Charles Talbot Bodell, known as ‘Stanley’, was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on the 1st June 1913, the son of Thomas Edward George and Florence Bodell (née Saunders). The family home was at 31. Ward Street, Toronto, and his father was employed as a machinist in a brass works.
In the spring of 1915, however, possibly because of the war raging in Europe, his parents decided to return home and as a consequence, booked third class passage on the
Lusitania for their journey across the Atlantic. Leaving Toronto by rail at the end of April, they joined the liner at her berth at Pier 54 in New York harbour, on the morning of 1st May 1915, in time for her early afternoons sailing.
Just six days later, the whole family was dead, killed after the ship was torpedoed, off the southern coast of Ireland and only hours away from her Liverpool destination.
Shortly after the sinking, although nothing had been heard of Thomas and Florence Bodell, a report was circulating amongst the survivors that Stanley had been rescued and looked after by a member of the crew until landed at Queenstown.
In The Cork Examiner for Friday 14th May 1915 under the heading LUSITANIA DISASTER
was the following: -
WANTED information of BABY BOY, two years of age who escaped from drowning, and was "mothered" by a stoker. Has large blue eyes and is big for his age. Answers to the name of Stanley Bodell. A child of same age was taken from the Queen's Hotel, Queenstown, but since can not be traced. Any information will be thankfully received and reward given by J.H. SAUNDERS care of Mr. Hennessy, Queenstown House, Queenstown. English papers please copy.
The report must have given false hope to relatives of the family, who presumably caused the advertisement to be inserted in the newspaper, but nothing more ever came of it and it must be assumed that Stanley Bodell had actually perished with his parents. None of the bodies of the family were ever recovered and identified and as such none has a known grave. Stanley Bodell was aged only one year and eleven months old!
Some Cunard records state that his name was Thomas, but the balance of evidence from contemporary records indicates that his name was Stanley.
Stanley Bodell’s paternal grandfather, Thomas Frederick Bodell, lodged a claim for the loss of his Stanley’s father and the personal possessions of the family before the Canadian Commission which initially awarded him $1,500.00 in respect of the loss of his son, and another $1,500.00 in respect of the personal possessions of the family. However; the Commission later decided that his grandfather, being a British subject, and not a Canadian, was not entitled to any compensation from them for the loss of his son, but increased the award for the loss of the personal possessions of the family to $2,000.00, with interest of 5% per annum from the date of the sinking to the date of the settlement, which was on the 12th January 1927.
Ontario Canada Births 1869 – 1913, Canadian Claims Case No. 846, Cork Examiner, Cunard Records, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, PRO BT 100/345, UniLiv D92/2/25, Graham Maddocks, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly.