A Bullet Lodged in Arnhem Veteran Body is Found After Death


Jack Mansell was a World War II Arnhem veteran who recently passed away. When workers in the funeral parlor cremated the body, they were surprised to find that there were a bullet lodged in his hip. The bullet has been there for the past 69 years.

The Telegraph reports that Mansell had been shot in Arnhem in the Netherlands during World War II; more specifically the Operation Market Garden. Mansell didn’t realize that the bullet remained lodged in his body. Mansell had been part of a massive attack that resulted in 17,000 allied soldiers that were slaughtered in the massacre. When Mansell was shot, he thought that the bullet had passed through his body and it wasn’t until 30 years later when a x-ray discovered the source of pain was actually the bullet.

Part of being in the elite airborne unit of the Second Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment. He was a member of an anti-tank unit that manned a six pound gun when his team landed by glider in Holland. After he and his battalion fought wave after wave for several days. It was only after the troops were forced to pull back that Mansell was shot by a sniper in the right hip.

Mansell was from West Bromwich, west Mids. He was taken by a Dutch family after he was injured. The Nazi’s searched for him and when he was finally found, he was taken away to a POW camp. There, he was put in front of a firing squad twice because he helped sabotage the German train lines. Obviously, he survived. After he spent a year in Germany working as an Army dispatch rider after the war. He returned to his native West Midlands and he began working as a sheet metal engineer. He continued to live at home until recently when he became ill and he was forced to go to a nursing home. He passed away on November 14th.

Mansell was cremated at West Bromwich crematorium on the 22nd. It was here that the discovery of the bullet was found. The bullet survived the furnace and that is when the crematorium staff found the bullet among the ashes.

After Kevin Edwards, Mansell’s nephew, spoke at the funeral, Edwards said, “During the 1980s Jack injured his abdomen while moving some metal at work.

“A routine hospital x-ray showed showed a bullet located in his right hip. All those years ago Jack had thought the German bullet had passed through him – in fact it was still lodged in his body. It was left there as it gave him no trouble.

“Later in his life he used to tell people about the bullet in his right hip. He had loads of x-rays afterwards and they always asked if he wanted it out but he said it didn’t bother him.

“He lost his brother during the war, and he was a very proud man, never considered himself to be a hero even though he was.

“He was put up against the wall in front of a firing squad twice, after that he always said he could face anything.”

Mansell’s family asked the crematorium staff to watch for the bullet, even though they never expected for it to be recovered.  Edwards said: “Then when we collected his ashes the people from the crematorium also handed us an envelope.

“Inside was the bullet, it is a bit melted, but still we know what it is.

“He was a very popular well loved man. Men like him are literally a dying breed, and should never be forgotten.

“He was a wonderful man, he got me my job at the same factory he worked in.

“His war stories were amazing, I could sit and listen to him for hours.”

Mansell’s wife, Evelyn, died 10 years ago after she battled with a long term illness. Over 300 of his friends and family members attended his funeral. Five regimental standard bearers attended the funeral as well as a bugler who ceremoniously played The Last Post. Guests raised £620 for Help for Heroes in his honour.

Julie Wilds, Mansell’s daughter shared: “My dad was a very easy going, family orientated man. He was a massive baggies fan and still went to a lot of matches in his old age.

“Despite the amazing things he had done he didn’t really talk about it till his later life, but when he did, the stories I’ve been told were amazing.”

Evette Champion

Evette Champion is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE