Miss Elizabeth Bretherton

Elizabeth "Betty" Bretherton, 15-months old, was the daughter of Cyril Bretherton and Norah Keating.  She was also the sister of Paul Bretherton.  She traveled with her mother and brother aboard Lusitania.  Norah and Paul survived, Betty did not. The Brethertons lived in Santa Monica, California, where Paul and Betty were born and where Cyril was working as a journalist and lawyer.  In May 1915, Norah was traveling to England on the Lusitania to introduce her children to her parents.  Their second cabin cabin was C-14. When the torpedo hit, Norah was on the stairs between B and C Deck. She retrieved Betty from a vaguely described "area" on B Deck where she had been left, and took her to the lifeboats.  Paul was still napping belowdecks in his cabin.  Norah unsuccessfully tried to persuade men on the boat deck whom she had known during the voyage to rescue her son.  Thus, Norah was forced to leave Elizabeth. Norah recalled, "I forced [my] baby into some man's arms who had got to the stairs," (other accounts claim Elizabeth was left with a officer) and went below herself. When Norah return to the boat deck with Paul, she once again saw the man with whom she had left Betty, but he did not have her daughter.  It is not known whether the man placed Betty in a lifeboat that upset or whether he had abandoned the little girl. After the sinking Norah placed this advert in the Cork Examiner seeking news of her daughter:
"MISSING: A baby girl, 15 months old, very fair hair, curled, rosy complexion, in a white woollen jersey and leggings. Tries to walk and talk.  Name Betty Bretherton. Please send any information to Miss Browne, Bishop's House, Queenstown."
Thee Miss Browne in question was a sister of the famed Titanic photographer, Father Francis Mary Xavier Browne. Elizabeth's body was recovered on Tuesday, 11 May. Norah had given up hope of the body being found and had gone to her home in England. When Elizabeth’s body was recovered she was buried in a convent in Cork. Cyril Bretherton, on Norah's behalf, was awarded $7,500 for the loss of Elizabeth and $1,500 for the loss of personal effects.

Related pages


Norah, Paul, and Betty Bretherton at the Mixed Claims Commission

Links of Interest


Encyclopedia Titanica - Lest We Forget: Part 1
Contributor: Jim Kalafus Senan Molony Mike Poirier References: Hickey, Des and Gus Smith.  Seven Days to Disaster.  G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1981. Hoehling, A. A. and Mary Hoehling.  The Last Voyage of the Lusitania.  Madison Books, 1956. Kalafus, Jim and Michael Poirier (2005) Lest We Forget : Part 1 ET Research. <http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/lusitania-lest-we-forget.html> Preston, Diana.  Lusitania:  An Epic Tragedy.  Berkley Books, 2002.  

About the Author