Ammo as a burial tool


#1

This photo is from “In Harm’s Way” by Doug Stanton (another USS Indianapolis story). Was/is it common to use ammo this way?


#2

Vlad

None of us were very old at the time so we can’t say if that was SOP, but I’d guess that it was. I do know that by the time of the KW the body of any sailor unlucky enough to be killed aboard ship was stored in a reefer until the ship visited a port or hospital ship that had facilities to accomodate a proper burial.

A nit-pick: I wonder if a 21 Gun salute was warranted for an average sailor boy? And, I use the term “sailor boy” affectionately. He was anything but a boy.

Ray


#3

Ray
isn’t there a written / prescribed protocol for gun-salutes in Navy regs?


#4

pete - I’ve never seen a copy of the USN Regs. But, I think gun salutes are a National protocol rather than service specific. My old Bluejackets Manual only says that gun salutes are given and/or returned when falling in with foreign ships.

John S. should know the answer to this one. He has read the Regs from cover to cover. ;-) ;-)

Ray


#5

It was standard practice on the old Royal Navy sailing warships, even before my time, to place a cannonball between the feet of the corpse as he was sewn into a canvas shroud. The final stitch was put through his nose as a final check that he was really deceased. The body is slid over the side feet first, the weight of the ball takes it straight down deep.

I have witnessed a few more modern burials at sea in the 1960’s and the procedure was exactly the same except that a 4.5" projectile weighing 55 pounds was substituted for the cannonball.

gravelbelly


#6

I certainly can’t speak to Navy protocol, or much less to Navy practices, but in my earlier “Brown Bar” days in the USAF, while the “21 Gun” salute is normally listed for heads of state, etc. in the “official” documents, I have witnessed–as the assigned Summary Courts Officer–many “21 Gun”–usually seven guns and three shots each–for individual burials. Who in the assembled mourners would know “protocol” and who would complain that the “government” wasted additional blanks to honor someone? Nowadays, many of these ceremonies are performed by Veteran’s organizations, and apparently procuring ammo–blanks–for the old ceremonial rifles such as the Garand, is also problematic, but I doubt these guys are “up” on official protocol and would care even less than my active duty detail members. I know our burial detail carried enough blanks to adequately honor the departed with their M16s. Also, while only one flag is normally “authorized” for the next of kin, I can say that I have seen additional flags honorably presented when required by circumstances. A Mother, who apparently did not get along with her widowed daughter-in-law comes immediately to mind! In this case, an additional purple heart medal was also presented in an appropriate manner by a senior officer.
Taber


#7

Seven rifles, three shots each is a volley, the traditional burial salute. Not the same as 21 gun salute which is 21 separate shots.

The only one I’ve ever witnessed personally was a salute for a King who was visiting my ship in the Med. King of one of the Stans, as I remember. I don’t know how many we fired but I don’t think it was 21.

Dave - You’re not saying that they sewed sailor’s noses shut in the 1960s, are you?

Ray


#8

I just went to a military funeral service at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery yesterday (Air Force retiree). 3 guns, 3 shots each, empties placed in the folded flag for the widow.


#9

The “Canvas Shroud” as actually the dead sailor’s Hammock. And the Ship’s Log was entered “AB Xyz, Discharged-Dead”, as was the Ship’s Muster Roll.

Doc AV


#10

[quote=“RayMeketa”]Seven rifles, three shots each is a volley, the traditional burial salute. Not the same as 21 gun salute which is 21 separate shots.

The only one I’ve ever witnessed personally was a salute for a King who was visiting my ship in the Med. King of one of the Stans, as I remember. I don’t know how many we fired but I don’t think it was 21.

Dave - You’re not saying that they sewed sailor’s noses shut in the 1960s, are you?

Ray[/quote]

Yes, that final stitch was important, you can’t change your mind as his feet enter the water if he yells for help! The stitch isn’t just through the nose, it goes through the hammock too.

gravelbelly


#11

Yeah Dave, I understood the part about the stitch going through both the nose and canvas.

I’m wondering about the reaction of family and friends if they knew of such a practise in the 1960s. (Unless you’re pulling my leg in wich case, you got me)

Ray


#12

[quote=“gravelbelly”]

Yes, that final stitch was important, you can’t change your mind as his feet enter the water if he yells for help! The stitch isn’t just through the nose, it goes through the hammock too.

gravelbelly[/quote]

I feel sorry for the poor bastard who were the cause why they realised they needed to be sure the guy was dead before they threw him in the sea…