A never before seen photograph of Titanic mass funerals will be put up for auction in England this month. The picture debunks the myth that the Titanic burials were dignified.
The picture taken more than a hundred years ago shows victims stacked in body bags aboard the rescue ship the Mackay-Bennet. In the right hand side of the photo two men push a body bag into the sea while a reverend leads a funeral service.
Henry Aldridge & Son auctioneer Henry Aldridge about the photo, “It has always been said that the process was dignified and organized but piles of bodies are neither of those. The bodies are piled up waist-high.”
He told the New York Daily News “This picture shows the dirty side of the business.”
The photo is expected to reach between $4,853 and $8,088 at auction. One of the recovery crew members of the Mackay Bennett kept the picture in his belongings and one of his descendents found the picture.
The Belfast built Titanic hit an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland on April 15, 1912 on its maiden voyage to New York. Previously called “unsinkable” because it could stay afloat with four of its chambers flooded, the Titanic sank after five of its chambers filled with water.
Titanic’s owners, The White Star Line, contracted the Mackay Bennett to collect the bodies. She left Nova Scotia on April 17 and arrived at the wreck site on April 21. The Mackay Bennett collected 306 bodies and 166 of these were given a burial at sea. Burials were given on the evenings of April 21, 22, 23 and on the afternoon of April 24 when the photograph is thought to have been taken.
The Daily Mail quoted Aldridge, “The Titanic has a beginning, middle and end. This isn’t one of the most pleasant or glamorous but it brings a certain level of realism to the story.”
The Titanic Memorial Garden situated on the eastern side of Belfast City Hall was opened on April 15, 2012, the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. The garden contains a memorial plinth, on which the 1,512 names of the victims are inscribed in alphabetical order.