Corks found on Nikumararo

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Near the bones found on Nikumaroro, Gallagher found "corks on brass chains." The number of corks and chains was not specified in the bones file nor was there any description of whether the corks and chains were linked to each other or independent (one chain per cork?). If the corks were measured in any way, the measurements were not entered into the records TIGHAR has found to date.

The corks and chains were sent to WPHC headquarters in Suva, Fiji.

On July 1, 1941, K. R. Steenson, Senior Medical Officer, G.&E.I.C. wrote Vaskess: "Those corks on brass chains would appear to have belonged to a small cask."

If the corks (typically called a bung in relation to a barrel) belonged to a cask, they may have come from the cache that the Norwich City survivors left on the island.

Click here for discussion of the cask in the photos:

Photos by Andrew McKenna

It is also conceivable that the corks came from canvas water bags. No such bags are listed on the Luke Field inventory, but a photograph from 1937 does show Amelia with a canvas water bag included with the gear being loaded or unloaded from the Electra.

Photos by Art Rypinski:

With reference to the last two photos: "This water bag's mouth looked like aluminum (to me) and the threaded cap was attached with a string (no chain). The top of the water bag was closed with a flat steel sheet plus unusual curved hooks."[1]

Here are some photos of a water bag owned by Andrew McKenna. This was used by my father in his paleontology field camps in the Western US. I remember them well from my childhood. I wouldn't think that these would be well suited for use in aviation as by nature they leak. The whole point of using a canvas bag made of Scottish Flax is that the material absorbs moisture and the evaporation from the exterior of the bag keeps the contents relatively cool. The downside is that they drip constantly.

Note that the mouth of the bag is made of aluminum, as Art Rypinski speculates above, but it is not threaded, rather has a cork attached by a string. There is also a wood or possibly metal rod embedded inside the top edge of the water bag similar to the water bag in the 1937 photo, rather than externally attached as shown in Art's photo from the Baltimore Museum of Industry above. Note how the cork string is attached to the edge of the bag, and see that there is a similar feature on the bag in the 1937 photo.

Photos by Andrew McKenna

For fun, I've tried to re-create the 1937 photo of the water bag. I think the rope and the cork are simply out of sight under the bag in the 1937 photo. You can see part of the rope under the front edge of the bag, as well as off to the right.


  1. Rypinski to EPAC, 23 May 2009