How many people lost their lives in the Titanic disaster will never be known for sure, since the total number of passengers and crew on board has never been officially established. The US Senate investigation put the total losses at 1,517 (shown in the table below), while the British enquiry calculated 1,490. Some authorities put the losses as high as 1,635. But whatever the figures, the human tragedy of lives lost and families torn apart makes each survivor’s story all the more poignant. Whether rich or poor, famous or unknown, every one of the 705 survivors had a remarkable tale to tell.
Eight newlywed couples chose to take their honeymoon on the Titanic’s maiden voyage, although only two couples lived to tell the tale. Here Mr. and Mrs. George Harder rest on Carpathia’s boat deck, sharing the horrors of the night before with Mrs. Hays, a fellow survivor.
As Mrs. Goldsmith stepped into the lifeboat with her son, Frankie, family friend Thomas Theobald slipped off his wedding ring and asked her to pass it on to his wife. Mr. Theobald died; Mrs. Goldsmith was photographed by the Detroit News on April 26 still wearing the two rings.
Aged only seven weeks at the time of the disaster, Millvina Dean was the youngest survivor of the Titanic disaster. Her mother, Ettie, and brother, Bert, also survived; her father perished. In later life, Millvina opened the exhibition of Titanic artefacts held in Greenwich, England, in 1994.
Second-class passenger Louis Hoffmann gave the impression he was taking his recently orphaned children to start a new life in the United States. In reality, “Louis Hoffmann” was Michel Navratil, who had separated from his wife and abducted his sons. The boys survived the disaster and were eventually reunited with their mother.
One-hundred-and-forty-five women and children survived, ten women and one child died. Of the men, 54 survived and 119 died. In total, 60 percent of first-class passengers survived.
One-hundred-and-four women and children survived, 24 died. Of the men, only 15 survived and 142 died. In total, 42 percent of secondclass passengers survived.
One-hundred-and-five women and children survived, 119 died. Of the men, only 69 survived and 417 died. In total, 25 percent of third-class passengers survived.
Twenty women survived, three died. Of the men, 193 survived and 682 died. In total, 24 percent of the crew survived.
On arrival in New York, Harold Bride’s feet were so frostbitten that he had to be carried ashore. One of the heroes of the disaster, Bride had kept sending distress signals until minutes before the Titanic sank. He then resumed duties on board the Carpathia.
REST IN PEACE
On Saturday, April 20, less than one week after the disaster, Canon Kenneth Hind conducted a funeral service on board the Mackay-Bennett. Twenty-four people, too disfigured to be identified, were sewn into weighted sacks and given a dignified burial at sea. Further services were held over the next month as more victims were found.
Many survivors wrote long and detailed letters to friends or family recounting their ordeal. Mary Hewlett, a second-class passenger who was in lifeboat number 13, wrote, “I had some long letters I had written to my girls… and I gave them to be burned, sheet by sheet, as signals. The dawn came at about 4:30 a.m. and then we saw dozens of icebergs and the new Moon in a pink haze—it was a most wonderful sight and soon after that, at about 5 o’clock, we saw the mast lights of the Carpathia on the horizon.”
AT GOD’S SERVICE
The Reverend John Harper was on his way from London to hold a series of Baptist revival meetings at the Moody Church in Chicago, where he had preached the previous winter. Harper’s two traveling companions his young daughter, Nina, and a relative, Jessie Leitch—both survived, but he went down with the ship.
GATHERING THE DEAD
The gruesome task of collecting bodies from the sea was conducted by ships from Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Mackay-Bennett carried tons of ice to preserve the bodies, more than 100 coffins, and 40 embalmers. Over the course of six weeks, 328 bodies were found; 119 of these were buried at sea and the rest returned to Halifax, either for burial or to be claimed by relatives.