About the Bodies

Anything concerning the wreck. Expeditions, submersibles, photos, etc.
mario schiavina
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About the Bodies

Postby mario schiavina » Tue Jan 19, 2010 5:38 pm

Do you know what happened with the sailor´s bodies that have remained inside the ship after the sinking?

Could Ballard find any bones? Is it possible?

How many years can the rest be inside the ship ?

Can the depth, the temperature, the pressure, the salt, affect preservation ?

Byron Angel

Re: about the bodies

Postby Byron Angel » Tue Jan 19, 2010 6:15 pm

mario schiavina wrote:Do you know what happened with the sailor´s bodies that have remained inside the ship after the sinking?

Could Ballard find any bones? Is it possible?

How many years can the rest be inside the ship ?

Can the depth, the temperature, the pressure, the salt, affect preservation ?




..... Hi Mario,

IIRC, skeletal remains have often been found underwater, even in very old ships.


Byron

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RF
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Re: about the bodies

Postby RF » Tue Jan 19, 2010 6:35 pm

Items of crew clothing and uniforms were found by Ballard, including sailors boots on the sea bed.

Given the passage of time it is likely that human remains will have largely decomposed. Bodies will also have been washed away as the ship sank to the bottom.
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hammy
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Re: about the bodies

Postby hammy » Tue Jan 19, 2010 9:38 pm

It is only in recent years that we have begun to see that there is a remarkable amount of life and life forms even in the deepest of the ocean abysses . As well as the visible fish , etc , microscopic analysis has shown that there is also a large population of the tiny things , right down to single celled zoa and bacteria .
As a tremendous amount of aquatic life is continously descending , dead , to the ocean floor ( whale carcasses being the most obvious ones ) so a host of creatures that feed on this nourishment have evolved over the millenia .

Though the studies to date have been limited , in ocean floor studies , as far as I know , to whale carcasses , watching the process filmed over time indicates that reduction of the cadaver to a bare skeletal state is about as rapid as you would expect to see in the corpse of an adult elephant laying in the African Bush . Say three to six weeks .
Exposed human remains on the ocean floor would disappear quite quickly therefore , while remains inside a wreck would be attacked by those things able to get at them - in the case of sealed compartments that flooded slowly without ordinary openings or structural ruptures , by the micro-organims that entered in the sea water .

There are aquatic organisms that will break down bone , too , over time , just as there are on land . This explains why there are no Piratical heaps of skeletons laying around the wreck of Hood or Bismark . As on land , the bones need to be buried to be preserved .
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Re: about the bodies

Postby Vic Dale » Tue Jan 19, 2010 9:43 pm

I tend to think the vast majority of Bismarck's crew got off the ship or were got to the upper decks. I doubt that many died below decks and those that did probably died in the fires they had been sent to fight, so their bodies would have burned up. The dead and the dying would have floated away as the ship rolled over and those able to swim away would have done just that. Possibly 2000 men went into the water and that makes the tragedy even worse, because they were so close to rescue. So I would not expect to find many if any bones in the ship - not that anyone should go looking.

The whole operation was beset by a series of changing fortunes and for the men of the Bismarck, having found themselves trapped by the Hood, then scoring the greatest victory in German naval history, then almost getting to France, torpedoed and defeated in a heavy gun battle and finally seeing the rescue ships so close, and then moving off - it must have been as much as the mind could bear.

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hammy
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Re: about the bodies

Postby hammy » Wed Jan 20, 2010 8:04 pm

Vic Dale wrote:I tend to think the vast majority of Bismarck's crew got off the ship or were got to the upper decks. I doubt that many died below decks and those that did probably died in the fires they had been sent to fight, so their bodies would have burned up. The dead and the dying would have floated away as the ship rolled over and those able to swim away would have done just that. Possibly 2000 men went into the water and that makes the tragedy even worse, because they were so close to rescue. So I would not expect to find many if any bones in the ship - not that anyone should go looking.

The whole operation was beset by a series of changing fortunes and for the men of the Bismarck, having found themselves trapped by the Hood, then scoring the greatest victory in German naval history, then almost getting to France, torpedoed and defeated in a heavy gun battle and finally seeing the rescue ships so close, and then moving off - it must have been as much as the mind could bear.

Vic Dale


Without wanting to get morbid , Technically , it is very difficult to destroy a human body by fire , unless this is of exceptional intensity and duration . I've a friend who works as an undertaker who tells me that some discreet mechanical final assistance is needed to render bone as ash and powder in crematoria .
I suppose a body close to burning cordite could be totally reduced to vapour and ash very quickly .

Survivors reports speak of seeing many dead and incapacitated by injuries before Bismark sank , and of further heavy casualties among parties in the course of them moving up towards "safety" , so I think possibly 1500 as going into the water alive .
The worst aspect of the whole affair to my mind was the ( False ) U-boat sighting alarm , which caused the British ships Dorsetshire and Mashona to hurriedly leave the scene , but as anyone who has read Montserrat's book "The Cruel Sea" will be aware , that was how things were then .
One wonders how many of Bismarks crew would have been rescued had that not occured . Some several hundreds more , certainly .
The sea is very cold still in May , and Hypothermia would have set in , even in this group of comparitively fit and young men , after half an hour in the water , accelerated by their profoundly "shocked" condition .
As I understand it , once your core body temperature drops below the danger level , you cease to feel cold and your mental faculties become dulled and apathetic , until you become comatose , with death following some while after .
Bloody Grim , but there are worse ways to go , I suppose .

