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The Photograph... [3] .. The Find

Ytte Skovlund's picture
Submission type:

Paul-Caspar Syberg shivered he jumped down from his old Land-Rover, his shoes squelched into the waterlogged field. 

 "At least the rain has stopped, huh?" Said the grinning face from under a rather large rimmed bush-hat.

" Bahh, Jens. You're only happy wallowing around up to your knees in dirt ! So. What have you got here?"

" Hard to tell at this point. One of the Historiecentre staff spotted a guy digging here. You know the type. Metal detector in one hand and a trowel in the other, hoping to get lucky."

"This is a historic battle site after all." Paul sat on the rear shelf of the Land-Rover pulling on his Wellington boots. "Go on."

"So by the time the staff guy stopped him he had scraped the dirt off this, and was about to lift it out of the ground."

Jens moved to one side to make room for Paul to jump down into the trench.  Jens then indicated the silver totenkopf emblem half buried in the thick mud.

"Prussian shako badge.. nothing really astounding.. We have hundreds of them."

Jens looked at Paul. " Yeah, but this one's still attached. I think we have a body here."

" Gahh come on !  That battle was a hundred and eighty years ago. All the bodies were taken, and the others would have rotted away by now."

"Not neccesarily. In this area the soil has a high acidic content, as you know, that slows down decomposition. if not halts it completely"

Paul nodded slowly, sucked his lip to his teeth and gazed down at the blackened soil. " It's worth a try. may as well poke around a bit before the rain starts again huh?"

For the next five hours the two men slowly and deiberately scraped away in the bottom of the trench. Slowly and surely as they dug down it became apparent that they indeed had a modestly well preserved corpse. 


A tent was erected over the trench and over the course of the next six days the body was painstakingly lifted from its anonymous grave. Wrapped and transported to Moesgård Museum near Aarhus. Moesgård specialised in archeology and ethnography. 


Two weeks later Professor Lisbet Moncke welcomed Paul-Caspar Syberg to Moesgård.

"Nice to see you again, Paul."

"Nice to see you also, Lis. How is the investigation to our little soldier boy coming along?"

Lisbet stopped, looked at him. a cheeky grin on her face. Paul looked back puzzled at ther expression.

"Well for a starter. Soldier boy, is not a boy at all.. Its a girl. A girl in her early twenties, as far as we can tell so far."

The surprise and intrigue could be read on Pauls face like a book. Lisbet looked really excited about the find. She went on.

"We can tell she was a Prussian Leutnant. Cause of death, Grapeshot. Hit her square to the heart, She would not have known what hit her. A hundred grammes of lead, went straight through her. Took away 15 centimeters of her spine on the way out."


Lisbet lead Paul to the cold room. "You better keep your coat on, it's a bit chilly in here"

Inside, the corpse lay on the examination table. Blackened from 180 years underground. The uniform mostly rotted away but enough remained for them to identify its origins.

" The body is fairly well preserved, we can even tell what she had for her breakfast on her last day. Fried Pork !.. We even have some viable DNA. We have sent a sample to Doctor Helen Phillips at the Life-net facility in Reykyavik for analysis. we hope to hear in a few days what she can deduce."

Paul looked at his collegue. Clearly she was keeping the most exciting detail to herself for the moment. 

" There's more isn't there" 

Lisbet nodded, hardly able to conceal her enthusiasm.

" Want to see what she looked like?"

"Absolut !"

"We found a leather wallet on her, well... in her. The fatal shot  pushed the wallet well into her body. This stopped any deterioration. Inside the wallet, we found this photograph..."


Joe Spivey's picture

((Really interesting intoduction, most unusual. The setting for the intro is fascinating too. I love history and it is exciting to see this particular war used as a backdrop like this. Am I right in assuming the two plaits are suggesting that was is a hussar?

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

Hyle Troy's picture

((Well spotted, but I have to claim poetic licence. My character had to be a foot soldier not a cavalry. But as I discussed, this whole idea comes from me messing with Photoshop. The resulting picture suggested so much to me.

oh btw, Did you recognise Doctor Phillips>

I would rather die peacefully in my sleep, like Grandad, than screaming, like his passengers

Joe Spivey's picture

((From the Icelandic facility? Yes... and it doesn't bode well.

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

Subdane's picture

That aught to teach them to mess with the Danes! *Crosses his arms over his chest, puffing his chest out*

((Looking forward to the next post :) *hurries onward*

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