The miraculous rescue of the Titanic orphans (8 photos)

Category: Nostalgia, PEGI 0+
13 April 2024

Sometimes some of our decisions have consequences that cannot be predicted by any available means.

Two little curly-haired boys were taken aboard the ill-fated Titanic by their father and survived. The man died. Without parents or guardians, no one could figure out who they were.

The boys' parents were divorced. The sons were under the care of their mother. My ex-husband asked me to take my sons for Easter weekend. The woman didn't mind. Unfortunately, the man had other plans for the Easter holidays - treacherous ones. He took the children and immediately traveled from Nice, France to Southampton, England to board the Titanic for the States. In fact, he kidnapped his own children.

Michel Marcel Navratil - father of the boys

The brothers did not know that they had been kidnapped. The boys were too young to talk about it, so they simply followed their father on board. The man had a fake passport in the name of Louis Hoffman. The eldest boy's real name was Michel Jr., the younger boy's real name was Edmond, and his father's name was Michel Navratil Sr.

Once on board, both boys were truly excited about the adventure. Michel Jr. later recalled: “I remember looking down the length of the hull – the ship looked great. My brother and I were playing on the front deck and we were thrilled to be there.” The boys were looked after by their father, as well as by a Swiss woman named Bertha Lehmann, who spoke French but no English.

As is typical for healthy, active children, after an eventful day, they fell asleep as soon as they reached the pillow. This was the case until the night of April 14th. The boys were awakened by their father and the stranger accompanying him. Michel Jr. later said: “My father came into our cabin where we were sleeping. He dressed me very warmly and took me by the arm. The stranger did the same to my brother. They knew they were going to die."

Scary night

Surviving brothers

Their father and the man who was helping him rushed to the last lifeboat. The father handed the children into the arms of the American woman, but only after he whispered a few last words into the ear of Michel Jr. He said: “When your mother comes for you, and she will surely come, tell her that I loved her very much and still love her. Tell her that I was waiting for her to follow us so that we could live happily together.”

After a final goodbye kiss, the father released the boys and their lifeboat went out to sea. Michel Jr. recalled how nice it was to flop into the waves, completely unaware of what was happening around. The Irish woman on the ship, Mary Kelly, sang lullabies to the boys as they sat helplessly awaiting rescue, and the brothers fell asleep. When they woke up, they saw that Carpathia was coming to their aid.

Hello New York

In the photo, the children are listed under the fictitious names of Louis and Lola, as their father called them.

The boys were taken on board, placed in matting bags. Michel Jr. recalled that he “considered it extremely indecent to be in a sack.”

During the search for their relatives, they were taken into the care of another Titanic survivor, Margaret Hayes. This came in very handy since she spoke French. Unfortunately, the boys refused to answer any questions about themselves with anything other than “oui.”

Reunion with mother

A lifeboat filmed by one of the Carpathia passengers

In France, their mother frantically searched for her children after their father did not return them home. The woman went to her ex-husband's house, but it was empty. She contacted the authorities, and French police began helping in the search. Only when the hopeless mother saw her children in a photo in the newspaper did she realize that the torment was over.

With Mother

Her ex-husband almost wiped out their bank account before leaving, but left enough money for a trip to America. The woman boarded the nearest ship and reached New York. She met her children on May 16, 1912. The happy reunion made it into all the newspapers. The woman took the children and returned to Nice.

After the tragedy, Edmond grew up and became an interior designer and architect. During World War II, he was drafted into the French army and was captured. He managed to free himself, but health complications that arose led to an early death at the age of 43.

Michelle Navratil in old age

Michel Jr. grew up to become a professor of philosophy and lived to become the oldest man to survive the sinking of the Titanic. He took an active part in actions and events dedicated to survivors. It was not until 1996 that he visited his father's grave, located in the Baron de Hirsch Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The man lived the rest of his life in Montpellier, France, and died on January 30, 2001 at the age of 92.

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