The liner Titanic leaves Southampton, England on her maiden voyage in April 1912.

Bodies Of Third-Class Titanic Passengers Tossed So Wealthy Could Be Buried

New shocking Titanic documents reveal that deceased third-class passengers retrieved from the wreckage were tossed overboard so that the wealthy passengers could be retrieved for a proper burial. In telegraphs sent to and from the CS Mackay-Bennett, a vessel charged with the recovery of the Titanic’s deceased, it was revealed that the vessel was overwhelmed with the number of bodies in the sea and could not bring them all to port. As a result, it was decided that priority would be given to first and second-class passengers with third-class passengers being buried at sea.

The Daily Mail reports that a series of recently released telegraphs reveal that the preferential treatment of first-class passengers on the Titanic did not end when the ship sank into the ocean. Instead, it continued as first and second-class Titanic passengers were given priority during the body retrieval process. The CS Mackay-Bennett was charged with the daunting task of retrieving as many bodies as possible from the wreckage to bring back to port for proper burial. However, as the captain of the ship became overwhelmed by the number of bodies to be retrieved, he revealed to the White Star Line that he could not bring all the bodies back with him.

Titanic Photos
A member of staff at the Transport museum in Belfast, Northern Ireland, points to photographs of the Titanic displayed in a family album. [Image by Peter Morrison/AP Images]

The CS Mackay-Bennett realized upon arrival to the scene that they would not be able to bring all the bodies back to shore and requested to the White Star Line that all bodies be buried at sea unless “specifically requested by relatives to preserve them.” It was noted that valuables, identification, and paper money found on passengers were documented and that it was their request to then bury the bodies at sea.

“A careful record has been made of all papers moneys and valuables found on bodies. Would it not be better to bury all bodies at sea unless specially requested by relatives to preserve them.”

Despite the call for all but those requested to be buried at sea, the telegraphs seem to reveal that it was decided that first and second-class passengers would be given priority preference for return so that they could be laid to rest by their families. Meanwhile, third-class passengers would be tossed out to sea. When the recovery mission was over, 116 bodies were brought back to port for burial out of 334 recovered. All of the remaining bodies were buried at sea.

The tough call to bury some of the bodies at sea came from Captain Frederick Larnder. The Captain noted that both a lack of space on his vessel for the bodies and a lack of embalming supplies resulted in the need for many of the bodies to be returned to the ocean for a sea burial. While the information that the wealthy Titanic passengers were given priority in death is new, it has been widely known first and second-class passengers were given priority in lifeboats when the boat began to sink.

Unfortunately, many of the first-class passengers did not realize the severity of the situation and opted for comfort over safety. Many of the initial lifeboats released were only partially full as many of the passengers did not want to be too crowded. However, as the situation became more dire, boats began to fill up and it immediately became clear that many people would be going down with the ship. Due to the lack of sufficient lifeboats for all passengers and many boats being deployed only partially full, more than 1,500 people would perish when the Titanic sank into the Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912.

Titanic
The viewpoint of the observer is set some 3,800 meters below the surface of the water at the level of the Titanic shipwreck. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

The newest telegraphs were saved thanks to a former employee of the Cunard Line, which merged with the ailing White Star Line in 1934. The employee saved the telegraphs and passed them down to family members where they remained until a Titanic historian found them in the 1980s and spend a tireless effort to restore them.

[Featured Image by AP Images Archive]

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