Wednesday, 30. July 2014
22. 05. 14. - 16:15
The remains of a British tank and its former occupants had been discovered by a farmer mowing his field in Kutenholz, a municipality near the German city of Stade, in Lower Saxony.
Farmer Matrin Bergbauer, 55, said his tractor had struck a chunk of metal as he cut the grass and when he had checked he realised that it was something larger than just a small fragment.
He said: "I knew that a British tank had been destroyed somewhere near where I found the metal fragment, and I decided it would be best to call the police. If there was a tank there, there could have been unexploded ordnance."
The area was then searched by bomb disposal experts who managed to uncover the armoured side of a tank and also parts of a human skeleton including the thigh bone.
Police spokesman Rainer Bohmbach said that the human remains had been sent away for tests and that for the moment digging had stopped after the bomb disposal experts had confirmed there was nothing else close to the surface that might be dangerous.
He said: "We believe that the parts of the human skeleton probably from the tank occupants but they will need to be checked to make sure they are from the time of the Second World War."
The farmer's claim that it was a British tank which had been destroyed would mean that the British embassy will be notified next. Peter Francis from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission said that once that process happened they would get involved to make sure the remains were being handled with the proper respect.
He said: "We get about 20 cases like this still every year although mostly in France and Belgium. It's not often that we get a notification from Germany because that was well cleared after the war. If it does prove to be a British tank, we will attempt to identify the occupant whose remains were found and then the remains will be buried at the closest Commonwealth War Graves where we have space.
"This process is done with the utmost respect for the remains. These people gave their lives for their country, and that should not be forgotten."
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