The Lost Liner And The Empire's Gold

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History Documentary hosted by Michael Prade and published by BBC broadcasted as part of BBC Timewatch series in 2004 - English narration

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Image: The-Lost-Liner-And-The-Empire-s-Gold-Cover.jpg

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"This is the most exciting wreck we have gone for. You can't beat the old steamers and their sense of history and this one has a good cargo which adds romanticism to it, mirroring the Titanic storyline" Moya Crawford

The liner Persia left London on 18th December 1915, and was about 70 miles off the coast of Crete at 1.10pm on the 30th of that month when it was torpedoed without warning by U-38. The target was struck on the port bow and 5 minutes later the boiler blew up and the ship was lost. Of 501 persons aboard there were only 167 survivors, most of whom were picked up by a trawler around 30 hours after the attack.

Ever since an English couple, Alexandra and Moya Crawford, claims to have spotted the debris of the sunken ship that is believed to have carried the treasure of late Maharaja Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala, lying at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea for the past 85 years, widespread interest and speculation about the story has been generated.

This interest is comparable to the discovery of Titanic's remains, which led to the making of a 14 Oscar-winning celluloid magnum opus. Before the Maharaja could set foot on the ill-fated ship, S.S. Persia, information came to him from a secret source that the Germans were planning to target the ship. This eleventh hour tip-off sent waves of consternation amongst the royal entourage.

While serious deliberations on the possible strategies were going on, Inder Singh proposed that the Maharaja along with some chosen companions stay back in Marsailles and take another ship, while he himself offered to sail in the 'targeted' ship. This ship carried all personal belongings of the Maharaja and a significant portion of his jewellery. The Maharaja's sunken treasure, amassed in London and the USA, was worth ' 1 million at that time.Comprising gold and silver bullion, gemstones and jewellery, its value could be as much as ' 50 million today.

While the impressive bearing of Inder Singh, still conveyed the dubious impression of an Indian celebrity travelling on the ship, the Maharaja himself not on board. As the ship stretched its legs in the Mediterranean sea and came near the Greek island of Crete, it was hit by a German submarine on December 30, 1915.

Inder Singh, though a middle-aged man at that time, enjoyed robust health and could swim at length. While the passengers of the torpedoed ship jumped into the water for safety and consequently met with a watery grave, Inder Singh was lucky enough to spot a big wooden raft falling off the ship. He swam up to it and perched himself atop this 'floating stretcher'. He floated in the freezing saline waters of the sea for three days till a rescue ship came looking for survivors.

The injured Inder Singh was taken to an island hospital where he was given the much-needed medical relief. Among the notable survivors was John Walter Edward Scot Montague (known as Lord Montague of Beaulieu), an automobile pioneer in England and editor of the illustrated magazine The Car. His girl friend and secretary, Eleanour V. Thornton, a paragon of beauty on whom was modelled the mascot of the Rolls Royce car radiator, unfortunately drowned and could not be saved.

Lord Montague was thought to have been killed, too, but survived and was rescued. On his return to England, he read the obituary articles in the newspapers about his demise. Among those died were four English nuns bound for Karachi. The Maharaja, having providentially avoided travelling in the ill-fated S.S. Persia, left by Dutch boat Prinz Due Nederland for Egypt, where he changed into the ship Medina and arrived safely in Mumbai on January 18, 1916.

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Image: The-Lost-Liner-And-The-Empire-s-Gold-Screen0.jpg

[edit] Technical Specs

  • Video Source: DVBc > MPEG2 > Divx
  • Video Codec: Divx 5.21
  • Video Bitrate: 1903 kb/s
  • Video Resolution: 704x528 (1.33:1)
  • Video Aspect Ratio: 4:3
  • Audio Codec: MP3
  • Audio BitRate: 128 kb/s (64/ch) CBR 48000 Hz
  • RunTime: 48m 04s
  • Part Size: 700mb
  • Ripped by jvt40

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