October 2, 2017 (continued)
Our final stop on the HopOn HopOff route was the cemetery where the 150 Titanic victims were buried.
The graves, most provided by White Star Line, were arranged in three rows which curved down a hill, to resemble the hull of a ship.
Each gravestone, set neatly alongside each other, was engraved with a name, if known, the number assigned to that body, and the date of death – always the same: April 15, 1912.
A female guide dressed in a long tartan skirt and woolen stockings took groups of us up the hill and gave explanations at a few of the graves.
If the name was engraved on the top of the gravestone, it meant that the person was identified prior to the time of burial; if the name was on the front of the stone, the person was identified afterwards.
At the grave of the unknown child were many small toys and stuffed animals left by visitors.
At the front of that stone was a separate plaque and a photograph of a baby (provided by his descendants), indicating his identity. Identification was made possible recently by extracting the DNA from a piece of bone and tooth found in his mortuary bag. Even so, the original headstone has been left as a memorial to all the children who were never identified that died at the sinking of the Titanic.
One headstone is labeled “J. Dawson.” For a long time, girls infatuated with the Jack Dawson character played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the 1990s movie about the Titanic would leave flowers and love letters at the grave.
In fact, Jack Dawson was a fictional character; the J. Dawson buried here was named Joseph. James Cameron, director of that movie, may have used the name on the gravestone in the creation of his character, because he had visited this cemetery, but it could also be a coincidence! (The guide told us that a person, in all seriousness, had told her that she saw Rose visiting the grave – that person apparently saw some elderly lady there and was convinced it was Rose – also a fictional character!) An older version of the Titanic story was the British film A Night to Remember – apparently a more accurate account of the disaster.
We returned on the next HOHO to the pier, arriving back on the ship in plenty of time before it sailed.