Relatives Wait For the Dead From Titanic’s Sinking: This Week in History

Titanic victims buried at sea off the Mackay-Bennett

Relatives Wait For the Dead From Titanic’s Sinking: This Week in History

Melina Druga
Follow Me

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.

Enjoy history and historical fiction?  Join the mailing list and stay up-to-date on book releases, news, beta reading opportunities and more.

Most kids have an active imagination. My imagination has stayed strong into adulthood, and I’ve funneled that creativity into a successful writing career. I write history, both fiction and nonfiction, because although your school history classes may have been boring, the past is not. My goal is to bring the past to life in all its myriad of colors.
Back To Top