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Saturday 1 October 2016

Titanic band leader kept on ship by 'vindictive' bosses

The band leader on the Titanic was denied a holiday which could have saved his life by his "vindictive" employers, a letter from his parents has revealed.

The letter from Albion and Elizabeth Hartley to their son Wallace Hartley, who famously ordered musicians to carry on playing as ship went down, was written the day before the "unsinkable" liner left on its doomed maiden voyage in 1912.

In it, they criticised his employers for making him go straight from one cruise liner on to the Titanic without a proper break in between.

His father movingly signed off the letter with the words: "I hope that things will turn out for you alright."

Disaster

Wallace (33) led the eight-piece orchestra on the deck of the stricken ship to help calm the passengers after it struck an iceberg and began to sink in the north Atlantic.

The band famously played on as the disaster, which claimed the lives of 1,522 passengers and crew, unfolded around them.

When Wallace's body was recovered from the sea 10 days later his valise case holding his violin was still strapped to his body, aiding its buoyancy.

Among the personal effects found on him was the letter, which was in remarkably good condition having been kept out of the water by the combination of his life jacket and violin case. It was returned intact to his grieving parents.

It is now tipped to sell for an estimated £25,000 (€32,000) after it was put up for auction by a private collector of Titanic memorabilia.

Wallace had been the leader of the band that played on the RMS Mauretania, which docked in Liverpool on April 8, 1912.

As he stepped off the ship, an employee for music agency CW & FN Black was waiting for him to confirm an earlier offer of promotion to the Titanic, which was to sail from Southampton two days later.

He sent a telegram to his parents telling them that he was very sorry but that he had no time to visit. In his reply, his father wrote they were disappointed but realised his time was very limited. He added that he felt his employers had shown a "rather vindictive spirit".

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