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HAWK21M
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Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Mon Dec 06, 2004 3:59 pm

Have they been any proven facts of POWs not returned back.What would be the longest duration be like.
I remember Kuwiat wanted their POWs back after the Iraq war.
Also After India won the 1971 war Pakistan POWs were returned,but Pakistan still refuses to acknowledge that Indian POWs exist in Pakistani Prisons.....This has been a debate for quite some time,A few movies were also made on this theme.Some Family members recvd letters of lost soldiers from Paki jails.But they were not returned.
Is there any History stating the same.
regds
MEL
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BCAInfoSys
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Mon Dec 06, 2004 4:18 pm

There are some who still believe that Vietnam is still holding on to some US POW's from the conflict! Even if that proves incorrect, I think that given the duration of the Vietnam War, many of the prisoners who were taken earlier in the war may have the record for the longest amount of time spent in captivity.

I don't have any imperical evidence to back this up. Just my hunch. I may well be proven wrong.  Smile

Steve
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pacificjourney
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Mon Dec 06, 2004 5:11 pm

Wrong (not even close in fact), get over it ! Why would Vietnam want them, ever ask yourself that ???

Some POW's held by Morocco in war against Polisario front have been in limbo nearly 40 years.
" Help, help ... I'm being oppressed ... "
 
BCAInfoSys
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Mon Dec 06, 2004 5:56 pm

Like I said Pacific. I don't personally have a perspective on the matter. I was just pointing out that there are some groups that believe this.

Don't make it a personal matter about my beliefs, I was just bringing up what some OTHERS believe.
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MD11Engineer
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Mon Dec 06, 2004 11:45 pm

Might it also not be that some POWS choose not to go back to their original country? E.g. there was a goalie in the British Premier League in the 1950s, who was a former German POW, who decided to continue to live in Britain, or a whole community of former German soldiers in Northern France, who married local women and decided to live there as farmers, because all their family back home got killed during the bombings. Today you wouldn´t be able to distinguish them from elderly Frenchmen, especially since they became Franch citizens.
Since Vietnamese women are generally not the ugliest ones, I can imagine that a few American POWs, got married there and stayed on. Other soldiers might have been killed in action and never recovered, but the families back home hold on to the belief that they are POWs.

The Morrocans still hold Polisario POWs, while the Polisarios in Algerian exile hold Morrocan POWs in return. The men, though being treated fairly, have give up all hope to ever see their families again (and what should they return to? Their old lives are gone, their are old men by now, their wives probably have another man by now).
BTW, the last German WW2 POWs to return from camps in Russia happened in 1955.

Jan
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dl021
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Tue Dec 07, 2004 1:10 am

If we really want to be technically accurate we would have to go back to when prisoners were turned into slaves on galleys and as menial laborers for the conquering armies/nations.

I believe the longest period for POW's held in modern times is with the DPRK. They still hold people (Koreans) from the Korean conflict, and from the period afterwards. Recently there have been some reunifications allowed with the southern families but this is done only when there is a perceived benefit to the North Koreans. The Russians are believed to have held some Germans (useful to the Soviets) in their Gulags for similar periods, but it is murky as to whether the period was as long prior to return or death of the prisoners.

THere are other instances where prisoners were held secretly by nations and their allies for long periods, but this will always be difficult to prove. The longest documented period for US prisoners is the Vietnam conflict where some fliers captured in 65 were not repatriated until 73/74.

There are some groups that believe that US servicemen were held beyond the return date agreed to by the Vietnamese, and these groups still hold some hope for finding out information about these servicemen. These men are currently listed as MIA because of the decision by the Carter administration to cease listing them as POWs. It can be said that the VIetnamese have been cooperating in the search for MIA's and we have recovered dozens of remains over the last 10 or 15 years of searching. It is doubtful that there are any remaining living pow's being held against their will, but it is possible. The Vietnamese would have to have made the decision that it was too embarrassing or damaging to admit to having held them and still have had a use for them. Doubtful but possible. I don't mind keeping the investigation open until there is verification or no further possibility of living pow's.
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ARCJET
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Wed Dec 08, 2004 7:19 am

A US Navy Pilot was held as a POW from August 1964 until March 1973.
Charleston, SC
 
cannibalz3
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Wed Dec 08, 2004 8:19 am

Slightly off-topic, there is some evidence that POWs from the Korean war were brought back to the Soviet Union or China. Also people from shot-down spy planes. Granted, the evidence is pretty sketchy, but it's enough to make somebody wonder. I'll post the link when I find it later, but it came from a pretty reliable academic webpage.
 
