Lot 239: **R.M.S. TITANIC: Exceptional letter written onboard by Dr. John
Titanic & Travel Memorabilia
October 22, 2016
Devizes, United Kingdom
Description: **R.M.S. TITANIC: Exceptional letter written onboard by Dr. John Edward Simpson of Belfast, Titanic's Assistant Surgeon. It is signed J. Edward Simpson, Captn., on embossed onboard R.M.S. Titanic stationery with rare White Star Line watermark, dated Southampton, 9th April 1912, addressed at the top by Simpson: From Capt. J. E. Simpson, R.A.M.C.T.; To The Adjutant 1st (F.S) Btn. Middx. Rgt. Letter reads, in full: I have the honour to request that I may be permitted to transfer to the unattached list of R.A.M.C.T. officers as owing to professional duties as Ship's Surgeon in the White Star Line & I am prevented from carrying out all my duties in the R.A.M.C.T. for some time. Three horizontal mailing folds, scattered light soiling and creases, and signature at bottom a bit cramped, otherwise fine condition. Dr. John Edward Simpson was born in Belfast on 1st March 1875, and was 37 years old when he joined the Titanic on 6th April 1912. He had previously served on board Titanic's sister ship Olympic. He was still technically assigned to the Royal Army Medical Corps Territorials (R.A.M.C.T) as a medical doctor which meant his official duties would require him to remain under the army's direction. Thus, one last piece of official business before Titanic sailed was for Simpson to write this letter, to the Adjutant of the First Battalion requesting that he be permitted to transfer to the unattached (i.e. inactive) list of the R.A.M.C.T. so as to be able to carry out his duties for White Star Line. Since the letter was sent on 9th April 1912 and Titanic sailed the following day, it is unknown whether he was officially relieved of his military duties before sailing, or thereafter. Any original document relating to the official transfer of a notable Titanic crewman is regarded as one of the holy grails of Titanic memorabilia and we are unaware of any similar document being offered for private sale. The only example of a similar nature is Titanic postal clerk Oscar Woody's letter of appointment which resides in the Smithsonian's collection, one page, 5ins. x 8ins. Provenance: Ex Ken Schultz Collection; The Mariners' Museum, Newport News Virginia (1998); pps. 28-29 Titanic: Fortune & Fate by Beverly McMillan and Stanley Lehrer (Simon & Schuster 1998); Ref. Titanic: Belfast's Own by Stephen Cameron (Wolfhound Press 1998).