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.
The parents of both Thomas and Florence Bodell lodged claims for compensation with the British government as a result of them losing their lives, stating that they both received an allowance from Thomas and Florence, and were in some way financially dependent upon them. The British Reparation Claims Department dealt with their parents after the War but it is not known how they ruled. Both Thomas Bodell’s father and Frank Saunders, a brother of Florence, and administrator of their estate, lodged claims in Canada for compensation. Thomas Frederick Bodell claiming for the loss of his son, and Frank Saunders for the loss of money and personal effects of the Bodell family as a result of the sinking. In 1923, a decision was made to award Thomas Bodell’s father the sum of $1,500, and their estate $1,500; however, as the committee failed to completely agree on the decision, the matter was left for further consideration, and in January 1927, the Commission decided that Thomas Frederick Bodell, having never resided in Canada, was not entitled to succeed in his claim and that the initial award to the Bodell estate was too low and increased the award to $2,000.
Ontario Canada Births 1869 – 1913, Cork Examiner, Cunard Records, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, PRO BT 100/345, UniLiv D92/2/25, Canadian Claims Case No. 846, Graham Maddocks, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly