Last meal
The menu shows the luxurious meals served on the Titanic Henry Aldridge & Son

A menu showing the last lunch to be served aboard the Titanic is to be auctioned for an expected £100,000.

The date April 14, 1912, when the Titanic sank in the North Atlantic and 1,500 lives were lost, is written on the menu, which was in a survivor's handbag.

The card, which gives a glimpse into the luxury on offer on the doomed vessel, will be auctioned by Henry Aldridge & Son, which claims to be the world's leading auctioneers of Titanic memorabilia, on 31 March.

The sale will mark the 100th anniversary of the launch of the Royal Mail Steamer Titanic. A spokesman for the auctioneers described the menu as the star of the auction and "one of the rarest items of Titanic memorabilia to be sold in recent years".

"The menu carries the all-important date and gives the reader a fascinating insight into the culinary life of Titanic's elite apssengers," he said.

The first-class menu was picked up by Ruth Dodge, a passenger from San Francisco who was travelling with her banker husband Dr Washington Dodge and their son Washington Junior in a berth which cost £81 17s 2d (£18.85). Among the items on offer were galantine of chicken, eggs Argenteuil and veal.

Mrs Dodge kept the menu in her handbag as a memento. The entire family survived the disaster and escaped on lifeboats. Her husband was pushed into a lifeboat full of children by a steward in order to help with their care.

In an interview he gave soon after arriving in New York on the rescue ship Carpathia, Washington Sr said: "It was 10.30 when the collision occurred, and 1.55 when the ship went down. I saw Colonel Astor, Major Butt and Captain Smith standing together about 11.30 - there was absolutely no excitement among them. Captain Smith said there was no danger.

"The starboard side of the Titanic struck the big berg and the ice was piled up on deck. None of us had the slightest realisation that the ship has received its death wound.

"Everything was still quiet and orderly when I placed Mrs Dodge and the boy in the fifth or fourth boat

"I did what I could to help in keeping order, as after the sixth or seventh boat was launched the excitement began."

He escaped on the 13th boat and said he heard the orchestra playing Lead, Kindly Light as the craft went down. He added: "I will never forget the awful scene of the great steamer as we drew away."