Titanic's dead mourned 100 yrs later in poignant ceremony at sinking site

Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:44pm EDT
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By Chris Helgren

ON BOARD MS BALMORAL (Reuters) - At the shrill sound of a ship's whistle in the North Atlantic, relatives of some of the more than 1,500 people who died when the Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg remembered their ancestors in a poignant ceremony a century later.

On a still, starry night and with little glare from the moon, the memorial cruise ship MS Balmoral floated above the wreckage of the famous 'unsinkable' luxury liner precisely 100 years to the day it foundered.

"At 2:20 am all was quiet, as it would have been 100 years ago when it went deathly quiet, when the screaming stopped," British Titanic historian Philip Littlejohn told Reuters on Sunday. Littlejohn's grandfather, Alexander Littlejohn, was a 1st class steward in charge of lifeboat 13 when the ship began to go down.

About 700 people were rescued that night, including his grandfather, but there were too few lifeboats to save the rest.

David Haisman, 74, a retired seaman from the English port town of Southampton, mourned the loss of his grandfather who had been on his way to Seattle to start a new life in the United States with his wife and daughter.

"I've been brought up with the story but now I could feel it," he said.

"My mother used to tell me how she got into lifeboat 14 and her feet became soaked with the 3 to 4 inches of water that remained in the bottom despite bailing."

The last time she saw her father was when he cupped his hands and shouted "I'll see you in New York".   Continued...

A girl places a rose on a plaque bearing the names of those who died when the Titanic sank, at the unveiling of the Titanic Memorial Garden in Belfast's City Hall April 15, 2012. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton