A model for recovery: predicting the location of human remains on WWII bombardment and cargo aircraft crash sites

O'Leary, Owen Luck (2014) A model for recovery: predicting the location of human remains on WWII bombardment and cargo aircraft crash sites. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
[thumbnail of Edited Version, Third Party Copyright Removed] PDF (Edited Version, Third Party Copyright Removed)
Download (27MB)
Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3059790


The United States government makes a solemn promise to the men and women of the armed forces that if they fall on the field of battle their remains will be returned home. Americans demand that this occur in order for the individual to be properly honored. This commitment and corresponding expectation applies to both current and past conflicts. The Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC) is responsible for locating, recovering, and identifying the approximately 90,000 American military personnel who remain missing from the beginning of World War II through to the end of the Vietnam War. To help increase the rate of identifications, this thesis builds a model that predicts where human remains will be found within WWII bombardment and cargo aircraft crash sites based upon each individual duty station. The JPAC’s previously resolved loss incidents were critically examined, working through the identification process in reverse. This allowed for the determination of where each crew member was recovered from within their respective crash sites in relation to the corresponding wreckage. Hypotheses are developed for each crew position within the aircraft based upon the patterns observed. The validity of these predictions is then tested against an additional case for each category of aircraft. Results show that bombardment aircraft crew members will be found within approximately 8 m of their assigned duty station and that the distribution of all cargo aircraft personnel mirrors that of the cockpit wreckage. For the cases in this thesis, it is determined that the physics of the crash, not the actions of the crew or subsequent erosion, that primarily dictates where individuals will be found within a crash site. This research is contextualized within archaeology as a discipline, the broader conversation of conflict archaeology by filling a gap in the current historical and archaeological literature, evaluating JPAC’s impact on the heritage of material culture, and this type of research can provide temporal and cross-cultural insight into people’s interactions with the battlefields and crash sites. Finally, weak points within the JPAC’s identification processes are highlighted and recommended solutions provided.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: WWII, B-24, B-25, C-46, C-47, airplane crash, conflict archaeology, battlefield archaeology.
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > Archaeology
Supervisor's Name: Pollard, Dr. Tony and Banks, Dr. Iain
Date of Award: 2014
Depositing User: Owen O'Leary
Unique ID: glathesis:2014-5222
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2014 10:17
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2018 16:15
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/5222

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year