Niqula Nasrallah-Condition of the Body And Possible Misidentification as JJ Astor

Kas01

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May 24, 2018
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I ran into an article today about Niqula (Nicholas) Nasrallah purportedly being misidentified by the press as COL J.J. Astor due to Morse code miscommunication. What was the physical condition of Nasrallah's body as recovered by Mackay-Bennett?
 

robert warren

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Feb 19, 2016
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Where was the article? I would like to read it myself. Maybe this is true or not , but one thing is certain--Astor's body was recovered, and apparently not as banged up as we supposed.It was always said he was crushed by the 1st funnel falling into the sea. All articles on his person were recovered including his gold watch with his initials engraved on it. From what I've read, Astor's son Vincent was also able to identify his fathers remains.
 

Kas01

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May 24, 2018
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Where was the article? I would like to read it myself. Maybe this is true or not , but one thing is certain--Astor's body was recovered, and apparently not as banged up as we supposed.It was always said he was crushed by the 1st funnel falling into the sea. All articles on his person were recovered including his gold watch with his initials engraved on it. From what I've read, Astor's son Vincent was also able to identify his fathers remains.
It was on JSTOR under the title “How Niqula Nasrallah Became John Jacob Astor” or something similar. I’m on my phone right now but I’ll try to link it later.

You may need an account to access it.
 

Kas01

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May 24, 2018
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Okay, here's a few relevant snippets from the article:

When his remains were first discovered, Nasrallah's name was faithfully attributed due to the English-language business card he had carried with him...This extended game of Telephone, whereby information was coded and recoded, resulted in the distortion of many of the Titanic victims' names. In Nasrallah's case, his name went from N. Nasser to Nicolas E. Rasher to N.E. Coles Rasher.
The article does, in fact, claim that COL Astor's body was crushed, but given the testimony of the Astor family yacht's captain, this probably isn't true. The article goes into some detail on the differences between Continental Morse and American Morse, and this is where it gets interesting:

Based upon documents that were with him at the time, Nasrallah's last name may have been transmitted from the rescue ship as Nasser, and the version of his last name that first reached the White Star offices was Rasher.
I punched the names "N.E. Coles Rasher" and "John J. Astor" into a Morse translator, and I tried to replicate an Olympic-class 500-hertz set at 60 words per minute. To my untrained ear, the two are easily confused.

Now, here's the problem. Outside of a telegram that she sent to Madeleine Astor, Adele Nasrallah never really talked about the sinking, and to the best of my knowledge, never said how she identified Niqula's body or in what condition it was found. Could it be that Nasrallah's body was the one that was crushed, and in his guise as "N.E. Coles Rasher", he was misidentified as COL Astor?

If it helps, both men were wearing blue serge suits with brown boots, although only Nasrallah was mentioned to have a tattoo.
 

Kas01

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May 24, 2018
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Fair enough, but in any case, I was assuming that COL Astor's body was intact, so there's no disagreement there.

We know that Adele Nasrallah talked about the sinking on two occasions; once via telegram to Madeleine Astor, and once to the morgue at Halifax identifying "N.E. Coles Rasher" as Niqula Nasrallah. We know that Nasrallah was the 43rd body recovered by Mackay-Bennett, wearing a blue serge suit with brown boots, carrying 160 pounds (?) in gold, and had a tattoo of a lion with a sword on his right forearm, but we don't know the condition it was recovered in. We know COL Astor was the 124th body recovered by Mackay-Bennett, also wearing a blue serge suit with brown boots, carrying 225 pounds and $2440 in banknotes, and we know from the testimony of Noma (the yacht)'s captain that the body was intact with a possibly dislocated or broken jaw. We know both bodies were forwarded to New York in early May 1912.

Is it possible that Nasrallah's body was the one that was crushed?
 

Keith Turton

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Jun 20, 2018
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Where was the article? I would like to read it myself. Maybe this is true or not , but one thing is certain--Astor's body was recovered, and apparently not as banged up as we supposed.It was always said he was crushed by the 1st funnel falling into the sea. All articles on his person were recovered including his gold watch with his initials engraved on it. From what I've read, Astor's son Vincent was also able to identify his fathers remains.
Didn't Vincent identify his father through the objects found in his pockets?
 

A. Gabriel

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Jun 13, 2018
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If I might interject -- did Niqula Nasrallah have any connections with Persia by any chance? The mention of a 'lion with sword' tattoo got me wondering, since the image of a lion wielding a sword (with a sun in the background) is a longstanding symbol of Persia / Iran.