WWII Soldiers' Remains May Have Been Found in Lake

Amphibious vehicle sank in 1945

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Sep 9, 2013 3:42 PM CDT

(Newser) – Somewhere on the bottom of Italy's largest lake lie the remains of two dozen American soldiers who died when their amphibious vehicle sank in 1945 in the waning days of the fighting in Europe during World War II. Now a volunteer group's discovery of what could be the wreckage 900 feet down in Lake Garda has given aging veterans hope that the remains of their comrades can finally come home. On the night of April 30, 1945, three DUKWs (amphibious six-wheeled trucks known to GIs as "ducks") left the lake's east side carrying members of the division's 605th Field Artillery. One of the vehicles, jammed with 25 soldiers and a 75mm cannon, stalled during the journey and soon began taking on water.

According to Cpl. Thomas Hough, the lone survivor, the soldiers desperately tossed their equipment and ammunition overboard in an attempt to keep the vessel from sinking. But the DUKW went down anyway, and soon 24 had drowned. In late 2011, a local Italian group of volunteer divers started a search, and announced last December the discovery of a WWII DUKW sitting upright on the lake bottom. The group hasn't been able to confirm whether it's the same DUKW, or one of the other two known to have sunk in the same area, but it plans to resume efforts to locate remains and recover the vehicle, possibly later this year or in early 2014. "Seems to us only right to do everything possible in order to restore at least someone to their land," says a spokesperson for the group.

An American amphibious vehicle crosses an Italian lake during World War II.
An American amphibious vehicle crosses an Italian lake during World War II.   (AP Photo/Bill Thompson, The Denver Public Library, Western History Collection/Genealogy Department)
Gen. George P. Hays, left, leads an American amphibious vehicle as it crosses an Italian lake during World War II.
Gen. George P. Hays, left, leads an American amphibious vehicle as it crosses an Italian lake during World War II.   (AP Photo/Roy O. bingham, The Denver Public Library, Western History Collection/Genealogy Department)
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