Berthe Antonine Mayné was one of the survivors of the popular sunken luxury steamship, the RMS Titanic. She might have had one-of-a-kind experience, but unfortunately, her story only started to be known after her death on October 11, 1962, or 51 years after the tragedy.
Mayné’s story about the Titanic began to surface when her nephew found some personal clippings, letters and photographs kept inside a shoebox in her personal belongings. According to Mayné’s nephew, she had been trying to convince him, her relatives and friends that she had been on Titanic with a young Canadian millionaire and had survived the tragedy. However, no one believed her until her death.
It would have been incredible to know her personal experiences and feelings about the Titanic. But it is now too late and the researchers who have been documenting all stories about the Titanic can now only rely on the clippings, documents, photos and other second-hand stories about Mayné and her experiences about the sunken ship.
Mayne’s story is one for the books, but why didn’t other people believe her claims?
As it turned out, the reason why no one believed Mayné that she was among the 866 passengers who were rescued was that her Canadian lover at that time had changed her name to “Mrs de Villiers.”
Based on Titanica, Mayne and her Canadian boyfriend used her pseudonym “Mrs De Villiers” from her former liaison, Fernand de Villiers so she would be able to book a luxurious cabin.
A Belgian newspaper, The Het Laatste Nieuws, described Mayné as someone who was “well known in Brussels in circles of pleasure and was often seen in the company of people who like to wine and dine and enjoy life.”
Mayné worked as a cabaret singer. She was 24 years old when she met Quigg Baxter, a young hockey player from Montreal, Canada. Baxter was with his mother and sister for a trip to Europe when his eyes laid on Mayné while she was performing in a café in Brussels.
Mayné and Baxter became lovers but kept the relationship secretly from his family.
His mother booked two adjoining staterooms, B58 and B60, a first-class cabin aboard the Titanic for herself and her two children.
Titanic’s first voyage from Southhampton to New York was a well-publicized trip boasting as the biggest luxury ship during that time.
When it was time to go, Baxter refused to return to Canada if Mayné would not join them. He was too determined to bring Mayné to Canada with him so he booked her a C-90 room or one deck below his room under the name of “Mrs. de Villiers.”
On the night of the tragedy, Baxter’s mother asked him to ask the captain why the ship had abruptly stopped in the middle of the ocean. He then went outside to see what was going on and saw Captain Smith seriously talking to Bruce Ismay, one of the highest-ranking White Star officials to have survived the tragedy.
According to Vintage News, part of the conversation between Baxter and Smith went like this:
“There’s been an accident Baxter, but it is all right”.
But as soon as the Captain left, Ismay told him to immediately get his family and ride the emergency lifeboat.
Baxter immediately followed Ismay’s advice and took his mother and sister and made sure that they were secured in lifeboat 6. He then returned with Mayné, introduced her to his family, and asked them to take care of his girlfriend.
At first, Mayné, who was only wearing a long woolen overcoat over her night gown, refused to get on the lifeboat without him.
Titanica, however, claimed that Mayné’s another reason why she didn’t want to get on the boat yet was that she wanted to return to her cabin and retrieve all of her precious pieces of jewelry. But Molly Brown, another passenger, persuaded her to get on the lifeboat instead. Lifeboat number 6 was said to be “most likely” the first boat to leave the sinking Titanic.
Baxter never made it to get on a lifeboat and his body was never identified nor recovered.
His last words to them were:
“Goodbye, keep your spirits up everyone!”
Mayné, on the other hand, stayed with Baxter’s family for several months in Montreal and eventually returned to Europe. She continued her career as a cabaret singer in Paris, France.
The nephew said that her aunt never married. She returned to a suburban house in Beerchen-Ste-Agathe in Brussels. Mayné died at 75 years old on October 11, 1962.
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