A Ghastly Boat Load : Corpses From The Titanic

Hull Daily Mail

A wireless message from captain Smith, of the Oceanic, brother of the gallant seaman who commanded the Titanic, intimated on Thursday that another collapsible boat belonging to the sunken ship had been found. The “Daily Telegraph’s” correspondent interviewed the officers of the vessel which has arrived at New York respecting this grim relic and its human contents, which were picked up by the Oceanic 200 miles south of the Titanic’s ocean grave. The boat when found contained the bodies of three persons, who had died of the combined effects of

Starvation and Exposure

And the indications presents that there had been two other occupants, who died and were buried at sea. Little bits of chewed cork in the bottom of the craft near two bodies huddled together told their story of hunger, despair and death. No letter or memorandum of any kind gave a clue to the story of the victims, but it is believed that the three men whose corpses were found survived the disaster for several days. One of the victims was doubtless Thompson Beattie, of Chicago, another a sailor, and the third a fireman. A woman, a widow, must have been another occupant of the boat, for two wedding rings bearing the inscription “Edward to Gerda,” were found. The fifth occupant must have been a man named Williams, for a fur overcoat with that name written on a tailor’s pad in the pocket was also in the boat.

“No Food Or Water”

No vestige of food or water was discovered, nothing except the pieces of chewed cork, which had been torn from the life preservers.

It was on Monday at noon that the first officer, Mr Frank, sighted the collapsible. The sun was shining, the air was warm, and the sea was smooth. A boat was lowered in command of the third officer, Mr Withers, and six men pulled the oars. The passengers on the liner, which had stopped, knew its errand. They watched the boat go over the sparkling sea, and they saw it stop awhile beside a great flat thing in the water. Then it turned and came back.

Mr Withers climbed the boarding ladder, and the passengers crowded around him with hoarsely whispered questions. His face was set, and he shook his head. Sternly and silently he hurried quick to the bridge. The ship’s surgeon, Dr French, was then summoned by the captain, a fresh crew was ptu into the boat. Dr French went into the stern seat, and again the boat went out to the bobbing collapsible.

A Service At Sea.

Those who possessed strong glasses perceived that he and his men were busy with bodies in the boat. They noticed that great sheets of canvas were produced, and that the bodies were being wrapped up in them. Then they saw the surgeon rise, and, supported on either side, hold a book before him. They could not see his lips move, but they knew he was reading the service for the dead. There were three splashes, and the Oceanic’s boat then came slowly back with the Titanic’s collapsible zigzagging behind it. The two craft were hoisted to a place on deck, and the Oceanic went on her way.

A Widow’s Ring

It was hours before Dr French could bring himself to talk of what his task had been. In the bow of the collapsible, he said, was the body of a fireman. It seemed to have been dragged there.

“I believe” said Dr French, “that the two survivors at the time of his death tried to throw his body overboard, but could not do so. At the stern was the body of a sailor, and that of a cabin passenger, dressed for dinner, with an overcoat pulled over his evening clothes. The widow’s ring we found was in paper, as though taken by the survivors for the purpose of identification. It was such a ring as a widow might cause to be made of her own and her husband’s wedding ring. The two had been fused together. On the inside of one half of the ring was the inscription “Edward to Gerda” and some figures, apparently a date, which we could not make out.

“There were signs of starvation. It was only too evident  that the poor people in the boat had torn the canvas with their fingernails and tried to relieve their hunger by chewing the cork. I found that Mr Withers was quite right when he said it could not be practicable to bring any of the bodies aboard the ship. To bury the poor creatures at sea was the only thing to do.”

In view of the Oceanic’s discovery the report of the captain of the Carpathia that he had picked up “all the lifeboats and collapsible launched from the Titanic” is the topic of painful comment.

Relates to Ship:

Oceanic

Acknowledgements

Transcribed by Gordon Steadwood

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    Copyright © 1996-2019 Encyclopedia Titanica (www.encyclopedia-titanica.org) and third parties (ref: #20072, published 29 April 2014, generated 23rd March 2019 11:02:15 PM)
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