The Unknown Soldiers (2006) BBC Timewatch

The Unknown Soldiers

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Documentary Description

In the summer of 2003 two sets of remains were found in a field just outside the town of Soissons in Northern France. They were uncovered by a French archaeologist during a routine land survey. From personal effects found with the remains it was presumed that they were the remains of American soldiers who had fought during World War I. The remains were turned to over to a unique unit of the American military, the Joint Prisoner of War / Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC). From their base in Hawaii, their mission is to search for, identify and bring home all missing American servicemen from all previous conflicts. There are still 4,800 missing from World War I, 78,000 missing from World War II, 120 missing from the Cold War, 8,100 missing from the Korean War and 1,800 missing from the Vietnam War. The remains were brought to JPAC’s Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii – one of the world’s leading forensic anthropology labs – for scientific analyses. One of the key personal items included with the remains was a wallet. After almost 90 years in the ground it had been too fragile for archaeological examination. However, when scrutinised by JPAC using special equipment, it revealed a name – Francis Lupo. With the unexpected breakthrough of a name to go on, JPAC’s historians began their investigation. Who was Francis Lupo? Did he serve with the American Army during World War I? If so, did he ever come home? the film follows the JPAC team as they attempt to positively identify the remains, and name the unknown soldiers. The programme also tells the story of American involvement in the Great War, both through documentary interviews and dramatised extracts from US First Infantry Division memoirs.

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