Titanic victims died of hunger

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Christine Geyer

Hello all,

I found this article in the St. Paul Daily News of May 17, 1912 and I am curious to hear what you think of it:


- Tooth marks on cork and collapsible lifeboat tell grim tale - Liner found three -

New York, May 16.- Bits of cork in their mouths and tooth marks on the cork and wood portions of the boat indicated that starvation killed the three Titanic victims whose bodies were in a Titanic collapsible lifeboat picked up by the White Star liner Oceanic, which arrived here today.

Two of the bodies were secured to thwarts by pieces of chains. The body of a cabin passenger was identified by the clothing as that of Thompson Beattie, Chicago. The other two were members of the crew.

A fur coat with the name Williams inside the pocket and a woman's ring inscribed "Edward to Cerda," indicated that there had been others in the lifeboat. The bodies were buried at sea.

White Star line officials say that the lifeboat is that mentioned by Third Officer Lowe of the Titanic, who said he left three bodies in the lifeboat of which he had charge when his 21 passengers were transferred to the Carpathia. This does not conform with the evidence of starvation."

Dec 12, 1999
Well, the ring is an obvious indicator of Edvard Lindell, and he already died that night (it was August Wennerstrom who mentioned seeing him frozen to death, staring straight ahead, etc.). And Richard Williams and Thomson Beattie, they died that night, too.

I'm chalking this article up to some of the more wild rumors that were going on around the time...not an intentional misrep on the part of the newspaper, but more like a reporting of a rumor or some piece of misquoted information from a source up in Halifax, or from the Oceanic itself.

Somebody else might know something more about it, though. It just sounds mighty funky to me.

Dave Gittins

Mar 16, 2000
This particular tall tale was taken so seriously at the time that Lord Mersey's court went beyond its terms of reference and called Dr Riversdale French from Oceanic to testify. His evidence was that the victims in the boat died of what was then called 'exposure', i.e. hypothermia. The bits of cork were merely debris from the sinking that stuck to their bodies.
Jul 9, 2000
Easley South Carolina
Looks like the typical sensationalist journalism of the time. Why bore people with the facts...or even bother getting them...when you can offer up a much racier tale. As Kritina and Dave said, these unfortunate souls were claimed by hypothermia. Still a nasty way to go.

Christine Geyer

Yes that's what I thought too. I just found at least the tale of tooth marks in the wooden lifeboat a somewhat extreme invention, standing out against the "common" sensational reports right after the sinking, like the officers and/or captain shooting either on passengers or themselves. At least I hadn't heard about this story before.

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