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Navy of the Damned

Navy of the Damned

Recent archaeological sites in England offer a whole new perspective on the life and death of the seafarers and marines who built the British Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries. The bones of sailors reveal surprising and shocking facts. Apparently not only seasoned men but also half children did their service in the Royal Navy; according to the investigations, the youngest were no older than 13 years. A forensic archaeologist studies the injuries on bones discovered at the site of an battle and suggests how these people may have died.
Three-hundred-and-fifty skeletons, exhumed from Royal Navy graveyards from the age of Nelson's Navy, are throwing an extraordinary new light on how these sailors lived, fought, outwitted their enemy, and, from the oldest to youngest, suffered for victory. These men were the beating heart of the most victorious fleet in history and never have so many of these sailors' remains been available for forensic investigation.
Six remarkable stories stand out: the child sailor, the top man, the American gunner, the freed slave, the marine and the victim of the sailor's most dreaded disease: syphilis. Broken bones, amputations, injuries from blows with a saber or cutlass, sexually transmitted diseases, but also malnutrition - the list of causes of death is long. There is definitely no tale of seafaring romance. These fighters and sailors sailed the globe as cannon fodder, conquered an empire for the crown, and were themselves forgotten. No longer just bones in a box, the men of Nelson's Navy are back from the dead.
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