A pocketwatch belonging to one of the survivors of the Lusitania ocean liner that sunk in 1915, has been valued at £1,000 ($1600) despite its inoperative state.
Frank Holman, a waiter on the liner, was wearing the timepiece when the ship was hit by a German torpedo.
The watch stopped as soon as Holman was flung into the Atlantic Ocean, where he was forced to tread water for five hours before he was eventually rescued.
His daughter Barbara Wiffen who has held the watch since her father’s passing told the BBC: “My late father, Frank Holman, was on the Lusitania at the time she was torpedoed.”
“The torpedo struck, I understand, at twelve minutes past two and his watch stopped at two twenty eight when he hit the water.”
“He didn’t speak about it very much because he found it very traumatic, but he was in the water for five hours before he was picked up.”
“At one stage he found a young boy who was obviously in difficulties and my father swam for some time with with his hands clasped round his neck but as time went on it became obvious to him that the lad had unfortunately passed away.”
“So regrettably he had to release him, and I think that stayed with him for the rest of his life. When I was a child, I use to hear him shouting in his sleep.”
Antiques Roadshow expert Hilary Kay insisted that the watch would generate much interest despite the relic not functioning.
She told the show: “Lusitania artifacts have appeared on the market in the past, and they always create a stir, particularly in The States, of course. I would see this certainly fetching £1,000 at auction, if not more.”
“Over a thousand people were drowned, of which over a hundred were American civilians, and it was what catapulted America eventually into the First World War.”
“So it is an incredibly important piece of 20th century history. And we have a piece of memorabilia here which I find incredibly resonant.”
Despite the estimation, Holman’s daughter has insisted that she would never part with the watch given its sentimental value.
The ship, bound for Liverpool from New York sank in approximately 18 minutes, claiming the lives of 1,959 passengers in the process.
Attribution: David Gerges