Graveyard of shoes

When the wreck of the Titanic was first located, discoverer Robert Ballard reported that he saw all kinds of shoes laying around, in pairs. Later, it was reported that passengers had left shoes out to be polished, etc. I've always believed that the shoes were what was left after the passengers' bodies decomposed.

Well, we got confirmation of that last night. ABC's Nightline did a program entitled "Ghost Ship," wherein a submersible visited the German battleship Bismark, for the first time. Numerous pairs of boots were found around the wreck --a legacy of the 2,000 German sailors who went down with her.

So, I find this to be pretty strong corroborating evidence that the guys rooting around Titanic wreck site are digging up a graveyard.

Interestingly, the program seemed to confirm the statements of the German sailors that they had scuttled the Bismark. Although Bismark had suffered considerable damage to her superstructure, they found no holes below the wateline, and only two holes in the deck.

Bismark is some 3,000 feet further down than Titanic.

Regarding Ballard, although he purportedly stated that the Bismark belongs to the German people, he apparently sold the coordinates of the location of the Bismark to the millionaire adventurer, Michael McDowell (or something like that), who conducted the expedition. I wonder what he charged for that? Did he donate those proceeds to the German people? Probably not.

The British rescued some 150 German sailors, then left the rest of them and sailed off. The reason given was that it was reported there was a U-Boat in the area. However, is it possible that there was extreme bitterness over the sinking of the H.M.S. Hood? Only 4 British sailors survived that one. I suppose there was.

All those young men died, they were an average age of 20-21, all that's left of them is their black shoes, and the legacy of it all lays down at the bottom of sea, in the dark. Anti-aircraft and cannons were still poised upward, as if preparing to fire at something. The huge swatsticka is still visible on the main deck. The battleship Bismark is now a shrine to these shoes --a vigilant-looking monument frozen in time.

Having viewed all this I believe that episode of extreme violence from 1941 should be left in the dark. Someday, probably all that will be left of the site will be the shoes.
I'm not sure that bitterness was the issue, Jan. The U-boat threat was very real and it was at about this time, fairly early in the war, that they were demonstrating just how effective they were.(Ask any surviving merchent mariners.) As combat doesn't forgive mistakes, submarine warnings had to be taken very seriously.

Michael H. Standart
You are right, the shoes are where the bodies fell. I VERY highly doubt that they were from being left out for polishing. The passengers would have certainly put them back on when heading up to the Boat Deck even if they had been left in the corridors and spilled out enroute to the bottem, the would have certainly seperated during the 2 1/2 mile trip.
An interesting thing to point out, though, is that the shoes were only seen on the Ballard expeditions. I don't recall RMST ever photographing a pair.

Funny that, isn't it? But with all the (mostly deserved) flack that RMST have had over the years, I don't think they'd go flashing pictures of these 'body spots' around, do you? Especially if they'd just settled on a nice piece of crystal or something that was right by it. May be there are dozens of these paired shoes/boots around the Titanic-maybe just one or two. Either way, just add it to the never-ending catalogue of stuff that RMST refuses to show anyone.

They are down there time after time, hour after hour-what do we see? The tip of the bow. They could be up to anything, and we'll never know.
I believe that RMST has brought back some of the shoes. I believe I read it in their annual report from the last dive they made on her. I will have to find the URL and check again. I may be very wrong here and I truely pray to God that I am.

After 5 1/2 hours of looking around the wreck (Sept.'98) I saw two separate shoes. One was a mans boot which I managed to capture on film and the other was what I think was a ladies shoe (like a boot with a high heel).
The famous pair in Ballard's photo would have been on a persons feet at the time of settling on the ocean floor but the (two) single shoes that I saw could have come from anywhere out of the wreck.
I'm not one to stick up for RMST but it could be that many had just deteriorated or where carried much further away. The other possibility is that (God forbid)RMST picked up every shoe they came across and now have them in their big treatment/storage warehouse in France and decided to shut their mouths!
There was a salvage expedition just one month before our trip!

Andrew Rogers
No, no bones. But of course, neither wreck has been thoroughly searched. One of the members posted a message some time ago that according to Dr. Robert Ballard, the enormous pressure at the depth which Titanic lies would have caused the bones to disintegrate. Additionally, some microorganism has apparently devoured everything, including wood, at the site.
Ballard originaly thought all the wood was gone-Cameron proved that wrong by only going as far as the reception room on D deck. I would guess that the further down you could get inside Titanic, the more wood you would find, and perhaps some slight evidence of human remains, too.
Bones have a high calcium phosphate content which (I've been told) will liquidize under extreme pressure.
Even if this was not the case the bones would have softened and eventually been devoured by all the scavenging crabs and prawns (shrimps).

As for the wood, there are some places where it is in near perfect condition and yet one or two feet away it is totally gone.
I have video of the forward starboard B deck, open promenade which has the forward facing hand rail in mint condition and the joining starboard facing rail is looking rather sad.
I might be able to lift a still if anyone is interested.

Mike B,

I forget where I learned this, but I heard that the reason that the D Deck Reception panelling is intact is because the wood was painted with white lead paint. The organisms can't digest the lead, so the detail is nearly perfectly preserved.

It gives new hope for the Reading and Writing Room...

Have sent some shots to Philip, I'm sure he will be busy but you should see them under the "More Wreck Photos" heading sometime soon.
I might be able to explain the pics in a little more detail here.
Thank you Andrew.. I appreciate it