Fr Byles. Photo: Wikipedia
Fr Byles. Photo: Wikipedia

Former Bundy mayor's tragic connection to Titanic sinking

IT'S 104 years since the most famous ship of all time sank in the North Atlantic Ocean. 

The year was 1912, and it was a tragic time for Bundaberg's then mayor Lewis Maynard. 

Among the 1503 passengers who perished when the vessel struck an iceberg was Cr Maynard's cousin, Reverend Father TRD Byles.

Fr Byles had been on his way to a wedding in Brooklyn when disaster struck the ship. 

According to Wikipedia, Thomas Roussel Davids Byles was a Catholic peiest who became famous for his actions on board the famous vessel.

"Byles was walking on the upper deck praying his breviary when the Titanic struck the iceberg.

"As the ship was sinking, he assisted many third-class passengers up to the boat deck to the lifeboats.

"He reputedly twice refused a place on a lifeboat. Toward the very end, he recited the rosary and other prayers, heard confessions and gave absolution to more than a hundred passengers who remained trapped on the stern of the ship after all of the lifeboats had been launched.

"His body, if recovered, was never identified. His brothers installed a door in his memory at St Helen's Catholic Church in Chipping Ongar, Essex.

Pope Pius X later described Byles as a "martyr for the Church."

Fr Byles was portrayed in many films, including the most famous 1997 version of the Titanic movie where he was played by James Lancaster.

There has been a move to make Fr Byles a saint.

A staircase on the Titanic.
A staircase on the Titanic. Blue Star Line

Further tragedy struck the family when in 1928, Lewis Maynard shot his wife and then turned his gun on himself.

Newspaper reports at the time say the retired engineer and then former mayor was 67 at the time of the tragedy. 

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