The titan of the sea, the great unsinkable ship that sank – over a century later, the mystery of the Titanic is still being studied to this day. Only a third of the ship’s passengers survived, while over 1,500 lost their lives. But out of all those casualties, only 340 bodies were recovered. So, the question remains: what happened to the remaining 1,160?
Why there were only 20 lifeboats?
I’ll get there shortly, but first, a quick recap. When the RMS Titanic went down after crashing into an iceberg on April 14, 1912, hundreds of people perished in the freezing waters of the northern Atlantic Ocean.
One of the main reasons all these people were left to wait for rescue in 28-degree water (which would all-too quickly claim lives before that rescue came) was that the Titanic didn’t have enough lifeboats for all its passengers. There were only 20, and they needed 60 to be able to carry everybody on board to safety.
As for why there was such a drastic shortage of lifeboats, that’s because there had been complaints that the deck was too cluttered-looking when they did have a sufficient amount. What’s even worse, the first few lifeboats that were released after the collision weren’t even filled up halfway, which could’ve saved so many more lives!
Why the Titanic’s lookouts didn’t see the iceberg?
Perhaps those poor souls could’ve been rescued from the bone-chilling waters a lot sooner if the closest ships passing by the Titanic’s crash site had seen the flairs and other distress signals being sent. But many of them didn’t because of something called light refraction. This phenomenon could also possibly explain why the Titanic’s lookouts hadn’t seen the iceberg until it was too late.
There are others, however, who say that this was because of the fact that they didn’t have binoculars. Long story short, they didn’t have the key to the onboard cabinet where all the binoculars were stored because the only guy who had that key, Second Officer David Blair, was replaced at the last minute and forgot to hand the key over. If the crew had had binoculars to help them, perhaps they would’ve noticed the iceberg early enough to change course and miss it.
Why the ship was sailing at an unsafe speed
The ship was also moving much faster than the speed it was built for. The reason for this was that the ship’s owner, White Star Line, didn’t want to fall behind schedule. In fact, they wanted to get ahead of schedule and surprise the world to make headlines for arriving early.
Maybe if the Titanic had been sailing at a safer speed, it would’ve had time to steer away from the iceberg, even if it had been noticed a little too late due to the lack of binoculars.
Why some of the bodies weren’t found?
Anyway, there was a whole series of unfortunate events leading to the ship’s collision and the fact that so many people were left unrescued and their bodies not retrieved. So, back to that question. One theory about where the bodies might’ve gone is that they were lost at sea.
Only hours after the Titanic sank, a massive storm came over the ocean. The currents and winds would’ve swept many bodies up to 50 miles away from the crash site. This could explain why the first ships to arrive at the scene didn’t find them. Of course, there were those victims that went down with the ship, and they had no chance of being retrieved.
As for the bodies that were recovered, some were given a proper burial at sea if there wasn’t room for them on the rescue ship. This was mostly third-class passengers whose families wouldn’t have likely had the funds for a funeral. Others were transported to Halifax, Canada to be buried by their loved ones. But there are also graves of unidentified victims that were given burial in a cemetery too.
We’ll probably never know the exact location or fate of the unfound bodies, so we can therefore only rely on the theories of those who’ve been studying the Titanic all this time and trying to unveil this tragic mystery. Hundreds may have lost their lives to this horrific catastrophe that possibly could’ve been prevented, but there are those who made it out alive and did what they could to help others as well!
The Unsinkable Molly Brown
If you saw James Cameron’s famous 1997 film based on these events, then you might remember the character Molly Brown being one of the first to make it out on a lifeboat and trying to convince the quartermaster that they should row back to get more survivors.
Well, Molly Brown was, in fact, a real person, and there are accounts that she actually did do this! The brave and selfless woman earned herself the nickname “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” and after the ship went down, she tried her best to get as many passengers as she could into the lifeboats. But the philanthropist’s good work didn’t end there.
Even after surviving the catastrophe and being rescued by the RMS Carpathia, Brown got together with other first-class survivors and put together an organization to help second- and third-class survivors with counseling and other basic needs. She also campaigned for education of the poor and for women’s rights. In 1914, she even ran for the Senate, and after the First World War, the Missouri native went to help rebuild war-torn France.
Lucky Lawrence Beesley
She was truly a remarkable and inspiring woman! There was also author, journalist, and teacher, Lawrence Beesley. Beesley was a second-class passenger from the UK who was busy reading a book in his cabin when the ship hit the iceberg. He asked a steward what had happened, and the steward tried to assure him that it was nothing to worry about.
Luckily, Beesley decided to go up to A deck and, since there were no woman or children around, he was told to jump into lifeboat number 13 just before it was launched. He later wrote a book that brought him a lot of success called The Loss of the SS Titanic.
How Violet Constance Jessop survived… twice
In this book, Beesley talks about his experience in great detail. Another survivor was Violet Constance Jessop, who was a stewardess on the ship. Jessop hadn’t planned to work on the Titanic until her friends convinced her to apply for the job. She was in her cabin, almost asleep in her bunk, when the Titanic hit the iceberg.
She was immediately ordered to go and help on deck. She was then put in lifeboat 16, along with a baby to take care of. After 8 hours afloat in the ocean, another ship saved the passengers of this lifeboat, and the baby was reunited with its mother.
Jessop’s survival skills were put to the test yet again when she was on board the HMHS Britannic, which also sank four years later in 1916. Ironically, this was a sister ship of the Titanic and also owned by White Star Line!
Who were on the first lifeboat?
Dorothy Gibson, a beautiful American singer, model, and silent film actress was also a survivor of the Titanic. Gibson was one of the richer and more famous aboard the ship. She was playing bridge in the lounge with her friends when the collision occurred. She and two of these friends escaped on lifeboat 7, which was the first lifeboat that was launched.
When she later arrived in New York, her manager convinced her to appear in a film based on the sinking of the Titanic. In this movie, she even wore the same exact clothes that she’d been in the night of the real sinking!
Do you know any other facts about the Titanic’s sinking or its survivors? Let everybody know down in the comments! If you learned something new from this article, then be sure to rate “The Mystery of the disappeared bodies of the Titanic” and share it with your friends!
Credti: Bright Side