RMS Titanic Postal Clerks
Video: Posted Aboard the RMS Titanic. A Graphic Showing the Location of the Postal Mail Room on the Ship. The National Postal Museum Exhibit (1999-2000). Frame 1:56/5:27. GGA Image ID # 10ef0c03b6
On April 9, 1912, Sea Post clerks March and Gwinn toured their new ship and found much to like. Titanic’s mail sorting room was far superior to any they had ever worked in before. Most mail sorting rooms of the time were far removed from where the mailbags were stored, often relegated to a cramped and poorly ventilated space. The mailbag storage compartment aboard Titanic, however, was conveniently located directly below the mail sorting room.
The mail clerks objected to their sleeping and meal arrangements among the third-class passengers, however, and secured alternate accommodations and permission to dine in a private area.
- Mr. William Logan Gwinn, (37) Postal Clerk [P-BNR]
- Mr. John Starr March, (50) Postal Clerk [225-MB]
- Mr. John Richard "Jago" Smith, (35) Postal Clerk [P-BNR]
- Mr. James Bertram Williamson, (35) Postal Clerk [P-BNR]
- Mr. Oscar Scott Woody, (41) Postal Clerk [167-MB]
Checking the Mail Sacks on Board a Fast Mail Steamer. The World To-Day (December 1910) p. 1411, GGA Image ID # 1088f35764
The Sea Post Office. From one to three thousand sacks of mail are sorted here every trip. The World To-Day (December 1910) p. 1411, GGA Image ID # 108903420e
In all, 3,364 mailbags were brought aboard Titanic at three points — at its embarkation port at Southampton, England (1,758 bags); at Cherbourg, France (1,412 bags); and at Queenstown, Ireland (194 sacks) — before the ship headed for its final destination of New York City. Before sailing, the clerks carried out the routine tasks of checking the mail sacks and storing those that did not require their attention during the voyage.
As Titanic set sail, the five postal workers began sorting the mail, distributing letters and packages into mailbags according to their final destination. Their goal was to dispatch Titanic’s mail immediately upon arrival at the Quarantine Station in New York Bay, where all incoming ships were detained for health inspection purposes.
Extracts of text from the National Postal Museum exhibition Posted Aboard RMS Titanic, which ran from April 14 to October 30, 2001.
Legend For Survivor or Lost Passengers and Crew Members
- LB-# or A-D - Survivor on Lifeboat 1-16 or Collapsible Lifeboat A-D
- P-BNR - Perished, Body Not Recovered or Body Not Identified
- MB – CS Mackay-Bennett (bodies 1–306)
- M – CS Minia (bodies 307–323)
- MM – CGS Montmagny (bodies 326–329)
- A – SS Algerine (body 330)
- O – RMS Oceanic (bodies 331–333)
- I – SS Ilford (body 334)
- OT – SS Ottawa (body 335)
Numbers 324 and 325 were unused, and the six bodies buried at sea by the Carpathia also went unnumbered. Several recovered bodies were unidentifiable and thus not all numbers are matched with a person.
Upon recovery, the bodies of 209 identified and unidentified victims of the sinking were brought to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Of those, 121 were taken to the non-denominational Fairview Lawn Cemetery, 59 were repatriated, 19 were buried in the Roman Catholic Mount Olivet Cemetery, and 10 were taken to the Jewish Baron de Hirsch Cemetery. The bodies of the remaining recovered victims were either delivered to family members or buried at sea.