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Thread: Did Marine Units recover bodies?

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    Default Did Marine Units recover bodies?

    Does anyone know what the procedure was if a Marine Unit came across a body in the water? Was it recovered for burial or searched for proof of identity then allowed to float away? Apologies for the macabre subject but I'm trying to ascertain how papers that probably came from a drowned German airman came to be in the hands of British Intelligence despite the CWGC having no record of his burial.

    Also, would an aircraft that had made a safe landing on the sea be destroyed or allowed to sink in its own time?

    Brian

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    Brian

    you do not mention the location of a possible crash but I have read of ships picking up bodies when out at sea (rather than coastal forces). Their identities were checked, and then given a proper burial at sea.

    But I have also read about coastal forces, in the Channel etc, finding floating bodies, and they were brought back.

    As for aircraft, floaters in shipping lanes were sunk, either by naval guns or even by bombing. But in some cases attempts at towing were made....I believe one such case is mentioned in "Even The Birds Were Walking."

    A
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    Brian,

    As always no hard and fast answer to these. Best to describe the main tasking of the AS/RMCU units.

    RAF AS/R usually covered crash calls from a marine base or when raids were planned from a bouy under the stream flight path.

    RN Fairmile D units usually covered the outer reaches of the North Sea/Baltic with standing patrols because of the larger and better sea handling of the Coastal Boats. They did however respond to crash calls in the vicinity of their estuary bases.

    So a body in the water would usually be found by the RN unit rather than the RAF one. All bodies were searched and identification noted. If the patrol was not due to return to port then the body would be committed to the deep hence a casualty could have been recovered by launch but still appear on the Runnymede Memorial to the missing or similar.

    Normally an aircraft would be allowed to sink on it's own but in some cases they and dinghys were sunk by gunfire to prevent false reporting during air searches the next day.

    In one case a Lancaster which remained afloat for over 48hrs was sunk by depthcharge attack!

    Regards
    Ross
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    My thanks gentlemen.

    The case concerns the Heinkell on which I started a thread on 17 July - the aircraft came down (a pilot's combat report described it as "settled down") on the sea off Margate (no details as to how far out). The aircraft was on a met reconnaissance flight and the following month the Met Office was given a card that contained the code used to transmit weather reports (source "Wekusta" by Kington and Selinger). Until that moment it had not been possible to decypher the transmitted weather reports so the find was of considerable importance. Written at the bottom of the code card was the name of the met observer, Freudenberg, who drowned before he could be rescued. A copy of the card is reproduced in the book and shows hardly any damage, suggesting it had not been exposed to the water.

    Using a report from a national newspaper, Brian described two of the crew being rescued by a fishing boat but no mention was made of Freudenberg's body. Which leaves me with three options:

    1. The fishing boat crew recovered the body, searched it for papers then let it drift away.
    2. A marine unit checked the area after the fishing boat left and followed the same sequence as (1)
    3. Freudenberg's body was washed ashore.

    The absence of any burial appears to rule out (3); (2) seems unlikely in view of what you say Ross; which rather leaves me with (1).

    I'm currently trying to find out if contemporary Kent newspapers carried an account of the incident in the hope that the local interest would provide more details.

    T'other Brian

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lyffe View Post
    My thanks gentlemen.

    The case concerns the Heinkell on which I started a thread on 17 July - the aircraft came down (a pilot's combat report described it as "settled down") on the sea off Margate (no details as to how far out). The aircraft was on a met reconnaissance flight and the following month the Met Office was given a card that contained the code used to transmit weather reports (source "Wekusta" by Kington and Selinger). Until that moment it had not been possible to decypher the transmitted weather reports so the find was of considerable importance. Written at the bottom of the code card was the name of the met observer, Freudenberg, who drowned before he could be rescued. A copy of the card is reproduced in the book and shows hardly any damage, suggesting it had not been exposed to the water.

    Using a report from a national newspaper, Brian described two of the crew being rescued by a fishing boat but no mention was made of Freudenberg's body. Which leaves me with three options:

    1. The fishing boat crew recovered the body, searched it for papers then let it drift away.
    2. A marine unit checked the area after the fishing boat left and followed the same sequence as (1)
    3. Freudenberg's body was washed ashore.

    The absence of any burial appears to rule out (3); (2) seems unlikely in view of what you say Ross; which rather leaves me with (1).

    I'm currently trying to find out if contemporary Kent newspapers carried an account of the incident in the hope that the local interest would provide more details.

    T'other Brian

    There is the scenario that says 'We don't want the Enemy to know we have recovered a body of someone carrying codes'... If we recovered a body we would have had to tell the International Red Cross..... This would flag up as codes being compromised

    better then to have the body cast adrift as missing...

    Just with my 'Spooks' hat on...

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    A good chance that if the body was in the water any length of time all identification would be lost. A lot of local churyards have "unkown" CWGC grave either RAF, RN or MN where bodies have washed up. You refer earlier to no CWGC record -why would ther be for a German body? I'll Xpost your query on a Kent forum to see if anyone knows of a German burial of around that date in Thanet. Pete
    Last edited by Pete; 23rd July 2010 at 08:38.

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    Pete,

    Re the CWGC records. Many German personnel who died during the war, and whose bodies were recovered on UK territory, are interred in the cemetery at Cannock Chase. I appreciate there are some who rest elsewhere but I understand the CWGC has those records as well.

    I take your point about identification, but in this instance a document bearing his name was recovered and showed little evidence of being immersed for any length of time.

    I'm really scrabbling in the dark on this one because of the incompleteness of the final part of the story. That said, and notwithstanding my comments above, Idid wonder if he had been brought ashore for burial somewhere along the north Kent coast.

    My thanks for the X-post to another forum.

    Brian

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lyffe View Post
    Pete,

    I'm really scrabbling in the dark on this one because of the incompleteness of the final part of the story. That said, and notwithstanding my comments above, Idid wonder if he had been brought ashore for burial somewhere along the north Kent coast.

    My thanks for the X-post to another forum.

    Brian
    Could have been washed a lot further- I found reference to an aircraft downed mid channel off Broadstairs with one of the bodies turning up about 3 weeks later on the Dutch coast.

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