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“Halifax is waiting in funeral garb for the arrival of the cable ship Mackay-Bennett with its cargo of dead from the scene of the Titanic disaster,” the Montreal Gazette reported April 27, 1912. “Hotels are crowded with the bereaved, and every train brings additional relatives of victims.”
It was unknown when the “floating morgue” would reach shore because it hadn’t sent any notifications.
At least 60 relatives were in the city with more expected to arrive that evening. Because lower- class passengers were buried at sea, the list of visitors read like a who’s who of the society pages.
Usual formalities had been waived, the Gazette said, so bodies could be moved immediately once claimed. Most of the bodies had been embalmed and were expected to be transported to undertakers once the ship docked. Relatives were warned to stay away from the dock because of the bodies’ appearance.
Many bodies were expected to go unclaimed, and White Star Line had hired a Protestant pastor, a priest and a Rabbi to perform funerals.
A Committee for the Mourning
The bereaved met to form a committee that morning, headed by Halifax’s mayor, to assist relatives find their dead loved ones. White Star representatives also attended.
One attendee “protested against what they [the bereaved] styled the inadequate arrangements made by the White Star Line and demanded that a citizens’ committee be organized,” the Gazette said, “that a general bureau of information be opened and that every effort be made to advise persons unable to be here of the recovery of relatives’ bodies.”
White Star officials agreed to cooperate.
Did you ever think about what happened to the Titanic victims and their families after the sinking? Leave a comment below.
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