Unidentified bodies


K

Kathy A. Miles

Guest
I stumbled upon a post here about recovery and it got me on a trail of things. One of the things I looked at was the list of unidentified bodies. Does anyone know about how many of these were later identified? I don't recall many being, but what perplexes me is that some of the descriptions are pretty specific. There are things like cabin keys on stewards, very descriptive accounts of tattoos, addresses and so forth. It would seem that it wouldn't have taken much effort to identify quite a few of these people.

It occurred to me that in the case of 3rd class and crew, the fact that the person was lost was the only real issue. Money to bring a body back was not an option, so identifying an unidentified "maybe" was just not thought much about. I certainly don't mean that to imply that their family didn't care, it's just that probably few would have had the money to actually go identify the body and fewer still could have brought it back. Many of them were buried at sea, so there was no real option at all. But I'm still wondering about how many might have been identified.

Any knowledge would be appreciated.
Kathy
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,641
457
453
Easley South Carolina
I counted 106 bodies that were not identified. I don't know if any have been identified since then, though it certainly hasn't been for any lack of trying among researchers and family who want to close the books on the matter. The recent exhumations at Halifax for example were an attempt to identify some using DNA. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough left of two of them to even attempt it. As to the other, it's still an ongoing thing.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
K

Kathy A. Miles

Guest
Thanks Michael, I was going by the list on ET of unidentified bodies. Is that one correct? Or is there another one, or site with information? I hadn't heard about recent exhumations. I'm not trying to sound grisly here, I'm coming at this from the angle of just wishing to see those graves with nunbers achieve names. I know they will never get all of them, but so many of them seem like they ought to have been identified back then by things like initials, locker keys etc. The physical descriptions were lacking, perhaps because of condition. But some of them had really good descriptions of tattoos and papers with addresses. It seems that those should have been figured out. Anyway, thanks.
Kathy
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,641
457
453
Easley South Carolina
The number is correct as far as I know. On some that were never identified despite addresses, distinguishing marks, etc, such things may not neccesserily be all that helpful. One has to wonder how many of these people had no family or the families just weren't in a position to look into the matter. For third class and crew, that may have been quite a problem.

I wouldn't mind seeing some of the unidentified having a name given to the face, but 90 years after the fact, I would say the chances of that are vanishingly small. Most of the immidiate families are gone, and with them, anyone who would have any useful direct knowladge.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Dec 6, 2000
1,384
1
221
A number of bodies were identified around 10 years ago - there was an article about it in one of the early issues of TI's Voyage magazine.

So, the possiblity still exists to id someone.
 
L

Linda Fitzhenry

Guest
In reading through the unidentified bodies list, I find myself drawn to male #104. Could this possibly be the body of Thomas Andrews? The age is very close (Andrews turned 39 on Feb. 7, 1912), his hair was dark. The body wore a simple gold ring, and Andrews wore a simple wedding band. He was dressed in a gray suit, as was Andrews at the time of the sinking. Most intriguing, the body carried a notebook. The Canadian seamen who assisted in the recovery of bodies would never have seen Andrews so they would not have been able to identify his face. Additionally, several hours of floating dead in seawater would have severely distorted his features.

I wonder why the individual who examined the body recorded that the simple gold ring was engraved, but didn't bother to report the contents of that engraving. It would clear up the mystery if the engraving said "TA to HB 24/6/08" or something along those lines, or if the engraving indicated a different marriage.

Although several people last saw Andrews staring in a daze while standing at the fireplace in the somking room, Shan Bullock's biography of Andrews reports several other witnesses claiming to have seen Andrews reimerging from the smoking room unto the deck, throwing deck chairs and other floatation aids to the unfortunates struggling in the water, and these same witnesses claim to have seen him washed off the ship by the wave.

However, there are no reports of Andrews ever donning his lifevest, even though he had one in his possession on the smoking room. The lack of lifevest would have caused his body to sink almost immediately upon death.

It is an intriguing mystery, but one that will never be solved as the unidentified body was buried at sea. Now it is relegated to the realm of conjectural debate.

Had it been Andrews' body, its return to Comber would have given Helen Reilly Andrews and the rest of the family a bit of what is nowdays referred to as "closure." At the very least, the wedding ring should have been removed and saved for further identification. Some widow somewhere would have been greatly comforted by the ring's return.

Linda
 
L

Linda Fitzhenry

Guest
I have some additional information about the activities of Thomas Andrews during the sinking which I believe are applicable to my previous posting about Male #104.

It has been brought to my attention that there is documentary evidence that a cabin boy saw both Andrews and Capt. Smith on the bridge, donning life vests. According to the boy, Smith said something to Andrews, and they both entered the water.

Had Andrews entered the water, with a lifevest as indicated by the cabin boy, his body would have been found floating. The possiblity also exists that Andrews might have found a deck chair or other large piece of debris which could have given his body buoyancy.

