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Horning exhibition will shine a light on Titanic’s sunken sister ship, Britannic

Richard Ellis and Yvonne Hume. Picture: Archant Library

Richard Ellis and Yvonne Hume. Picture: Archant Library

Roger Findlay

She was once the pride of the White Star Line, and she met a tragic end at the bottom of the sea after a collision with an object its crew had not seen.

HMHS Britannic during the First World war. Picture: Allan Green/Public Domain HMHS Britannic during the First World war. Picture: Allan Green/Public Domain

And now a exhibition is being planned in remembrance of the vessel - not Titanic, but her sister ship, Britannic, whose story is less widely known. This vessel, completed four years after Titanic, was used as a hospital ship in the First World War until striking a mine and sinking in the Greek Isles in 1916.

And the ship has a strong Norfolk link - her captain, Charles Bartlett, lived in Lower Street, Horning, after retiring from White Star in 1932.

His great-nephew, Richard Ellis, will be among the guests at the exhibition planned for July 22 from 10am-4am at Horning Village Hall.

John Balls, who runs the Norfolk Titanic Association, is organising the event.

He said: “We will have lots of memorabilia and displays about Britannic.

“She was on her way out to Greece to pick up wounded soldiers when she was sunk by the mine. The British government tried to claim it was a torpedo, which would have been good for propaganda, but underwater research shows it was, in fact, a mine.

“Charles Bartlett was an experienced commander and at one point he was expected to be commanding the Titanic, but he was doing a shore job for White Star then. He was actually known as ‘Ice Berg Charlie’ because he was renown for his ability to spot icebergs.”

Mr Balls said Captain Bartlett gave an order not to launch any life boats from the damaged Britannic because he wanted to beach the ship.

He said: “Two were launched anyway and they ended up being smashed to pieces in the ship’s propellers. Other than that it was a successful evacuation.”

Mr Balls said Horning currently lacked anything to mark the fact that Captain Bartlett lived there.

He said: “He also lived in Gorleston and eventually moved back to Liverpool, where he died.

“We’re hoping more about his life might come out on the day.”

Mr Balls said another guest at the day would be Yvonne Hume, the great niece of Titanic’s first violinist John Law Hume.

He said the exhibition would also include material about Titanic.

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