Lost Norwich City Crewmen: Potential Sources of the Human Remains Discovered on Gardner Island

The following article was taken from Dr. Tom King's Website Amelia Earhart Archeology. It was submitted there by Kenton Spading. Re-posted with Permisson.

Image Courtesy of Jane Powell


As used in statistics, a “null hypothesis” is the proposition that there’s no relationship between two variables. In the more forgiving vernacular of the social sciences and humanities, the term is often used to mean simply that the hypothesis we’re testing is not correct. Since we hypothesize that Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan landed and died on Nikumaroro, the null hypothesis is that they didn’t.

A fundamental part of the scientific method is to determine with as much rigor as possible whether the null hypothesis is correct. Ideally – and however little fun it may be – one should try very hard to find evidence that confirms the null hypothesis. If you can’t find it, then with a degree of confidence you can reject the null hypothesis and say that, yes, in all probability your preferred hypothesis is correct.

In the paper that follows, Kenton Spading explores a body of historical evidence that may support the Nikumaroro null hypothesis with reference to the human bones and artifacts reportedly found there in 1940. In simple terms, Spading asks himself, and the data: “If the null hypothesis is correct, and the bones and artifacts do not represent Earhart or Noonan, whose were they?”

An important possibility is offered by the missing crewmen of the SS Norwich City, most of them Yemeni, lost on Nikumaroro’s northwest shore (Nutiran) in 1929. The Norwich City wreck site is about four miles away from the site where the 1940 bones and artifacts were found, at the opposite end of the island, but at least two ways to account for this spring readily to mind:

1. A crew member, thrown off the exploding freighter or abandoning ship, is swept by the storm through Tatiman Passage into the lagoon, and down to its far southeast end. Perhaps he’s unconscious, or disoriented, but if so he comes to and staggers inland, up to the crest of the surge ridge we now call the Seven Site, and there expires – perhaps after living for a time on the local fish, birds, and turtles. His body is then dismembered and its bones scattered by crabs, rats, and birds.

2. A disaffected crew member takes advantage of the opportunity afforded by the shipwreck to get ashore and hightail it. Avoiding detection by his shipmates, he walks to the far end of the island and camps, lying low while the other survivors are rescued. Belatedly realizing that the island lacks water, he eventually succumbs, and is taken apart by the local fauna.

I feel another novel coming on.

I don’t personally much like the Nikumaroro null hypothesis. It’s messy, and it doesn’t easily account for much of our Seven Site archaeological evidence – the compact, the zipper pull, the freckle crème jar, and so on. Our working hypothesis that the Seven Site represents Earhart’s campsite is more elegant than the null; it doesn’t require us to challenge the immortal words of William of Occam, that “plurality should not be posited without necessity” (Occam's razor). But, as physicist Richard Muller has recently noted in a very different context: “Occam’s razor is often a poor guide to truth” (Muller 2016:140).

I think Kenton Spading has done us all a service by gathering and organizing a plethora of data bearing on the Nikumaroro null hypothesis, on which we can productively chew for quite some time. -TFK


Muller, Richard A. Now: The Physics of Time. New York: Norton, 2016.


In 1940, human bones were reportedly found near the southeast end of Nikumaroro Atoll in the Phoenix Islands. 

Figure #1: Nikumaroro Map from The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, Earhart Project Research Bulletin No. 25, Gallagher of Nikumaroro, The Last Expansion of the British Empire, Thomas F. King, Ph.D., August 1, 2000

Figure #2: The Phoenix Islands Map from The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, Finding the Plane, Niku VII Daily Reports, Expedition Purpose & Objective, 2012

For a variety of reasons summarized elsewhere (TIGHAR.org, King 2012, 2018, Jantz 2018, Gillespie 2018) these bones are suspected to be those of Amelia Earhart. The purpose of this paper is to compile and summarize the available data pertaining to the 1940 discovery, with reference to a possible source of the bones other than Earhart – the crewmen lost when the SS Norwich City grounded and exploded on the island’s northwest reef in 1929.

