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RIP (remains of soldiers) - WWII deaths

Lost and found remains of World War II soldiers.
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: WWII Tours, Nazi Helmets, Plane Crashes, WWII Memorabilia & Militaria, Medals, Military Decorations, Metal Detectors, SS Daggers, Body of Hitler, Mass Graves.

Rising seas wash Japanese war dead from Marshall Islands graves
Rising sea levels have washed the remains of at least 26 Japanese second world war soldiers from their graves on a low-lying Pacific archipelago, the foreign minister of the Marshall Islands has said. "There are coffins and dead people being washed away from graves. It's that serious," Tony de Brum told reporters on the sidelines of United Nations climate change talks in Germany. Unexploded bombs and other military equipment had also washed up in recent months.
(theguardian.com)

New Cemetery in Russia: Germany Still Burying Eastern Front Dead
Germany recently opened its last big war cemetery in Russia, marking the culmination of a huge effort to recover Wehrmacht soldiers killed on its Eastern Front in World War II. By the end of this year, the German war graves commission will have found and reburied a total of 800,000 soldiers in Eastern Europe and Russia since 1992, when the former Eastern bloc countries began helping Germany retrieve the remains of missing soldiers following the end of the Cold War.
(spiegel.de)

Remains of Kurt Knispel, the highest scoring WWII tank ace, located in a grave the Czech Republic
The remains of the world's greatest ever tank ace have been found in a grave the Czech Republic. The remains of Kurt Knispel were found by historians at the Moravian Museum in Vrbovec lying in an unmarked grave for German soldiers at a cemetery in Znojemsko. With 168 confirmed and 195 unconfirmed kills Knispel was by far the most successful tank ace of the Second World War, even knocking out a T-34 at 3,000 metres. He fought in every type of German tank as loader, gunner and commander, and was awarded the Iron Cross, First Class, after destroying his fiftieth enemy tank and the Tank Assault Badge in Gold after more than 100 tank battles.
(croatiantimes.com)

Treasure hunters loot Nazi memorabilia from the graves of soldiers who died on the Eastern Front
Gangs are stripping Nazi memorabilia from the graves of soldiers who died on the Eastern Front and selling it in Britain. Armed Forces charities have expressed fury and frustration at the groups digging up the bodies of German soldiers to feed Nazi relic industry. The artefacts, ranging from dog tags to parts of tanks, are sold over the internet. The human remains are then buried in mass graves, scattered, or sold. Paul Reed, a military archaeologist, said the trade could run to several millions of pounds in Britain alone: "It's wholesale looting of battle sites, and the bones are just tipped into holes at the end of the day."
(theaustralian.com.au)

Germany still locates 40,000 war casualties a year - Database of fallen soldiers
3 million German soldiers died in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in World War II, and the fate of hundreds of thousands of them remains unknown to their descendants. On the 67th anniversary of Nazi Germany's capitulation, the German War Graves Commission launched a campaign inviting people to consult its online database, which contains information on 4.6 million soldiers killed or missing in action. Some 40,000 are located and reburied each year across Eastern Europe and Russia -- where its teams still encounter hostility from locals who remember the murderous occupation.
(spiegel.de)

Graves of Japanese World War II soldiers exhumed in Guwahati, India
The remains of 11 Japanese soldiers killed in World War II are being exhumed at a war cemetery in the north-eastern Indian city of Guwahati. Three Japanese officials are in the city to take back the remains to Japan. "Guwahati is the only war cemetery among the nine war cemeteries in India which has war graves of Japanese soldiers," explained Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) regional manager Salew Pfotte.
(bbc.co.uk)

618 German soldiers who died during their 1945 retreat through Poland reburied in Poznan, Poland
The remains of 618 German soldiers who died during Nazi Germany's retreat through Poland in 1945 and were buried in mass graves were laid to rest, a memorial organisation said. Tomasz Czabanski, of Polish foundation Pomost (Bridge), said the troops were reburied during a ceremony at a German military graveyard in Poznan. 200 dog-tags had been found in the mass graves, enabling researchers to put names to some remains. 14,000 German soldiers already lie in Poznan's Milostowo cemetery. In total, there are 13 German military cemeteries in Poland, and about 150,000 German soldiers have been reburied.
(breitbart.com)

