Death of a survivor in Italy June 2001


J

Jane Green

Guest
I feel a bit foolish posting this, however...

I read a brief page on the Italian equivalent to Ceefax (RAI televideo) this week that a female survivor, living in northern Italy, died this month.

I duly wrote the name and details down, only to have mislaid the piece of paper (or had it chewed up by the kitten, which is more likely).

All I can remember is that she was a very young baby at the time. She had been born in America in February (according to the report), and her mother had returned to Italy for a visit with relatives. They were on their way back to Boston aboard the Titanic after this short trip.

She later returned to live in Italy, and stayed for the rest of her life.

I'm afraid that's all I can recall about the report. I have had a quick look at the Surviving Passengers page, and can't place this person.

Can anybody shed any light on this story, since there seems to be no mention of her on the survivors pages?
 

Mike Herbold

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Feb 13, 2001
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The only person that comes close to fitting the bill is Argenia del Carlo's daughter, who was born after the Titanic disaster. The circumstances you mentioned don't match, but Mrs del Carlo was pregnant aboard the Titanic and her daughter Maria Salvata del Carlo was born on November 14, 1912. That would only put her at 88 years, 7 months, but if somebody just used the year 1912 and subtracted that from 2001 they'd get 89.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Hi Jane, nothing foolish about asking questions. Especially when they seem to have some overtones of skepticism as yours appeared to. Bogus Titanic survivors are literally a dime-a-dozen. There was some blurb in a Dutch wire service which claimed the last Titanic survivor had died. A claim which I'm sure would have amused the genuine four survivors who are still with us. The story was quickly retracted.

The list on this site is pretty comprehensive and a lot of researchers have gone to a lot of trouble to keep it that way. If the individual isn't on that list, then he/she wasn't there.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
J

Jane Green

Guest
Thank you all for your replies.

I am pretty sure that the dutch story was unconnected as it referred to a male.

But I can't see why the RAI, which is the National TV network in Italy, would put unsubstantiated news stories their televideo news.

With all due respect, as I realise that there are many more knowledgable people than myself hereabouts, is it quite unreasonable that a survivor who was a babe in arms at the time didn't slip the media net over the years?

I could kick myself for losing the name and town stated!
 

Phillip Gowan

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Apr 10, 2001
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Jane,
All children survivors of Titanic are accounted for now so the four living survivors are indeed the only ones living. As someone else mentioned, one of the Italian survivors was pregnant on Titanic and later gave birth to a baby girl, Maria Salvata del Carlo, on November 14, 1912. She married Antonio Oreste Casata and supposedly is still living in Italy. I would be very interesting to know if she is the one who passed away. Do any of those names sound familiar?

Regards,
Phillip Gowan
 
J

Jane Green

Guest
I don't think this is the person.
I remember that they stated that she was a tiny baby at the time of the sinking: her mother had taken her to Italy to show her family.
I will try and find out something on Italian news sites and come back if I find anything, OK?
 
J

Jane Green

Guest
Further to my above message.

I went to www.rai.it put the word titanic into the 'ricerca' box and clicked 'vai'
and found this:

Last survivor of the Titanic dies (!)

Tony Martinelli, aged 91, has died.
Born in Boston in 1911, his mother, Elsa had taken him back to Italy to visit relatives and was returning to the States when the Titanic went down.
They were put on different lifeboats (!) and eventually got sent back to England.

He lived in Sesto Campano in the province of ISERNIA (Southern Italy).

Dated June 12 2001.

This is a rough translation, but you can get the gist from the website indicated.
They seem to have a few things wrong, especially in stating that he was the last survivor.

What do you all think of this story?
 

Mike Herbold

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Jane:
Thanks for the quick translation. The only problem is, there was nobody named Martinelli aboard Titanic.
I'm going to try to do some research on that name, though, and will get back to you.
 
J

Jane Green

Guest
If its any help, in Italy it is normal usage for a married woman to retain her maiden surname (I imagine also in 1912), so while Tony Martinelli would have had his father's surname, his mother may well have used her maiden surname.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Even so, the tale seems unlikely. Other than some of the restaurant staff, hardly any Italians were on board. Just have a look down the passenger list. As Mike said, phoney survivors are a dime a dozen.
 