Photo #1: SS Norwich City aground on Nutiran beach on Nikumaroro in 1938 Photo by Wigram Air Force Base Archives, Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF)

Photo #2: SS Norwich City aground on Nutiran beach on Nikumaroro in 1942 Photo by United States Army Air Force

The 1940 Bones Discovery

Nikumaroro, then known as Gardner Island or Kemin’s Island, was inhabited in the 1890s during an effort by John T. Arundel to operate a coconut plantation there. When the Norwich City ran aground in November 1929, however, the island had been uninhabited since approximately the mid-1890s. It remained uninhabited until December 1938.

From October 13 to October 15, 1937, a British Western Pacific High Commission (WPHC) party explored the island with the intent of assessing its suitability for colonization as a component of the Phoenix Island Settlement Scheme (PISS). One of the colonial officers involved in this assessment visit, Eric Bevington, wrote in his journal that he saw “signs of previous habitation.” In 1992 he stated that it looked “like someone had bivouacked” (camped) on the island.[1] His colleague Harry Maude opined that this site represented debris left by Arundel’s workers.[2]

On December 20, 1938, a second WPHC expedition, which included Mr. Maude and Cadet Officer Gerald Gallagher dropped off the first Gilbertese [3] colonists on the island (a ten-man working party under government contract). On December 22, Maude and Gallagher departed to deposit workers on other islands in the Phoenix Group. The Nikumaroro (aka Gardner) colonists began preparing a village and coconut plantation.

In April 1940, while clearing land, the colonists discovered a human cranium and buried it. In early September 1940 Gallagher returned to Nikumaroro to set up his headquarters as the WPHC Acting Officer in Charge of the PISS. The colonists informed him that a human skull had been found and buried. Gallagher stated it was found “on the Southeast end of the island about 100 feet above [the] ordinary high water springs.”

Gallagher visited the site, and in a “thorough search” he recovered more bones and various artifacts. He excavated the buried cranium, and all the bones and artifacts were eventually shipped to the WPHC headquarters in Fiji. His notes and those of Dr. Kingsley Rupert Steenson, senior medical officer, Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony in Fiji, can be summarized as follows [4][5]:

1. A total of 13 bones were found “lying under a 'ren' tree.” These included the cranium, which had been found and buried before Gallagher arrived in September 1940. “Ren” is the I-Kiribati (Gilbertese) word for Heliotropium foertherianum, formerly (until 2003 ) known as Tournefortia argentea.[6]

2. “Remains of [a] fire, turtle and dead birds” were also noted.

3. “Part of” [a shoe] “sole” [that] “appears to have been a stoutish waking shoe or heavy sandal” was found, along with a Benedictine bottle “alleged to have been found near [the] skull.” During later discussions of artifacts found with the bones, Dr. Kingsley R. Steenson in Fiji mentioned “corks on brass chains [that] would appear to have belonged to a small cask.”

4. “[A] sextant box [with] two numbers on it 3500 (stenciled) and 1542” was located, but “……no sextant was found.  Only part discovered was thrown away by finder but was probably part of an inverting eyepiece.”

Dr. Hoodless Examines the Bones

Gallagher shipped the bones and artifacts from Nikumaroro to the WPHC headquarters in Fiji. There the bones were examined and measured by Dr. D.W. Hoodless, principal of the Central Medical School. The bones, along with all the artifacts collected at the time, were subsequently lost, but Dr. Hoodless' notes have survived, including the measurements and methods he used to estimate the sex, age and stature of the individual whom the bones represented.

Dr. Hoodless estimated the height of the individual using Karl Pearson's formula for stature [7] to be 5'5.5". Pearson's 1898 formula was based on Manouvrier's French sample, consisting of only 50 individuals of each sex. These were individuals whose birth years would likely have been in the early 19th century and who were substantially shorter than modern Americans or even Americans of the late 19th century. Various sources state that subsequent analyses have shown Pearson's formula to underestimate actual stature.[8]

Dr. Hoodless arrived at the estimated height by averaging height extrapolations from the three long bones recovered, namely the humerus, radius and tibia.

