The sinking of the Titanic was one of the worst international tragedies to ever occur in the 1910s and was one of the first times that countries from across the globe were all negatively affected by an event.
Although the White Star Line promised their patrons that the RMS Titanic was “unsinkable” and the luxurious time of their lives, the majority of the new vessel’s maiden voyagers were lost to the sea after side-swiping an iceberg.
What was meant to be a new frontier for luxurious travel turned into the deep, watery graves of hundreds of innocent people.
How Many People Died On The Titanic?
More than 1,500 people died as a result of the sinking of the Titanic during the early hours of April 15th, 1912.
Of all the passengers who were looking to cross the oceans on the Titanic, 68% of them died in the icy depths near Newfoundland, Canada.
Once nearly all the women and children were off the sinking vessel, the Titanic’s crew began evacuating people by class or their ability to help keep a lifeboat full of women and children alive.
This allowed the majority of first-class and second-class passengers to get off the boat, with only about 45% fatalities among the classes.
Seventy-five percent of all the third-class passengers were kept on the boat and died, but they weren’t alone in their sacrifice.
Only 22% of the RMS Titanic’s crew survived the sinking, which mostly consisted of men who were meant to row the lifeboats to safety.
The survivors of the sinking wouldn’t be rescued by the Carpathia until 3:00 am, but it would be days before any of the bodies would be recovered.
The body recovery and identification process didn’t finish until 2007, but there remain many people who were never identified and bodies that were never found.
When historians and ship experts look back at the catastrophe surrounding the Titanic, there were many mistakes made that can be attributed to how such a tragedy could happen.
Even if they couldn’t have stopped themselves from hitting the icebergs, they could have saved more lives by simply having the proper number of lifeboats for an 882-foot vessel.
The Titanic only had 20 lifeboats, which were only able to carry 1,178 people.
The Titanic’s crew felt that if the vessel had the proper amount of lifeboats, it would cause the ship to be too heavy to float.
How Many Bodies Were Recovered From The Water?
Only between 316 and 337 bodies were recovered from the wreck site of the Titanic, which means that only 23% of those who died were ever found.
Despite only having to find about one-fourth of the dead, even the seasoned sailors who had collected bodies before were becoming queasy and growing “sick of the sight.”
Since it was the White Star Line’s ignorance and lapse of judgment that resulted in the deaths of well over 1,000 people all in one night, it was up to them to send ships to retrieve the bodies.
The White Star Line sent four ships: the CS Mackay-Bennett, CS Minia, CGS Montmagny, and the SS Algerine.
Despite the tragedy that had occurred, some passenger ships still had to sail through the area to get to Halifax.
When the SS Bremen passed the wreck site only a little more than a week after the tragedy occurred, passengers screamed at the horrific sight.
Hundreds of bodies belonging to the victims of the RMS Titanic filled the water, all of them still wearing their life jackets.
One account even described a woman in her nightgown with her infant child clutched to her chest.
Another account saw a woman holding on to her big, furry dog, which they believed to be a Saint Bernard.
There were even families lying atop pieces of furniture in an attempt to stay out of the icy water, but they still froze to death or eventually sank into the water.
The crew of the SS Bremen had to maneuver as carefully as possible to cause as little damage to the bodies as possible.
There were still plenty of icebergs while the passenger ship was traveling through the wreck site, one of which had red and black paint smeared on it.
Where Were The Victims Of The Titanic Buried?
Most of the victims of the sinking of the RMS Titanic were buried in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Out of all the Titanic bodies buried in Halifax, 42 of them were never identified, and all of their graves are simply marked with a number and the date of the sinking.
There are 121 victims buried at Fairview Lawn Cemetery.
The cemetery gave the Titanic victims their own special tombstone design which features gray granite markers that have the soft outlines of the Titanic’s hull.
Some of the sailors that had to pull a young toddler out of the water teamed up to pay for the young child’s grave, and he was given the title “The Unknown Child.”
Later, forensic studies eventually identified the young child as Sidney Leslie Goodwin, whose family all died on that same night.
Nineteen bodies were sent to the Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery, where the majority of them were able to be identified.
Out of the 19 bodies, only five of them were never claimed, two men and three women.
The reason the unidentified bodies were sent to the Catholic cemetery was that they had positive identification or had personal effects on their bodies that led the recovery team to believe they were Catholic.
Ten of the bodies recovered from the water can be found at Baron de Hirsch Jewish Cemetery.
