Up till now, there were no photos of burials at sea done aboard Mackay Bennett when it recovered Titanic victims. Victims who could be identified were brought back for burial by relatives. Those that could not be identified or third class who could not afford a funeral were buried at sea. Now Henry Aldridge and Son, who seem to have a franchise on Titanic memorabilia and rare antiques, have a photo up for auction that shows a mass funeral taking place. The photo was taken by Westy Legate, fourth officer of the ship.
The photo shows body bags on the ship’s deck, two men appearing to tip a stretcher that carries a body into the sea, the ship’s priest Reverend Hind conducting a service, and members of the crew standing nearby.
Apparently another crew member’s family got possession of the photo and are now putting it up for auction. The pre-sale estimate is £5,000 ($8,000). Considering how rare this photo is, that figure seems low for a one-of-a-kind item. Then again it may sell for three times that amount at auction. Henry Aldridge is quoted in the Daily Mail saying:
“This picture blows away the myth that the burials were an orderly and dignified process. You can clearly see the bodies in brown sacks piled up on the deck, with some piled two or three high.”
What myth is he referring to here? Most of the accounts I have read (and admittedly I have not read them all) generally relay it was a mass burial. Now perhaps to console grieving relatives not all details were included (like stacking bodies on the decks) but that is hardly a myth. It is hardly surprising that they would need to stack bodies on the deck, considering the numbers involved. Since it was a burial at sea, this would be a necessity.
Source: Rare Picture Shows Priest Praying Over Titanic Victims Before They Are Buried At Sea(29 Sep 2013, Daily Mail)