LETTER: Dead in the water

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The Independent Online
From Mr N. H. E. Lewis

Sir; I write with regard to the letter from Tim Craig (15 January) who assisted in the preparations for a burial at sea. However, I recall that when I visited HMS Victory at Portsmouth, the guide told me that "the stitch through the nose" was to prevent the escape of press-ganged sailors in the early part of the 19th century.

Apparently, the ruse used in order to escape was to get substituted for a dead body in the canvas body bag. The authorities got wise to this subterfuge; so, in order to prevent sailors escaping, they used to put a stitch through the nose when sewing up the bag.

Yours faithfully,

N. H. E. Lewis

Nelson, Mid Glamorgan

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