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Grandson of Titanic survivor tells his story in Coventry

Phillip Littlejohn

Phillip Littlejohn

THE grandson of a Titanic survivor was in Coventry yesterday to share his grandfather’s harrowing story.

Phillip Littlejohn has joined the Titanic Heritage Trust to hold a series of talks in the city on what really happened on the night the infamous ship sank.

Phillip’s grandfather, Alexander James Littlejohn, was a first class steward on the ship.

He survived when he was told by one of the chief officers to row one of the lifeboats to safety.

Phillip, who is a patron of the Coventry-based Trust, said: “Before Cameron’s Titanic film there were only the enthusiasts who were interested in it, but the film generated the public interest, and since then I have tried to tell people about the real stories.

“My grandfather always described himself as fortunate but like most Titanic survivors he didn’t talk about it.

"That was so typical, especially of the men who survived because they felt they shouldn’t have survived when women and children were still on board.

"Grandfather didn’t tell any stories. He didn’t even tell my father so the only way we knew anything was from the newspaper account.”

The only time Phillip’s grandfather spoke about his survival was during a detailed interview with the Daily Telegraph newspaper in May 1912.

He died in 1949 when Phillip was five.

Now Phillip uses the newspaper article to hold talks and lectures on what his grandfather had to say about that tragic night when more than 1,500 people died.

Phillip is also the only relative of a Titanic survivor to have dived down to the ship wreck site. “Going to the wreckage was amazing,” added Phillip, 68, from Maidenhead, Berkshire.

 “I have studied the ship so often so I knew what to look for when I got down there but I didn’t expect to see so many shoes.

“Everybody would put their shoes outside their cabins for cleaning so when the ship split in half the shoes poured out.