MD11Engineer
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Thu Dec 09, 2004 1:57 am

Ref. to post # 6:

It is customary and fully legitimate according to the Geneva convention to hold POWs until hostilitties are over. Usually the only exemptions are those who are crippled or sick and are not likely to fight again, they often get repatriated earlier through e.g. the Red Cross.

Since the cease fire between the US and North Vietnam only happened in 1973, the North Vietnamese were fully within their rights to keep this Navy pilot imprisoned.


Jan
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dl021
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Thu Dec 09, 2004 2:33 am

Jan,
I don't think anyone was questioning the legitimacy of the term of detention, however if asked I believe that the conditions were consistently inhumane and crossed over into war crimes. Torture and coercion were the tools used by the North Vietnamese to attempt the gein information and betrayal from the US POW's.

People may be able to point out isolated incidents where US prison guards committed acts of depravity, but it was certainly not official policy, nor was it condoned once discovered. Our standard policy toward EPW's over the last hundred years has seen them better treated by us than they were by their own people, in terms of food, shelter, and safety.
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MD11Engineer
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Thu Dec 09, 2004 2:44 am

Ian,

The country capturing the POWs has to treat them like their own soldiers, not worse, not better, which in some doctrines gave trouble, like Allied POWs even under some Anglo and Americcanphil Japanese commanders, who didn´t want to abuse the prisoners, but even their own soldiers didn´t havbe any food and had to go foraging (the standard doctrine of the Japanse forces in WW2, the Army didn´t get sdupplies, but had to live off what it could steal in the country). Then there was blatant abuse e.g. murdering Russian POWs in Germany during WW2 as part of Hitler´s racist politics, or Japanese murdering Allied POWs, and the Russians avenging themselves by simply putting criminal charges on POWs, like destruction of people´s property, and then sentenced the prisoners to 25 years labour camp. This practice only stopped after Stalin died (and I´m not talking about war criminals, I´m talking about ordinary German soldiers who got caught with some stuff from a Russian farm and then sentenced to10 years Gulag for theft)

Jan
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dl021
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Thu Dec 09, 2004 3:19 am

Jan,
You are correct except that when we transport EPW's to the rear they have had greater levels of safety than our own soldiers.

I don't think we can hold Stalag or Kempetai commanders, or any other enemy, responsible for the level of food they were allotted for their camps when their own troops were starving, however they were rightly held responsible for atrocities committed by them and their staffs.

The Russians probably still have people sitting in former Gulag towns in Siberia who were lost in the system and have great-grandkids running around those towns.

If you will remember there were German soldiers executed in US POW camps during and after the war (they are buried in Georgia, Texas and Fort Leavenworth) for crimes committed against fellow prisoners while incarcerated. Our enemies seemed to execute and torture our people for sport sometimes.
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MD11Engineer
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Thu Dec 09, 2004 3:24 am

Ian,

I know about these incidents in the POW camps in the US. Germans killing other Germans they perceived to be traitors.

There was a case in the Netherlands, when German POWs under British or Canadian custody were holding a court martial against some Germans who have been deserting during the last days before the unit surrendered, got caught by the Allies and brought to the same POW camp. These men were sentenced to death by the German officers and the Allied troops gave guns to the Germans for the execution. This was after the German surrender.

Jan
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dl021
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Thu Dec 09, 2004 3:50 am

Jan,

That's interesting, I had not heard this before. Talk about enforcing discipline...

Last month, or the month before, there was a ceremony held by the German military attache at the site of a former pow camp to lay flowers on the graves, and I saw the efforts to maintain them at Ft. Leavenworth. Not praising but remembering was the watchword I believe.

Did you know that the British High Command in CBI theater gave the Japanese their weapons back and used them to police their a.o.'s after the surrender? Mountbatten's staff was very concerned for not only the colonial security, but for the safety of the Japanese who would have been massacred by their former subjugates.

In the Falklands the British allowed the Argentine officers to keep their sidearms in order to maintain order among their own men, who were near mutiny and threatening to kill their own officers.

