A MUSEUM planning to mark the centenary of the sinking of the hospital ship Rohilla off the North Yorkshire coast has stumbled across luggage belonging to one of its passengers – who also survived the sinking of the Titanic.

Mary Roberts amazingly survived both the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 and the Rohilla, which sank heavy seas and gales off Whitby on October 30, 1914.

Now a trunk belonging to the resilient seafarer has come into the possession of Whitby Lifeboat Museum, which is to mark the centenary of the Rohilla disaster next year.

Amazingly, the trunk - presumed lost long ago to the North Sea - still has faded card luggage labels glued on, bearing the names Mary Roberts and SS Rohilla.

Museum curator Peter Thomson has been researching the disaster and Mary Roberts who was working as a nurse aboard the naval hospital ship as it headed for Dunkirk.

It eventually smashed against the rocks at Saltwick Nab at around 4am.

Whitby’s lifeboat couldn’t be launched from the harbour and had to be carried over an eight foot seawall and across rocks to reach the sea.

Mary Roberts was one of 144 survivors brought ashore by lifeboat ‘John Fieldon’ during a 50 hour rescue operation.

She is later said to have considered it a much worse experience than the Titanic.

She was working aboard the Titanic two years earlier as a stewardess and when it sank after striking the iceberg she managed to get on board a lifeboat and was eventually rescued by the Carpathia.

Despite experiencing two major maritime disasters, she continued to work on ships until 1929.

Mr Thomson said coming across Mary Robert’s trunk was a series of timely coincidences.

Someone mentioned to him that it was on eBay, after a company is believed to have purchased it from a house clearance in York. The company agreed to sell it to the museum for £50.

He said: “This would not have come to light apart from the fact I contacted people to give them VIP invites to the anniversary exhibition we’re planning for October 30 next year. It was one of the people I contacted who told me this was on sale on eBay.

“It was such a freak occurrence. I contacted the great granddaughter of Mary Roberts, who lives in Wales, who had no knowledge of the trunk whatsoever.”

For more information on next year’s Rohilla centenary exhibition, visit the website: http://www.rohillawhitbycentenary.org.uk/ Anyone who can loan Whitby Lifeboat Museum artefacts for the exhibition is asked to ring the museum on; 01947-602001, or Peter on; 01947-606094.