Titanic reunion for lost relativesBy Laura Herbert
April 20, 2012
A Wokingham man whose great uncle drowned when the Titanic sank has been reunited with a long-lost relative.
Ellison Withe used www.ancestry.co.uk to trace Ian Booth, the great-grandson of Alexander Thompson who died during the ship’s maiden voyage to New York 100 years ago.
Mr Booth and his 10-year-old daughter Lucy travelled from their home in Aberdeen to Wokingham to meet Mr Withe for the first time last Thursday, ahead of a number of Titanic memorial events in Southampton.
Mr Thompson, a stone mason, boarded the Titanic seeking a new life and new job in America, with his wife Isabella and three children due to join him later.
The 36-year-old had been due to sail to America on the Cymric three months earlier but the voyage was cancelled because of a coal strike, and he was transferred to the Titanic as a third-class steerage passenger.
Of his trip to Wokingham, Mr Booth, 43, said: “There was a mixture of emotions. I was excited and privileged, not only to meet a relative who we didn’t know existed, but privileged out of a mark of respect.”
Mr Withe, 59, said: “There was an element of apprehension.
“It is nice to know we are going to share this event together. Ian and Lucy have more of a right to attend this event than I do as Alexander Thompson is my great-grandfather’s brother.
“None of the rest of the family have ever been in touch until now. It is wonderful story that we have met up and we can both go through the emotions.”
Mr Withe added: “I’m so delighted Lucy has come because it is something she will never forget and it is a once in a lifetime event.
“We are thinking about the younger generation and keeping this interest ongoing.
“A lot of the film glorifies it, but Ian and I represent those people who were left and the families all these years later.
“Although it is a sad event, it has brought us together.”
Mr Thompson, known as Alick, sent his wife a postcard from Ireland postmarked 3.45pm on April, 11, 1912.
His summing up of the Titanic read: “It is very comfortable here and steady as a rock, but the feather beds are a bit hard.”
Mr Thompson drowned when the ship struck an iceberg, but it is not known if his body was recovered. If it was, he has never been identified.