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MD11Engineer
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Thu Dec 09, 2004 4:20 am

The use of Japanese soldiers up to company level in Indonesia, because just after the war there were gangs roaming around killing all foreigners and acting as bandits and the British didn´t have enough manpower. British WW2 veteran and later commander of the Jungle Warfare School in Malaya describes one of these unitsin his book "Jungle Warfare".
It seems that many of the young Japanese officers (up to Major) and soldiers tried to prove themselves as reasonable, civilised and disciplined soldiers who can work professionally under the new command and who tried to get rid of the reputation as war criminals.

Jan
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HAWK21M
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Thu Dec 09, 2004 9:41 pm

I dunno how true it is.But there was a Japanese Soldier that never knew the war had ended 15 years later.
He was still in his uniform hidden in a cave in SE Asia.
regds
MEL
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MD11Engineer
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Fri Dec 10, 2004 2:13 am

Hawk,

There were several of them. One of the last held out in the Philippines, surviving of food he stole in the villages at night. He still had his rifle neatly oiled and still had ammo left. After he got discovered by locals, he holed himself up in the cave he lived in. The Philippinne military didn´t want to kill him and tried to talk him into surrendering. Finaly they had to get his former commander, who by then was a manager of a departmentr store in Japan, to come over and give him formal orders to surrender.
I´ve also heard of two former Japanese soldiers, who apparently sincerely believed in Japan only trying to kick out European colonists from Asia and who after the Japanese surrender, joined a group of communist guerillas in Malaya. This group disbanded about 15 years ago and the two old men were sent back to Japan.

Jan
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SlamClick
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Fri Dec 10, 2004 2:33 am

There was also a hoax in the late 1950s where a starving Japanese soldier was picked up on the Farralon Islands off the San Francisco Golden Gate.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that all through the time of the Vietnam war, the USA had not signed or ratified the Geneva convention.
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MD11Engineer
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Fri Dec 10, 2004 3:43 am

Slamclick,
It depends which version of the Geneva convention you mean. The US didn´t sign the 1949 version (which included irregular and partisan units), but they signed the earlier pre WW2 version and AFAIK also the Haque Convention, which both include treatment of POWs of regular armed forces.

Jan
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HAWK21M
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Fri Dec 10, 2004 8:31 pm

What about Kuwiat POWs after the Iraq war.Did they find any.
regds
MEL
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N766UA
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Fri Dec 10, 2004 8:54 pm

Gotta love how Pacificjourney is so confident of himself. The fact is neither of you guys know for sure if anyone's over there still and to say you know definitively either way is alittle ridiculous. You can give whatever rhetoric you want as reasoning but the fact is we don't know.

There are for sure many dead soldiers still in Vietnam, however. Every once in a while I see it on the news how another guy made it home after all this time.
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Fri Dec 10, 2004 9:25 pm

The only reason I could think of not wanting to return the POWs is because they've been denying they ever existed.Now what would be the reason.oops I forgot these guys. Smile
Im refering to the Indians.
regds
MEL
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pacificjourney
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Fri Dec 10, 2004 9:33 pm

Yes N766UA I am confident. It is normally the side making the accusation to provide proof that such prisoners exist and endless bumper-stickers just isn't proof I'm afraid.

You could start as I invited with motivation. Just why would Vietnam want to keep these people ... and then you could get on to listing the actual proof.

Yes, dead guys show up in Vietnam all the time, they are usually Vietnamese in fact, they count as well right ?
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Fri Dec 10, 2004 10:06 pm

The British held on to some German PoW's for a good couple of years after the end of WWII. There was a feeling that since Britain had been ravaged by war, the least the German PoW's could do would be to contribute to getting the country back on its feet. Eventually, public pressure told, both from germany and from Britain, and the servicemen were re-patriated. Of course, by that time, many of them had met local women (it wasn't exactly closely guarded) and wanted to stay. There was a documentary about this a while back, and it was quite touching how warmly welcomed into the community these men were.

