Swiss couple's bodies found in Alps glacier 75 years after they went missing

‘We spent our whole lives looking for them without stopping,’ said the couple’s daughter, who was just four when they disappeared

Benjamin Kentish
Tuesday 18 July 2017 17:40 BST
The remains were found by a ski resort worker and had been frozen in the ice
The remains were found by a ski resort worker and had been frozen in the ice (AFP/Getty)

The bodies of a Swiss couple have been discovered frozen in the Alps – 75 years after they went missing.

In August 1942, Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin vanished on the way to feed their cows in a field near the village of Chandolin, south-west Switzerland.

Their bodies were discovered by a ski resort worker last week on the shrinking Tsanfleuron glacier. It is thought that melting ice exposed the remains decades after the couple disappeared in the middle of the Second World War.

Mr and Ms Dumoulin had seven children – five sons and two daughters – who were separated and placed with different families after their parents went missing.

“We spent our whole lives looking for them without stopping,” their youngest daughter, Marceline Udry-Dumoulin, who was just four when her parents disappeared, told Le Matin. “We didn’t think we would be able to give them the funeral they deserved.

“I must say that after 75 years of waiting, this news calms me deeply.”

DNA testing will be carried out to confirm the couple’s identities, and it remains unclear how they died.

Marcelin, a shoemaker, and Francine, a teacher, were 40 and 37 respectively when they disappeared without trace.

The family kept cows close to their home, and the day the couple went missing was the first time that Francine had accompanied her husband on his walk to feed them.

A two-and-a-half month search in 1942 revealed no clues as to what had happened to the pair.

Their children have also searched for the bodies repeatedly over the years.

“I climbed three times on the glacier afterwards, always looking for them,” said Ms Udry-Dumoulin. ”I kept wondering if they had suffered and what they had become. I have the pleasure of having answers to these questions from now on.”

Once the formal identification process has been completed and the remains released by police, the family hopes to finally hold a funeral for the couple.

“For the funeral, I will not wear black,” said Ms Udry-Dumoulin. “I think white will be more appropriate. This represents hope, which I have never lost.”

Pictures of the remains show a woman’s boots and what appears to be a wine bottle.

“They were lying there, close to each other – the ice has preserved them,” said Bernhard Tschannen, the director of ski company Glacier 3000, which helps run the nearby Diablerets resort.

The remains were discovered by a worker who was driving a truck on the glacier when he spotted something in the ice, which turned out to be two mummified bodies wearing pre-war clothes.

The couple are not the first to have been found on the mountain decades after they disappeared. In 2012, three brothers who vanished in 1926 were discovered in melting ice, while a climber who perished on the mountain in 1954 was only found in 2008.

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