Each year on April 15, hundreds of different stories are related about the most famous maritime tragedy in modern history, when many souls, including those of four Greeks, perished on the Titanic.
It was on this day in 1912 that the Titanic, the largest British passenger liner ever constructed, sank in the North Atlantic Ocean after colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City.
Of the estimated 2,224 passengers and crew aboard, more than 1,500 died, making it one of modern history’s deadliest commercial marine disasters during peacetime.
Another story, certainly less well-known and without the glamour of the world-famous film adaptations, is the tale of four Greek men whose fate is forever intertwined with that of the giant ship.
They were the only Greek passengers to sail on the Titanic.
Greeks who died in the Titanic pursued their dreams in America
Panagiotis Lymberopoulos, Vassilios Katavelos, Apostolos Chronopoulos and Demetrios Chronopoulos all came from the same village, Agios Sostis in the Messinia region of the Peloponnese. The last two men were brothers.
Like many of the passengers, the four friends were young – the oldest one was only 33 years old – and they wanted to go to America in search of a better life.
Tragically, their dreams, like those of so many others who perished on that starry night, never came true.
They all died in the most famous shipwreck in maritime history, and the bodies of the two brothers have never been found.
Lymberopoulos was the owner of a small factory in New York who had traveled back to Greece to visit his homeland for his son’s baptism.
Despite his wife’s warning, he decided to return to America after the baptism — and he took the Chronopoulos brothers with him.
Lymberopoulos was the only one who managed to be on one of the lifeboats since his knowledge of English helped him find his way to the deck.
Victims of Titanic shipwreck never forgotten in their hometown in Greece
However, the lifeboat he was on was never found. The tragedy of his death was compounded by the fact that he had changed his ticket, along with Katavelos, just so the four could travel together on the Titanic.
A small memorial erected outside the local church in their village in Messinia serves as the only memorial their families will ever have of the men.
It is also a small piece of the history of the Titanic disaster, and an eternal reminder of the unforgiving sea.
Unknown victims lie buried with honors in Halifax, Nova Scotia
It is possible, however, that their remains lie buried at Fairview Lawn Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia, not far from where many of the bodies of the Titanic victims washed ashore during the months that followed the tragedy.
One hundred and twenty-one victims of the RMS Titanic sinking are interred at Fairview –representing more Titanic victims than any other cemetery in the entire world.
Most of them are memorialized there with small gray granite markers with the name and date of death.
However, the occupants of fully one third of the graves have sadly never been identified and their granite markers contain just the date of death and marker number.
Cemetery surveyor E. W. Christie had laid out three long lines of graves in gentle curves following the contours of the sloping site of the area. By a strange coincidence, the curved shape of the graves suggest the outline of the bow of a ship.
Forensic excavations over the years have been able to give conclusive evidence of the previously-unknown occupants of the graves, including a child whose entire family had been killed in the wreck and an Irishman who had worked in the great boiler rooms of the enormous ship.