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The auctioneers estimate the group, which includes an OBE from 1917 and First World War medals, at £25,000-30,000 in their September 12-13 sale. It was consigned by an Australian collector who is based overseas.

The notorious sinking of the SS Lusitania took place on May 7, 1915 when the doomed liner was was hit by a torpedo fired by a German U-boat causing 1198 deaths. With 123 of those who perished being American, the outrage and controversy began to turn public opinion against Germany and hastened the US away from neutrality and into conflict.

According to one passenger on board described the moment when he saw the torpedo heading towards them: "We had all been thinking, dreaming, eating, sleeping 'submarine' from the hour we left New York, and yet with the dreaded danger upon us, I could hardly believe the evidence of my own eyes."

The Captain's Story

Turner was born in Liverpool. While serving on the Cherborg, he rescued a man and a boy who had fallen in the water when Alice Davies was wrecked in a collision with his ship. He later rescued a 14-year-old boy from the Alexandra Dock in Liverpool (a life-saving medal is included with the group), and received illuminated scrolls for other rescues.

When the Lusitania was sinking, Turner ordered survivors to be evacuated. Believing himself to be the last person on board, he climbed the halyards determined to remain with his ship till the end.

Eventually he clung to a floating wooden oar and then a chair, as the ship sank beneath him. It was only later to his horror that he discovered that some had remained on board and were sucked under when the ship sank completely.

An Admiralty inquiry, in which Winston Churchill was directly involved, exonerated him, but the charges haunted him for the rest of his life.

The sinking was not the last he would experience: in 1916 he was on board the SS Ivernia which was torpedoed by a German U-Boat off the Greek coast.

And further personal tragedy was on the way.

One of his sons, AB Percey Wilfred Turner, was lost at sea when MV Jedmoor was sunk in September 1941 - by a U-boat.