The bodies were taken from a makeshift morgue to their final resting place by Rabbi Jacob Walter, who determined which bodies belonged to Jewish people.
Of the recovered bodies, 59 were claimed by family and taken to their personal cemeteries, but 125 bodies were too damaged to bring to shore.
These bodies were buried at sea by tying a 28-pound iron bar to the bodies to get them to sink.
How Many Of The Bodies Were Never Identified?
A total of 118 bodies were recovered but never identified or taken ashore.
Due to the harsh environment and boats passing through the wreck site, many of the bodies that were taken from the water had too much damage to bring home safely.
In some cases, the bodies experienced too advanced decomposition to make it worth bringing them in.
Because of the limited amount of space on the rescue boats and necessary resources like embalming fluid, rescue teams had to decide which bodies were worth saving.
Bodies that had a chance of being identified were more valuable and would limit the number of missing people from the tragedy.
The overwhelming number of bodies wasn’t just too much for the body recovery team that was at sea, but it was also more than the body identification team could handle on land.
To give families enough time to get to Nova Scotia to identify their lost loved ones, the bodies needed to stay as cold as possible.
Morgues were being filled to the brim, so the Nova Scotia government allowed the Mayflower Curling Rink to be transformed into a makeshift morgue.
The majority of the Titanic bodies were stored in the curling rink, and officials began screening off different sections for different purposes, such as the embalming area and the identification area.
Bodies identified by clothing or personal effects were sent to the embalming area, while those who were not identified were kept on specialty-crafted platforms that made identification easier.
Nurses working at the makeshift morgue had the sole job of comforting all the mourning families.
Although the White Star Line may have chartered the boats to start the body recovery process, it was the Nova Scotia government who had to finish the job.
How Long Did It Take Recovery Crews To Reach The Wreck Site?
It took four days for the first recovery crew to reach the RMS Titanic’s wreck site, with the first boat to get there being the CS Mackay-Bennett.
When the crew was sent out for the mission, their employers knew that the situation would be traumatic and required each crew member to keep a journal.
One journal was released by the family of one of those crew members named Clifford Crease, who never said anything about that horrible night to anyone because he believed it to be the worst experience of his entire life.
Mr. Crease was only 24 years old when he joined the CS Mackay-Bennett for the RMS Titanic recovery mission.
Although Crease and his team would go on to pick up over one hundred bodies, it was the fourth one that hurt him the most.
Clifford Crease was the man who picked up “The Unknown Child” and held the 19-month-old in his arms, despite his body being as stiff as a board.
Although many of the floating bodies were wearing lifejackets, the infant was still on the icy water just in his pajamas.
Crease was one of the most adamant members of the crew about ensuring that the child got a proper grave and marker.
His family never knew about his contributions to this young child’s legacy until they read his journal in 2004 after he had passed away.
Crease’s granddaughter, Rabia Crease Wilcox, has written a book called Under the Titanic about her grandfather’s experiences as expressed in his journal.
Her book follows how her grandfather’s crew helped the infant get identified.
There is one other journal from this crew that is still in existence, which belonged to Fredrick Hamilton.
Hamilton had worked as the CS MacKay-Bennett’s engineer and his journal is now preserved in the Maritime Archive in England.
How Long Did The CS Minia Search For Bodies?
To prepare for all the bodies, the crew brought 150 coffins and 20 tons of ice to keep the bodies cold for identification and embalming.
The CS Minia was led by Captain William George Squares de Carteret and was the second recovery team to join the search.
This team was meant to relieve the crew of the CS MacKay-Bennett and allow them to return to shore with all the bodies they had managed to recover.
Despite having plenty of preparation, the CS Minia was only able to bring back 15 bodies, and two bodies were buried at sea.
The ones who were buried at sea were identified as firemen from the RMS Titanic, but their names were never discovered because of the severe damage to their bodies.
Of the 15 bodies that the ship was able to bring back to Halifax, five of them were passengers and 10 of them were crew members.
The CS Minia was also tasked with picking up any debris they could afford to carry.
Their search sent them 130 miles away from the original wreck site due to the constantly moving ocean current.
Most of the bodies found by the Minia were able to be identified, but three bodies were unable to be identified after being retrieved from the water.
While two of the bodies belonged to the unnamed firemen, the other body was assumed to be a passenger due to a lack of a uniform.
