THE most senior officer to survive the Titanic attempted to play down the iceberg collision to secure a £3 million insurance payout, documents suggest.

Second officer Charles Lightoller insisted he merely felt a "slight jar" when the liner hit a "small low-lying iceberg" in April 1912, claiming more than 1500 lives.

His account of the disaster was recorded in an insurance claim form, which was signed by the surviving ­officers of the Titanic after they arrived back in New York. ­Lightoller also attempted to excuse the behaviour of staff who failed to spot the iceberg, denying they were guilty of negligence.

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The four-page form, which secured the ship's owner White Star Line a £3m payout from insurers, is to be sold at auction in Wiltshire on April 26.

Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge, of Henry Aldridge and Son, described the lot, expected to fetch up to £12,000, as fascinating .

He said the document included "an interesting and curious account of the disaster"

The lot is one of 200 Titanic collectables included in the auction to commemorate the 102nd anniversary of the loss of the ship.