Bodies washing ashore

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Message par Invité le Lun 12 Mai 2008 - 20:38

Gentlemen,

Can you, from your knowledge of aircraft crashes that took place at sea off Brittany, describe patterns regarding bodies washing ashore? I shall detail this rather general question below.

- Can you estimate the percentage of crew members whose bodies washed ashore?

From my investigations done so far it follows that bodies washed ashore of about 10% of aircrew lost in Channel & North Sea. The marine conditions around Brittany are most likely to be very different, hence my question.

- Are there area's where bodies washed ashore more frequently than in other area's?

- Is there a general body travel direction?

Currents in North Sea & Channel rotate 180 degrees every six hours. Nevertheless, there is a general current direction, probably driven by the Gulf Stream, from Channel to North Sea. Crew lost in the Channel can wash up northeast of the crash site, along the Channel coast or the North Sea coast. Both usually the European coasts, much less so the UK coast. But crew lost in the North Sea do not wash up in the opposite direction.

It would interest me to know if such very general rules can be stated for the Atlantic off Brittany. I am aware of the fact that these matters are so complicated that they cannot be captured in a mathematical formula.

Kind regards,

Rob Philips

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Message par pjegousse le Mar 13 Mai 2008 - 19:01

Hi Rob,

We need an expert sailer to answer your question, who I'm not !

But, I translate here in french for my dear colleagues.

Les questions sont donc les suivantes :

- Quel est le % de corps rejetés par la mer pour les crashs en mer ?
(Les données de Rob sont environ 10% pour des aviateurs tombés en Manche ou en mer du Nord)

- Quels sont les endroits où les corps ont été rejetés plus qu'ailleurs ?

- Y-a t-il un direction (dérive) privilégiée des corps en mer ?

Rob dit ensuite que les corps en Manche auraient tendance à être rejetés vers le Nord Est, le long des cotes de la Manche ou de la Mer du Nord et plutot côté continent que angleterre.
Il nous demande notre sentiment / avis sur la question.

Merci de l'aide des marins aviateurs !
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Message par Invité le Mer 14 Mai 2008 - 7:46

Thanks, Philippe. It is not really a question for sailors, but for aviation historians/archaeologists such as the ABSA group. You have the information about aircraft lost at sea in your area, and if and where bodies from these aircraft washed up. You have the information about bodies washing ashore in your area. I'm interested to hear about that. We may be able to draw a few - very preliminary - conclusions from that information.

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Message par gildas le Mer 14 Mai 2008 - 10:50

Dear Rob





I’m afraid
I won’t be able to add much more what you already know.


For
example, when due to unknown reason, Harrow
K7011 crashed somewhere at sea, if we can suppose everybody could have
still been together when the plane fell into the sea (what is not certain)
here’s a particular case where how all the bodies found were seperated.





Pil.
Off. BOWEN Edwin Buckley MIA


Fl.
Sgt. BRETT Richard George KIA
( + Le Rozel, 56)


Fl.
Sgt. BRISTER John MIA


Sqn Ldr.
BROWN Goderey Allison MIA


Pil.
Off. BURTON Peter Marsh ( 132123, from 271 Sqn) MIA


Lac. CASHMORE Philip ( + Plouhinec, 29)


Fl.
Lt. HALLEY Edward Thomason MIA


Lieut. HAWKINS Andrew Jervis ( 365796 ?) KIA (+ Lanildut, 29)


Fl.
Off. HENDERSEN William KIA (+Cherbourg,14)


Pil.
Off. McCAULEY John Glen MIA


Major PALMER H. J. MIA


(from Ministry
of Defence, 3-5 Geat Scotland Yard, London, 1997)





I’m trying
to see if I can meet relatives of Sgt Robert Anderson next Friday at Brest
Kerfautras cemetery. His body was the only one recovered on the shore in the
rade de Brest from this 218 Sqn Wellington crew. (10th April 1941).
If one day we could find the crash site of this bomber, I suppose the info may
come from German Flak archives.





I ‘m not
aware of any case where several bodies would have been found at the same place,
but at different dates. But this should have happened. This is often the case
of fallen wood from a boat. But the wood stays on top of the water, not a body.


Sorry not
to be able to help you more on that not easy at all but intersting subject.
You’re right, complicated, and depending of many factors, as season, cuirrent,
wind, weight, ....





Kind
regards


Gildas

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Message par pjegousse le Mer 14 Mai 2008 - 13:19

Hi Rob,
To complete statement of my dear friend Gildas, I'm not aware of a lot of airmen who came ashore in our database...
The area of North Brittany is not my interest, maybe somebody studying North "departments 29 & 22" of Brittany might help you !

For the area I'm concerned (south Brittany), it's quite difficult to link a sea crash and a body washed ashore. And, when a body is identified on a spot of the coast, the location of the crash at sea is not clear ; answering such your question is then quite difficult !
There are stories about "bad" germans at Belle Ile en Mer, who threw in a common grave behind the wall of the cemetery, a number of bodies collected at sea by fischemen !!!
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Message par Invité le Mer 14 Mai 2008 - 18:33

Gentlemen,

Thank you for giving this an effort. Do feel free to respond en français, I can read your beautiful language well enough.