The goalkeeper mentioned above was Bert Trautmann. He did more to improve Anglo-German relations after the war than just about anyone. In the case of Manchester City's fans, his initial signing caused a revolt, many fans saying they would refuse to attend games. Inevitably, this delightfully-natured, gentle giant of a man won them over. Trautmann is probably the most adored of all City's players in their history and recently received an honorary OBE when the Queen visited Germany. He could and should have played for Germany, but at the time players playing outside Germany were not selected. He's most famous for playing the last ten minutes of 1956 FA cup final with a broken neck. I remember my mother telling me how he used to go around the schools in the late 40's and 50's, charming everyone. She told how it didn't matter if you were City or United, everyone loved this man.
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HAWK21M
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Mon Dec 13, 2004 5:48 pm

Theres no way to prove things unless theses lost guys show up.
regds
MEL
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MD11Engineer
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Mon Dec 13, 2004 6:03 pm

Here in Germany (and I think all over Europe), builders keep on finding the remains of dead soldiers, German and Allied, when digging up the ground. Usually the police gets called and then a coroners checks the site. I know of one case in Berlin, where gardeners digging a hole for planting a tree in a park found a complete VW Kübelwagen (the German equivalent of the jeep) with the remains of several German soldiers. Apparently they ran into a bomb crater, got killed and got dirt thrown over them by another explosion, only to be recovered 40 years later. Another thing was that most Armies buried the dead found just on site. Later in many cases the graves were dug up again and the remains moved to central cemetaries or reburied at local cemetaries, but I wonder how many, especially enemy dead, got buried by all sides without graves registration units being notified, especially towards the end of WW2.

Jan
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dl021
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Mon Dec 13, 2004 11:42 pm

Jan....they occasionallly find the remains of Civil War soldiers here.

I have a buddy who used to be in the 17e RGP (Fr Army) who works for an EOD unit that removes or otherwise handles old ordnance. He said that they found a old chemical round last year in a field. He said is not unusual to find remains on or near UXO sites and there is a special unit the handles them for the French. I would have to assume that any type of construction or other excavation in Germany (Berlin in particular) would require some special permits and surveys prior to digging.

Do you know if there have been any incidents with crews accidentally setting off old ordnance on a construction site?

BTW....Three months ago we found the remains of a rifle (undetermined make, looks like enfield type muzzle loader) some uniform buttons and scraps of a powder bag (CSA brass) with some minie balls in it in my neighbors yard. They were doing some work in the creek to widen it for drainage and found this while digging. The guy called me over and we called the curator of the museum at Stone Mountain (the creek is the Little Stone Mountain Creek) and it was upstream from where the action was fought at Stone Mountain Village. We now have a group of Archeology students from GSU working a weekend dig looking for more. I just thought you would find this interesting.
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MD11Engineer
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Tue Dec 14, 2004 12:20 am

There has been a systematic search for UXO in West Berlin since the end of WW2 up to the late 70s, when it was considered that most of the stuff had been found and the rest was supposed to be rendered harmless by age.
Unfortunately there have been several incidents, first the discovery of a former anti tank trench in the south of West Berlin, where actually houses have been built on top, which was found to be full of UXO, in particular old anti tank "Riegelminen" (these mines, even if never armed, are considered especially dangerous, because, once the safety pin is pulled, they just rely on a thin shear wire to keep them from exploding, and the shear wire is often rusted away, the same happens to the safety pin, which once removed, can´t be reinstalled. They have to be blown up in situ).
Another one was the explosion of an American 1000 lbs bomb under a residential road. The bomb had a long time delay detonator, these bombs were dropped together with other bombs during air raids and were supposed to explode hours to days after the raid to disturb rescue and rebuilding operations. The detonator consisted of a stack of celluloid disks, which held back a springloaded firing pin, on dropping the bomb, a wire lanyard fixed to the plane pulled out a pin from the tail mounted fuze, which held back a small propellor. The propellor would turn in the slipstream and screw an arming screw into the fuze, crushing a glass vial filled with acetone. The acetone would then slowly disolve the celluloid disks until the firing pin got released and struck the primer, setting off the bomb. Due to some reasons (maybe due to the position of the bomb in the ground only acetone vapours reached the celluloid disks), the delay took 35+ years. Fortunately the explosion happened very early on a sunday morning with empty streets, only one woman had to be hospitalised with shock, though lots of windows got damaged.
These bomb fuzes were also booby trapped to prevent armourers from removing them (the American version has to be blown up on site, while there is a chance of disarming the British version with a powder turbine attached to it and fired from cover. The powder turbine in theory unscrews the fuze faster than the striker can hit the primer).

