Advanced search  
Pages: [1]   Go Down

Author Topic: Noonan's Bones?  (Read 1470 times)

Ric Gillespie

  • Executive Director
  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 5503
  • "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
Noonan's Bones?
« on: November 14, 2018, 12:12:47 PM »

In reviewing anecdotal accounts of bones found on the shore near the shipwreck I stumbled upon what may be the answer to Fred's fate.

In July 1999, while I was leading the Niku IV P(Preliminary) expedition team on Niku, another team made up of Tom King, Kris Tague, and Barb Norris was interviewing people in Fiji, trying to track down the bones.

On July 15, 1999, they interviewed Emily Sikuli (born Segalo Samuela), daughter of the island carpenter Temou Samuela.  It was Temou who built the kanawa wood coffin in which the castaway's bones were transported to Fiji.  Emily was about 13 years old at the time.  She remembered her father making the box for the bones but she was not aware that bones had been found at the southeast end of the island.  The following is compiled from notes taken by all three researchers who were present. She told the TIGHAR researchers, through interpreter Foua Tofiga:

"The bones were found in the sea on Nikumaroro. There was a boat that was wrecked, but that boat belonged to New Zealand and that part of the island was named for New Zealand.  Where the boat was on the reef.  Not too far from there, is where the plane came down." Shown a map at this point, she indicated an area north of Norwich City on reef.
Up to this point the interviewers had not said a word about an airplane
just the box, the bones, her father.  However, Foua Tofiga had talked with her arranging for the interview, and later recalled that he had mentioned that we were interested in bones and an airplane.

Tom King:  "Where were the parts of the airplane?"
Emily:  "Not far from where the ship was.  Not toward the village but away from it.  The struts were there."
 She held up hands in circle, apparently indicating that the struts were round in cross-section, about 20 cm. in diameter. The landing gear struts of a Lockheed 10 are 13 cm in diameter.
 
  "It was around that area where the bones were found.  Could be bones from the ship or the airplane.  During the westerlies, heavy swells took the rest of the bones away.  There were not many that we found.  Maybe 10 different people whose bones were found along that area."

This roughy agrees with what Jones said he saw in May 1937.

"There were some with leather bottles and a pipe. I used to accompany my father to fish.  Some people would not go to that area to fish because they were frightened.  You would come up on the reef, then the beach comes up where the island shrubs start to grow." With gestures and words, she and Foua indicated the storm surge line and first Scaevola line in from the beach.  "That is where the bones were found."

Later in the interview she said, "Fishermen found the bones.  They were frightened and they brought the story of them to the Onotoa man."
The Island Magistrate, Buakee Koata, was from Onotoa in the Gilberts.

TK:  "Was that Koata?"
She smiled broadly as in recognition. "Yes."

TK:  "What did Koata do?"
Emily:  "He sent people to bring the bones.  People were frightened.  Only people working for the government received the bones.  My father had to look at the bones.  Mr. Gallagher asked my father to make the box."

So, according to this account, fishermen found the bones of upwards of 10 people washed up high on the beach near the shipwreck.  Koata had the bones collected and brought to the village.  It's not clear what was done with them.  This had to occur before Koata left the island at the same time Gallagher arrived in early September 1940.  Gallagher later had Temou build a box for the castaway bones found at the southeast end of the island. Emily did not know about those bones and assumed the box was built for the bones she knew about.

There is further corroboration that there were bones found near the shipwreck.  In 1991, Gallagher's clerk and interpreter, Bauro Tikana, told TIGHAR that when he arrived on the island with Gallagher in 1940, "Laborers told me they found bones near the ship." Note that he did not say the bones were still there. "I do not know if Mr. Gallagher knew about the bones as I didn't tell him about it.  The laborers also told me they found bones at the other end of the atoll when they were cleaning the land in that area. I don't believe Mr. Gallagher knew of these as he was the only white man there and most of the laborers didn't speak English."
We, of course, know that Gallagher did know about the bones at the other end of the atoll. He apparently did not know about the Norwich City bones that had been collected up, or at least he never wrote anything about them.

When I returned to Fiji from Niku, I interviewed Emily myself. On July 27, 1999 she told me a different story. After relating her story about seeing the plane wreckage on the reef I asked her about bones. The following was transcribed from video tape of the interview.

Gillespie:  "Were there ever any bones found on Nikumaroro?"
Emily:  "Yes."

