new light on in this fascinating book. With dogged determination he works his way through his remembered confidences of his maternal grandmother and subtle hints of cover-ups at the highest level from his great aunt, Lightoller's widow. Palmer's searches take him through the maze of conflicting testimonies and reported conversations from survivors. His task becomes ever more daunting as he sees the truth, like his great uncle's honour, become increasingly shrouded in the mists of time.