Libyan Salah Fatour faithfully tends graves of Allied World War II dead
Every morning, Salah Fatour carries out sacred duties once carried out by his father at the Benghazi War Cemetery. He has maintained the Allied resting place for 25 years, and now amid Libya's own war. The cemetery memorializes 1,214 Commonwealth soldiers, many of whom died in the desert battles the Allies fought with the Desert Fox, German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, and his Afrika Korps for supremacy in North Africa.
(latimes.com)

Italy to collect the remains of 121 World War II soldiers from Russia
Tchkalovsky military airfield near Moscow will soon receive an Italian delegation, which will collect and bring home the remains of 121 Italian Second World War soldiers who perished on the eastern front. 6 of the soldiers were identified. Over the years, Italy have repatriated the remains of 10,542 soldiers 2,799 of which have been identified.
(english.ruvr.ru)

U.S. Military searches for remains of WWII Marines who died in the Battle of Tarawa
The Battle of Tarawa - a heavily defended Japanese outpost between Hawaii and Australia - was one of the first U.S. amphibious campaigns of World War 2. It also was one of the most fierce. Thousands of Marines charged the beach, only to be mowed down by Japanese machine gun fire when their boats got stuck on a coral reef. After the battle, the U.S. Navy buried the remains it found, but many of those graves have since been relocated. The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command has searched the tiny Pacific atoll since the war ended but not on the scale of the current mission, which includes ground penetrating radars.
(islandpacket.com)

Indonesia returns 291 World War II Japanese soldiers
The Indonesian government returned to Japan the remains of 291 Japanese soldiers who perished in the Biak region during World War Two. The remains had been recovered to enable the Japanese government to honor its citizens who had died while serving their country in the war. "By returning the Japanese soldiers' remains to their families and the Japanese government, it is hoped that the spirits of those killed in the line of duty to their state and nation during the war can finally rest in peace," an official stated. Kimihiko Yokoyama, a representative of the soldiers' families, said the return of their remains to Japan was a matter of great relief for the families.
(thejakartaglobe.com)

For 30 years Erwin Kowalke has recovered the lost remains of World War II soldiers with metal detector
During the last battles of WWII countless soldiers never got a decent burial. For 30 years, one man has been locating their bodies with a metal detector and helping them rest in peace. The first thing one sees is a jawbone. Soon Erwin Kowalke pulls out a skull. "This boy was about 20. The wisdom teeth aren't quite in yet." Most likely a Soviet soldier. "Russians were differently nourished." Then he finds a leather shoe with a knobby rubber sole. "Those belonged only to soldiers of the Red Army." Kowalke started working for the German War Graves Association (VDK) in 1980 and ever since he has toured the WW2 battlefields.
(spiegel.de)

Skulls and bones of Japanese World War II dead kept at the UC Berkeley campus
The skulls and bones of Japanese WWII dead are being kept at UC Berkeley in violation of the Geneva Conventions for the protection of war victims. The remains of Japanese soldiers or civilians, collected from Saipan in 1945 by a Navy doctor, are kept in the storage of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology on the UC Berkeley campus. The revelation has sparked the outrage of law experts, who say the university has a legal and ethical duty to return the remains to Japan. The storage has 3 sets of skeletal remains with skulls, and various bones of 3 additional Japanese war dead without skulls, who committed suicide or jumped off cliffs rather than surrendered.
(sfgate.com)

Skeletons of 5 Nazi soldiers killed on D-Day discovered
The skeletons of 5 Nazi soldiers shot the British on D-Day have been discovered by an amateur historian examining the battlefield around Bavent. Surrounded by their World War II German helmets and ammunition clips, they were found 65 years after the day Allied forces stormed ashore on June 6th 1944. Scraps of camouflage coats and tunic buttons also adorn the skeletons, which were all hastily placed face down in a shallow grave. Rifles and machine guns were all taken, maybe by British parachutists who had lost their weapons during the nighttime landings before D-Day. The presence of id tags reevals that they were buried quickly.
(dailymail.co.uk)

