Cables and Letters received by the Andrews Family on the Loss of the Titanic

Shan Bullock


AT the request of the Family the publishers have inserted the following cables and letters which were received when the news of the disaster first became public.

Cable dated New York, 19th April, 1912, addressed to Mr. James Moore, Belfast.

Interview Titanic’s officers. All unanimous Andrews heroic unto death, thinking only safety others. Extend heartfelt sympathy to all.


Cable dated 21st April, 1912, received by the White Star Line in Liverpool from their Office in New York.

After accident Andrews ascertained damage, advised passengers to put on heavy clothing and prepare to leave vessel. Many were sceptical about the seriousness of the damage, but impressed by Andrews’ knowledge and personality, followed his advice, and so saved their lives. He assisted many women and children to lifeboats. When last seen, officers say, he was throwing overboard deck chairs and other objects to people in the water, his chief concern the safety of everyone but himself.

Extract from letter written by Lord Pirrie to his sister, Mrs. Thomas Andrews, Sen.

“A finer fellow than Tommie never lived, and by his death—unselfishly beautiful to the last—we are bereft of the strong young life upon which such reliance had come to be placed by us elders who loved and needed him.”

Copy of Letter received by Mrs. Thomas Andrews, Jun. from Mr. Bruce Ismay.


LIVERPOOL, 31st May, 1912.


Forgive me for intruding upon your grief, but I feel I must send you a line to convey my most deep and sincere sympathy with you in the terrible loss you have suffered. It is impossible for me to express in words all I feel, or make you realise how truly sorry I am for you, or how my heart goes out to you. I knew your husband for many years, and had the highest regard for him, and looked upon him as a true friend. No one who had the pleasure of knowing him could fail to realise and appreciate his numerous good qualities and he will be sadly missed in his profession. Nobody did more for the White Star Line, or was more loyal to its interests than your good husband, and I always placed the utmost reliance on his judgment.

If we miss him and feel his loss so keenly, what your feelings must be I cannot think. Words at such a time are useless, but I could not help writing to you to tell you how truly deeply I feel for you in your grief and sorrow.

Yours sincerely,


Letter from Sir Horace Plunkett to Right Hon. Thomas Andrews.


DUBLIN, 19th April, 1912.


No act of friendship is so difficult as the letter of condolence upon the loss of one who is near and dear. Strive as we may to avoid vapid conventionality, we find ourselves drifting into reflections upon the course of nature, the cessation of suffering, the worse that might have been, and such offers of comfort to others which we are conscious would be of little help to ourselves. In writing to you and your wife on the sorrow of two worlds, which has fallen so heavily upon your home and family, I feel no such difficulty. There is no temptation to be conventional, but it is hard to express in words the very real consolation which will long be cherished by the wide circle of those now bitterly deploring the early death of one who was clearly marked out for a great career in the chief doing part of Irish life.

Of the worth of your son I need not speak to you—nothing I could say of his character or capacity could add to your pride in him. But you ought to know that we all feel how entirely to his own merits was due the extraordinary rapidity of his rise and the acknowledged certainty of his leadership in what Ulster stands for before the world. When I first saw him in the shipyard he was in a humble position, enjoying no advantage on account of your relationship to one of his employers. Even then, as on many subsequent occasions, I learned, or heard from my Irish fellow-workers, that this splendid son of yours had the best kind of public spirit—that which made you and Sinclair save the Recess Committee at its crisis.

It may be that the story of your poor boy’s death will never be told, but I seem to see it all. I have just come off the sister ship, whose captain was a personal friend, as was the old doctor who went with him to the Titanic. I have been often in the fog among the icebergs. I have heard, in over sixty voyages, many of those awful tales of the sea. I know enough to be aware that your son might easily have saved himself on grounds of public duty none could gainsay. What better witness could be found to tell the millions who would want and had a right to know why the great ship failed, and how her successors could be made, as she was believed to be, unsinkable? None of his breed could listen to such promptings of the lower self when the call came to show to what height the real man in him could rise. I think of him displaying the very highest quality of courage—the true heroism—without any of the stimulants which the glamour and prizes of battle supply—doing all he could for the women and children—and then going grimly and silently to his glorious grave.

So there is a bright side to the picture which you of his blood and his widow must try to share with his and your friends—with the thousands who will treasure his memory. It will help you in your bereavement, and that is why I intrude upon your sorrow with a longer letter than would suffice to tender to you and Mrs. Andrews and to all your family circle a tribute of heartfelt sympathy.

Pray accept this as coming not only from myself but also from those intimately associated with me in the Irish work which brought me, among other blessings, the friendship of men like yourself.

Believe me,
Yours always,