The last serious accident happened after the wall came down on a building site in Lichtenberg, East Berlin.
Builders were working on the foundations of a new building. Since Berlin soil is mostly sand, the standard practice is to drill holes of app. 3 feet diameter up to 20 yards into the ground and then, after putting a cage of reenforcing steel in, filling the hole with concrete. Somehow the drill must have struck the impact fuze of an American 500 lbs bomb (determined by police armourers from fragments found afterwards). The bomb exploded, killing three builders, injuring several others, partially destroying a neighbouring house and blowing in the roofs and windows of several other houses.
At about the same time the American and British governments released their old areal pictures taken after air raids, which show exactly where bombs, also duds landed.
This resulted in a new systematic search being started (as a college student I worked for one of the UXO removal companies for a while, the park I mentioned is the Tiergarten, we did a systematic search of this park, which is in the direct neighbourhood of Hitler´s former headquarters. We didn´t find any big bombs, just some of the hexagonal 2 lbs incendary sticks, but lots of 3,7 cm AA rounds, small arms ammo, grenades, rusted SMGs and rifles, plus a few mortar rounds, from all kinds of countries used during the last days of WW2 in Europe. We also found an old aircraft radial engine from an American bomber. Since we didn´t have any hoisting equipment big enough we left it in the ground).
Also, according to law passed after the accident where the builders were killed, before the start of any building project in either Berlin or the state of Brandenburg, there has to be a search of the ground of the building site.
People back then had the nasty habit of just dumping unneeded ammo into bomb craters and then filling them up.

Hope this helps,


Jan
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dl021
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Tue Dec 14, 2004 12:45 am

Thanks, Jan....As always very informative. I assumed it was the same in Germany as in France.

I attended a class for UXO and IED's while on exchange in Montauban w/ the 17e. The scope and scale of the amount of ordnance that has to still be out there is incredible. I remember thinking at the time that it was bad enough trying to properly and safely take down new booby traps and mines, to compound the problem with time, moisture, and other elements makes it really dangerous no matter what you do. I remember in St. Malo when I was a kid watching the Navy divers removing a bomb they had found in the mud next to a pier in the harbor. They were veeerrry careful.

Thierry, mu friend who does this now told me they have casualties every year doing this.
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MD11Engineer
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Tue Dec 14, 2004 1:03 am

Ian,

The UXO squad of the Berlin police developed some new methods for getting rid of rusted bombs, notably a method of splitting the case of the bomb using det cord without setting off the main charge.
For myself, we accidentaly hit the case of a 3,7 cm AA shell with a spade and broke it open. Outside the shell was corroded and rusty, but inside like new. We even took a stick of the cordite charge and lighted it a few yards away. It burned like new. Much of the stuff actually becomes more sensitive with age.
Fortunately accidents involving the professionals are rare. It is quite common to have a district of a town evacuated because a bomb has to be defused. Usually they evacuate all houses within a 1000 meter radius for several hours.
The British have the same problem with German bombs dropped during the Blitz. Germans often used electrical fuzes in their bombs, often with a mercury movement switch.
A sopecial problem in Berlin is that during the house to house fighting of the last weeks of the war the Germans used anything they couldlay their hands on, ammo and ordnance from the Czech Republik, Italy (remember those nasty unreliable Italian impact fuze grenades, the red devils?), French and Russian gear etc, and the Russians often used captured German bombs and fitted them with Russian fuzes, making it very difficult for an armourer to identify the stuff.

A big problem are the British, German and Italian mine fields in the Western desert in Northern Africa, mostly in Lybia and Tunesia. The dry climate keeps the land mines like new and they still claim victims after 50+ years. Another problem is that the wind makes the sand shift, obliterating landmarks used in the old mine plans, if they ever existed. The area involved is about as big as Germany, but I only konw of one UXO specialist there, a retired German military engineer, working for a non-governmental organisation, who is training locals in the location and removal of the mines and other ordnance.

Rgds,

Jan


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dl021
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Tue Dec 14, 2004 3:59 am

Jan,

I thought that the mine group that did alot of the Cambodia work was working on the North African field s as well. There is a worthy cause for the UN.

