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burlington

Three Austrian soldiers found on Italian Front

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Item in todays Daily Telegraph (for those who mock this publication they do have some good news reports) about 3 mummified Austrian soldiers found in a thawing glacier in the Italian Alps.

The online report can be read here

There is a photo in the printed edition with two of the faces clearly visible. Indeed one still seems to have his moustache! I tried to scan the photo but the quality of both the photo and my scanner militated against getting a good copy.

Martin

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Battle of Punta San Matteoon on Sept 3, 1918. Fought at about 3,000 metres in the Ortles-Cevedale group of glaciers, it is said to be the highest altitude battle in history? This was new and interesting fact (at least for me!). Thanks for the news!

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Although the article was good, I felt it was unneccessarily insensitive and ghoulish to publish the photograph of the bodies. If the bodies are identified how would the next of kin feel about their relatives remains being paraded for public gawping?

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With all the dead and destruction shown in the media I have no problem with mummies being shown. If people don't care about showing someone that still has a mother I shouldn't worry too much about 80 year old dead. It is the showing of these mummies that makes it all the more interesting. It was on TV (Belgian) last night here. San Mateo is the backyard of a friend of ours:

http://www.xs4all.nl/~aur/Battlefields/Italy.htm

Going to these mountains again 2005, so with some bad luck people can gawp at my dead bones in 80 years. And they may.

Regards,

Marco

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;) The following article, extracted from the British Daily Telegraph, appeared in our local paper this morning. August 23, 2004

"MELTING GLACIER YIELDS FIRST WORLD WAR BODIES"

ROME: The mummified bodies of a small group of Austrian soldiers killed in the First World War have emerged remarkably intact from a thawing glacier which has preserved them for almost 90 years.

Maurizio Vicenzi, an alpine rescue volunteer, stumbled upon the soldiers, still dressed in their tattered uniforms, about 3,500 metres up on the Dei Forni glacier near the Swiss and Austrian borders in the Italian Alps on Friday.

It is thought they died in the battle of Punta San Matteo, fought above 3,000 metres and along a 50 km. front in the Ortles-Cevedale group of glaciers. It is said to be the highest altitude battle in history.

Local reports differed as to whether there were three or four bodies, but seemed to agree that the remains were tangled in such a way as to suggest that the men may have died or been buried together.

Before their remains were able to be removed - attempts to send a recovery team in by helicopter had to be postponed until Sunday due to high winds - Vicenzi used a camera to record the extrodinary spectacle he had found.

After walking for hours alone looking for memorabilia of the Great War, Vicenzi, who runs a small museum featuring finds relinquished by thawing glaciers, spotted a "dark stain" 20 metres away, down a precipitous wall of ice. "It looked like a rock" he later said.

But when he looked theough his binoculars, he instead made out a dark mummified hand, protruding from clothing in rags.

He said that the soldiers had almostcertainly died on September 3, 1918 in one of the many battles fought in dizzying heights along the 600 kn. long Italian-Austrian front between 1915-18.

The discovery is thought to be the first of mummified remains of soldiers ever to come to light from the Great War.

Glacial thawing in the same area of north-eastern Italy, blamed on global warming, revealed several years ago a skeleton of a soldier and remnants of the so-called "city of ice" which Austro-Hungarian troops built inside it during the First World War, including indications of bunkers, , barracks, cells, corridors and storage areas.

Similar thawing in the Similuan glacier, in the same Trentino Alto Adige region as Friday's discovery was made, led to the discovery in 1991 of Otzi, a hunterhunter who had lived some 3,500 years ago."

Does anyone know anythiing about this battle or about the "city of ice". It took place, it seems, just a couple of months before the armistice.

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Such things are very popular in the mountaness regions of history. The most famous discovered was Ötzi, or better known as: "The Iceman". Ötzi was found in the alps of northeast Italy, frozen almost perfectly. The mystery of this ice-age-like man and his death remained completely blank until just two years ago.

Many bodies are still being found on the Italian Front to this day, or at least the frozen remains in the alps. It is possible that hundreds are still buried in the glacier-like mountains on the Isonzo, but only a few have been found.

Burlington,

Thank you for sharing that story, it is very interesting. I just love reading about the Italian Front.

-Doughboy

post-5-1093281908.jpg

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This brings me back to my question of a few months ago which no one responded to. What happens to these remains and the artefacts found with them? Presumably the remains get buried with full military honour as is their due, but do their belongings and associated finds also get buried or stored in a museum? Come to think of it, what happens to any finds associated with a body found on the Western Front?

Matthew

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Found this article in the Daily Telegraph ...

Mummified soldiers discovered in glacier

By Bruce Johnston in Rome

(Filed: 23/08/2004)

The mummified bodies of three Austrian soldiers killed in the First World War have emerged from a thawing glacier which preserved them for almost 90 years.

Maurizio Vincenzi, an alpine rescue volunteer, stumbled upon the soldiers in their tattered uniforms, on the Dei Forni glacier near the Swiss and Austrian borders in the Italian Alps.

It is thought they died in the battle of Punta San Matteoon on Sept 3, 1918.

Fought at about 3,000 metres in the Ortles-Cevedale group of glaciers, it is said to be the highest altitude battle in history.

Local reports said the remains were tangled in such a way as to suggest that the men may have died or been buried together.

The remains were recovered yesterday by Italian alpine rescuers and taken by helicopter to the nearby town of Pejo.

There the bodies were brought, with Austrian and Italian flags, to the mortuary chapel of the graveyard.

They will be temporarily buried there until they can transferred to an Austrian war cemetery.

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Sorry Krithia but this item is already being dealt with

here

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Initial attempts to recover Otzi were a disaster, they are truly painful to watch. More than the physical destruction of evidence and context, their failure to survey and record at the time led to the debacle about who he 'belonged' to and a massive delay in any further research.

I hope that this amazing discovery was properly recorded, I'm glad that at least some form of initial photographic record exists.

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Several people followed Burlington's lead and posted items on this subject. They have all now been merged for simplicity but the flow may be a little disjointed as a result.

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Hi everyone

I spotted this article on the Daily Record online, I don't really know anything about the war in that region but what also got my attention was that it said the men were part of the lost legions of 9 million men is this correct?

Best wishes

Mary

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I co-worker just told me about this find so I of course came here to learn what was a foot. Most interesting!

Jon

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Matthew,

When Alain-Fournier and his companions were found on the Hauts-de-Meuse abot 14 years ago, their bodies were buried in a local military cemetery and their private belongings were returned to their families (those families that could be identified).

Christina

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very interesting topic...although the article i read was only a paragraph in length...lacked detail somewhat.

dave

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Many thanks for the postings.

I was amazed to see the one about a German Veteran,Terry,and i believe it is the first time i have seen an article about them.

Dinner time reading tonight.

If there were only 11 Austrian soldiers killed,there might be some hope of identifying them.

Marvellous thread,and look forward to updates.

All the best.

Simon.

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This is fascinating news.

I hope they can identify these bodies and bring some closure to their families.

And their proper burials and benefits.

Who would handle this? Austria or Hungary?

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The report I read (The Australian) suggested that at least one of the bodies would NOT be reinterred with military honours, but be used to test preserving techniques (with a view to improving the conditions in which Otzi is held).

Which I thought was pretty outrageous.

Can anyone confirm/refute this?

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