Date of birth: 20th November 1877 Place of birth: Sutton Montis, Castle Cary, Somerset, England Marital status: Married Spouse: Mimi Kalman Crew position: Titanic's Third Officer Date of death: December 7, 1961 Cause of death: Subarachnoid haemorrhage, aged 84
Third Officer Pitman's Titanic Artifacts: Antiques Roadshow 2016
The above video is an excerpt from the 2016 BBC Antiques Roadshow, during which a relative of Herbert Pitman displays three artifacts. Click on the "full screen" button to view the video properly.
In January 2016, the BBC's popular television program, the "Antique's Roadshow," had a special guest - a descendant of Titanic's Third Officer Herbert Pitman. The show was recorded at Bowood House, near Chippenham, Wiltshire and the presenter, Jon Baddeley, a fine art auctioneer and authority on nautical antiques and collectables, met an unnamed woman who said that Herbert Pitman was her great uncle. On the table were three items, a Discharge book, a group photograph and a manuscript. "When he [Pitman] died in 1961 it was left to my father and when he died in 1997 it was passed on to my brother and myself," she said. Later she mentioned that "he used to come and stay and have a holiday with us. My father used to take him out. He enjoyed cricket so we used to go and watch cricket." But in regards to Titanic he was not forthcoming. "He didn't talk to me or my father. He didn't like to talk about it."
Despite the estimated auction values that Baddeley provided for each item, the relative stated in conclusion that "we should be keeping it for a while" while the Antique's Roadshow overall presenter, Fiona Bruce added that in regards to the manuscript, the "family have no intention of publishing it."
Surviving Officers Photograph
This studio photograph of the four surviving Titanic officers - Lightoller, Pitman, Boxhall and Lowe is already well known and published in many books. Baddeley states that it is "contemporary... probably not long after the event maybe in the 1920s." This 1920s dating is unlikely; the photograph was probably taken during the British Inquiry in London during May to July, 1912. But it is an original, perhaps a keepsake given to Pitman from the studio session. Unlike other published copies of this photograph it is unsigned.
Baddeley estimates the value as between £1000 and £1500.
Of all the items, the most tantalizing must be Pitman's handwritten manuscript, which includes an unpublished
written account of the disaster. Baddeley reads out a portion:
"At 2.20am, 15th of April 1912 (by my watch) all lights on board disappeared. In a few moments the vessel's stern was in the air. The next moment she was gone. Within the next ten minutes or so it was truly heartbreaking to hear the cries coming from the hundreds of drowning people. And we could do nothing about it. As my boat was full."
While opening the manuscript, in the front cover, we catch a glimpse of a curious item: An envelope labelled "Atomic Bombs of Hiroshima Eyewitness Accounts." It seems that in 1945 Pitman collected eyewitness accounts of the Atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, indicating that the manuscript is far more broad than just his Titanic experience and perhaps a scrapbook of items collected during his lifetime.
Baddeley estimates the value of the manuscript as between £2000 -£3000.
Jon Baddeley describes the Certificate of Discharge book as "like a school report" as it "lists every single vessel you had ever served on and if you had good conduct or bad." His name is neatly written on the front cover and it is numbered 680540. A glimpse of the pages shows his Oceanic listing after Titanic, dated the "31 July 1912". The relative adds that "He [Pitman] retired in 1947. He sailed straight through all that time."
Baddeley estimates the discharge papers would at auction reach between £6000 - £10,000, making it the most valuable of the three items and illiciting a response from the crowd.