The DUKW was an amphibious vehicle used by American forces in World War II. Near the end of the war, one of them sunk in High Garda, off the coast of Riva del Garda in Italy.
In December of 2012, Volunteers Garda identified the wreck, lying at a depth of 276 meters. It isn’t buried in the mud but simply lying there on the lake’s bottom. It was announced that the wreck will be brought to the surface for viewing by the public.
Gianni Morandi, mayor of Nago-Torbole, made the announcement during a meeting with the Benach Association. The Benach Association is tied to the families of 25 soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division that died on the sunken DUKW when a surprise storm overwhelmed the vessel and crew and sent them to the lake’s bottom. The DUKW weighed 65 tons and carried a heavy howitzer.
The 10th Mountain Division was chasing the Germans into the Alpine region of Italy, where Lake Garda is located. The Germans began blasting tunnels through the mountains on the other side of the lake, so three DUKWs were sent across.
One of the three stalled and began taking on water. The 25 soldiers on board began throwing their equipment overboard in an attempt to keep the vessel afloat, but it soon sank. Only Cpl. Thomas Hough, a former lifeguard from Dayton, Ohio, survived.
Ten years ago, the non-profit underwater archaeology group, ProMare, led an attempt to find the sunken vehicle, but they were unable to locate it.
“We seem to save any single soldier or find anybody in the wilds of Borneo or the mountains, and we thought it was very bad that the United States wasn’t doing anything for these guys,” said 89-year-old Jerry Nash, of Hudson, N.H. Nash was laying communication cable in the mountains for the 10th Mountain Division when the enemy.
The Garda Volunteers have a plan for recovering the DUKW in conjunction with the Riva fire department. To help in the effort, a couple of ROVs (underwater robots with cameras worked by remote control from the surface of the lake) will be employed.
The Museum of War of Rovereto has volunteered to assist in the recovery even though they lack space to display the DUKW which measures eleven meters long and 3 meters wide. The vehicle will likely be displayed on the Rivano Coast, or possibly in the Lietzmann Torbole square. In either location, the vehicle will be visible to the public but protected behind a glass case.
“The most important thing – Marco Fusato says – is that the wreck will remain on the territory. In the past other museums had advanced the candidacy, but it is an important piece of history of the lake, which must remain in the Benacense district”.