THEY called it A Night to Remember, but who remembers Victor Giglio?
The name Giglio has come up twice now in shipping disasters – each making worldwide headlines and each separated by 100 years.
The Costa Concordia sank off the Italian island of Giglio last month.
Paul Hardwick Played Victor
In A Night To RememberBut it was back in 1912, that a Liverpool-born manservant bearing the same name was involved in one of the most famous incidents on board the sinking Titanic.
Victor Giglio – of 22 Linnet Lane, L17 - was valet to American multi-millionaire Ben Guggenheim who was making the trip to New York with his young French mistress, the singer Léontine Aubart.
As the stricken ship sank in April 1912, the two men declined a chance to board a lifeboat. Instead they dressed in their finest evening clothes and were last seen seated in deck chairs, sipping brandy and smoking cigars.
Closely attended by Victor, Ben was heard to say: “We’ve dressed up in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen.” They were never seen, by Leontine, or by anyone else, again.
Ben Guggenheim apparently
went down like a gentDespite his character making it into several movies about the disaster, including the 1997 version Titanic,very little is known about Victor or his Liverpool roots. Now an appeal has gone out from curators of a major new exhibition, to mark the centenary of the sinking, who want to know more.
Ian Murphy, of Merseyside Maritime Museum, says: “There are about a dozen individuals and families called Giglio in the Merseyside area.
“So far our researches have drawn a blank but we are hoping there are descendents of Victor Giglio still in the area, although he left as a small child. We know that he had several brothers who may have settled here and have relatives.”
Anyone who can help is asked to contact email@example.com or ring 0151 478 4417.
Victor Giglio, probably of Italian descent, was the youngest of four sons whose older brothers were born in Egypt, although he was also rumoured to Armenian.
He later became a boarder at Ampleforth College in Yorkshire, the famous school run by Benedictine monks.
He was just 24 when he died with Ben, 46, the fifth son of wealthy mining mogul Meyer Guggenheim.
Married with children who included daughter Peggy, who founded the museums bearing the family name with her inheritance, Ben was a notorious playboy who spent a lot of time travelling, ostensibly on business – he kept an apartment in Paris.
Ben and Victor occupied a first class suite while the women occupied a separate cabin for propriety’s sake. René, who also perished, travelled second class.
Like many other passengers, both Ben and Victor slept through when Titanic hit the iceberg. They were woken up just after midnight by the ladies, and Victor exclaimed: “Never mind icebergs! What is an iceberg?”
Victor politely persuaded Ben to get up and dressed. At first Ben put on a heavy sweater to protect him from the bitter cold. They went up to the Boat Deck where the ladies reluctantly entered a lifeboat.
Ben and Victor coolly returned to their accommodation and changed into evening wear.
In later life, it is said, that Madame Aubart held parties that were ended by police. She died in 1964.
It would never happen today;
Victor and Ben were last seen
on the stairs smoking cigarsBen gave a message to a survivor saying: "Tell my wife, if it should happen that my secretary and I both go down, tell her I played the game out straight to the end. No woman shall be left aboard this ship because Ben Guggenheim was a coward."
The same could not be said of White Star owner J Bruce Ismay who was widely criticised for abandoning ship on the penultimate lifeboat while many women and children perished.
His descendant Cliff Ismay, last week described the forthcoming Liverpool Sea Odyssey spectacular in April, which marks the centenary, as in poor taste.