The Boxhall Letters


Mike Poirier

Member
Dec 31, 2004
1,473
3
233
What an exciting addition to ET! Many thanks to Mr. Carvalho and to Shelley for submitting these. I feel as though I am at the rail with Boxhall as he views what is left of the Titanic.
Plus, I was amused at how he was sea-sick as a young boy. All in all, it was fascinating reading.
Mike
 
Apr 11, 2001
4,565
5
223
It was exciting to find these letters were spared the trash heap, and they do indeed furnish a little insight into Commander Boxhall's last years. I understand, as in many survivor instances, his personal papers were not retained after his death, and so these wonderful examples of his correspondence with others help to give a fuller picture of his life after surviving the night to remember. I, too, find these details of childhood and family serve to enhance the fuller picture of these people whose memory we all, each in our own way, strive to preserve. I am hoping more photographs and letters will surface, and those possessing such treasures will see they are preserved carefully, and shared. What the future generations will do with only emails as reference and record is cause for concern!
 
A

Allison Lane

Guest
Needless to say, I was thrilled beyond belief to see this article and read the letters Boxhall wrote. Shelley, you also affected me when you said "these people whose memory we all, each in our own way, strive to preserve". I suppose that is what I do here, even though I have nothing of the magnitude of those letters to contribute. It just somehow became important to me that these people be remembered.
happy.gif



-Allison L.
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
38
308
Great letters! I particularly liked the mention of his early voyage with his sister (not sure which one - probably Violet) and father, Captain Joseph Boxhall, with the Wilson Line's Alecto. Captain Boxhall also took his children further afield as well - one travelled with him on one of his ships as far as India.

I thought the line in the last letter about the revived interest since ANTR getting 'rather more' than he could cope with terribly poignant. Initially he seems to have welcomed it, but eventually it seems to have become rather too intrusive. Also the repetition of the Alecto anecdote in several of the letters, as he's not sure if he related it before. It was a few years after this that he began showing signs of memory loss, and I wonder if this is a very early manifestation?

Sadly you are apparently correct, Shelley - not many of his personal papers seem to have survived. He and his wife lived in rather reduced circumstances in a council house, and he was eventually hospitalised. After his wife's death few years later, the flat was ruthless cleared. Some personal items (e.g. his medals) were sent to his wife's family, who very generously did the decent thing and returned the items that had been Boxhall's to his side of the family. But of his correspondence and most of his photographs, few have surfaced (one can hope, though!). Fortunately his family have many photographs of their beloved 'Uncle Joe'.
 
Apr 11, 2001
4,565
5
223
Thanks for shedding some light on the Alecto, Inger. I knew the old side paddlewheeler of the same name was scrapped in 1865, and there was another which was built in 1913, but was missing the Wilson Line reference. His signature and handwriting are clear and strong at this point. What an exciting prospect to hold in one's hand such a thing as this.
96792.jpg
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
38
308
That site seems to deal primarily with Wilson Line ships on the Norwegian run, Shelley. They went to a great many more destinations (by the early 1900s they were the largest privately owned shipping company in the world). Captain Boxhall and his son sailed as far afield as India and Russia during their years with the Line (J G Boxhall joined the Wilson line after his apprenticeship). Try this site for a history of the line:
http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/lines/wilson.html

The 3,607 ton Alecto was built in 1893 and in 1910 was sold on and renamed the Pangalos. I'll have a shoofty and see if I can find an image of her. Named for one of the Furies, the name fits in well with the Wilson Line's many classically named vessels.

I agree that there's nothing quite like holding a piece correspondance from one of these figures in your hand! I'm not a collector and am not into objects as such for their own sake, but there's something about holding a piece of paper that looks as if it might have been signed yesterday that is extremely powerful.
 
Mar 22, 2003
5,831
1,104
383
Chicago, IL, USA
www.titanicology.com
Inger wrote: "I agree that there's nothing quite like holding a piece correspondance from one of these figures in your hand! I'm not a collector and am not into objects as such for their own sake, but there's something about holding a piece of paper that looks as if it might have been signed yesterday that is extremely powerful."

The one thing I have to say is a bit more powerful to me is hearing the actual voices of these individuals describing things through their own eyes. Boxhall's 1962 BBC broadcast is one of them. It took place during the same period that these letters were written. One thing about the memory of individuals as they get older is that some events and their associated details never seem to fade. Their short term memory is no longer as good, as is evidenced by the repetition of the Alecto anecdote in several of the letters. But his long term memory seems very clear when it comes to specific events such as the setting off of fireworks during the 4th of July in that early trip to Boston.
 
