Legenda is presented in the latest issue of Bloomberg Businessweek. Have a look,follow the link below :)
Last time I was in Riga I discovered a very interesting bar but had no time to visit it. This weekend I made sure to stop by it and I sure dont regret it.
The Armoury bar opened some 4 and a half months ago and is located in Old Riga. It is a bit off the tourist tracks but it is quite easy to find. You walk down the street from Riga Rock Cafe and in front of the Radi un Draugi hotel is an alley, alittle more than a hundred meters in the alley you ll notice its sign. Some locals might know about it so it doesnt hurt to ask a friendly Riganian for directions, and the adress there is Vecpilsetas iela 11-2.
This is more than a bar though,it is more like a little weapons museum where you can have a few drinks and at the same time study the weapons covering the walls, you can even touch them and play around alittle with them. Ofcourse all the weapons is deactivated.
They have a great selection of drinks including 60 whiskeys and 12 draft beers for a good price, with Happy hours on beers between 4-6 pm and 6-7pm for coctails.
The guy owning the bar is a very friendly guy and the girl working behind the bar is by far the koolest bartender I have ever met, happily posing together with guns for a photo if you ask her nicely.
I highly recommend you to make a stop by this bar on your next trip to Riga, one of the nicest cities of the Baltics.
You better behave when this bartender is on duty.
The US Marines I met was like kids in a toyshop.
The guests was happy to have some drinks and play around with their favourite toys.
The bartender posing together with a US Marine on a ten hour leave.
For 16 years Legenda have invited international participants for their expeditions, and through the years many people took part in interesting and important digs in the forests and fields of Latvia. Thousands of fallen and missing soldiers has been recovered and gotten a final resting place on some of the many War Cemeteries across the country. I have only been part of this for a few years and have only heard stories and seen photos of diggers being part of this before me. Some of them never returned while some found wifes and made families and couldn`t partake in expeditions for that reason.
Early this summer one of those guys decided enough is enough. Hans from Sweden had been a very active member before family life caught up with him but finally he was allowed outdoors again. He invited several of the "old guard" from Sweden,Holland and the UK and kindly invited me as well. Ofourse I was thrilled to join and bought tickets for the date that had been set.
The Latvian team began researching some sites where there should be some frontline trenches and massgraves . Rooms at Kristines wonderfull resort Radi was booked and soon the expedition date arrived.
Upon arrival to the hotel in Riga only one other digger had arrived, he had been there a few days enjoying the city life. As I was checking in the receptionist told me that he was waiting me and soon I finally met Dave from UK at the Rock Cafe. The rest of the group would arrive in the evening so we had a good time getting to know eachother and sharing stories from past expeditions. Andris,Anna and Roberts joined us and a few hours later more diggers arrived and we were all gathered for a fun evening. From Holland came Peter who had been on several digs and he brought his friend Walter who was fresh to the game and from Sweden came Hans,Johan and Nils.
When we met up outside the hotel next morning I won the competition of who had the biggest hangover and celebrated it with a puking in public,,ahh,Mother would have been so proud had she seen that.
About an hour later we stopped by Radi to put our luggage in our rooms and meet up with the rest of the Latvian team, and headed towards the old Kurland Kessel frontlines.
We spent the whole day searching trenches, bunkers and the area around. The weather was changing all the time from sunny to heavy rain, but the morals were high and the diggers didn`t seem to be bothered much by it. A bunch of live ordnance saw daylight again, a few PanzerFaust tubes and lots of MG ammo were dug out as well, but no soldiers or very interesting finds made. When I was roaming around with the detector I dug a signal and found a Soviet era illuminaton bomb parachute in very nice condition, not WW2 but was very happy with that find.
In a waterfilled crater some one had a interesting signal, but it was deep there and difficult to reach. Andris had a solution for that, he stripped his clothes of and jumped into the water and began digging out silt, branches and mud to get to the item. He located it, stretched his arm deep down to get to it, grabbed a part of it and tried to pull it carefully up. His face turned white and shouted a warning and was out of the crater in a nano second and we all scattered away from the pit. He had broken off the pull ring and arm of a F1 Lemonka handgrenade. He was incredibly lucky as it would have cut both his legs off had it detonated. I guess he praised the lord that he was wearing black underwear..
The search continued for a few hours more before we pushed through a thick brush forest to reach our vehicles heading back to the resort for dinner and a nights rest. The evening was joyfull and a group of the diggers stayed up late to watch the meteor storm across the dark skies. I was already in bed by then but I could hear their "Woooows!!" and sighs as the tracers shot across the sky.
Roberts,Nils and Hans.
Radio antenna part.
Parachuted illumination bomb.
F1`s and detonators.
Rifle grenade launcher.
After a good night of dreaming and a big breakfast we drove off to an area where there should be many Red Army soldiers buried. We had a gravemarker from there and good info from the landowner. Many holes and probes was dug but it was with no results. Also the field was overgrown at the moment so another search will be done there later in the autumn when the vegetation has died off a bit.
It was an interesting area though. We found several bunkers with interesting signals. Some battle damaged German helmets came out of the soil, and ordnance and lots of spent ammo prooved the site had seen some action. The best find of the day was the MG42 Talis dug out. Other than rust I dug out a small propeller from an aerial bomb and a 23mm casing made into a small bunker lamp.
We had company from Bloomberg BusinessWeek again, a photo crew who took lots of pics for an upcoming article about Legendas work. As far as I know it will be printed in September so keep an eye out for that, it should be interesting. On our way back we visited Saldus War Cemetery to pay our respects.
In the afternoon when we was back at Radi we celebrated Natalias birthday with gifts for her, sauna and a party. Since it already was Saturday most of the international guys was leaving the next day, but some of us was going to check out some German positions the next day.
Small bunker lamp.
Soviet practise rocket.
Mortar ammo box.
Digging out the MG42.
Sunday morning was sadly the time to say goodbye to Kristina, Radi and some of the diggers. Some of us prepared for another day of digging while the ones who were leaving was going to visit a private museum before going to the airport. Hugs and handshakes took up most of the morning before we found ourselves digging out some German bunkers. Most of the finds here was of the explosive kind. A lot of rifle grenades, 120mm mortar mines and smaller ammo. The work was hard as it was wet heavy clay and deep bunkers. I found nothing but pieces of shrapnel and driving bands of grenades but Duksi made a kool little find, a bakelite morse key which he kindly offerd to me as a gift. I wonder how many interesting and dramatic messages that was sent with it..
This area was also very overgrown and will need further investigation at some point. It had been raining a bit on and off all day but suddenly the sky broke and it poured down bucket sized rain drops and it was decided enough was enough. We cleaned up the area, placed the explosives around a tree for EOD to dispose of and headed towards Riga, clean clothes and warm showers.
We spent the afternoon having fun at the Rock Cafe together and ended the evening a bit before midnight. I was still going to stay a few more days roaming around Riga doing alittle shopping and visited a relatively new "museum-bar" which I ll make a small report about soon.
It had been a short and intense expedition, but even though we didn`t find any soldiers or spectacular finds I think all the guys had a great time and is looking forward to the next trip.
So until then you know what to do,Keep Smiling and stay muddy :)
Recently Legenda made a expedition to locate and exhume some Latvian legioneers from Russian soil. The expedition was made possible through a good cooperation with Russian authorities. After a week of hard work 42 soldiers had been recovered and will be repatriated to cemeteries in Latvia. Below is a link to a video of the trip although it is all in Latvian still. More info will come.