Rhein drought Aug. 2018 Bad Hönningen

Human remains found from the last World War at the Rhein

An archaeologist walked recently during the a drought at the banks of the Rhein (Rhine) and found human bones, boat wreck and aircraft parts. After research, he assumes that the fate of two American soldiers of WWII can now be cleared up

A suspected human drama now came to light through the low waters of the Rhine. On a walk along the river, the Bonn archaeologist discovered the wreck of a plane, the Junkers brand (Ju 87) from WWII

Three German Junkers Ju 87D dive bombers, Stuka
Per Wikimedia: Three German Junkers Ju 87D dive bombers, Stuka

Furthermore, there were a flask and several burned human bones at the river bottom. Parts of two boats also appeared near the site. These probably came from the American pontoon bridge vessels of the Rhine, such floats were used in this area in World War II.  

U.S. Army troops cross the Rhine (Remagen) on a heavy pontoon bridge, March 1945
Per Wikimedia: U.S. Army troops cross the Rhine (Remagen) on a heavy pontoon bridge, March 1945

Missing for 73 years, it is suspected that the aircraft wreckage is the remains of a 1945 machine. On March 8 of World War II an aircraft as this one was shot down between the prison tower and the Freiligrathhaus, near Unkel at the Rhein. Since then, the two pilots were considered missing.  

“The Rhine still keeps its secret”. This title of a report in the weekly newspaper “Die Zeit” of December 1957. Between 1953 and 1955, the hull was slashed at several ships while on the Rhine, even when there was a low tide. Several divers searched the water, but found nothing there.

Now this mystery may be solved, because the ship wrecks are suspiciously close to the then place of misfortune. The finds also match the machine type “Junkers” and can therefore also be backdated

In the “Die Zeit” magazine article, a plumber had reported as an eyewitness that two aircrafts on the afternoon of March 8, 1945 crashed into the Rhine, a Juncker Ju 87 and a Ju 88. They had been hit by the American flak on the Remagen side. Since a plane engine weighing 3000 kg could have torn the belly of a ship, the French called on the water police to search the Rhine. When they refused, the French sent scuba divers, but nothing was found.

There are reports on the Internet that stukas, fighter-bombers and jet fighters have been constantly attacking the bridge from 8th to 17th of March 1945. Of the 367 attackers, 106 were shot down. On March 17, the Ludendorff Bridge actually collapsed. It killed 32 American soldiers. Only ten bodies could be recovered. The Americans built a total of five pontoon bridges over the Rhine between Bad Hönningen and Unkel, which were dismantled again in late 1945. Only the bridge piers were preserved after the stream piers were removed in 1976.

Today the “Friedensmuseum” or Peace Museum is in the pillar on Remagener side.

The British Army in North-west Europe 1944-45
Per Wikimedia: The British Army in North-west Europe 1944-45

The remains of the pontoon bridge that went down in the attacks of 1945, and the plane that was flown to destroy these provisional bridges are the findings the archaeologist made available to the “Office for the Conservation” in Koblenz.

Rhein River Floating Pontoon installation

References and Weblink Bonn General Anzeiger

The Title picture was taken last year beginning September 2018, when I walked the banks of the Rhein in Bad Hönningen.