The father and mother identified the child by the clothing and the pic, if I remember correctly, but it was a badly deformed body, and another body that better fit little Scott's description was wearing identical clothing and was buried in the mass grave.
From memory, I believe it was Mr. Luck who made the claim. He had previously come to England on the Lusitania. Why the officials took the word of Mr. Witherbee over Mr. Luck is unclear. Maybe money changed hands. Hard to say. I think, since Trixie Witherbee was a complete emotional wreck, he wanted some closure for her.
Hmmm, so maybe we will never know.
I was just starting to think about this. When Titanic sank, the bodies recovered were placed in seperate graves, like rows, and a stone for each, why is it that Lusitania's victims were placed together in large pits? Maybe it was because of the year, the war.
And also has anyone ever wanted to find some true identity through DNA, like they have done on Titanic? I mean, there are a lot of people (and many children) who remain unclaimed to this day.
And as a random question do you, personally know any information regarding ages of passengers? All my books are without them. I started a thread asking the same thing. It's just bugging the crap out of me.
Mike was good enough to assist me in compiling just such a list for my book, "Lusitania: An Illustrated Biography of the Ship of Splendor". Passenger ages, where known, are supplied on the list, as well as on the accompanying crew list. Hope this helps.
You can obtain a softcover copy through online bookstores (Amazon, Barnes, etc.). If you would like a hardcover edition, that has to be ordered either through the publisher (www.Lulu.com) or through my own site (www.atlanticliners.com). I really hope that this list is helpful to you.
The Witherbee child/Luck child was recovered late in the game, so to speak. The clothing was identifiable, but the child was not, his face being entirely gone. The clothing was forwarded to A.S. and Beatrice Witherbee, in London, who positively identified it as being clothing owned by A.S. Junior. Charlotte Luck, being dead, could not contest that, nor could Arthur Courtland Luck swear that either of his sons owned such an outfit. So, in the end it came down to the clothing.
As Mike said, the body in question seems to be a bit large for A.S. Junior, and the right size for a boy of the missing Luck child's age, while the boy in the mass grave, wearing the same outfit, is a better fit for AS Witherbee, Jr.
>I don't know which is worse to be buried under the wrong name or no name at all.
I'd say being drowned or dying of exposure is worse than either. The ONLY clue Beatrice Witherbee ever gave regarding what happened to her family that afternoon was an oblique reference to the fact that she tried to hold on to A.S. Jr. in the water. I think that for him, the circumstances of how he died, probably caused him more posthumous grief (if one believes in the afterlife) than where he ended up buried.
>And also has anyone ever wanted to find some true identity through DNA, like they have done on Titanic?
In the case of A.S. Witherbee, it could theoretically be done, since he was intered in a private grave. In terms of the mass grave, it would be difficult at this point~ the coffins were stacked in multiple tiers. As each tier collapsed, as the wooden coffins decayed, there would probably be a certain amount of....mingling... of the bodies, because there was no intervening layer of dirt between tiers to serve as a barrier. In short- when the bottom most coffin in the stack of three caved in, the two atop it would fall into it. When the second caved in, the occupant would drop down into the remains of #1, and #3 would shift downward again. So, even if a family member had evidence convincing enough to warrant an exhumation, it would be a bit more complex than opening a private grave, since all three bodies would have to be removed, reassembled, and tested (if all 3 were of the same gender).
This thread has the potential to be a very deep and fascinating discussion, and possibly controversial.
I agree with Jim when he says it is theoretically possible to identify the remains of the child buried in the private grave as being one of the Luck children or young Witherbee, but the legal and logistical problems would be great. For a start, permission would have to be sought, and granted, to allow exhumation. A suitable bone would have to be found to allow DNA to be obtained, and then that DNA would have to be matched with a known relative. Time consuming and probably expensive, but possible. As for the mass graves, and remains collapsing down on those below them, if the graves have been relatively undisturbed since they were filled in, careful excavation should be able to determine the order of remains, despite being a bit mixed up, regardless of gender.
Jim also refers to the Titanic, and I presume the documentary showing efforts to positively identify three of the victims. From memory, I believe only one out of the three was identified as no DNA evidence could be found in the remains of two of the subjects, the graves being waterlogged. I do not think that the Lusitania graves suffer waterlogging as they are on a hill with good drainage, but one never knows, so maybe the possibilities of gathering DNA evidence is stronger.
Now let us look further. If someone were to start with the private grave to try and determine whether the remains are Luck or Witherbee, why not exhume all the remains, take DNA samples, and try to identify more of the unidentified, and positively and definitively identify those who were tentatively identified at the time. A massive and probably futile effort.
First of all, to have any hope of identifying all the remains recovered, relatives of everyone on board, and who were lost, would have to be found and DNA samples obtained from them. Then the matching process would begin, which would take years. And while we are at it, why stop at the Lusitania. Why not continue the Titanic, and hundreds of other similar cases, or the unknown soldiers buried in battlefields all over the world?
In the era we live in, much more is possible now than ever, and as each year passes, more and more becomes possible. Now, taking DNA samples from victims of all types of tragedies is standard practise, and today nearly every victim of an air crash, shipping disaster, or other instance of massive loss of life in developed countries can be identified. Not so in 1912 and 1915, and even in to the 1980's.
We could start a campaign to have the mass graves and private graves exhumed in an effort to try and positively identify as many victims as possible, or we can accept that everyone did their best in the aftermath of the disaster, acted in good faith and for the best reasons at the time, and leave it at that. Should we interfere and change history, and if we did change part of history, would it be of any benefit?
I am sure everyone has their own view on whether or not any of the graves should be opened, and depending on ones faith, whether or not a victim, or the victims in general, are at peace, but I do not think anyone alive today would really benefit from anyone interfering with the graves or remains at this point in time.
Let them rest in peace, whoever they may be, I say.