By metal detecting, you can find all kind of items, expected and desired ones, but also some totally unexpected finds could turn your day from normal to incredible. That’s what happened to Mark D. Anderson (a U.S. Navy Captain) and his friend Jean Muller, historian. They went in the mountainside of Luxembourg, with the intention to find relics coming from a crucial battle from WW2, the Battle of the Bulge, which took place in 1944.
The battle took place between 16 December 1944 and 25 January 1945, in the Ardennes region of Wallonia, Belgium, France and Luxembourg. The moment represented the last German offensive campaign. The Germans called the operation ”Operation watch on the Rhine”, while the Allies preferred to name it ”The Ardennes Counteroffensive”. The Germans launched a surprise attack, which proved to be totally unexpected by Allied forces, so they had to quickly adapt to the situation, but paying a high price: during the Battle of the Bulge, the American force registered their highest number of casualties. Until then, in no other operation such losses were registered: 19,000 soldiers died there.
After this short historical note, let’s get back to our two guys, and their relic mission. During their research on the battlefield, they received good signals from an individual foxhole. In it, they found several belongings of a soldier, an American soldier. They were able to reach his name among his stuff: he was Fifth Grade Technician Louis J. Archambeau, from the 1st Battalion, 31th Infantry Regiment, C Company. Searching the foxhole, the couple claimed to have discovered an unique artifact: the soldier’s camera with original film still in it.
We would say that such find could be a dream find for many, but also a very important find for history. After 70 years, the film was taken from the camera, developed and scanned, with the hope that some images would still came out from the film, even if it sat underground for so many years.
The two enthusiastic metal detectorists reported luck after the processing of the film. They offered for view a series of haunting black & white images, which you can watch below. These are the images taken by Louis J. Archambeau, what he saw 70 year ago, is what you see now, for the first time
The pictures aren’t technically the best, but they’re still great if we consider the conditions in which the camera (and the film) stayed for 70 years.
Louis J. Archambeau, the camera’s owner, was declared MIA (Missing in Action) on December 26th 1944.
The ”fun part” of the story
After reading this incredible story, imagining the soldier’s life on the front-line, watching those rough and beautiful pictures, we must prepare ourselves for some truth. The story was initially posted on Reddit on July 2014, being quickly shared by several websites, becoming in short time a viral. It seems that also somebody else had the intention to transform this story into a viral, because the pictures aren’t exactly from a foxhole or from a soldier’s camera found underground.
Two of the photos have been found in the National Archives in Washington D.C. so couldn’t be from Louis’s camera. Yes, it looks like not all the presented pictures are genuine, some of them being introduced from other sources, in order to build a more incredible story. At this moment the situation isn’t very clear. The biggest websites that covered the story took down all the images related to it.
We report what Louis J. Archambeau family members posted online about this issue: “I have removed the photos that were originally posted. Unfortunately, embarrassingly, and dishearteningly, at least two of the photos have been found in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and were not from Louis’s camera. Thus, I have removed the entire set. Thetroubleshooters.com has removed the photos as well. From what I understand, Mark Anderson and Terry Janes were acting in good faith based on the information provided to them, and the camera was discovered by Mark Anderson at the coordinates provided below. He was not, however, present in the dark room in Echternach (where the film was supposedly developed), nor did he see the negatives or prints. Also, Terry Janes, historian at thetroubleshooters.com, has removed all suspect information from the source that provided the photos. I received e-mails from Mark Anderson and Terry Janes stating that two of the photos are actually from the US Army Signal Corps. So, my family and I have no idea where the camera is or whether or not there actually was film to be developed. At this point, I’m not sure what’s true and what’s not. I don’t mean that to run thetroubleshooters.com or the people associated with it into the ground, but clearly someone is withholding information about something.”
Somehow, the story was too good to be 100% true, but maybe there is something true in it, but probably we won’t find how much. However, we conclude with an original picture of Louis J. Archambeau, the only one without any idea about the big hoax related to his name and memory.