One cannot place very much reliance upon the testimony of one frightened boy. Any cop will tell you that when investigating a crime or an accident, each victim and each witness will have a different story and each will swear that his/her version is correct. But given the number of survivors who claimed to have seen Andrews washed off the deck, the boy's story starts to gain creedence.

If one looks at the numbers of survivors claiming to have seen Andrews enter the water, they outnumber the survivors who claim to have seen him dazed in the smoking room.

I also wonder about the degree of effort, or lack thereof, out into identifying the bodies. Many of the unlisted bodies sound as though they could have been identified with a bit more effort, by means of tatoos with names, wedding rings with engravings, etc. Perhaps the seamen who were given the job of recovering the bodies were a bit too overwhlemed to have done the job as thoroughly as possible. One wonders just how many more victims could have been returned to their homes for burial, or at least their possessions returned to the grieving families.

I would like to hear the opinions of the readers of this discussion board regarding the possiblity of Male #104 being Thomas Andrews.

Linda
 

Ben Holme

Member
Feb 11, 2001
714
2
173
Hi Linda,

If you visit the "List of recovered bodies" here on ET, you'll discover that Aleseandro Pedrini, a waitor from the A la Carte restaurant is the most likely candidate for body #104. I believe it was the contents of his memo book which indicatated the body of an Italian waitor, and this was perhaps reinforced by his physical appearance AND complexion.

I conducted some research into the unidentified vitims a while ago, and discovered that surprisingly few of the recovered bodies that have never been identified were passengers, in all likelihood - perhaps as few as 22. All the others had on the person keys, buttons, uniform etc which would indicate the body of a crewmwmber.

Also, I would not take the "estimated age", based on the observations of the Mackay Bennet crewmen too dogmatically. Decomposition, exposure to the elements, and possible injuries sustained during the sinking undoubtedly affected physical features. Richard Frasar White, for examply, a young 1st class passenger from Brunswick, Maine, was a case in point. His estimated age was given as 37 despite Richard being only 21 years old. Stanley Fox and Reginald Butler were two others who appeared to "age" drastically, at least according the crew of the Mackay Bennet.

On the subject of Andrews on deck, I have not read the book to which you refer, nor can I recall, off-hand, anyone who observed Andrews in the water. I'd appreciate it if you could point be in the direction of some of these eyewitness accounts. Would you happen to know the name of this "cabin boy"? This one's new to me.

Best Regards,

Ben
 
Dec 6, 2000
1,384
1
221
Linda said:

Had Andrews entered the water, with a lifevest as indicated by the cabin boy, his body would have been found floating.

If one looks at the numbers of survivors claiming to have seen Andrews enter the water, they outnumber the survivors who claim to have seen him dazed in the smoking room.

Linda - more details please? Off the top of my head, I do not recall anyone saying they saw Andrews enter the water.
 
A

Anja Walter

Guest
Bill,

I believe Linda is referring to something Stephen Cameron wrote in his book "Belfast's Own". David Galloway , one of Andrews's friends , interviewed a young mess boy (probably Thomas Whiteley) who told him this story.
I don't know whether it is true or not but it doesn't sound that impossible.
For the smoking room story : I think that only one witness saw Andrews in the smoking room. I don't know which Steward it was but I think he survived in a lifeboat. So there was still a lot of time left and I believe I read that an officer saw Andrews throwing deck chairs overboard.
I actually believe that Andrews decided in the end "to make a try for it".

Anja
 
Dec 6, 2000
1,384
1
221
Thanks for pointing out that book, Anja - I had previously mis-placed it, but now it's found!

I'm aware of the accounts re: the smoking room and the deck chairs. However, I still have to question the statement "If one looks at the numbers of survivors claiming to have seen Andrews enter the water". The one you've pointed me to, is the only account I can recall of Andrews entering the water.

But I'll be happy to accept any other credible accounts of such!
 
A

Anja Walter

Guest
Unfortunately I don't have any other reliable accounts. But you have to remember that it was also only one person who saw Andrews standing in the smoking room. Nobody can really say what happened to Thomas Andrews. My opinion is that he was in a state of shock. He was one of the very few persons to know that the ship would sink and that there weren't enough lifeboats. It was probably the most terrible situation in his life. So what would you do ? I think that Thomas felt responsible for the disaster and so he might have chosen to die. On the other hand , he had a wife and a little daughter whom he loved dearly. So did he try to save himself ?

I'd really like to hear your opinion on this.

Bye,

Anja
 
Dec 6, 2000
1,384
1
221
You're right, re: Andrews in the smoking room. Only the one account. However, it had such widespread publicity in ANTR, that it has become the accepted 'truth'. Just like the ship sank intact! :)

And on a personal level, Andrews in the smoking room an interesting story. In some ways, it does fit - as you say, he could have felt responsible, and might have not wanted to live with the guilt. We'll never know for sure what he really felt, though.

Checking Shan Bullock's book, he doesn't specifically say Andrews left the smoking room to go on deck to throw deck chairs into the water. Rather, that a number of people claimed to see Andrews toward the end - in the Engine Room, or on deck, or the smoking room. Bullock writes it like one thing happened after another, but it doesn't appear that's what the survivors said.

