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THIS rare photograph which shows Titanic victims being buried at sea has finally been made public more than a century after the disaster. The haunting black and white image was taken nine days after the luxury liner hit an iceberg and sank in the Atlantic claiming 1,522 lives on April 15, 1912.

The picture was taken on-board body recovery ship the Mackay Bennett during a mass funeral service for dozens of the dead.

The snap is expected to fetch PS5,000 when it is sold at auction by the family of Westy Legate who was fourth officer on the Mackay Bennett. The image shows body bags stacked on the windswept deck while two crewmen tip a stretcher to drop a victim over the side.

The ship's priest Rev Hind is seen conducting the service in front of the solemn crew.

Records show 166 bodies retrieved by the Mackay Bennett were buried at sea - but no images of the macabre event have been seen publicly until now.

It is believed the majority of victims buried at sea either had no identification or were third-class passengers who could not afford a funeral.

One body in the photo - labelled number 177 - was William Mayo, 28, from London, who was a leading fireman on the Titanic.

Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said yesterday: "Despite the number of bodies buried at sea, visual records of the occasion, such as this photograph, are almost non-existent, even in period publications.

ste "This picture blows away the myth that the burials were an orderly and dignified process.

tp "You can clearly see the bodies in brown sacks piled up on the deck, with some piled two or three high.

st "The Reverend Hind is seen holding a prayer book looking at two crewman who appear to be tipping up some kind of platform, presumably committing a body into the sea.

paft "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 Bennett was a Canadian cable laying ship and the Titanic's owners White Star Line paid PS300 a day to hire the vessel to recover the bodies.

It left Halifax, Nova Scotia, on April 17 and arrived at the wreck on April 21.

The crew conducted burials at sea on the evenings of April 21, 22 and 23 and then on the afternoon of April 24 when it is thought the picture was taken.

Rev 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."

The photo will be sold on October 19 by auctioneers Henry Aldridge and Sons in Devizes, Wilts.

This blows away the myth the burials were " orderly and dignified ANDREW ALDRIDGE on impact of the picture


SOLEMN SCENE Victims are sent to their watery graves

HISTORIC Westy Lagate, left, took picture of service
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 30, 2013
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