Michel, Sr., was born in Sereď, Kingdom of Hungary, present day Slovakia, in 1880. He later moved to France, and finally settled, in 1902, in Nice. He married Italian-born Marcelle Caretto on May 26, 1907, and their two sons were born in Nice: Michel Marcel Navratil (born June 12, 1908) and Edmond Roger Navratil (born March 5, 1910). They separated in early 1912. Some factors which may have led to the separation include Michel Sr.'s failed attempt to open a tailor shop, and an alleged extramarital affair on Marcelle's part. She was given custody of the boys in the separation.
Michel Sr. was granted visitation rights with Michel Jr. and Edmond during Easter break in 1912, but failed to return them to Marcelle at the designated time. He and the boys escaped France via Monte Carlo, and sailed to England, where they stayed at the Charing Cross Hotel in London for a period of time. Michel Sr. purchased three second-class tickets for the Titanic, boarding under the assumed name of "Louis M. Hoffman" with his two sons, "Lolo" (a diminutive of Louis) and "Momon" (a diminutive of Edmond). He told other passengers that he was a widower, and that he was taking the boys to America. He rarely let them out of his sight, but at one point during the voyage, he allowed a Swiss girl, Bertha Lehmann, to watch them while he played a card game.
On the night of the sinking, Michel Sr., helped by another passenger, dressed his sons and took them to the boat deck. "My father entered our cabin where we were sleeping. He dressed me very warmly and took me in his arms. A stranger did the same for my brother. When I think of it now, I am very moved. They knew they were going to die," Michel Jr. recalled. Contemporary witness reports said that Michel Jr. was wearing just a flannel shirt, and Edmond had no clothes on, and both were wrapped in blankets. They were put into Collapsible D, the last lifeboat successfully launched from the ship. Michel Sr. perished in the sinking.
His body was the fifteenth recovered by the Mackay-Bennett. Among his possessions was a loaded revolver. Because he had used a Jewish surname on his ticket, on May 15, 1912, his body was interred in the Baron de Hirsch Cemetery in Halifax.
A book, "Les Enfants du Titanic", was written in 1982 by Élisabeth Navratil, granddaughter of Michel Navratil, telling the story of him and the boys, and of their unfortunate adventures on the Titanic.
- Master Michel Marcel Navratil - Titanic Biography - Encyclopedia Titanica at www.encyclopedia-titanica.org
- Votruba, Martin. "Michal Navrátil". Slovak Studies Program. University of Pittsburgh.