SPeaking of time based erosion of the chemical stability of explosives the local supply unit had to empty out a couple of ancient warehouses in Anniston, AL at the depot (where you can still find good M-1 barrels and stocks, BTW) and they found three bunkers full of WW1 and WW2 explosives and shells. They called for EOD to remove the stuff and we went down there to help. They had 75mm shells from WW1, and a bunker full of 40lb cratering charges (the cylindrical portable ones) with the carrying handlesthat we moved onto metal air force pallets and took to the range to detonate. We did the 1lb of C-4 1 foot away sympathetic detonation routine about 60 times that day, and destroyed about three tons of materials. We even had a near disaster when some private without adequate supervision decided to help and picked up a cratering charge manufactured in 1943 by the handles to move it to where he thought it was supposed to be. It had been rigged and already had time fuse taped to the cap hole, but luckily the blasting cap had not been crimped on yet. I say luckily because the handles came clean off when he picked it up and the charge fell down on the ground. There was a moment of silence while we all changed shorts and had the private transferred to Greenland along with his squad leader. We used about 60 lbs of c-4 and more det cord than you could shake a stick at for the daisy chains. It was spectacular when we set the last 10 cratering charges off at once.

We also found in the far back of the bunker with 75 ammo a complete wooden pallet with 3lb cannon balls. It had evidently been moved there during WWII from wherever it had been prior to this along with the never used 75 ammo and forgotten when the bunker was sealed. The Army finally decided to empty the things out at the end of the cold war and found this stuff. I think the cannonballs made their way to Aberdeen to the museum.

I have always said that if you can blow up alot of stuff and not get anyone hurt or destroy any property improperly, it is a great day.

As far as the problem faced with Germans trying to defuse the ied's the US military is facing the same issue right now in Iraq. The enemy is using mortar and artillery shells as well as other devices. I remember the training we received about how the Viet-Cong used everything from captured law rockets and mortar round to number 10 cans and scrap metal to make booby traps and
other ieds to kill our guys....it looks like terrorist university international has graduated a new class of people who read all those books.

BTW I know about the italian devices....if you will remember they invented the plastic toe poppers as well (US nomenclature M-14 anti-personnel mine). Worse than that is the wooden box mine. The Czechs are the ones who invented the things if I recall correctly (I know they sure sold the hell out of them during the cold war) and these things are still in the ground all over and pretty much undetectable. The big hope for these is that the materials have decomposed and the mechanical triggers will no longer function.

You know, Jan, I think this thread has been hijacked....by us.

Ian
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MD11Engineer
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Tue Dec 14, 2004 4:30 am

Ian,

When iron got rare during WW2, the Germans also built wooden AT mines (Holzmine), or mines consisting of a glass jar filled with explosives (Glasmine). There existed also an AP mine made of concrete. They had the additional advantage of being very difficult to detect.

In Berlin the police, who in the end disarm and delaborate the ordnance (the private companies just search and identify them, then the police bomb squad takes over), have a fenced in compound in the Grunewald forest in the west of Berlin (near the AVUS Autobahn). There they store the ordnance (with fuzes and detonators removed) and twice a year they blow it all up, starting with the small stuff (crates of grenades and small arms ammo) through artillery shells up to heavy bombs. They bury the stuff, and use the crater to put the next bigger ordnance in. Before the detonation they use a bulldozer to cover the stuff with sand to prevent fragments from flying around. I´ve been there several times and it is surprising what they got. One item of each type will be carefully dismantled for instructional purposes. They also make a bit of money from scrap metal.
The biggest problem are old chemical factories or areas, where chemical weapons, both from WW1 and WW2 have been stored (Germany didn´t use C weapons, but had a lot of them in stock) . Often they still find very rusty artillery shells containing mustard gas or stuff like Tabun or Sarin.


BTW, you mentioned the 75mm gun. Didn´t the US use the French 75mm gun in WW1?

Jan
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Tue Dec 14, 2004 5:19 am

Jan,

Yes they did. The US Army had the french 75 (Modele 1897 first manufactured in Bourges...an example of which can be found at the Museum at Fort Sill) during and after WWI.. It was out of (regular) use by the time WWII came around, but we still used the Pack 75mm which had a different shellcase, as I am told. Ian Hogg (whom I had the terrific luck to meet once in London) has a book, 20th Century Artillery, with a chapter on the French 75mm gun and its users. THe French Army continued to use an updated version of this weapon through WWII, the Germans even used them after capturing the guns. Many ended up in pillboxes and ground turrets as static defences.


