It was the shipwreck that some say was an expensive bargain where 1,500 souls paid with their lives on the fateful night of April 15, 1912. However, the story of two orphans surfaced refusing to go down the cold Atlantic where the remaining victims met their grave. The story captivated the Western media with questions aplenty on how the young French boys apparently from the same mother ended on the ill-fated ship. They were among the 710 rescued who made it across the Atlantic and arrived in New York shortly after the tragedy struck. The young boys aged 2 and 4 were known to be the only children rescued without a parent or guardian. Little was known about where they came from or who their parents were, as the passenger list was an utter chaos and undecipherable. The boys just answered “oui” to the questions they were asked because, they only spoke French. See below the iconic photo that says it all, “Louis & Lola?”
How did the names surface? It was a certain supposition given to the authorities by the young boys. Sooner, all that sparse information led to some revelation about the story. So, it goes something like this… The man who handed the kids to the last rescue craft was none other than their father.
Soon, the media dubbed the boys as “Titanic Twins”. Although, their identity was initially unknown until the story reached France and a woman from Nice, France came forward to claim the boys. She maintained a claim on the boys after coming across a news article and saying that the boys resembled her own.
The authorities identified the claimant mother as Marcelle Caretto. She had described the kids in detail after yielding questions that only her sons could answer. After ascertaining the legitimacy of relationship, Marcel reunited with her sons Michel and Edmond in the United States.
So that still left a question unanswered, how the young French boys ended in Titanic? Here is the answer – The father of the children identified as Michel Navratil estranged from his wife had kidnaped the boys and attempted fleeing to the United States to start a fresh lease of life. Unfortunately, his choice of getaway ship was the ill-fated Titanic.
His plan foiled after the ship struck an iceberg in the middle of frigid Atlantic, and he was among the 1,500 who met a watery grave.
Navratil gave himself a nom de guerre, Louis B. Hoffman and called his sons with aliases “Lolo and Momon”. The story became more twisted as he was found to be the only deceased victim of the shipwreck to have been carrying a loaded pocket firearm.
After the incident, when the French boys had reached New York, they were fostered by Margaret Hays. She was among the few who survived the ordeal. Soon, after a month had come to pass, the children were reunited with their real mother, Marcelle, who traveled across the Atlantic for her sons.
As for the fate of the rescued boys, Michel went on to attend college and earned a doctorate to become a professor of Philosophy. His younger sibling Edmond died after fighting for the French Army in the WWII at the age of 43.
Michel was among the last male survivors of RMS Titanic and died on January 20, 2001, at a grand old age of 93.
The story of the young brothers who survived the ordeal was one of a kind that moved the world with their survival of tragedy and reunion. Their unique tale will continue to echo in the years to come and will remain a special chapter from history.