Rare photo taken on board Mackay Bennett in 1912 will be auctioned off next month in Devizes, Wiltshire. [x]
The ship’s priest, Reverend Hind, is seen with body bags stacked on the windswept deck during funeral, records show that 166 of 306 bodies retrieved by Mackay Bennett were buried at sea.
Most of the victims dropped into the Atlantic were believed to have been chosen because they had no means of identification or were third-class passengers and therefore could not afford a funeral.
The Mackay Bennett spent five days retrieving bodies from the wreck site and had to request for a second vessel to join it because there were so many. This photo shows that the deck was pretty much full up with the victims.The Mackay Bennet was a Canadian cable laying ship and the owners of the Titanic, White Star Line, contracted it at a rate of £300 a day to recover the bodies.
It left Halifax, Nova Scotia, on April 17 and arrived at the wreck site on April 21.
The crew conducted burials at sea on the evenings of April 21, 22 and 23 and then of the afternoon of April 24, when it is thought the picture was taken.
In an account of the burials, Reverend Hind later wrote: ‘Anyone attending a burial at sea will most surely lose the common impression of the awfulness of a grave in the mighty deep, the wild Atlantic may rage and toss but far below in the calm untroubled depth they rest in peace.’