Titanic descendants mark tragedy with Southampton ceremony


Descendants of those who perished on the Titanic today threw flowers on the dockside where she left port on the 100th anniversary of the doomed liner setting sail.

The tribute was the last act in a special ceremony held at berth 44 at Southampton docks from where the White Star ship departed on April 10 1912.

During the ceremony, a minute's silence was held for more than 1,500 passengers and crew who died when the ship sank after hitting an iceberg on her maiden voyage to New York.

A recording of the Titanic's whistle was also played across the docks at noon - the exact moment the liner left her mooring - and around 650 relations of the dead paid tribute.

Southampton bore the brunt of the death toll with 549 - more than a third of the total - from the city dying in the disaster on April 15 1912.

Civic dignitaries also paid their respects in the ceremony hosted by television personality Fred Dinenage, whose great uncle James Richard Dinenage - a first class steward - died on the Titanic aged 47.

The service ended with the hymn Nearer My God To Thee, which was said to have been played by the ship's musicians as Titanic sank.

The ceremony, which also told the story of the sinking, is the start of a week of events in several countries marking the 100th anniversary of the tragedy.

They culminate in a service above the wreck site onboard the MS Balmoral with 1,309 passengers who have paid up to £6,000 to sail to the site of the sinking.

Titanic's departure was re-enacted by the tug tender Calshot, which was built in the same era to manoeuvre the world's greatest ocean liners, as it sailed from berth 43/44 followed by a flotilla of craft.

Vanessa Beecham, from Southampton, paid tribute to her great uncle Edward Biggs, a fireman aboard who died aged 21.

"I enjoyed the ceremony which was tasteful and moving," she said.

"It was a worry during the anniversary that the families would be forgotten in all the razzmatazz like the cruise that left a few days ago, but this was lovely."

Mrs Beecham also had another relative, William Harder, 39, a window cleaner on the Titanic, who survived in lifeboat 14 and had never been to sea before.

"He died in the 1960s and he never spoke about it," she added.