Apr 11, 2001
4,565
5
223
Excellent info on the Alecto-will look forward to seeing that image. Yes, the Captain Smith letters at Mystic Blunt White Library in Connecticut give the same feeling of being a window into the character of these famous figures. Having only the inquiry material, black and white photos and newspaper interviews, rarely do we get to see the truly everyday real person. Humanity is found in the small details of ordinary day-to-day life. Every small scrap of information matters in the effort to piece together the puzzle, and now there is here a wonderful repository to collect and publish such material. There's plenty still to do, even 93 years later-for all who would wish to get on the trail.
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
38
308
The one thing I have to say is a bit more powerful to me is hearing the actual voices of these individuals describing things through their own eyes.
I agree. I know his niece says she's been surprised sometimes when excerpts from that interview have been aired on the BBC. She's had the radio playing in the background, and suddenly her Uncle's voice is playing!

The contrast between Lightoller's manner and Boxhall's on audio is also interesting - Lightoller is more fluid, more the raconteur. Boxhall, while strong, is brief and at times it seems almost as if the words are being dragged out of him.

I absolutely agree that it's in pieces like the letters that elements of the subject's character come through, Shelley. Sometimes it's in significant autobiographical pieces, at others times it's incidental. Some of my favourite - and highly characteristic - written words from Lowe are not from personal correspondence at all. They come in some of his legal letters - highly idiosyncratic turns of phrase that seem very out of place in the formal letters, but so indicative of the man's character and language usage.
 

Jon Hollis

Member
Jan 23, 2004
598
0
0
So happy to see Joe Carvalho get some long overdue recognition after all he has done over the years from the inception of THS with Ed and three other gentlemen way back when and to TI..

I am sure though that knowing the politics of the latter that poor old Shelly might get chastised for posting the Boxhall Letters. Of course it does not count that Joe sent them to TI over a decade ago and they just sat on them. Now they will probably cry that they didn't get a chance to publish them first. T.S. I say!! In fact Joe also has written a great story about the 3 Californians which they, C.H. and J.E. (and a cat) also have been sitting on for years.. Now suddenly Mr. E. of TI is now saying HE will now write it for publication (don't hold your breath though). I wish Joe would let someone else write it for him.I wish it could be posted here for all of you. Shelly THANKS for posting the Boxhall Letters and the Kudos to Joe. Everyone appreciates your work so keep it up..
To quote an old Navy saying,
"Damn The Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead.
Jon
 
Apr 11, 2001
4,565
5
223
Ah, well the good news is that everyone is benefitting at last from the exciting and varied repository Joe Carvalho has accumulated over many years. VOYAGE will be doing a splendid , slightly different presentation of the Boxhall material in the upcoming issue which hits the street next week. Not all of our members use computers, so it's imperative to present good material in as many ways and forms as it can be seen. TIS as a society, our members, and members of other organizations, have been sending material, articles and a large volume of bio photos and newspaper clippings to ET for quite awhile. The internet, and this site in particular has the format to present exciting material in an appealing manner which reaches a vast audience quickly-and in ways perhaps a journal format cannot always do. I can say with confidence that there will be many great things to share from Mr. Carvalho's thoughtful donations coming soon- his, the mark of a true historian, and the aim of any dedicated historical society. Knowledge unshared is always knowledge wasted.
 
Feb 14, 2011
2,447
4
123
Were it not for Joe Carvalho and his detailed Titanic model, there would never have been a THS nor its splinter group TI.
Joe's knowlege of Titanic is enormous, and his ability to share with others is refereshingly rare. He is one of the few people in titanicdom that lacks any form of egomania..He is very humble, and a giving,good person.
I count myself as very lucky to have Joe as a very good friend...
Thank you Joe for making these Boxhall letters available..

tarn Stephanos
 

Mike Poirier

Member
Dec 31, 2004
1,473
3
233
Hello Shelley,
That is a beautiful sentiment. I know at TI, we've always to tried to put out new information, and with the help of ET, we can share TI's rich history with the world. I know other magazines, newspapers, such as Time, New York Times, Newsweek etc put their stories on the net simultaneously and it has helped increase their readership. The 'net' has not been detrimental to their sales at all. As you said, knowledge unshared is knowledge wasted.
 

Similar threads