The passenger was estimated to be about 50 years old and the only identification he had on him was a handkerchief marked “A.H.F.,” which is how he’s buried at Fairview Lawn Cemetery.
Which Ship Took Up The Search After The CS Minia?
The CGS Montmagny was sent out after the CS Minia returned to Nova Scotia.
Since the CS Minia had plenty of supplies left over, they transferred supplies such as spare coffins embalming fluids onto the embarking ship.
The CGS Montmagny had sailed from Sorel, Quebec under Captain François-Xavier Pouliot and Captain Peter Crerar Johnson.
By May 6th of 1912, the CGS Montmagny had left the Halifax port and headed towards the dreaded Titanic wreck site.
Since it had been weeks since the sinking of the Titanic and two rescue teams had been there previously, the majority of noticeable bodies had greatly lowered.
However, there were still hundreds of people missing and the hope was that more bodies would float to the top of the water over time.
Sadly, the Montmagny only managed to find four bodies and were forced to bury one of the bodies at sea.
The three bodies that were brought onto the ship were delivered to Louisbourg, Nova Scotia and they were later transferred to Halifax to join the other bodies.
The Montgagny went out to the wreck site again to look for bodies on May 13th of 1912 and managed to find one more body.
The victim was still clenching her life preserver, a pose that she had been frozen into after her body spent nearly a month in the icy waters.
The crew decided to end the search on May 23rd of 1912 and then went back to their normal duties.
Before becoming a part of the RMS Titanic rescue team, the CGS Montmagny was a Canadian resupply ship.
The CGS Montmagny would eventually fall victim to the same fate as the Titanic only two years after serving as the Titanic’s rescue team.
The Montmagny was hit by a coal ship named Lingan instead of an iceberg.
What Was The Last Ship Sent By White Star Line?
The SS Algerine was the last ship to be sent by the White Star Line and was meant to take over for the CGS Montmagny.
The final ship was coming from St. John’s, Newfoundland, and left on May 16th of 1912.
The Algerine met up with the Montmagny three days later and the boats exchanged supplies, just as the Montmagny and the Minia had.
After spending three weeks looking for bodies, the crew was only able to find the body of James McGrady.
McGrady had served as the Titanic’s Saloon Steward and was identified by his clothing and personal effects.
The Algerine returned to St. John’s with the single body they had found, where they transferred McGrady’s body to the steamer Florizel on June 6th of 1912.
The crew of the Florizel took McGrady’s body to Halifax, Nova Scotia to join the other identified bodies.
By the time McGrady’s body had joined the Halifax body recovery team, it had been exactly two months since the sinking of the Titanic.
James McGrady was the last body to be identified out of the official search chartered by the White Star Line.
Other boats had happened to come upon bodies and were all forced to bury the bodies at sea due to advanced decomposition.
The RMS Oceanic found three bodies in Collapsible Lifeboat A from the RMS Titanic.
The body of William Thomas Kerley, who had served as a second-class saloon steward, was found by the SS Ottawa on June 6th of 1912.
William Fredrick Cheverton’s body was found by the SS Ilford only two days after Kerley was found.
While he was alive, Cheverton had served as a member of the Titanic’s Victualling crew.
Many nameless victims were forced to make the icy waters their final resting place.
Who Was The Last Victim Identified?
In 2007, researchers were finally able to identify the remains of the baby boy who had been picked up by the CS MacKay-Bennett.
Although he was once known as the “The Unknown Child,” his name was discovered to have been Sidney Leslie Goodwin.
When Goodwin’s body had first been picked up from the water, he was thought to be the two-year-old Swedish passenger Gösta Leonard Pålsson due to Goodwin’s light hair and lack of a lifejacket.
Pålsson had reportedly been washed overboard when the Titanic sank.
Pålsson’s mother was recovered with the tickets of all four of her children in her pocket, so the Fairview Lawn Cemetery staff decided to bury her behind the “The Unknown Child.”
It wasn’t until 2001 that forensic expert Ryan Parr from Lakehead University decided to test the corpse of the infamous child.
After the study was complete, researchers managed to use a list of all the guests to match the DNA to the description of two child passengers: Goodwin and 13-month-old Finnish passenger Eino Viljami Panula.
Since the DNA test originally read as the corpse being anywhere between nine months and 15 months old at the time of death, researchers concluded the study stating that Panula was the “The Unknown Child” in 2004.
After more clothing belonging to Panula was found nowhere near where the child had been found, researchers questioned their findings and found that the child was actually Goodwin.