107 #94: Bodies of first and second class Titanic passengers were taken to Halifax for burial but third class passengers were buried at sea

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FALSE. The only bodies buried at sea were those which couldn’t be identified because they were recovered from the sea in such a poor state. The Mackay-Bennett, which was the first ship sent out to recover the bodies, took—in addition to embalming fluid and ice—12 tons of grate iron for committing bodies to the deep. Of 306 bodies recovered by the Mackay-Bennett, 116 were buried at sea; 19 more were found by other vessels of which three were buried at sea. Nevertheless, when news of the Mackay-Bennett’s practice reached shore, there was an outcry from the families of victims and thereafter no recovered bodies were buried at sea. Those which were buried at sea, however, had been given a proper burial service, and the Mackay-Bennett’s captain, who would have preferred this to a burial on land for himself, thought it appropriate at least for the crew, who had ‘lived by the sea’.

There was, however, a class distinction in the way the bodies were stored on the ship. First Class were embalmed and kept in coffins, with Second and Third Class simply being sewn into canvas bags. The bodies of Titanic’s crew were just stowed in the hold, in ice. However, the classification was generally done by the clothing and effects found with the bodies, and since a number of people were wearing items of clothing which had been borrowed or even taken from others on the ship, there were several misidentifications.

The burials at sea were arranged partly due to the shortage of embalming fluid; regulations stated that bodies could not be brought ashore unembalmed. However, the Halifax Evening Mail of April 30th says that the dead crew were brought from the Mackay-Bennett unembalmed and in a horrible state, due presumably to them being kept in ice. Perhaps, due to the large numbers of bodies, this regulation had been waived, as some bodies were certainly embalmed in the Mayflower Curling Rink in Halifax. Those bodies which could not be identified were buried in graves marked with numbers.

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