Metal detectors and shovels - Russia still searching for World War II dead
Every spring searchers fan out across Russia's swamps and forests armed with metal detectors and shovels, searching for bones. Most are are just teenagers, their nails caked in the dirt of this valley near Moscow, where the Red Army's 32nd Rifle Division held Adolf Hitler's Nazi troops for 15 days in 1941. Their friends prepare to celebrate the May 9 Victory Day holiday by watching the military parade on Red Square, but the volunteers say the memory of the war is stronger here. 5 hours of seeking with metal detectors revealed an exploded helmet, a gas mask, bullets, leg bones, shrapnel, a pair of boots riddled with more bones and one mossy shoe.
(afp)

World War II Japanese burial site list found
Japanese campaigns to find the remains of soldiers imprisoned by U.S. troops in the Second World War have gotten a boost by an archival discovery. A list - drawn up in March 1952 by a U.S. military intelligence agency - has been found at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration containing the names and burial sites of 6,000 Japanese soldiers who died after being taken POWs in the Pacific Theater. The discovery of the document is a major find in long-standing and mostly unproductive efforts to find remains and id Japanese troops who perished in the southern Pacific.
(upi.com)

8 burial pits from World War II battle of Tarawa discovered
The Marines buried their dead after the 1943 battle for Tarawa, and soon the bulldozers came to build runways. In 1946, the U.S. military went back to locate those graves on the Pacific atoll, but half of them were never found. Recently a nonprofit group declared that it had helped locate the graves of 139 missing Marines and sailors whose remains had long been lost. The group, History Flight, based in Marathon, worked with WFI Research Group in Fall River (Mass.) to confirm the location of the remains in 8 burial pits. The discovery is described as the largest ever of MIA remains from any American war.
(tampabay.com)

Polish team seeks remains of long-lost Nazi German troops with metal detectors
The skulls emerged as the diggers worked knee-deep in the white sand of a pine forest on Poland's Baltic Sea coast. "It's time for these soldiers to rest in peace, with dignity," said Jerzy Romel, a Pole who has put aside the deep-rooted hatred caused by the Nazi occupation. Along with volunteers who have answered the call of the Pamiec (Memory) foundation, he is trying to locate, id and rebury some of the fallen German troops. His team expected to find 270 bodies at Hel, but the total was closer to 1,000. History student Tomasz Loz was combing the site with a metal detector: "It's crucial to find dog-tags with the soldier's id number."
(thelocal.de)

Czechs to bury some 5,500 Wehrmacht soldiers in Cheb
The remains of several hundred German soldiers killed during the Second World War, discovered in an obsolete factory, have been buried in the Czech Republic. Czech and German officials attended the ceremony at a new military cemetery in Cheb. The remains of some 5,500 Wehrmacht troops will be buried at the site by the end of the year. Only 1,300 of the bodies, found over the last few years in boxes, have been id'ed. Finding a suitable resting place for them was not easy, because memories of the Nazi occupation are still fresh in many people's minds.
(bbc.co.uk)

Nazi graveyard in the rainforest: The Guayana-Projekt. A German adventure on the Amazon
A graveyard of Nazis fixed on creating a 'foreign Fatherland' in the Amazonian rainforests has been discovered. The Nazi relics reveal a 1930s daredevil plan to create a master race in Brazil. The Nazi ruins are recorded in book "The Guayana-Projekt. A German Adventure on the Amazon," which says die-hard Nazis wanted to settle the area like wild west pioneers. On an island on a tributary of the River Jary, author Jens Gluessing found a 9-foot cross marked with swastikas and text: "Joseph Greiner died here on 2.1.1936... in the service of German Research Work." SS race specialist Greiner arrived in 1935 as the forefront of a perceived wave of settlers.
(dailymail.co.uk)

American experts in Germany to search for missing WWII GIs who died fighting the Nazis
Tens of thousands of American troops perished in the Eifel Mountain region as the Nazi forces fought for every inch of ground. Many of them have never been located, their corpses lost on the battlefields. The Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command of the US Department of Defence (JPAC) is "now combing the killing fields for the remains of those warriors". Unlike Britain, which buries its war dead at the sites where they fell, America's tradition is to bring every soldier it can home. Now, with an yearly budget about £30m, the decision has been taken to comb Germany for the 78,000 GIs still classified as missing in World War II.
(telegraph.co.uk)

