Their metal coffins ripped apart in the ocean, World War II sailors have reportedly found a new home: a shallow mass grave. Months after reporting that metal scavengers had destroyed some 40 British, American, Australian, Dutch, and Japanese warships in the Java Sea, the Guardian now describes what happened to some of the sailors aboard who lost their lives during the Battle of the Java Sea in 1942. According to Indonesian and Dutch media, the bones of hundreds of sailors from British and Dutch warships were dumped in a mass grave near the port of Brondong in East Java. One salvage company employee tells Tirto.id that skulls, jawbones, ribs, hipbones, and feet and hand bones were bagged and buried in a grave only a few feet deep.
They included remains of British sailors from the HMS Electra and HMS Encounter, which has prompted the UK's Ministry of Defense to speak out, reports the International Business Times. "The British government condemns the unauthorized disturbance of any wreck containing human remains," a rep tells the Guardian. "A military wreck should remain undisturbed and those who lost their lives onboard should be allowed to rest in peace." Indonesia has deflected blame by saying it received no formal request to guard the ships, which are protected by international law. To help prevent further loss, the UK's National Museum of the Royal Navy and the Maritime Archaeology Sea Trust have joined forces to monitor activity at the sites of British shipwrecks using satellites, radar, and sensors. (After WWII, this Wichita hangman gained renown for Nazi executions.)