Richard Jantz, professor emeritus of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Earhart-Noonan researcher Joe Cerniglia have discovered errors in Hoodless' analysis. These analyses, although worthwhile to note, do not significantly alter Hoodless' height estimate. A further explanation of these errors by Cerniglia may be detailed in a forthcoming report on this blog.

Hoodless opined: "It may be definitely stated that the skeleton is that of a MALE." [emphasis in the original] "...it is probably not that of a pure South Sea Islander - Micronesian or Polynesian. It could be that of a short, stocky, muscular European, or even a half-caste, or person of mixed European descent."

Re-analysis of the Hoodless Measurements

In 1998 the late Karen Burns and Richard Jantz employed the discriminant function program FORDISC 2.0[9] to analyze Hoodless’ cranial/skull measurements to estimate the castaway’s race and sex.[10] They concluded the skull was more likely European than Polynesian, although it could not be excluded from any population. The FORDISC analysis indicated the individual was most likely female, but the level of certainty was very low (.65/.35). In the same paper Burns and Jantz estimated stature/height by employing formulae derived from a modern sample (Ousley 1995) in the forensic anthropology data bank at the University of Tennessee. This analysis determined that the “best estimate” for the individual’s height is: If female: ca. 5'6.1" to 5'7.6" If male: ca. 5'8.0" to 5'8.4" Confidence Interval (male and female): ca. 5'4" to 5'10" These estimates were updated in December 2018 as discussed below.

Burns and Jantz noted that Amelia Earhart gave her height as 5'8"; however, there are indications that she was closer to 5'7". A regression analysis of bone length from stature for women of 5'8" and 5'7" indicated that the 1941 bones fit Amelia Earhart’s stature very well.

The paper concluded that it is “impossible to know whether the bones inspected by Dr. Hoodless in 1941 were in fact those of a white female and if anything even less possible to be sure that they were those of Amelia Earhart.”

In 2015, Pamela Cross and Richard Wright published a challenge to the Burns, Jantz et al. analysis.[11] In brief, Cross and Wright argue that: “A critical review of both investigations and contextual evidence shows that the original [Hoodless] osteological analyses [Pearson’s formulae] were made by experienced, reliable professionals, while the cranial [FORDISC] analysis is unreliable given the available data. Without access to the missing original bones, it is impossible to be definitive, but on balance, the most robust scientific analysis and conclusions are those of the original [Hoodless] finding indicating that the Nikumaroro bones belonged to a robust, middle-aged man, not Amelia Earhart. Hoodless’s methods were sound and therefore his [male] sex estimate was likely correct.”

In February 2018, Dr. Jantz published a response to Cross and Wright, including a detailed re-analysis of the Hoodless measurements employing FORDISC 3.1 and other data. The first part of Dr. Jantz’s paper, which examined “the methods Hoodless used and which were so vigorously defended by Cross and Wright,” stated:

“Cross and Wright (2015) argue that Pearson’s formulae are still in use today. I am not aware of any contemporary forensic anthropologist that uses Pearson’s formulae. By any reasonable standard, the height of 65.5 inches (5'5.5") presented by Hoodless and supported by Cross and Wright must be considered an underestimate. I will also show [in this Feb. 2018 paper] that estimating sex from the half subpubic angle supported by Cross/Wright is by no means foolproof.”

The second part of the paper reconstructed Amelia Earhart’s “height, weight, body build and limb lengths and proportions” to “allow explicit evaluation of the bones found in 1941 against Earhart to determine whether or not she can be excluded or included.”