But I still haven't seen even the one account to say Andrews entered the water in an attempt to save himself.
 
A

Anja Walter

Guest
as I already said:

It's only in Stephen Cameron's book "Titanic - Belfast's Own"

Anja
 
Dec 6, 2000
1,384
1
221
Yes, and when I wrote the above, I had already forgotten it after reading it the day before! Too much going on to keep things in my head straight very long.

Still, we're back to only the ONE account of Andrews entering the water, not many. And this one account is third hand - Lord Pirrie had a letter from Galloway, Galloway had it from 'a young mess-boy'.

Not that the account of Andrews in the smoking room is much better. I was involved in a discussion a few years back as to who the steward who said this might be, but unfortunately, in both of these cases there's just not enough information to make a guess. Both the steward and the mess-boy would have had to been saved in one of the last lifeboats to be launched, and probably one of the collapsibles.
 
A

Anja Walter

Guest
if the steward was saved in one of the lifebaots , he must have seen Thomas Andrews before all the lifeboats were gone. That means that there was still some time left until the ship would break apart.
So if Thomas Andrews really died in the smoking room , he would have had to stay there for quite a long time. Beside , it is quite strange that the Steward was the only one to see Thomas in the smoking room ...

Anja
 
L

Linda Fitzhenry

Guest
Hi, Ben, Bill, and Anja,

Thank you for sharing your responses to my postings. I always enjoy hearing from other Titanic students.

Ben, I am especially grateful that you have shared the fruits of your research. It must have taken hours, and I am glad you have chosen to pass along the information about the Italian waiter. I have learned something today. Again, thanks!

Bill, the steward who saw Andrews in the smoking room was identified only as Steward Brown in Charles Pellegrino's "Ghosts of the Titanic." According to Pellegrino, he was not related to Steward Edward Brown, who was a friend of Chief Baker Joughin. BTW Let's hope that Andrews did not die the hideous death that Pellegrino describes in this book. Interestingly, Pellegrino paints a different scenario of Andrews' death in his previous book, "Her Name, Titanic."

Again, thanks to all three of you for responding. The true fate of Thomas Andrews will, of course, never be known. As we see in the Pellegrino books, even a scientist who has dived to the wreck with Dr. Ballard cannot determine exactly what happned. But it is most interesting to discuss possiblities with others who have studied Titanic and her victims.

Linda
 
Dec 6, 2000
1,384
1
221
Linda - thanks for the additional data from Pellegrino's book, which I have not read.

According to the crew list, there are only 4 Browns. Edward Brown was saved on Collapsible A, so he was on the ship very close to the end. J. Brown died and was buried at Halifax. John Brown was a fireman, and Walter Brown was a steward, but both of them died. Which pretty much leaves Edward Brown as the only decent possibility - assuming Pellegrino is right about the name. But he said it wasn't Edward Brown? Did he give any more details about this person?

I just re-read Brown's testimony at the British Inquiry. He speaks of keeping busy loading boats in the forward starboard quarter, and doesn't mention being anywhere else. Which doesn't mean he didn't go thru the smoking room or anywhere else, just that he didn't say.

I agree, Linda, we will probably never know what happened to Andrews - but it is interested to try to figure it out!
 
L

Linda Fitzhenry

Guest
Bill and Anja,

Now to add to all the confusion: I was perusing other Titanic sites today in search of more information about the sighting of Andrews in the smoking room. According to the Thomas Andrews bio on the Titanic! Titanic! website (www.rmstitanic.co.uk), the steward who saw Andrews there was named John Stewart. Unfortunately, the site does not mention where they obtained their information.

With the myriad of inconsistencies surrounding the story of Andrews' last hours, I fear this may be taking on the aspects of becoming Urban Legend. Let's hope not! The man and his history deserve better than that.

Linda
 
Dec 6, 2000
1,384
1
221
Stewart is a possibility - though I'm not convinced he's a good one.

The site you mention says Stewart saw Andrews at 2:10. At this point, the ship was beginning it's final plunge, and the only lifeboats on the ship would be A and B, which would be floating off at this point. So, if the time is right, Stewart would have almost had to have ended up in the water. And picked up by A, B, 4 or 14.

Steward Samuel Rule at the British Inquiry specifically stated that John (Jack) Stewart was in his lifeboat, No. 15. See Question 6596. I believe No. 15 left the Titanic around 1:30 - which would blow the 2:10 time right out of the water. I've also been told that Stewart claimed to have left in one of the later boats. As far as I know, he never claimed to have entered the water.

ANTR mentions Stewart being picked up by No. 14 (maybe due to Seaman Evans statement about picking up "the steward, young Stewart"?), but Evans statement may be a error in transcription - he could be saying "the steward, young steward" for someone he did not know by name - possibly.

Too bad that the site you mention, or Walter Lord, didn't give more details.
 

Similar threads