The frozen remains of a Swiss couple who went missing 75 years ago in the Alps have been found on a shrinking glacier, Swiss media said on Tuesday.
Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin, the parents of seven children, had gone to feed their cattle in a meadow above Chandolin in the Valais canton on August 15, 1942.
“We spent our whole lives looking for them, without stopping. We thought that we could give them the funeral they deserved one day,” their youngest daughter Marceline Udry-Dumoulin told the Lausanne daily Le Matin. “I can say that after 75 years of waiting this news gives me a deep sense of calm,” added the 79-year-old.
In an overnight statement, Valais cantonal police said that two bodies bearing identity papers had been discovered last week by a worker on Tsanfleuron glacier near a ski lift above Les Diablerets resort at an altitude of 2,615 metres (8,600 feet).
The remains were partly submerged in a hole in the ice. An autopsy and DNA testing would be carried out to confirm the identities of the couple.
“The bodies were lying near each other. It was a man and a woman wearing clothing dating from the period of World War Two,” Bernhard Tschannen, director of Glacier 3000, told the paper. “They were perfectly preserved in the glacier and their belongings were intact.”
“We think they may have fallen into a crevasse where they stayed for decades. As the glacier receded, it gave up their bodies,” he told the daily Tribune de Geneve.
The pair were among 280 people listed as missing in the Alps or rivers of the Valais since 1925, officials said.
Bettina Schrag, cantonal head of forensic medicine, told Swiss public radio RTS: “Given the current shrinking of glaciers, we have to expect more and more such findings.”
Marcelin Dumoulin, 40, was a shoemaker, while Francine, 37, was a teacher. They left five sons and two daughters.
“It was the first time my mother went with him on such an excursion. She was always pregnant and couldn’t climb in the difficult conditions of a glacier,” Udry-Dumoulin said. “After a while, we children were separated and placed in families. I was lucky to stay with my aunt,” she said. “We all lived in the region but became strangers.”
“For the funeral, I won’t wear black. I think that white would be more appropriate. It represents hope, which I never lost.”