The paper noted that the estimated lengths in millimeters of Earhart’s humerus (321.1), radius (243.7) and tibia (372) are very close to the corresponding castaway’s bones measured by Hoodless (325, 245, and 372).[12]

Earhart’s estimated bone lengths were compared with the 2,776 individuals in the FORDISC 3.1 database. Her ranking numbers were converted to likelihood ratios as described by Gardner and Greiner (2006), resulting in ratios ranging from 84 to 154. Those likelihood ratios, quoting the paper, “would not qualify as a positive identification by the criteria of modern forensic practice where likelihoods are often millions or more.” However, the paper stated they do qualify as a “preponderance of evidence” and “if the bones do not belong to Amelia Earhart, then they are from someone very similar to her.” Jantz noted certain caveats, however:

“It should be mentioned that a sample of Micronesian or Polynesian bone measurements was unavailable to test against the Nikumaroro bones. I consider it highly unlikely that inclusion of such a sample would have changed anything. As Figure 3 [in the original paper] shows, the Nikumaroro bones are more similar to Euro-Americans than they are Micronesians or Polynesians, which suggests they would produce even fewer nearest neighbors.”

“[In the case of the Nikumaroro bones] it is impossible to test any other hypothesis, because except for the victims of the Norwich City wreck, about whom we have no data, no other specific missing persons have been reported. It is not enough merely to say that the remains are most likely those of a stocky male without specifying who this stocky male might have been” (emphasis added).

As discussed below, some data are now available regarding the Norwich City wreck victims.

The SS Norwich City

The Normanby, later renamed Norwich City, was christened and launched on July 12, 1911, by the British shipbuilding company William Gray and Company of West Hartlepool, England. She was assigned yard number 792. She was registered out of London by the London and Northern Steamship Company as ship number 132596. The 397-foot bulk carrier had a beam of 53 feet 5.5 inches.

The London and Northern certificate was cancelled on April 24, 1919, when the ship was re-registered at Bideford, England to the St. Just Steamship Company, Limited. Sir Reardon Smith Lines, Limited was assigned to manage the vessel.

On July 2, 1928, nine years to the day before Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan disappeared in 1937, St. Just was absorbed into the Sir Reardon Smith Lines, Limited. After William Reardon Smith started managing the vessel, her name was changed to the Norwich City by the Board of Trade (minutes No. 2544).

Last Voyage: Wrecked on Gardner Island (Nikumaroro)

The Norwich City departed the Australian City of Melbourne, in the state of Victoria, with a crew of four (4) officers and thirty-one (31) crewmen (35 total) bound for the City of Vancouver in the Canadian province of British Columbia. She was scheduled to lay over in the City of Honolulu within the United States territory of Hawaii. At approximately the halfway point en route to Honolulu, she encountered a cyclonic weather disturbance with powerful westerly winds and heavy seas. Strong currents threw the ship off its course. Shortly after 11:00 p.m. on the night of November 29, 1929, while facing torrential rain, high winds, and heavy seas, the Norwich City ran aground on Nikumaroro’s fringing reef. She ended up hard aground north of what would later come to be known as Tatiman (pronounced “TASS-i-mun“) passage, the main inlet to the atoll’s lagoon.

Abandoning Ship

Captain Daniel Hamer had the bridge watch when the Norwich City grounded. He gave the order to don life jackets and prepare the lifeboats. After three hours, radio contact was made with Apia, Western Samoa. Apia Radio attempted to contact vessels in the vicinity of Nikumaroro, but none could be located closer than 850 miles from the atoll. At 4:00 a.m. smoke was streaming from the engine room. The wireless operator reported the fire to Apia. After lowering the starboard boat to the gunwale, Captain Hamer and the chief officer went to the port boat to lower it. At this point a wave slammed into the weather side of the ship carrying the lifeboat away. Captain Hamer was thrown into the sea 40 feet below and given up for lost although he in fact survived and struggled ashore. Chief Officer Thomas was swept inboard but was not seriously injured. At 5:15 a.m., Thomas ordered the starboard lifeboat lowered, which contained the remaining crew. When they let go the lines, the lifeboat was swept away aft and capsized by waves. All of the men were now in the water at the mercy of the seas. The men were repeatedly swept onto the island’s reef and then back out to sea.

