A WEST Cumbrian book defending Titanic 'coward' Bruce Ismay is flying off the shelves in the United States.

The book, Understanding J Bruce Ismay, was written by a distant cousin, Cliff Ismay from Workington, and sold out in the United States and Canada just one week after publication.

Thomas Ismay, father of Bruce and owner of the White Star Line, was born, raised and started his ship building career in Maryport before moving to Liverpool.

He never forgot his roots, however, and, as well as leaving family in the town, he also gave regularly to local charities and installed the clock on Christ Church, the town's harbourside church.

It was Thomas Henry who bought the hugely successful White Star Line and his son Bruce was chairman of the board by the time the 'unsinkable' Titanic was launched.

Bruce decided to join the maiden voyage to New York. He was a survivor who spent the rest of his life wondering if he would have been better drowned.

Apparently the all-powerful Hearst newspaper empire was first to brand Bruce Ismay a coward, suggesting he had left women and children on board to get onto a lifeboat himself.

Times and Star: Bruce Ismay on the cover of the book written to restore his honourBruce Ismay on the cover of the book written to restore his honour (Image: Submitted)

Hearst and the Ismay family had fallen out and defenders still believe that is why Bruce became the villain of the piece.

He was subsequently cleared of all charges at an inquiry into the sinking of the powerful Titanic but he continued to be villified in books and in film where he was even once portrayed wearing women's clothing to get aboard a lifeboat.

Distant cousin Cliff Ismay has obviously researched Bruce's role thoroughly and said he was unfairly blamed.

"There were no women or children around him. He had been helping them into the lifeboats. It was only when there was one last seat on one that he took it."

Cliff Ismay is a member of the Maryport Maritime Society. He was one of those instrumental in mounting a memorial exhibition and events to mark the centenary of its sinking.

More than 1,000 people attended on the first weekend the exhibition was opened.

Cliff said while he wrote the book he has had little to do with the USA sales.

"I don't even know how many were printed. I was just told they had sold out in both the States and in Canada.

"I am delighted that people are reading the other side of the Bruce Ismay story."