Around Christmas 1916 the site witnessed some fierce battles as two Latvian Rifle Regiments attacked and broke through the German dug outs on the sandy highrise. The Germans did not expect the attack as it was early morning and a snow blizzard with temperatures down to -35 degree Celsius. The Latvians took over the positions and held them through the German counter attacks in January 1917. After the battles fallen soldiers from both sides lay where they fell and some was later picked up and thrown into shell craters and trenchlines where still hundreds if not thousands is still missing.
Vlad , a digger from the Latvian team , had spent a lot of time in the forests here on Machinegun Hill locating many of these soldiers and now we was here joining up with the Latvian and Lithuanian teams of Legenda to help recover these lost souls.
Working like this makes the diggers hungry and Roberts was busy preparing us a hot meal and when Talis called out to us we gathered up and was fed.
In the evening we had uncovered lots of fallen soldiers but as darkness came fast we didn`t have time to complete the work. We drove to our Resort in Kurland and was greeted by our host Kristine at Radi where we had an exellent dinner and a good nights rest in soft beds.
Around lunchtime a school class came by on an excursion and got a memory for a lifetime when they stood around a large pit with lots of fallen and got a small lecture by Viktors Duks. Also a team from the Latvian National TV visited and did a lot of filming and several interviews of us.
In the afternoon most of the soldiers had been exhumed , 62 in total , and on two of them we found numbered awards so at least those two will be identified.
We had found some live explosives that we collected around a tree and in the evening police and EOD came to collect those as they still can be very dangerous and the forest is frequently visited by tourists , mushroom pickers and hikers so it is best to get those things removed safely.
Back at the resort we had a great dinner and a small celebration for a successfull two days work.
In one of the trenchlines opened up a badly damaged German soldier was exhumed and an Erkennungsmärke bent by a detonation was found near him. Other items found in and around the trenchline cleary showed the force of a shell impact. Several fired casings from different weapons also told a story about heavy fighting. Following the same trenchline a bunker or dug out was opened and there another German soldier was found , still with his rifle , gasmask , M24 hand grenade and helmet. His Erkennungsmärke was also on him so he is no longer a M.I.A. Two woolen M43 caps with the mushroom badge from Div. 205 was also found there.
Some of the diggers found interesting things while metal detecting around in the forest , a LP 42 Leuchtpistole and a great looking German helmet with a rubberized winter cover being the two most interesting finds.
It had become sunday late afternoon and the work came to an end for this time with 10 soldiers recovered , 8 Red Army soldiers and 2 Germans , that will all be laid to rest in War Cemeteries in Latvia.
The last day is always a mix of feelings as it is time for Goodbyes , but hot showers and the bed at home is luring in the distance and this sunday was just like that.
People had flights to catch and in the evening me , Anders and Anton had a dinner and a few drinks together before we called it quits. My flight was early Monday so I took a taxi to the airport where the custom officials checked all my pockets and belongings before they let me into the boarding area. As I walked towards my gate I felt a hand on my shoulder and a voice saying "Please stop , Airport security !" I knew I wasn`t bringing anything illegal but I still jumped a bit , turned around and saw the laughing face of Anders who was waiting by his gate :D We got to say another goodbye before I boarded my plane back home to the North where my Girlfriend and kitties was waiting for me with hugs and a nice dinner.
Thanks to all involved for a very nice expedition , and until next time : Keep Smiling ! :)