Sid Sedunary, who lived all of his life in England, had known the story of the sinking of the Titanic from a very young age.
His mother had told him about the ship and of his father Sid Sedunary Senior.
He was a third class steward on the Titanic, and one of 1,500 passengers and crew who died on the ocean liner’s maiden voyage in April, 1912.
Sid Jr was born later that year, in December, to Madge Sedunary (Tizzard) and named after his father.
“Mother always talked about it so it’s always been there in the background of my life,” said Sedunary.
“I’ve studied the story, and joined the Titanic society…met some wonderful people and very knowledgable people. There’s very few people like me left.”
In June of 2002 Sid Sedunary,89, took his very first trip to Canada with the British Titanic Society to mark the 90th anniversary of the sinking of the ocean liner.
The Titanic Canadian Odyssey, as it was called, was organized by the Irish Titanic Historical Society (ITHS) and the British Titanic Society (BTS).
The trip had four main objectives according to Noel Ray, a member of the ITHS and author of a 2002 report:
- visit locations in Halifax associated with the sinking of RMS Titanic,
- visit the wreck site of The White Star Line SS Atlantic which sank in Terence Bay, Nova Scotia in 1873
- commemorate the sinking of the Empress of Ireland of the Canadian Pacific Railway which sank near Rimouski in 1914
- visit Grosse Île near Québec on the St Lawrence.
Nine members of ITHS and eight members of the BTS, including Sid took the 12 day trip. They were met in Canada by their tour guide, Warren Stauch of Kitchener, Ontario.
“Sid sort of captured the spotlight because of his father,” said Stauch.
He remembers Sid Sedunary as a very stately, engaging man who liked to talk and reminisce.
An emotional turning point in the journey occurred during a trip to the Maritime Museum of the Titanic in Halifax, Nova Scotia where the names of all those who had drowned when the ship sank was posted.
“When we got to that board in the museum of the Atlantic and there was [Sid Sr’s] name, everybody went quiet,” said Stauch.
“Everybody in the group, their eyes welled up. It was such an emotional…because that was really the first time he had any direct contact with his Dad.”
Click below on the play button to listen to my 2002 interview with Sid Sedunary:
Audio of this interview is also available on iTunes or wherever you download your podcasts.
Body No. 178
Sid Sedunary Sr., was 25 when he joined the crew of the Titanic to work as a third class steward. At that point he had spent a lot of time on the water.
“He actually was in the navy until 1908. He left the navy and tried one or two shore jobs but the sea called again,” recounted his son Sid Jr.
“He joined the White Star and he served on the Adriatic and then the Olympic and was one of the chosen crew to join the Titanic.”
Sid Sr.’s body was found on April 23,1912 by the cable ship Mackay-Bennett which recovered the bodies of most of the victims.
Sid Jr., only discovered in 2001 that his father’s body was buried at sea.
“Some [bodies] had been rather badly damaged apparently and were buried at sea. There was a main rescue vessel and there was a priest on board. And, like my father there had to be a sea burial,” said Sedunary.
“A brief service was held. And those that were fit enough, they were embalmed and placed in coffins, if they were first class. And the rest in canvas bags and of course taken back to Halifax.”
All the personal effects found on Sid Sr. were returned to Sid’s mother. They included a pocket watch that had stopped at 1:50, a half hour before the ship sank, a locker key and loose change.
Sid Sr’s body was identified by the cable ship company as body No.178.
Sid Sedunary Jr. lived to the age of 97, passing away in February 2010.
40 people attended the funeral ceremony for Sid Jr, at Henley Road Cemetery in Reading, England.
“His funeral service was a civil ceremony with the song You’ll Never Walk Alone,”said blogger Michael Barratt. “And the theme from the film Titanic played as we left the chapel.”
Barrett writes that along with Sid’s son and daughter-in-law, brother and other members of the family, a number of people from the British Titanic Society were in attendance.
Sid was the last known Titanic orphan when he died in 2010.