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Why Titanic rescuers had to bury poor people at sea

THE bodies of third class passengers on the Titanic were tipped into the Atlantic while first and second class victims had proper funerals, documents reveal.

Telegrams between the main body-recovery ship and the White Star Line, which owned the sunken liner, reveal how the grim operation unfolded after the disaster on April 15, 1912.

The overwhelmed crew of the Mackay-Bennett had to prioritise which bodies they would bring back because they had no room for all the corpses on board.

Capt Frederick Larnder decided dead first and second class passengers should be brought aboard, embalmed and returned to their loved ones. Poorer passengers were cast into the Atlantic.

Of 334 recovered bodies, 116 were buried at sea with most of those being third class passengers and crew.

A message from Halifax, Nova Scotia, in northern Canada, where the dead were to be taken, to Mackay-Bennett’s Capt Larnder reads: ‘Absolutely essential you should bring to port all bodies you can possibly accommodate.’

Capt Larnder responded: ‘A careful record has been made of all papers moneys and valuables found on bodies.

‘Would it not be better to bury all bodies at sea unless specially requested by relatives to preserve them?’ Capt Larnder then messaged: ‘Add to my wireless today re burial, we can bring 70 to port if required.’ In the event, the Mackay-Bennett brought about 190 bodies back to Halifax.

The current owner of the 181 telegrams, Charles Haas, 69, a Titanic author and historian, purchased them in the 1980s.He is showing them on the online Titanic Channel, which he hosts.