After an uneventful journey I checked into Radi un Draugi in the Old Town of Riga and then went straight over to the rock cafe across the cobblestoned street where a bunch of the fine folks already was gathered. It was a very nice afternoon and evening as it should be when meeting old and new friends. This time Jon had joined us from the UK and Brandon, an American who is based in Germany. Jonny our Irish friend from the spring expedition had already been here a few days together with a friend and his father-in-law. They had been searching the forests with Maris and one of the days they had found and recovered a soldier. We ended the evening not so late so we could have a hope of being fresh and ready by 08 next morning.
It was a wonderful feeling getting out infront of the hotel well rested and wearing the digger clothes. Everybody was excited and we found our seats in Alexanders van, an exellent driver by the way. Usually we drive to Kurland, but this time we had some work just east of Riga. The grass on the side of the road was frosted after a cold night and it was a bit fresh when we stepped out in a field where other diggers already had started to prepare for the day. After half hour all the guys had arrived and we were all happy to hear Talis shout and swear to gather us when the tractor arrived.
In the 1970`s there was made some attempts to exhumate the cemetery and it was recently decided to do a search here and exhume and rebury any soldiers on one of the official war cemeteries.
Many of the soldiers had been buried with their gasmask and full ammo pouches, and some had personal effects like icons, crosses and one of the soldiers had a gold ring for a female, probably the soldiers fiancee`s who had given it to him as he left for the front..One can only imagine.
There were diggers searching around the field with detectors and also with rods. A lot of Arisaka ammo, stripper clips,shrapnel and grenade nose fuzes all over the field. Not many meter away from the exhumation a live large caliber grenade lay right under the surface and some other live rounds and handgrenades as well. They were collected and marked for the EOD. When the police came by Talis was nice enough to ask them to arrest me, luckily they have probably met him before coz I went free. Also the boss of the Latvian War Grave Commission came by and had brought some maps and information.
Towards the afternoon a TV crew came to make a report on us which always is fun. The potential fame went straight to the head on some of us.
In the end of the day we had lenghtened and widened and deepened the opened up area and it seemed we couldn`t find any more soldiers. We took off towards Riga around dusk and went to bed reasonably early. We had exhumed 70 soldiers but the number can be adjusted after detailed expertise of the remains.
In the evening we who stayed in Riga went to eat at an Irish Bar/Resturant around the corner from the hotel and was tried ripped off, it wasn`t for much money, but their service was horrible and food that had been ordered never arrived, but was still listed on the bill. The food wasn`t very good either. So if you ever feel like getting ripped off and have crappy food visit Paddy Whelan. Of course we didn`t let that spoil our mood and we spent the evening laughing and preparing light hangovers for next morning. We also watched the news report the TV people had made about us which was very fun and it certainly led to near megalomaniac tendencies amongst some of the members of the group.
Lots of bottles was found around the area and some smaller finds, nothing exeptional. Directly outside the bunker a digger called to me. On the surface he found the front emblem of a picklehaube helmet. It was bent over but otherwise in a very good condition. So many diggers had walked past it during the day but only he spotted it. Around 17 we decided to call it quits and we had to say goodbye.
Most of us who had stayed in Riga had evening flights to catch and the group grew smaller towards the night. It is always a mixed feeling ending the expedition. You want it to be more, but at the same time you start to remember the softness of your own bed.
Until next time Keep Smiling :)