Voices from the Deep

Forgotten letters recovered from the SS Gairsoppa, shipwrecked at the bottom of the Atantic ocean.

This is a past exhibition. See events coming up at The Postal Museum.

Sunken, forgotten, and then saved from the depths of the ocean: our temporary exhibition Voices from the Deep displays a selection of over 700 personal letters that have been trapped at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in a sunken ship for nearly three quarters of a century.

  • An illustration of a ship from World War 2. From a 1943 Poster advertising the Post Office Savings Bank.

    About the SS Gairsoppa

    Torpedoed off the coast of Ireland by a German U-Boat on 16 February 1941, the merchant steam boat, the SS Gairsoppa, has lain undisturbed – resting a mile deeper than the Titanic – ever since.

  • Detail from a handwritten letter. Showing an illustration of a man wearing a turban on the upper left corner of the letter.

    The letters

    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.

  • Crew members on a ship with modern day machinery, during a trip to recover the cargo.

    The recovery

    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 Odyssey Marine Exploration, and write a postcard to your future self.

  • A scene of mail being unloaded from a ship in the early 20th century.

    The ship’s cargo

    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.

Discover more

    • Conservation
    • 18 April 2018

    Conservation of Letters

    Meet our Conservator Barbara and find out what it takes to care for delicate objects from our collection.

    Read more
    • Exhibition
    • 23 March 2018

    10 Facts About Gairsoppa

    Exhibition Officer Emma shares interesting facts you probably didn't know about the wartime ship SS Gairsoppa.

    Read more
  • Objects from the SS Gairsoppa

    View 3D models of some of the objects on display in our temporary exhibition, Voices from the Deep.

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  • Online exhibit: Voices from the Deep

    View our online exhibit about the story of the SS Gairsoppa, its recovery, and the objects and letters on board...

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    • blog
    • 17 January 2019

    Shipwrecked Mail from WWII

    Dr Sean Kingsley tells the story of a letter reunited with the recipient's family almost 80 years later.

    Read more
    • blog
    • 12 February 2019

    Chasing Shadows: Shipwrecked Mail...Part 2

    Dr Sean Kingsley tells another remarkable story of a letter reunited with its recipient almost 80 years later.

    Read more

Exhibition supported by:

The Wreck & Crash Mail Society
Dr Steve Berlin
Ken Sanford
V&A Purchase Fund