Table #1: SS Norwich City Crew Members who Perished after the Shipwreck on Gardner Island, November 29, 1929

1. Source of Name, Sex and Age: Public Record Office (PRO), Kew, England, B334/89 92813, “Deaths at Sea 1929-1932.”Saleh’s birthdate on his CR1+CR2 is 1892 (age 37). See Exhibit 2.

2. Source of Height, Eye and Hair Color, Date of Birth, Place of Birth: PRO, Kew, Eng., BT 348/349/350/364, “Central Index Register (CR) of Seaman, 1918-1941.” See Exhibits 3 and 4.

3. The search for CR cards, in particular CR1 and/or CR10 cards listing height, for Horne, Naif, Ahmed Hassan, Ali Hassan and for good measure Leslie, who was buried, is ongoing. Yousef's CR1 height data field is blank. For Yousef, and the others, the search for additional records, such as CR10, crew agreements and lists, is ongoing.

4. In addition to Leslie and Jones, one of the six Arabs listed in this table was buried on the beach on Gardner Island. Jones' birthdate, height, eye color and hair color were obtained from a CR10 card.

5. A Welsh newspaper listed the address for the 6 Arabs as: 132 Commercial Rd, South Fields, which is perhaps a boarding house.

In summary, eleven men were killed in the wreck of the Norwich City. Three bodies were recovered and buried near the wreck site – i.e. on the northwest shore of the island about four miles from the location at the southeast end where bones were subsequently found. The remaining eight men were all missing and presumed dead.

After the Wreck: Reports of Bones on Nikumaroro

In addition to the officially reported 1940 discovery and recovery of the thirteen human bones, human bones were reported on the island on several occasions after the Norwich City wreck [13]: 1938, USCG Taney The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Roger B. Taney visited Hull Island in the Phoenix Group (now Orona) in 1938.[14Captain J.W. Jones lived on the island as a coconut plantation manager for Messrs. Burns, Philp, (South Sea) Company Limited. The following passage is from the report written by the U.S. Department of Interior representative aboard the Taney: "Mr. Jones told us of the wreck of the Norwich City on Gardner Island. She struck in 1919 [sic: 1929], and the [ship] Makoa saw her [Norwich City] recently and stated there was much good material aboard her such as anchors, winches, etc. The bodies of nine [sic] men lost in the wreck, drowned or killed by sharks (he said) were buried ashore, but wild pigs dug them up and their skeletons now lie on the beach. The survivors were taken off the island." Author Notes: The Norwich City wreck is on the end of the island opposite to the “South East [sic] corner” where Gallagher describes recovering human bones in 1940. Jones is quoted as saying that someone aboard Makoa saw human bones on the beach, presumably near the Norwich City wreck. Note the similar references below by Bauro Tikana and Emily (Segalo) Sikuli. There is no historical record of wild pigs living on Nikumaroro prior to its settlement as part of the PISS in 1938-39; Jones’ description of the bodies having been excavated by wild pigs appears to be conjecture. Erosion is the more likely culprit followed by the scattering of the bones by coconut crabs. 1941, Dr. Kingsley Rupert Steenson Dr. Steenson, senior medical officer, examined the bones and artifacts after they were delivered to Suva, Fiji. In addition to his aforementioned reference to “corks on brass chains,” he noted in the official file: “they appear to be parts of shoes worn by a male person and a female person.” Author Notes: Dr. Steenson is suggesting the castaway site contained two different pairs of shoes demarcated by gender. This is suggestive, but it does not prove there were two castaways. As noted in Table 2, the bones recovered by Gallagher are likely from one person. The potential pitfalls of determining gender based on how a shoe looks are discussed elsewhere in this report. 1960, Floyd Kilts The U.S. Coast Guard operated Loran Unit 92 on Nikumaroro Island from 1944 to 1946 inclusive. Floyd Kilts was on duty there in 1946. In July 1960 an article written by Lew Skarr appeared in the San Diego Tribune.[15Skarr quotes a story Kilts said he was told in 1946 through an interpreter by a “native” on the island. Quoting Kilts in the news story:

“It seems that in the latter part of 1938 there were 23 island people, all men, and an Irish magistrateplanting coconut trees on Gardner….”

