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This week, we pay our respects to more than 1,500 people who died in the Titanic disaster, says deputy editor Claire Vaughan
The Titanic is headline news at the moment – hardly surprising as this week marks the centenary of the great ship’s catastrophic encounter with an iceberg, which led to the loss of more than 1,500 of the 2,224 on board. Of those who died, around 830 were crew.
Some of the events from that night have passed into popular folklore: the heroic actions of the ship’s officers in getting the lifeboats afloat, the telegraph operators desperately trying to summon help, and perhaps most poignantly the band members who played on as the ship broke up around them and disappeared beneath the waves.
But the family historian in me has always wondered about the ‘faceless’ crew who perished. Some of their stories are now being told; among them eight men who all lived on Malmesbury Road in Southampton, while the BBC’s Titanic with Len Goodman reveals what life was like 'below-decks'.
In our April issue, we meet a reader who was astonished to discover that his great grandfather, a trimmer, had survived the disaster, and uncover the story of the Belfast workers who built the ship, plus don’t miss our Titanic-themed book reviews section.
This week, as Ancestry.co.uk and Findmypast.co.uk both launch Titanic datasets in which you can discover the crews’ fate, a memorial voyage of descendents of those who died that day has set sail and is following Titanic’s route.
Here in the Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine offices we’ve been pondering the reasoning behind the trip. This morning, I came across a picture on the BBC News website. It features a sea of placards, proudly held aloft by those making the pilgrimage – each picturing their own ‘Titanic ancestor’. As I looked into the face of 100-year-dead Wilfred Seward, chief pantryman 2nd class, I understood.