Armed only with coal sacks, John Cargill saved scores of lives as he rescued screaming babies from the most famous shipwreck of all time.
Mr Cargill, who is from Gourdon in Aberdeenshire and was a crewman on the RMS Carpathia at the time, rushed into action in the perishing North Atlantic ocean as the Titanic went down in 1912.
He scooped up babies from the lifeboats, and was awarded a bronze Titanic medal for his part in the operation.
Mr Cargill was just 19 when he and his crewmates braved the icy water to save hundreds during the incident which claimed the lives of about 1,500 people.
But fears persist that, despite his heroics and the efforts of his descendants in the Highlands to preserve his memory, his story risks being forgotten about in the area he came from.
And now a community effort has been launched to shed new light on the links between the north-east and the infamous tragedy.
Gourdon resident Allan Hay approached Dave Ramsay, of Mearns Heritage Services, offering to donate a model kit set of the Titanic to the village’s Maggie Law Maritime Museum in recognition of the connection.
Mr Hay had purchased the weekly booklets and pieces of kit, which would have been worth more than £600, in the 1970s.
But his dream of building the model was never realised, and the Stonehaven Men’s Shed group has stepped in decades later to offer to build the model so that it can go on display in all its glory.
Mr Ramsay said: “This was the perfect opportunity to bring together a number of social, community and heritage agendas, where the Men’s Shed could construct Allan’s model, providing focus and occupation for members.
“But we also have a future focus of gifting it back to the Maggie Law Maritime Museum in Gourdon, as a donation and a lasting piece of maritime heritage, and a recognition of the bravery of a local man.”
He added: “New generations will now be able to appreciate the link between Gourdon and the Titanic.”
Speaking from his home in Wick several years ago, Mr Cargill’s grandson John Henderson said his older relative “often told us stories about the Titanic”.
He added: “It was a horrendous experience, and one which stayed with him all his life.”
Amazing life of Mearns man who saved lives in Titanic tragedy
After leaving school, John Cargill worked on a succession of fishing boats and signed up as a quartermaster on the Carpathia in February 1912.
The Carpathia was the first vessel to respond to the SOS from the Titanic – which was deemed to be unsinkable when it was built at the Harland and Woolf yard in Belfast.
The Carpathia had picked up the message from the luxurious liner just before midnight, and immediately altered course and went to help, by which time the Titanic had sunk beneath the waves.
It took four hours to reach the scene, south of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland.
Mr Cargill set about rescuing passengers from the lifeboats of the Titanic.
He later said: “It was pathetic. People were dressed in everything from fur coats to pyjamas.
“We saw a man in the water clutching two children – a boy and a girl. They had frozen to death.”
Sacks were lowered for the children and babies to haul them aboard, and one of the youngsters was reunited with the north-east man many years later.
That night Mr Cargill and the crew of the Carpathia rescued 202 first class passengers, 115 second class passengers, 178 third class passengers, four officers and 206 members of the Titanic crew.
He ended up fighting in the trenches of France during the First World War, and was promoted to the rank of sergeant – which resulted in him receiving his well-known nickname of “Sarge”.
He went back to sea and worked as a fisherman, and when the Second World War broke out in 1939 he became a leading seaman in the Royal Navy.
Mr Cargill returned to his native Gourdon and worked as a fisherman, and died in 1980.
His grandson John Henderson brought his grandfather’s awards to the Antiques Roadshow when it stopped at Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire.
Medals expert Mark Smith described the collection as “one of the most amazing groups of medals” he had ever seen.