WWII Seaplane Crew’s Remains Recovered In Quebec

A WWII seaplane crew will finally be laid to rest, more than 70 years after the U.S. Army plane slid into the waters off Quebec’s north shore.

The Vancouver Sun reports that Josephine Vibert, who was getting married on November 2, 1942, the day the plane made its fateful takeoff attempt, recalled that, as the seaplane made its second takeoff attempt:

“I counted five waves, but there may have been more. After the last one, water started entering their plane.”

The Quebec town’s fisherman braved the stormy waters and rescued four of the nine crew members, before the fuselage slipped beneath the waters. In 2009, underground divers from Parks Canada discovered the barnacled, upside-down fuselage of the WWII seaplane about 40 meters below the surface. Marc-Andre Bernier, the chief underwater archaeologist stated:

“We worked from shore until we hit the plane. When we actually saw that the fuselage was in one piece, we immediately stopped operations and contacted the American authorities.”

According to The Huffington Post, because there was a possibility that the five missing airmen were still aboard the plane, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) sent a 50-person team to investigate the site. Using a 78-meter salvage ship, the USNS Grapple, the crew embarked on a 30-day mission, and have uncovered was appear to be the remains of the missing airmen.

Along with the possible remains, the divers also discovered film negatives, an intact bottle of Listerine, aviator glasses, and paper that could be from the WWII seaplane crew’s log. Bernier stated that:

“To find, intact, a plane from the Second World War underwater is already something remarkable,” he told reporters who visited the Grapple last week. It’s an oasis, an underwater receptacle because lots of organisms have attached themselves to the plane.”

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Stefan Claesson, a forensic archaeologist aboard the Grapple, stated that:

“To be able to do this and bring some closure to families is pretty rewarding. As long as we find one remain it’s a success for us. And in this case we have a significant number of remains to bring back home, so that’s very exciting.”

The WWII seaplane crew’s remains have been sent to a DNA lab for identification, in the hopes that their families will finally find closure.