I saw some of the old GB and mustard rounds we were destroying at Anniston and out at Dugway. Some of those rounds had lost their integrity and were seeping. The bunkers that held them were sealed and the operation to move them to the furnaces for destruction was very delicate. It was the reason that we decided to destroy the chemical weapons stocks in situ rather that transporting them all out to Johnston Atoll. (where we are losing a valuable emergency stop for ETOPS purposes).

Finding an old Tabun round would certainly elevate the old pucker factor, wouldn't it?

Ian
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Tue Dec 14, 2004 5:41 am

Ian,

Sadly Ian Hogg passed away last year. I own some of his books as well.
Some friends of mine in the Netherlands own blank adapted 75 mm Mountain Howitzers, esp. since they were also used by the British Airborne units.

Concerning C weapons, about ten years ago there was a big search in the old Spandau Citadell fortress in Berlin, which was used since the 16th century (BTW, a nice piece of 16th century Vauban inspired fortress design) as an arsenal for the Prussian and later German army (the reason why many British and American soldiers called every German machine guna "Spandau", because the WW1 ones had an arsenal stamp "Spandau", which was just the place where they were manufactured and the soldiers thought it was the type of the gun).
Apparently during WW2 the fortress was used as a secret lab for chemical weapons and the Berlin government got their hands on documents stating that there might still be chemical weapons around, right in the middle of a city!
For about one year the place was searched and dug over by specialists in full protective suits. Everything had to be decontaminated every day and there had always an ambulance with a doctor similarly dressed around. When the wind came from certain directions or the temperature in summer became too hot, they had to stop working. I think they found some mustard gas, but fortunately none of the nerve gases as they suspected at first.

Jan
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Tue Dec 14, 2004 6:42 am

Jan,

I knew about Hogg, and it is sad but he was rather old and luckily for him and us he lived a full life and left us much to remember him by....

I did know that Spandau was an arsenal prior to WWII and that it was a prison afterward....I did not know it was a chemweapons lab.

Are there any books on this?

Ian
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Tue Dec 14, 2004 6:53 am

Actually Spandau is since the 1920s a western suburb of Berlin (up to the community reform act of 1920 it was an independend town). Besides the citadell, wich guarded the crossing over the river Havel, the western approaches to Berlin, Spandau had a lot of military barracks, plus the arsenal. Not all of the arsenal was in this old 16th century fortress because it is a bit too small. The prison you are refering to used to be the old Prussian Army military prison, in a different barracks about 5 km further to the West. After 1945 the barracks got taken over by the British (Spandau was in the British sector) and the prison made the Allied Prison for war criminals. The nation providing the guards changed every 6 months. After the last prisoner Rudolf Hess died, the prison was demolished due to an interallied agreement (the same reason why the ashes of the criminals hung in Nuremberg were thrown secretly into a river), to prevent the place from becoming a shrine to neo Nazis. After the demolition the British built a mall for their NAAFI stores there (the British equivalent of the American AAFES PX stores).
What happened to the place today I don´t know, the barracks and the store were probably demolished after the British pulled out in 1994, same as most American buildings.

Jan
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HAWK21M
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Tue Dec 14, 2004 4:50 pm

How true are the tales of WW2 German officers escaping to South America via Submarines.
regds
MEL
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Wed Dec 15, 2004 12:38 am

There were large numbers of Nazis and ex-SS officers who moved to South America. Mengele, Barbie, Eichmann (whom the Israelis kidnapped in BA and returned to Israel for trial, conviction and hanging).

Most of the got there clandestinely by ship, however, the stories of submarine escapes have never been proven.
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Wed Dec 15, 2004 1:14 am

There are rumors that the Vatican was involved in helping a lot of high ranking Nazis to go to South America. And several dictators were wvery interested in getting experts in torture to set up their own copy of the Gestapo.
Quite a few also disappeared to Egypt in the 1950s.

Jan
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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Wed Dec 15, 2004 1:27 pm

The story of how Mengele escaped Germany is very interesting and show how a determined individual with a few supporters/accomplices can evade massive manhunts by efficient searchers.

I would have liked to see him tried in person and hanged immediately after the war, but there is something to be learned by his escape and long term evasion.

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RE: Prisioners Of War - Not Returned

Sun Dec 19, 2004 5:52 pm

Yesterday India has Informed Pakistan [Again] to return its 54 MIA soldiers of the 1971 War.
Theres are strong signs that a few exist.
regds
MEL
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