U.S. Army DUKW found 67 years later

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RIVA DEL GARDA, Italy – During World War II, days before German forces in Italy surrendered, conflict was still strong in the northern area of Italy at Lake Garda.

“On April 30, 1945, under the shroud of night, a DUKW was traveling up Lake Garda with 25 Soldiers and an anti-tank weapon (a 75mm Howitzer) and ammunition,” said historian Ben Appleby. “The DUKW never reached its destination of the small town of Torbole and the circumstances and location of its disappearance have remained a mystery.”

In December 2012, at 270 meters, the remains of what is believed to be the missing DUKW were found.

According to reports, during the last week of April 1945, three DUKWs, the U.S. Army’s six-wheel amphibious truck, were lost and Col. William Darby, first commander of the U.S. Army Rangers, and later 10th Mountain Division assistant division commander, was killed by enemy artillery.

Appleby adds that due to the tunnels being blocked, the 10th Mountain Div. was using DUKWs to move supplies up and down the lake.

In 2004, a research team from the University of Texas came to Lake Garda, which covers and area of seven million square meters, to try to locate the wreckage of the missing DUKW. They conducted 17 different search sessions.

Appleby added that the difficulties in locating the DUKW was due to the fact that two sank on the same day, but fortunately in the other case nobody was hurt, and that for years there was uncertainty where the DUKW had departed and what route it followed.

In November 2011, the Gruppo Volontari del Garda (an Italian organization that responds to emergencies on the lake or natural disasters) began their search. Several dozen volunteers performed 1,000 sonar scans with a radius of 50 to 200 meters at a depth of 60 to 300 meters.

In December 2012, at 270 meters, the remains of what is believed to be the missing DUKW were found, according to Luca Turrini, head of research for the Gruppo Volontari del Garda.

At a press conference Dec. 15, Turrini said, “the Italian divers team will obtain more sonar scans … to see if the Soldiers’ remains are in the hull or if the sonar echoes coming from near the vehicle are compatible with buried human remains.”

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