Keith Phillips's Project Homecoming - A Mission to Recover MIAs
Keith Phillips set up the nonprofit Project Homecoming to help locate the 80,000 American soldiers missing from World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. Phillips, a semi-retired consultant and history buff, invested $60,000 to start the organization in 2007 after reporting the discoveries of soldiers' remains during travels to Pacific islands. Phillips and others work with Pacific island tribesmen to locate military wreckage sites, and report results to The Joint Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command which takes over. "I think people will be surprised that there is such little activity to look for these people."
(military.com)

Peter Stekel recounts his discovery of World War II aviator in Sierra
At first Peter Stekel thought he was looking at a dying tree. But it couldn't have been, because he was above the tree line, 12,300 feet up on the Mount Mendel glacier in Kings Canyon National Park. He took a closer look. It was a body. Stekel's exploration trip to the Sierra, a hunt for militaria from a 1942 plane crash, gave him a story to tell even before he finishes his book about the ill-fated military training flight. The body he discovered was one of the lost airmen from AT-7 training flight from Mather Field in Sacramento that wandered 200 miles off course because of a blizzard on Nov. 18, 1942.
(fresnobee.com)

Remains of 600 World War II soldiers found in Riga, Latvia
The remains of 600 World War II soldiers have been unearthed under a playing field on Kartupelu Street in Riga's Pardaugava suburb. It is believed that these soldiers, who fought on the German side and were seized as POWs by the Soviet Army, died 1944-1949. The soldiers found are of various ethnic groups: Latvians, Germans, Poles, Austrians, Slovaks, Belgians, French and even one soldiers from Tatarstan. The names of all of the soldiers are known because of hospital archives kept from that time. The bones will be buried at the German graveyard in Pinki with a special memorial plaque.
(baltic-course.com)

German war dead no one wants to remember
It has been a long journey for the bones and skull of Obergefreiter Horst F, from the frontline ditch where he was killed in 1945, to a military warehouse. Soon, though, he and 4,000 German soldiers - Germany's forgotten warriors - will be laid to rest. "Unfinished business" is the only way to describe the tens of thousands of German corpses rotting in fields of former Eastern Front. There was no time for the Germans to bury the dead as one defensive line after another collapsed. And after the war there was no motive to bury the remnants of Hitler's army. So their helmets, weapons and badges were left to decay.
(timesonline)

Remains of a canadian soldier mistakenly bombed by allied planes identified   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Stan Beirnes can still remember the day in August 1944 when he was exchanging fire with German soldiers near Haut Mesnil. He heard aircraft behind him and turned around in horror to see Allied aircraft mistakenly dropping bombs on Canadian and Polish troops. "The next planes dropped right on us. In fact, one of the bombs landed right in the middle of our air defence dugout." Beirnes, a bombardier with the 3rd Infantry Division, got away uninjured but others were not so lucky. Many dozens were killed, and dozens more listed as missing. Now one of the men killed has been identified as Pte. Ralph Ferns.
(canadianpress)

Some 4,000 German war dead to be reburied in Czech graves
Germany's war graves authority has signed a pact for the remains of 4,000 German soldiers killed in Czechoslovakia during World War II to be buried at a special site (to be build military cemetery) in the Czech town of Cheb. Critics voiced fear that the town would become a pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis. 178,000 German soldiers died during WWII in Czechoslovakia fighting the Red Army from the north and east and American forces from the West. Fighting in Czechoslovakia remained fierce in the final weeks of the war as Adolf Hitler carried out his "final victory" strategy.
(dw-world)

Over Himalayas and Internet, lost flights found - The Hump: WWII supply route
The Hump, American air crews called it. Or the Aluminum Trail, because the World War Two supply route from India into China was dotted with their wreckage. The route was vital, an aerial highway over some of the world's highest mountains, a path flown by hundreds of U.S. aircraft transporting supplies to the Chinese Army. The cost: Over 400 U.S. aircraft carrying almost 1,400 troops vanished. For decades, no one tried to recover their remains. But now 2 men (adventurer Clayton Kuhles and computer expert Gary Zaetz) are campaigning to make sure the U.S. government brings those missing fliers home.
(ww2aircraft.net)