Fully agree that no-one should go looking .
" Relax ! No-one else is going to be fool enough to be sailing about in this fog ."

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RF
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Re: about the bodies

Postby RF » Thu Jan 21, 2010 8:28 am

hammy wrote:
the ( False ) U-boat sighting alarm , which caused the British ships Dorsetshire and Mashona to hurriedly leave the scene ,


Correction - Maori, not Mashona.
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Kyler
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Re: about the bodies

Postby Kyler » Thu Jan 21, 2010 9:48 pm

The point of recovering remains is pretty much mute any ways. Since under international law, sunken warships are considered war graves. Recovery of any possible remains or even artifacts without the express permission of the German government is forbidden.

To the basic question are there remains probably still aboard. I would say yes if there are any sealed compartments still in the ship. That seems unlikely since the Bismarck took a large hit when crashing into the seabed. In addition Hammy is correct that the highly unknown but complex ecosystem on the bottom of the ocean would most like destroy any evidence of the human remains that are open to ocean water. The Bismarck itself also a target for these organisms since colonies have already taken up the process of slowly eating the ship just like the Titanic.
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Wrong f@%king ship!" Commander Stewart-Moore (HMS Ark Royal)

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hammy
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Re: about the bodies

Postby hammy » Sat Jan 23, 2010 1:50 pm

RF wrote:
hammy wrote:
the ( False ) U-boat sighting alarm , which caused the British ships Dorsetshire and Mashona to hurriedly leave the scene ,


Correction - Maori, not Mashona.



Sorry , "them Tribals all look the same to me !"

( That politically incorrect racist joke was jointly sponsored by the British National Party and by Recognition Journal - a British Ministry of Defence publication . ) :=D
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Re: About the Bodies

Postby RF » Mon Jan 25, 2010 9:08 am

Mashona of course was sunk the following day by Luftwaffe bombs, so perhaps it is fortunate that she didn't pick up any Bismarck survivors - otherwise they would have been shipwrecked twice within two days.......the second time by their own side.
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hammy
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Re: About the Bodies

Postby hammy » Fri Feb 05, 2010 1:09 pm

That actually happened in the Greek campaign of 1941 .
A merchant ship evacuating troops from Nauplio in the Peleponnese ignored her "time to leave" limit overnight , and got caught by air attack at daybreak running south to get by Crete . A destroyer pulled some survivors out of the water , only to be attacked herself a little later , and sunk in turn .
" Relax ! No-one else is going to be fool enough to be sailing about in this fog ."

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Re: About the Bodies

Postby 30knots » Fri Feb 05, 2010 1:45 pm

What about the all the men/bodies left in the ocean (some with lifejackets on, some without) ?

I know the story of a body deliberately planted by the British with false documents that got washed up on the coast of Spain, in order for the false documents to reach Germany. (knowingly).

Was not even 1 out of the 1500-2000 bodies washed up somewhere ? Or even picked up by vessels in the area days/weeks after the sinking.

If not, what happened to them ?

Thanks and Regards,
30knots

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RF
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Re: About the Bodies

Postby RF » Fri Feb 05, 2010 2:02 pm

I believe a small number of bodies were found by Canarias and identity tags checked followed by formal burial at sea.

Beyond that the bodies would be too far out to sea to be washed up on a coastline before decomposition etc removes recognisable trace of human remains. Lifejackets would also deteriorate over time.
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Re: About the Bodies

Postby RF » Fri Feb 05, 2010 2:05 pm

30knots wrote:I know the story of a body deliberately planted by the British with false documents that got washed up on the coast of Spain, in order for the false documents to reach Germany. (knowingly).

Thanks and Regards,
30knots


''The Man Who Never Was'' was the stuff of fiction, to plant false info about an invasion of Greece to draw German forces away from Greece.
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hammy
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Re: About the Bodies

Postby hammy » Fri Feb 05, 2010 2:08 pm

In the case of the "Man who never was" "Major Martin" of the royal marines , the body was put into the water from a submarine in a location close off the Spanish coast where it was very likely to be found in the sea , or when it washed ashore in the local shore-going current , so it was not in the water for very long .

In the case of naval actions those bodies not in lifejackets usually sink , where as noted above , an deep oceanic ecosystem evolved for the role rapidly disposes of them .
Where bodies are supported in lifejackets ( having succumbed to death within hours due to hypothermia ) , they are virtually awash and difficult to find , and again , the oceanic ecosystem works rapidly to break down the remains .
Lifejackets too in that pre-synthetic age , would soon rot and disintegrate in the weather .

I believe that the Spanish cruiser Canarias spent some time in the area and may have taken some bodies out of the water , and I think some U-boat and a trawler were near enough soon enough afterwards to search in the area as well .
" Relax ! No-one else is going to be fool enough to be sailing about in this fog ."


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