Gillespie:  "What can you tell us about the bones that were found?"
Emily:  "Some Gilbertese went to fish, they saw in the shallows some pools, at the place where the plane crashed, some bones, and they knew these were human bones because of the skull bone. They went and reported to Teng Koata, there were bones. So from that they assumed that these must have been the bones of those who were in the plane when it crashed. These were under the plane, near the plane. This was near the top end of the steel."

This is completely different from what she told the others.  This appears to be a reference to the bones of a single individual ("skull" singular) whose bones were found in tidal pools near the plane wreckage.  The bones of the 10 people she told the others about were found high up on the beach near the vegetation line.

Gillespie:  "Did you see the bones?"
Emily:  "I didn't see them. We were forbidden, but my father told us."

Gillespie:  "Were the bones found while you were on the island or did this happen before?"
Emily:  "Theses bones were found when we had already arrived on the island. These Gilbertese came and found bones and reported to Teng Koata. Then Teng Koata took them to the European. So it was arranged for a box to be made for the bones and the bones were brought. There were not many bones.
Now the two stories get mixed up.  Koata left when Gallagher arrived.  Gallagher clearly never knew about any airplane wreckage, much less bones found nearby.

If, in fact, there were the bones of a single individual found in tidal pools near the plane wreckage it means that Noonan died and remained in the plane.  The question then becomes, what became of his bones?  Did Koata have them recovered as he did the Norwich City bones?  All of this was apparently resolved before September 1940 Gallagher arrived and Koata left.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2018, 12:16:03 PM by Ric Gillespie »
Logged

Kevin Weeks

  • TIGHAR member
  • *
  • Posts: 233
Re: Noonan's Bones?
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2018, 12:25:52 PM »

Ric, I recall reading a 3rd version of her story where she basically includes the story of the plane, the bones by the ship and "other bones" found further away on the island that were associated with the plane?? this is purely off my memory but I read it within the last 2-3 weeks. she also mentions in that version about being forbidden to go near the plane wreckage and describing it in a bit more detail.
Logged

Ric Gillespie

  • Executive Director
  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 5503
  • "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
Re: Noonan's Bones?
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2018, 01:07:17 PM »

Ric, I recall reading a 3rd version of her story where she basically includes the story of the plane, the bones by the ship and "other bones" found further away on the island that were associated with the plane??

You may be remembering this article in TIGHAR Tracks.
What I quoted is excerpted from those consolidated notes. I can't find where she never made reference to other bones found further away on the island.  If you can, please let me know.
Logged

Kevin Weeks

  • TIGHAR member
  • *
  • Posts: 233
Re: Noonan's Bones?
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2018, 01:22:53 PM »


You may be remembering this article in TIGHAR Tracks.
What I quoted is excerpted from those consolidated notes. I can't find where she never made reference to other bones found further away on the island.  If you can, please let me know.

no, it definitely was not that link. I will look. there was discussion in the article about her age if I remember correctly. basically trying to determine how accurate it was. In the account I am thinking of she just says she was forbidden to go places, not forbidden by the government.
Logged

Kevin Weeks

  • TIGHAR member
  • *
  • Posts: 233
Re: Noonan's Bones?
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2018, 01:31:00 PM »

this was the reading I had done, but misremembered. when I read the report somehow it stuck in my head that the "other bones" were found in the lagoon side of the island by fisherman and "for some reason" linked to the airplane.... obviously this is incorrect on reading the full original transcript.


https://tighar.org/Projects/Earhart/Archives/Research/Bulletins/15_Carpentersdaught/15_Evaluation.html
Logged

Ric Gillespie

  • Executive Director
  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 5503
  • "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
Re: Noonan's Bones?
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2018, 01:32:00 PM »

You may be thinking of another TIGHAR Tracks article [urlhttps://tighar.org/Publications/TTracks/15_1/carpentersdaugh.html]The Carpenter's Daughter[/url].
The original source for what Emily said are the Consolidated Notes.
Logged
Pages: [1]   Go Up
 

Copyright 2019 by TIGHAR, a non-profit foundation. No portion of the TIGHAR Website may be reproduced by xerographic, photographic, digital or any other means for any purpose. No portion of the TIGHAR Website may be stored in a retrieval system, copied, transmitted or transferred in any form or by any means, whether electronic, mechanical, digital, photographic, magnetic or otherwise, for any purpose without the express, written permission of TIGHAR. All rights reserved.

Contact us at: info@tighar.org • Phone: 610-467-1937 • Membership formwebmaster@tighar.org

Powered by MySQL SMF 2.0.15 | SMF © 2017, Simple Machines Powered by PHP