A newly discovered SOS telegram from the Titanic challenges the owners' claims that they heard nothing from the ship on the day it sank. In the inquiry into the 1912 tragedy, Philip Franklin, the boss of shipping company White Star Line, swore on oath he had not received any word from the ship after it had hit an iceberg.
Franklin declared to a US Congress hearing held just days after the catastrophe which claimed the lives of 1,523 passengers and crew that 'not a word or communication of any kind or description' had come from the stricken liner.
Instead he insisted he had only heard the news from Bruce Ismay, general manager of White Star Line, who had been onboard but was saved by rescue ship the Carpathia.
But a newly discovered distress telegram which was directly addressed to Franklin at White Star Lines' New York office appears to dispel his denials for the first time. The desperate message, sent via communications company Western Union, reads: 'We have struck iceberg. Sinking fast. Come to our assistance. Position: Lat 41.46 N. Lon 50.14 W.'
It is not known exactly when the SOS was sent but Titanic struck the iceberg at 11.40pm on April 14, 1912 and sank at 2.20am on April 15.
Experts say the telegram proves that White Star Line bosses would have known that Titanic, which they had billed as the 'unsinkable ship', was going down. The document was completely unknown until it was listed for auction by a seller who inherited it from his cousin whose father was a collector of old telegraphic equipment.
It is not known exactly how many telegrams were sent from the Titanic after it struck the iceberg because the log was destroyed when the liner sank.