Certainly, to be able to see possible patterns in body travel at sea, the crash area needs to be known, the body needs to be identified, and the body needs to wash ashore rather than be brought in at some port by fishermen or the Germans. The conclusion from your combined knowledge may become that bodies, as a rule, did not wash up in this area. Perhaps unless the crash took place very close to the shore. And then perhaps only if there was a beach rather than rocks.

The "bad German' behaviour described by Philippe, are we talking about 1942-43? This type of behaviour may have happened, and it did in the Berlin area when the war was going rapidly to its end, but it seems uncommon for Brittany in earlier years.

If the story would be true, then surely the British Missing Research & Enquiry Service would, after the liberation, have checked these matters? Because if not, one would definitely like to know if the story is true or not. So, can you be more specific? Which cemetery? Is there a CWGC memorial, or memorial headstone, for these men? Any eyewitness accounts?

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Message par Invité le Mer 14 Mai 2008 - 19:28

Gentlemen,



There may be another way of dealing with the body washup question. These are the starting conditions of the argumentation:



1. Bodies that washed up would be buried close to where this happened, meaning coastal villages or cities.



2. The British & Commonwealth nations, unlike the Americans, the Norwegians and the Dutch, would leave their fallen servicemen buried in such cemeteries. The bodies of these casualties were not repatriated, and not normally relocated to concentration cemeteries such as Bayeux.



3. A percentage of the bodies that washed up is likely to have been identified. I do not know which percentage would be true for your area, but it seems fair to say that, if bodies washed up here, then there have to be graves of RAF servicemen buried as unknowns in your area in coastal villages and cities.



According to my data, the following unknown RAF servicemen are buried in Finistère:

Brest Kerfautras, Plot 47:

Unknown RAF, 30/10/1941

Unknown RAF, 6/3/1943

Unknown RAF Sgt., 13/8/1943

In all of Brittany, there is one more unknown RAF Sgt., in St. Brieuc, row A, buried 19/3/1943.

And that's all, if my data is accurate. Please correct me if this is in error.



Therefore, as it is unlikely that all bodies that washed ashore were identified, we have found a strong indication that bodies of (RAF) airmen, as a rule, did NOT wash up on the Brittany shores. I assume that this can only be explained by the prevailing marine conditions of the area.



If you guys are not going to shoot holes in this argumentation, then the obvious next question shall be: where did the bodies go, of airmen that were lost to the sea off Brittany? Did - a percentage of - these bodies wash up in Normandy, or did the bodies travel even further, to wash up along the sandy shores of Dépt. Pas-de-Calais & Nord in France, and then Belgium, Holland, even Denmark?

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Message par gildas le Dim 25 Mai 2008 - 16:04

Dear Rob,



..or nowhere… Between Brest and the St Mathieu point. Using a stolen « longue vue » (that thing upon a sniper gun, but for bigger weapon), a witness saw a twin engine bomber being shot down with a 4 x 2 cm German gun from the former French position of Toulbroc’h, on Locmaria Plouzané coast. The aircraft ditched on the water. Seven airmen got on board the dinghy, before the bomber started to sink. This 4 x 2 cm suddenly open again the fire.

Some days later, as he was on that coast with his father, they saw a body trapped between some rocks. But they had nothing to do there, and had to care of the Germans not so far from there. He came again some 15 or more days later, and saw the body in very poor state on the peddles at the cliff base… They never knew his name, and this witness, who’s still alive, can’t remember the date. By the way, if he made no error counting the airmen, 7 airmen on a twin engine aircraft, very well may be a Manchester…

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Message par Invité le Dim 25 Mai 2008 - 17:30

Thanks, Gildas, extraordinary story. Are you saying that this body was not buried? Can you give a time period for this crash?

The longue vue would be a telescope in english.

Regards,

Rob

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Message par gildas le Dim 25 Mai 2008 - 21:16

Rob, I can't be certain, but close to, as the witness Francis (I just listened again the short video I made about it, at that place) did return again just to see some bones on the shore...
I have to find back the writed account for the period
Will post again soon.

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Message par gildas le Mar 27 Mai 2008 - 21:11

Good evening Rob,



Just talked again with my friend Francis about this crew slaughtered on the dinghy. He’s sure it was on a Saturday, because his brother in law had come back from a very well known market that still stands each Saturday at St Renan (10 km NW of Brest).

The hour was around 6 :30 pm, and he would situate it in September, just because he thinks it was the falling of the day. This should also have happened after July 1941, because he witnessed the lighted aircraft with search lights in the night prior to the crash of 149 Sqn Wellington R1408 on 1st July 1941.



He confirms having seen some time later the Khaki fling suit and the Skull and bones on the pebble shore.

He just regrets not to have written down all he saw on a diary.



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Message par Invité le Dim 1 Juin 2008 - 11:34

Thanks, Philippe. Shall try to find an aircraft loss that could match this eyewitness report.

Rob

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Message par F3V le Dim 1 Juin 2008 - 23:53

If bodies are found the french Gendarmerie is going to make a report out of necessity if the German army find them in first
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Message par Invité le Mer 4 Juin 2008 - 21:12

Thanks, F3V. I would not bet on that. What ought to have been done is not the same as what has been done at all times and in all places. Especially in Wartime.

Rob

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