J

Jane Green

Guest
Yes, I have looked at the passenger list, and have also noted the very few Italian names.
As far as I know there was a lot of emigration from Italy to the USA around that time, and it seems logical to me that most emigrants would have left from Sicily, Naples or Civitavecchia directly, rather than via England, France or Ireland.
It just interested me to see this news item (from a reliable national news source) last week, and here seemed to be a good place to verify it, if possible. If it is indeed untrue, then I wonder where the RAI got it from in the first place?
But why would anyone WANT to make up a story like this anyway? It seems pointless.
Thanks for all your answers, anyway.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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The news services aren't always as reliable as we think they are. Even the best of them can be snookered. It isn't for lack of trying to get it right, but often because they don't know any better. Few reporters research the Titanic as thoroughly as we do and fewer still really have the time.

Why would anyone make up a story like that? Well, why would anybody fabricate a hoax? Some do it for a few minutes of fame, some to grind an axe, some in the hopes of some kind of gain, but for most, simply because they can.

A good rule of thumb to go by; always check the primary sources.
happy.gif


Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Paul Rogers

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Nov 30, 2000
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This story also appeared w/c 11th June in the Daily Mirror, (a UK tabloid), as follows:

Titanic Boy Dies
The last survivor of the Titanic has died. Italian Antonio Martinelli, 89, was just a few months old when the liner sank in 1912.

Regards,
Paul.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Hmmmmm....I wonder if this tabloid is going to tell the four still with us that they're no longer with us. They should find that most amusing.
wink.gif


I can see it now; "Oh tabloid, this is Barbera, Elizabeth, Lillian and Millvina. We'ed like to have a word with you."

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
J

Jane Green

Guest
Still, it's curious that the British paper and the RAI had the same story about the same person (Tony is short for Antonio) on the same day.

In those days and with the type of people involved, I personally don't find it totally impossible that at least one person (a small child) fell throught the documentation net.
Maybe I'm being gullible or naive or both.

No doubt most of the regulars here have pored over all the passenger lists and survivor lists and done their own exhaustive research in the subject. I bow to your superior knowledge.

But whoever this Martinelli person was, he certainly wasn't a celebrity here in Italy, so I fail to see any advantage to him or his in claiming to be a survivor when he wasn't.

If anyone DOES come up with something else about this person then I would be interested to hear about it.

Jane.
 
A

Alesandro Jonathan Slark

Guest
Interesting, I just happened to double check this article because I always get a laugh out of Micheal Standart's charming thought about the four still living survivors. I was just wondering about that story, because recently, I heard it and there may be a similar soloution. Philip Aks was seperated from his mother and they were put into seperate boats. Filly was held by an Italian women, but this could not have been the origin for the Antonio Martinelli story, but it was a good guess.

Much regards,
Alex Slark
 
C

Charlene Vickers

Guest
Jane, it sounds like you want very much to believe that this story is true. It seems to me, though, that the only proof of the story is a newspaper article (which was obviously stolen by another newspaper and reprinted -- an extremely, extremely common practice).

Unfortunately, every other piece of evidence points at the story being a fake. It is very, very common for people to claim having been on the Titanic when they weren't. I would put the list of fakes in the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands. The reason is obvious -- if you survived the Titanic, you touched fame, you are a survivor of a great romantic disaster, people will pity you or wonder at your survival. However, later in life, you can't take your lie (or your mother's lie) back.

I've just checked the Ellis Island site. If Antonio had been on the Titanic in third class, there would have been a mention of him on Carpathia-Titanic for 1912. There isn't, but there is a record for a 1 1/2 year old boy named Antonio Martinelli arriving on the Niagara in 1913. He came as a member of a family of 6 from De Mareo, which at the time was in Austria (but now could be in Italy -- the boundaries have changed significantly since then). No other Antonio Martinelli of the right age is found on the Ellis Island lists for the time 1911-1914.

Of course, there's the possibility that his mother made the entire thing up, and Antonio honestly believed he was a Titanic survivor. Which doesn't mean he was, but at least you can't blame a man for trusting his mother!

Cheers, Charlene
 

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