mackay bennett

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.’

DID YOU KNOW: Titanic’s bandmaster received a massive funeral that rivaled that of a British Prime Minister? Wallace Hartley, the 33-year-old head of Titanic’s eight man band, was one of the bodies recovered from the sea by the CS Mackay-Bennett in late April, 1912. Hartley’s remains were returned to his hometown of Colne, Lancashire, and a massively elaborate funeral was held. Over 1,000 mourners attended the funeral itself, while between 30 and 40 thousand people lined the route from the church to the Keighley Road cemetery where Hartley was to be buried. In contrast, when Prime Minister Henry Campbell-Bannerman had died in 1908 at 10 Downing Street - to date the only Prime Minister to die at the address - his funeral was much more subdued, with only a few hundred mourners at Westminster Abbey.


The Allison Family were 1st class passengers on board the Titanic. The family was made up of Hudson Joshua Creighton Allison, his wife Bess Waldo Allison, their daughter Helen Loraine Allison and their young son Hudson Trevor Allison. They brought along four servants. A maid Sarah Daniels, a cook Mildred Brown, a nurse Alice Cleaver and a chauffeur George Swane. Hudson and his wife occupied cabin C-22, Sarah and the Allison’s daughter occupied C-24 and Alice occupied cabin C-26 with young Trevor. Swane and Brown occupied two second class cabins.

On April 14th the Allison’s brought their daughter Loraine along to dinner with Major Arthur Godfrey Peuchen to see how beautiful dining room was.

After Titanic hit the iceberg, Hudson went off to find out what was going on. Nurse Cleaver took young Trevor and down to second class to find Swane and Brown. Hudson returned to find the two missing. He then delivered his wife and daughter to Boat 6 and left before it was launched. Major Peuchen recalled their almost rescue

“Mrs Allison could have gotten away in perfect safety, but somebody told her Mr. Allison was in a boat being lowered on the opposite side of the deck, and with her little daughter she rushed away from the boat. Apparently she reached the other side to find that Mr. Allison was not there. Meanwhile our boat had put off.”

George Swane saw Alice, Mildred and baby Trevor safely into Boat 11 which was launched around 1:45am, almost an hour after Boat 6 had left. The maid had gone up early to investigate what was going on and was hurriedly placed aboard a boat by a steward who promised to inform the Allisons of her whereabouts. Stories vary claiming Cleaver panicked and grabbed the baby without informing Mrs. Allison that she was leaving and Bess refused to board a lifeboat without her child. Though it is possible they all went up as a group and simply got separated.

Hudson, his wife and daughter as well as their chauffeur were all lost in the sinking. It is unknown if Swane was able to find the Allisons and inform they that Trevor was safely off the ship but if he was able the information clearly reached them too late. The Allison family was last seen on deck smiling.

Bess was one of only four first-class ladies to perish. Young Loraine was the only child from the first class not to have been saved.

Mr. Allison’s body was the 135th body recovered by Mackay-Bennett. Swane’s was the 294th. Hudson’s body was buried in a family plot in Maple Ridge Cemetery near Winchester, Ontario.

Hudson’s brother George and his wife Lillian met Alice and Trevor in New York City after the sinking and took custody of the newly orphaned child. Trevor died at the age of 18 of food poisoning. He was buried next to his father.

In 1940, Helen Loraine Kramer claimed she was Helen Loraine Allison. The woman said at the last minute her parents gave her over to a man calling himself Hyde, who she claimed was actually Thomas Andrews. She says after the sinking her and Mister Andrews moved to the American Midwest and lived on a farm together. The Allison family did not accept her claim. Eventually she gave up and never contacted the family again.

In late 2013 DNA tests were down to see if Kramer’s ridiculous claims were true. The test came back negative. No relationship was found between Kramer and the Allisons.

This is believed to be the iceberg that sank the Titanic on April 14-15, 1912.

The photograph was taken from the deck of the Western Union Cable Ship, Mackay Bennett, commanded by Captain DeCarteret.
The Mackay Bennett was one of the first ships to reach the scene of the Titanic disaster.

According to Captain DeCarteret, this was the only berg at the scene of the sinking when he arrived, it also had a smear of red paint over it.

Today’s ship, the Cable Layer Mackay Bennett (1884-1963)

The Mackay Bennett was one of the several cable ships that operated laying and maintaining telegraphic cables on the North Atlantic. She became famous, however, for a much more grim task. From 17 to 23 of April of 1912, the Mackay Bennett was comissioned for the task of recovering the bodies of Titanic’s victims, scattered through the Atlantic. The small ship recovered 328 of the more then 1500 bodies; many have to be buried at sea, because the Mackay Bennett lacked space and conditions to properly preserve all the bodies. The criteria to descart the bodies were the apparent social status; those who looked like first class passengers were given priority for embalming, and those who looked crew or steerage were buried at sea. Most of the bodies that have made to shore were layed to rest at the Halifax cemetery, Nova Scotia, Canada.