106 years later, Nova Sco­tia cap­i­tal re­mem­bers the Ti­tanic dis­as­ter

The Beacon Herald - - NATIONAL NEWS - ALEX COOKE

HAL­I­FAX — On the 106th an­niver­sary of the Ti­tanic dis­as­ter, a Hal­i­fax woman re­flected on her grand­fa­ther’s role in en­sur­ing some of the vic­tims were laid to rest.

Some 1,500 pas­sen­gers and crew mem­bers died on April 15, 1912, when the Ti­tanic struck an ice­berg and went down in the North At­lantic, south of the Grand Banks of New­found­land.

Ca­ble ships were dis­patched from Hal­i­fax in the af­ter­math to pluck bod­ies from the wa­ter when it be­came clear that only those who made it into the lifeboats had sur­vived.

Fran­cis Dyke was just 20 years old when he sailed out from Hal­i­fax to help search for bod­ies.

Over a cen­tury later, his grand­daugh­ter, 68-year-old Pat Teas­dale, spoke Sun­day as she held a scanned copy of a let­ter he wrote to his mother about his ex­pe­ri­ences.

She said he trained in Eng­land and was work­ing as the sec­ond elec­tri­cian on the Hal­i­fax ca­ble ship Minia when the dis­as­ter broke.

“Even though it was dif­fi­cult work, he was very happy to do that work and help bring these souls back to Hal­i­fax as a rest­ing place,” said Teas­dale.

She said Dyke didn’t share many de­tails about the time he spent on the frigid wa­ters.

“To my knowl­edge, he didn’t share any­thing with his wife or any of his three daugh­ters, one of whom was my mother,” she said. “He was very young when this hap­pened, and it was a trau­matic event.”

Teas­dale said she learned of Dyke’s in­volve­ment with the Ti­tanic in the 1960s, when he showed her a pic­ture frame the Minia’s car­pen­ter had made out of wreck­age from the ship.

She dis­cov­ered more de­tails in the late ’90s when she and her fam­ily found a let­ter he had writ­ten to his mother dur­ing the re­cov­ery ef­forts in a lo­cal mu­seum.

“It re­ally blew me away,” she said. “It’s de­tailed about what hap­pened, but it’s also per­sonal. It’s his reactions to what he was see­ing and feel­ing.”

An ex­cerpt from the let­ter reads “the MacKay (an­other ship tasked with retriev­ing bod­ies) had picked up over 200 bod­ies and had iden­ti­fied about 150 and had buried the rest.”

Dyke went on to be­come the head wire­less op­er­a­tor for the CS Cyrus Field and the SS Lord Kelvin be­fore his death in 1972.

Teas­dale said she’s proud of her grand­fa­ther’s ef­forts to put the vic­tims of the dis­as­ter to rest.

“He was that type of man. He would help oth­ers with any­thing,” she said.

“A very kind heart.” Teas dale was at Hal­i­fax’ s Mar­itime Mu­seum of the At­lantic Sun­day to share her grand­fa­ther’s story.

The Ti­tanic So­ci­ety of At­lantic Canada hosted an event at the mu­seum, both to com­mem­o­rate those lost in the dis­as­ter, and to high­light those who helped with the res­cue and re­cov­ery of sur­vivors and vic­tims.

Deanna Ryan-Meis­ter, pres­i­dent of the Ti­tanic So­ci­ety of At­lantic Canada, said in an in­ter­view Satur­day that it’s im­por­tant for ev­ery Nova Sco­tian to re­mem­ber the Ti­tanic dis­as­ter.

“It’s hon­our­ing and re­mem­ber­ing those who started their voy­age with hope: Hopes of good for­tune, hopes of a good life and then the change to such a tragic, tragic thing,” she said.

“Whole com­mu­ni­ties were af­fected.”

Hal­i­fax is home to the largest Ti­tanic gravesite in the world, with 121 vic­tims laid to rest in Fairview Lawn Ceme­tery. About 30 oth­ers are buried in two other ceme­ter­ies in the city.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILES

The Bri­tish liner Ti­tanic sails out of Southamp­ton, Eng­land, at the start of its doomed voy­age on April 10, 1912.

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