Berthe Antonine Mayné was born 21 July 1887 in Ixelles, Belgium. She was a cabaret singer who had had a liaison with Fernand de Villiers, a French soldier who joined the foreign legion and went off to the Belgian Congo. She sang under the stage name of Bella Vielly. One Belgian newspaper, Het Laatste Nieuws, cryptically described her as "being well known in Brussels in circles of pleasure, and was often seen in the company of people who like to wine and dine and enjoy life."
Berthe Antonine Mayné
(Courtesy: Herman de Wulf / Alan Hustak, Canada)
In the winter of 1911 she met a young Montreal hockey player, Quigg Baxter, while she was performing in a Café in Brussels, and the two became lovers. He persuaded her to return to Montreal with him aboard Titanic, and, for the sake of propriety, installed her in her own first class stateroom, C-90, under the pseudonym. "Mrs de Villiers." The night of the disaster, Baxter rushed her into lifeboat 6 with his mother and sister. She slipped a long woollen overcoat over her nightdress, but balked when Quigg wanted her to go in the boat without him. She wanted to back to her cabin to get some jewellery, but Denver socialite Maggie Brown talked her out of it.
After the sinking she stayed in Montreal with the Baxter family for several months, then returned to Europe and resumed her career as a singer in Paris. She never married.
Eventually she retired to a comfortable house in Berchem-Ste-Agathe, a suburb of Brussels. In old age she tried to persuade her nephew that she had been on Titanic with a young Canadian millionaire, but no one believed her. After she died on 11 October 1962, the truth of the story was found in personal clippings, letters and photographs discovered in a shoebox among her personal belongings.
Alan Hustak, Canada
Herman DeWulf, Belgium