Perhaps forgotten in the Titanic story are those that went out to recover Titanic’s dead.
Two cable ships out of Halifax–Mackay-Bennett and Minia–brought back most of the bodies. Four bodies were recovered in May 1912 by Montmagny, a government tender from Quebec. The last body was found by the cargo ship Algerine out of St. John’s Newfoundland. On Friday, a plaque remembering those from Halifax (called Halligonians) who went out to collect the bodies was unveiled at Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.
Retrieving the bodies was important and also haunting, reports The Chronicle Herald. Pat Teasdale’s grandfather Francis Dyke was second electrician on Minia and wrote to his mother about it. “I honestly hope I shall never have to come on another expedition like this. … The Dr. and I are sleeping in the middle of 14 coffins.” Yet he was glad they could retrieve the bodies and not leave them in the water. 150 victims are buried in Halifax in Fairview Lawn, Baron de Hirsch, and Mount Olivet Cemeteries.
In 2004 genetic testing on the remains of a child thought to be Gösta Leonard Pålsson resulted in the child’s identity as Eino Viljami Panula, a 13-month-old Finnish boy. Doubts lingered as two young Titanic victims were very close, Panula and Sidney Goodwin. But it was a pair of leather shoes that led researchers to question the identification. According to news article at msnbc.com, the story of the shoes is quite fascinating:
The shoes had been saved by Clarence Northover, a Halifax police sergeant in 1912, who helped guard the bodies and belongings of the Titanic victims, according to the museum’s website. A letter from Northover’s grandson, Earle, recounts how the victim’s clothing had been burned to stop souvenir hunters. Clarence Northover couldn’t bring himself to burn the little shoes, and when no relatives claimed them, he put the shoes in his desk drawer at the police station. In 2002, Earle Northover donated them to the museum. These shoes were too large for a 13-month-old to wear.
So with more through testing and the assistance of the U.S. Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, it was determined with a 98% certainty the child is in fact Sidney Goodwin. Goodwin’s parents and five siblings all perished when Titanic went down.
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