Of 79,000 missing American WWII servicemen 35,000 recoverable
The families are making a new campaign to find and bring home the remains of their World War II dead. Years the survivors accepted the consolation of mass memorials and unknown-soldier graves, but a younger generation is looking for something much more personal. The relatives are incited by development in DNA matching, satellite mapping and online archives, and by a new advocacy group impatient with the speed of the military unit that tracks down remains. Of 79,000 American WWII servicemen missing, 35,000 are classified as recoverable. The unit responsible for all recoveries, the Joint P.O.W./M.I.A. Accounting Command, names 75 remains a year.
(nytimes)

Japan returns Korean World War II remains
Japan has handed over the remains of 101 South Koreans who were coerced to fight for the Japanese army during World War II. South Korean officials and relatives of the dead are flying the remains back to Seoul, after a memorial service in Tokyo. It was the first time the two governments had set up such a ceremonial handover. 22,000 South Koreans died fighting for Japan. Over 1,000 sets of remains have been handed over, but it was the first time Korean families had been invited to a government-level ceremony.
(bbc)

Million Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS soldiers get reburial after 60 years
A million fallen German soldiers, both Wehrmacht and Waffen SS, are being reburied over 60 years after the fall of the Third Reich. The operation is taking place across Eastern Europe, where 15M civilians were killed by the German war machine. Resentment against the program is high. So far 520,000 skeletons have been dug up from mass graves, old trenches and battlefield graveyards and reburied in German war cemeteries. A further 400,000 are due to be exhumed over the next 8 years. And 100,000 will be reburied after that. Exhumation teams are recovering skeletons from Stalingrad and WWII's largest single mechanised engagement: the Battle of Kursk.
(theage)

War dead remains sold as souvenirs in Papua New Guinea
Skeletal remains of World War II soldiers are being sold as souvenirs by villagers in Papua New Guinea. Villagers living on wartime battlefields in Oro Province were engaged in selling the remains. Sanananda villagers had confirmed that a complete human skeleton was sold for $US20,000, while bags containing soldiers' bones were being sold for up to $30. Villagers said the buyers were from overseas. Sanananda was the scene of fierce fighting and many Japanese are buried in mass graves there. Luke Doari said he and a partner dug up and sold 53 skeletons of Japanese soldiers and sold them for $40 each to an American buyer.
(news-au)

Montenegro unearths World War II - era German troops
Forensic experts have unearthed the remains of dozens of WWII German soldiers buried in Montenegro's capital. The remains were identified as German soldiers by metal id tags found among human bones and personal items. The remains were discovered during construction work a few km from the centre of Podgorica. More than 2,100 German soldiers are thought to have died in Montenegro in the Nazi occupation of Yugoslavia.
(bbc)

Remains of Bf 109 Flying Ace Sgt. Maximilian Volke Recovered
Researchers has located the remains and plane of a German ace Flight Sgt. Maximilian Volke - a Munich-born pilot credited with shooting down 37 planes - shot down during World War II. They also discovered some personal effects, including the dog tag and good luck charms the pilot carried into combat. Searchers located the plane after narrowing their area based on information from state archives and eyewitness accounts of the ace's final air battle in 1944, said Leo Venieri, president of Romagna Air Finders, a group that scours for signs of missing WWII pilots. Volke's Messerschmitt Bf 109 was dug out of a farmer's field north of Modena.
(usatoday)

Scores of Imperial Japanese Army soldiers remains found on isle
Indonesia, Papua province: Skeletal remains of 70 WWII Imperial Japanese Army soldiers have been found on a small island of Biak, which served as a strategic military base. In some cases, entire skeletons were found with helmets and boots. Nobuteru Iwabuchi leads a nonprofit organization that operates the Pacific War History Museum in Oshu. He has visited Biak more than 200 times. As Japan's war situation deteriorated in 1943-1944, supplies became sparse. In May 1944, 30,000 U.S. troops landed. Less than 800 of the 12,800 Japanese survived the fighting. 2.4 million Japanese soldiers died overseas, remains of 1.15 million have been recovered.
(japantimes.co.jp)

