Medals awarded to the young telegraphist who picked up the Titanic’s distress call are to go under the hammer at auction.
Harold Cottam, 21, a wireless operator aboard the passenger liner RMS Carpathia, was off duty when he picked up the call on the night of April 14 1912.
For his actions, Mr Cottam, who grew up in Nottinghamshire, was hailed a hero and awarded a silver Carpathia medal and a Liverpool Humane Society medal for bravery.
It is estimated to fetch between £20,000 and £30,000 when it is sold on April 22 at Henry Aldridge and Son Ltd in Devizes, Wiltshire.
Mr Cottam was about to go to bed when he heard the radio station at Cape Cod trying to establish contact with the Titanic to transmit routine radio telegrams.
In what he had hoped would be his last business of the day, Mr Cottam radioed the Titanic’s operator, reminding him of the waiting messages.
Mr Cottam raced to the bridge to tell the officer on watch and then the two ran to the cabin of Captain Arthur Rostron to give him the news.
Capt Rostron gave immediate orders for the Carpathia to change course toward the Titanic.
The Cunard Line steamship was the only vessel to respond to the Titanic’s distress signals and arrived on the scene at 4am the following morning to rescue 700 survivors from the icy waters of the North Atlantic.
Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said: “Though he had already worked an 18-hour day, Cottam stayed at his radio for the next three days until he collapsed from exhaustion.
“When he arrived in America, he was whisked directly to Washington to appear at an official inquiry held by the US senate, after which he was hailed by the press as a hero.
“Despite his relative obscurity, a true hero in every sense of the word and this archive represents the vital part he played in the lives of those saved from the Titanic.”
Also being sold at the auction will be gold and bronze Carpathia medals, which will be the first time that a full set have been offered for sale at the same time.
The gold medal is estimated to sell for £30,000.