Opening on 29 March, our new temporary exhibition Voices from the Deep reveals letters recovered from a wartime shipwreck.

An underwater image showing a robotic arm near a wrecked World War 2 ship

The recovery of the SS Gairsoppa

Sunken, forgotten, and then saved from the depths of the ocean: Voices from the Deep displays a selection of over 700 personal letters that have been trapped at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean for three quarters of a century, miraculously preserved in an airlock that formed as steam boat, the SS Gairsoppa, sank.

Torpedoed off the coast of Ireland by a German U-Boat 77 years ago this month (on 16 February 1941), the ship has lain undisturbed – resting a mile deeper than the Titanic – ever since.

What’s in the exhibition?

For the first time you can see items from the ship’s recently recovered cargo on display including 12 bundles of letters, written 77 years ago but never delivered, and a silver ingot that was making its way from colonial India to the UK to help with the war effort.

From soldiers writing to loved ones, to businessmen and missionaries, the letters offer a unique insight into the lives of ordinary people, living in extraordinary circumstances during the Second World War. They bring to light the central role that the postal service played in British society at that time.

“It’s difficult to write to loved-ones in England, nowadays, as we do not know when or how letters will arrive, nor under what circumstances you will be in when the letters do arrive.”


Mimicking the rescue mission’s search lights piercing through the ocean gloom, you can use UV torch lights to reveal snippets of fragmented letters, enjoy original footage of the recovery of SS Gairsoppa by the Odyssey Maritime Exploration, and write a postcard to your future self.

Voices from the Deep is included in the price of entry to The Postal Museum, home of Mail Rail. The permanent collection at The Postal Museum recounts five centuries of British social and communications history as seen through the eyes of the world’s first social network: the post. Located just across the street, visitors can also take a ride through the 100-year-old tunnels of London’s underground Post Office railway.

For more information on Voices from the Deep, and to book tickets for The Postal Museum and Mail Rail, visit our website.

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The Postal Museum is supported by National Lottery players through the Heritage Lottery Fund, Royal Mail and Post Office Limited.