“They were about through and the native was walking along one end of the island. There in the brush about five feet from the shoreline he saw a skeleton.”

“What attracted him to it was the shoes. Women’s shoes, American kind. No native wears shoes. Couldn’t if they wanted to—feet too spread out and flat. The shoes were size nine narrow. Beside the body was a cognac bottle with fresh water in it for drinking.

“Farther down the beach he found a man’s skull, but nothing else.” Author Notes: Elements of the Kilts story resemble, and presumably reflect, the story documented in the Western Pacific High Commission files. There were 23 colonists on the island at one point in time, and a skull, shoe parts and a bottle were found while preparing to plant coconuts. Gerald Gallagher was of Irish descent, and was nicknamed “Irish.” The possibility that the colonists first found a skeleton and then later a skull is a perspective to consider. 1991, Bauro Tikana Mr. Tikana was Gerald Gallagher’s clerk and interpreter in 1940. The following is excerpted from a facsimile (fax) dated August 12, 1991 that Mr. Tikana sent to Ric Gillespie, executive director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR): “When we first arrived (in 1940) I saw the [Norwich City] shipwreck and asked Mr. Gallagher about it. He told me that it was the Norwich City. Later when the laborers were cleaning (clearing the bush) they told me they found bones near the ship. 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 on 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 and were afright [sic] to talk to him and Mr. Gallagher didn’t speak Gilbertese. I did all the interpreting for Mr. Gallagher and pass on all his instructions to the laborers.” 1999, Emily (Segalo) Sikuli Mrs. Sikuli was the daughter of the Nikumaroro carpenter. Emily does not claim to be a witness to the finding of bones near the Norwich City, but in interviews with TIGHAR personnel [16she states that bones were found near the Norwich City wreck by fishermen. They were turned over to Teng Koata, the Native Magistrate, who then restricted access to the area. She said the bones were turned over to Gallagher and placed in a box. It may be that Mrs. Sikuli’s recollections are not accurate reflections of events in 1940. But it is reasonably clear that bones were discovered somewhere near the Norwich City. A 1999 interview with Otiria O’Brian [17], who lived on Nikumaroro for a short time, corroborates some of Emily’s recollection.  Could the Bones Discovered in 1940 Represent One of the Lost Norwich City Crewmen? In November 1998, while conducting research at the National Archives in Kew, England, the author obtained the heights of two of the Norwich City crewmen — Thomas Scott and Francis Sumner. This information was obtained too late to be considered in the Burns et al. December 1998 paper [18], which was published a few weeks later. In January 2018, the data were forwarded to Jantz, who had not previously seen them, but it was too late to include in his February 2018 paper.[19] In August 2018 the author uncovered the heights for two missing Yemeni/Arab crewmen named Saleh Ragee and Said Metanna; these were also provided to Dr. Jantz. Given that Ragee’s height was very close to the “best estimate” for the castaway’s height listed in the 1998 paper, Jantz re-employed FORDISC 3.1 and other methodologies. See Exhibit 5. During the ensuing years additional data points had been added to the FORDISC database on top of the program, which improved its ability to estimate height from bone length. Jantz re-estimated the castaway’s stature based on Hoodless’ measurement of the skeleton’s humerus, radius and tibia. Francis Sumner's height (5'3") places him below the 90-percent confidence interval; thus, it is probable that he is not a candidate to have been the Nikumaroro castaway. Said Metanna (5'4") and Thomas Scott (5'9"+) are near the lower and upper 90-percent confidence limits, respectively, and thus are candidates with a low probability to have been the Nikumaroro castaway. Saleh Ragee's height (5'6") is close to the most likely height range estimate and thus is a good fit for the Nikumaroro bones. See Table 2. Ragee and the other five Yemeni/Arabs listed in Table 1 have a one-in-six chance of having been buried on the beach.

