The body of WWII airman that was found dangling from a tree but which turned out to be a moss covered vine

Image courtesy of Lisa Fabre
Image courtesy of Lisa Fabre

In 2008 a group of hikers were walking along the Kakoda Trail, a mountain pass in New Guinea that saw intense fighting between the Australians and Japanese forces in 1942. There they spotted what they thought were moss covered remains dangling from a parachute in a tree.

The remains were barely visible in the dense jungle foliage but the trekkers thought it was caught up in cables and appeared to be wearing goggles.

Many planes crashed in New Guinea during the second world war of which not a trace has been found yet thus it was not at all unlikely that the remains of an airman, missing for almost 70 years, had been found.

Within two weeks a team from the Australian military was sent to investigate the “body” but upon arrival they discovered that the remains were in fact a branch tangled in vines.

A statement by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) said that even though the location of the found remains was below a flight path used in WWII by Allied aircraft, the “remains” were in fact a moss-covered branch.

The ADF confirmed that no remains had been found.

“It appears the branch has broken off the main tree and fallen across some vines, which from the ground, could have been confused with the body of an airman,” the ADF statement continued.

Thus a story that for two weeks cause quite a stir in 2008 turned out to nothing more than an over active imagination.

Joris Nieuwint

Joris Nieuwint is a battlefield guide for the Operation Market Garden area. His primary focus is on the Allied operations from September 17th, 1944 onwards. Having lived in the Market Garden area for 25 years, he has been studying the events for nearly as long. He has a deep understanding of the history and a passion for sharing the stories of the men who are no longer with us.