US team looking for the remains of Iwo Jima flag-raiser found 2 sites
American search team looking for the remains of a Marine killed after filming the flag-raising on Iwo Jima has found 2 possible sites and will recommend a larger team excavate them. "Our investigation has been very successful. We found two caves and tunnels. We will recommend a follow-up team be brought in to use heavy equipment," said U.S. Army major Sean Stinchion. He said the team did not find the remains of sergeant William H. Genaust, who filmed the flag-raising 9 days before he was killed during combat. The 7-man team focused on surveying Hill 362 A where Genaust was believed to have been killed.
(usatoday)

Bob Bolus behind search for Marine who filmed Iwo Jima Flag
Bob Bolus was flipping through Parade magazine 2 years ago when he came across an article about the 28th Marines combat photographer Sgt. William H. Genaust, who filmed the raising of the U.S. flag on Iwo Jima in 1945. Genaust is believed to have been killed in combat days after shooting the footage. Bolus, disturbed to learn that his remains were never found, decided he would bring the missing Marine home. Bolus hired experts, pored over documents and badgered military officials. Now his efforts are starting to bear fruit. Based mostly on Bolus' research, an American search team is looking for an Iwo Jima cave where William Genaust might have been killed.
(abcnews)

The secret agents tortured and killed discovered after 60 years
A graveyard for secret agents recruited by British and US intelligence has been discovered in Italy. For more than 60 years, their remains have lain in an military cemetery at Bolzano. The 23 men's identities were known, but no one knew why they were there or why they had been killed together. They were Italians infiltrated into the German-occupied part of Italy after Italy's withdrawal from the world war II in 1943. "They worked either for the forerunner of the CIA, the American Office of Strategic Services OSS, or for the British Special Operations Executive SOE."
(guardian)

Imperial Japanese Army Nurse reveals site of soldiers remains
Toyo Ishii, who worked as a nurse for the Imperial Japanese Army, wants to set the record straight about a period in the immediate aftermath of World War II that is almost forgotten. She told authorities about sites in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward that contain the remains of soldiers killed in the war. She said this was done so that Occupation authorities would not find out. The Toyama district housed many army medical facilities, including an arm of the notorious Unit 731, which conducted biological experiments using human subjects.
(asahi)

Members of Waffen SS among Wehrmacht troops remains in Usti
Members of the Nazi SS are among the German troops buried in the Czech Republic and probably also among the remains of the soldiers temporarily buried on the premises of a construction company in Usti nad Labem, north Bohemia. "Along with Wehrmacht members, we have also exhumed and buried members of the Waffen SS," director Martinic told. He stressed that only remains of the Waffen SS members had been found, not those of the SS guards who were notorious for their brutality in extermination camps.
(vnnforum.com)

4000 German corpses stored in a Czech factory for 3 years
The exhumed bodies of thousands of German soldiers killed in World War II have been stored in a Czech Republic factory for three years, reports say. The remains include soldiers who fought across eastern Europe during the war. The remains have been stored in containers in the town of Usti-nad-Labem until the German association draws up final plans for their permanent burial.
(bbc)

The bone collectors: The search for lost heroes of WWII
The bodies of some of the thousands of allied airmen shot down in Germany during the Second World War have been recovered thanks to the extraordinary work of Uwe Benkel and his team. Since 1989, he and the 14 other voluntary and unpaid members of his Research Group for the Missing have recovered the remains of 80 British, American and German wartime aircraft shot down during the Second World War and recovered the bodies of 28 pilots listed as missing. The fate of US Air Force Lieutentant Ronald Potter is typical of the estimated 15,000 to 20,000 pilots shot down over Germany.
(independent.co.uk)


See also:
WWII Tours
Nazi Helmets
Plane Crashes
WWII Memorabilia & Militaria
Medals, Military Decorations
Metal Detectors
SS Daggers
Body of Hitler
Mass Graves.