Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin disappeared 75 years ago while hiking to a meadow in the Swiss Alps.
Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin disappeared while checking on their cows in the Swiss Alps in August 1942. (Photo: SRF/swissinfo.ch)
On a summer’s day in August 1942, Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin took a hike into the Swiss Alps above the small village of Chandolin. While the purpose of their excursion was to check on the status of their cows grazing in a mountain meadow, it was also an opportunity to briefly enjoy time alone as a couple. Marcelin, 40, a shoemaker, and Francine, 37, a teacher, had spent much of the last several years raising a family of seven children.
“It was the first time my mother went with him on such an excursion,” their youngest daughter, Marceline Udry-Dumoulin, 75, told the Lausanne daily Le Matin. “She was always pregnant and couldn’t climb in the difficult conditions of a glacier.”
When the couple failed to return that evening, search parties were sent out to find them. For two and a half months, locals scoured higher elevations hoping for some sign of their mysterious disappearance. None was ever discovered.
Swiss police circle the spot where the remains of the couple were discovered during a routine inspection of the area. (Photo: Swiss Police)
On July 14, nearly 75 years after they first went missing, a ski lift operator on a routine inspection discovered the mummified remains of the couple at the base of a receding glacier. Also present were personal items such as backpacks, mess kits, a glass bottle and even identification papers.
“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, the director of Glacier 3000, told the paper. “They were perfectly preserved in the glacier and their belongings were intact.”
Despite spending 75 years trapped in ice, all of the couple’s belongings remained relatively unscathed. (Photo: Swiss Police)
It is thought that the couple fell into one of the many crevasses in the region and were subsequently entombed in the glacier. Officials confirmed their identities by cross-matching their DNA with that of relatives.
For Udry-Dumoulin, a lifetime of heartache over the fate of her parents has finally come to an end.
“We spent our whole lives looking for them, without stopping. We thought that we could give them the funeral they deserved one day,” she said. “I can say that after 75 years of waiting this news gives me a deep sense of calm.”