The wreckage of a US B-25 Mitchell medium bomber in Soviet service, as well as the remains of possibly three out of five crew members were found on Sunday by amateur history enthusiasts in the forest near Biedruń, Upper Silesia, southern Poland.
Local residents were familiar with the story. The plane was shot by the Germans on January 19, 1945. Four members of the crew died, while the commander, Alexey Bochin, jumped out of the doomed plane and ultimately became a German prisoner.
Despite this knowledge, little has been done to thoroughly search the area where the B-25 crashed. In homage to the deceased pilots, a group of amateur history enthusiasts decided to take matters into their own hands.
After receiving permission from the provincial inspector of listed buildings, the group cleared the area and started digging with the assistance of an archaeologist. Shortly after, the remains of the plane began to appear, exactly 75 years after it was shot down.
The works had to be stopped when the team came across the skeleton of one of the pilots - with the parachute on. Then, the remains of the second pilot and probably also the third crew member were found, as well as machine gun shells scattered around the bodies.
The police and sappers, who were informed about the findings, have started to secure the excavation area. As it stands, further decisions will be made after removing potentially hazardous objects from around the wreckage. It is yet unknown whether the proceedings in this case will be conducted by the prosecutor's office or by the Institute of National Remembrance, which was also notified of the find.
Arkadiusz Dominiec, who headed the exploration works, hopes that it will be possible to extract parts of the plane, undergo their preservation and have them as a part of an exhibition at the Silesian Museum of September 1939 in Tychy.
In line with the Lend-Lease Act provisions, the US delivered 862 B-25s in various versions to the Soviet Union.