Table #2 FORDISC 3.1, 20th Century Male Forensic Stature Sample December 2018 Analysis of Hoodless' Bone Measurements

Shoe Parts: Did Gallagher Find a Norwich City Arab's Sandal

Gallagher stated the following about the shoe parts he collected in association with the bones: “[We found] part of [a shoe] sole [that] “appears to have been a stoutish waking shoe or heavy sandal ... My conclusion … [that the] Shoe was a woman’s… [is] based on sole of shoe which is almost certainly a woman’s ... probably size 10." The senior medical officer in Fiji, Dr. Steenson added: “they appear to be parts of shoes worn by a male person and a female person.” Five of the lost Norwich City seamen were Arabs from Yemen. Arab seamen, like almost all non-European sailors aboard steamships, were referred to as lascars,[20] and often wore sandals and sometimes went barefoot. This was due to economics, Arabic tradition, and the extremely hot conditions below deck in the engine room where they often toiled. Another reason to wear open sandals or to work barefoot was, for example, to provide a better grip on the decks of dhows.[21] Lascar sailors hailed from backgrounds and cultures that included Arabic, Cypriot (Cyprus), Chinese, Indian and East African.[22] Sandals are common footwear in all of these locales. Sandals are an essential part of the tradition and lifestyle of Arabic nationals. Sandals, often open-toed, are the preferred footwear of both Arabic men and women in regions such as Yemen, where heat and humidity make this style of "cooler" footwear preferable. Arabic tradition does not allow for people to wear footwear/sandals on carpets/rugs or in places of worship; footwear is not usually worn in living quarters. Sandals are popular in part because they are easy to take on and off before entering and leaving living quarters or places of worship. Heavy-soled sandals are commonly worn by men in the Middle East, Asia, North Africa, and surrounding locales. That was true in 1929, and for centuries before that, as it is today. Arabic sandals are worn at work (in office, agricultural, and industrial settings), and in both formal (e.g. weddings) and informal (e.g. relaxing) contexts. Norwich City seaman/Arabs Redman Yousef, Saleh Ragee, Said Metanna and Ayed Naif worked in the engine room as firemen/stokers, with Yousef and Naif also serving as trimmers. See Table 1, Exhibits 3 and 4. Firemen shoveled coal into the Norwich City's boiler to produce superheated steam for propulsion. The trimmers delivered coal to the firemen from the ship's coal bunkers. These engine room jobs were dirty, low-paid and dangerous. It was not uncommon within the shipping industry for a fireman or trimmer to collapse while laboring in the engine room, where temperatures could reach as high as 120 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. There are recorded instances of engine room workers becoming temporarily insane, rushing to the deck and jumping overboard to escape the heat.[23]

Photo #3: A barefoot fireman (engine department) shoveling coal into the boiler of a British Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company steamship, ca. 1900 Photo by The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company Archive

Photo #4: An assistant electrical officer (engine department) wearing sandals on board a British Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company steamship, ca. 1900 Photo by The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company Archive

Photo #5: The crew of the SS Chyebassa, several wearing sandals. The Chyebassa was a merchant navy ship of the British India Line, 1917. Photo by www.iwm.org.uk copyright IWM (Q94607, free to reuse for non-commercial purposes).

Men’s Arabic sandals can have a distinctive look that might appear feminine to the eyes of a westerner such as Gallagher or Steenson. The soles of Arabic sandals often have elaborate stitching patterns, as do the uppers. In the Arabic sandals, shown below, note their "feminine" look to the western eye/culture and their thick "heavy" soles. The soles themselves often have intricate designs sewn into them unlike, say, shower sandals or casual sandals worn by men in the western world.

Photo #6: Traditional Arabic men's sandal Photo by The Desert Boutique Shop