Plaque to commemorate Hatfield man who died on Titanic

PUBLISHED: 15:00 15 July 2017

A replica of the plaque that will be unveiled later this year.

A replica of the plaque that will be unveiled later this year.

Archant

Hatfield Town Council is set to unveil a plaque to commemorate the life of a resident who lost his life on the ill-fated Titanic.

Ship’s steward Joseph Alfred Gunn was 28 when he perished on April 15, 1912, along with hundreds of other victims on the RMS Titanic.

Following an application by namesake Dennis Gunn – no relation – who lives in North London, the council agreed that it would be a fitting mark of respect to honour Joseph’s passing.

He was born in Hatfield after his father Joseph Smee Gunn, a blacksmith and farrier, moved to the town in 1880 with his own father.

Joseph was one of the ship’s 421 victualling crew, of which 322 were stewards who performed more than 57 different functions in each class’ dining saloon, public rooms, cabins and recreational facilities.

Prior to becoming part of Titanic’s crew he worked on its sister ship the RMS Oceanic.

After setting sail for New York with 2,223 passengers on board, the Titanic hit an iceberg four days into the voyage. Tragically the ship had been built to be able to withstand a head-on collision, but the side-on impact and the nature of the long opening in her hull proved fatal.

The high casualty rate resulting from the sinking was due in part to the fact that, although complying with the regulations of the time, the ship carried lifeboats for only 1,178 people.

Also, Joseph’s chances of survival were much reduced because he was a man – a disproportionate number of men died due to the ‘women and children first’ rule that was rigidly enforced by the ship’s crew.

He has since been officially recorded as having died in the sinking and his body has never been recovered.

The council’s Blue Plaque Scheme aims to promote the recognition and awareness of people, places and events which have been of lasting significance to Hatfield.

Town council leader Lenny Brandon said: “I’m extremely pleased to introduce this exciting new initiative to Hatfield.”

It is hoped that Joseph’s official plaque will be unveiled in the town later this year.

Further details about the scheme can be found on the council’s website www.hatfield-herts.gov.uk

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