SWAMPY GHOST QUESTION - from one who was there

Discussion about the history of B-17E 'Swamp Ghost' and its recovery.

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Robert Greinert
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SWAMPY GHOST QUESTION - from one who was there

Post by Robert Greinert » Sat Jun 17, 2006 3:11 am

A lot of interest has been generated by the recovery of the Swamp Ghost in PNG and despite what you read in the PNG media or on this website, recoveries will go on.

I find the poll currrently being conducted a bit inane. We know the good guys are going to win hands down so lets stimulate some proper discussion on the wreckovery topic.

Lets start with the proposition

" An intelligent man doesnt leave his heritage to rot in a swamp"

Your thoughts please

ROB

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Post by Mr.Chris » Sat Jun 17, 2006 12:49 pm

You said it all. What can we say?

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Re: SWAMPY GHOST QUESTION - from one who was there

Post by Laurent » Mon Jun 19, 2006 3:02 pm

Robert Greinert wrote:" An intelligent man doesnt leave his heritage to rot in a swamp"

Your thoughts please

ROB
Agree but then have to say that Americans must unfortunately be considered as stupid. Most the discussions on several forums were focused on how bad PNG is at preserving its WWII heritage (most of those comments came from US) and that therefore any mean (even illegal) is ok to recover wrecks from PNG.

But just browse on US wrecks & recovery sites and anyone will discover that there are still plenty of well preserved wrecks (P-38, B-23, early B-17 to name just a few) litering US and being left there to rot.

I would love to see US reactions if one of those wrecks was illegally recovered and exported.

To come back on the more interesting subject of wrecks recovery, its unfortunately common cense that wrecks should be recovered and restored for long term preservation. Laws against looting and scrapping, even if perfectly enforced, can't fight against the laws of physic and materials left unprotected will sooner or later return to dust and rust.

But any recovery should be done legally (and you and your team just proved it can be done). I remember a post of yours on WIX a few years ago about the Balalae Val that had been stolen and exported. As of today, nobody has heard of its fate. Can we call this preservation ?

With best regards,

Laurent

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swamp ghost questions I would like to see answered

Post by Justin Taylan » Mon Jun 19, 2006 3:32 pm

PWD Forum,

'Swamp Ghost' seems to still be a developing story. It was salvaged in May, and is on the dock at Lae presently. For background visit:
http://www.pacificwrecks.com/swampghost/

Questions for anyone 'who was there'
Its good to see Mr. Greinert using this forum. I have previously emailed Mr. Greinert for interviews about his role in the salvage.

- What role did you play in the salvage (prior role / role in recovery)?

- Why was this high profile salvage not advertised beforehand?
(like other matters related to the museum or government?)

- Why is the wreck impounded presently?
( a government meeting in July is pending)

- Have the locals people, province and state been paid the $100k?

- Where will the bomber go in the future
(to a museum? If so, where & when)

- What will happen to it in the future?
(Display as is, statically restored, fully restored to fly & when)

An intelligent man doesn't leave his heritage to rot in a swamp
This statement, has two terms that I would like clarified: 'rot' and 'heritage'.

The term 'rot' is very interesting... was this wreck rot(ed) or rot(ing)? It rested in a seasonal, freshwater swamp. But was the wreck indeed going to rot and fall apart? True, its metal was rusted (within days or weeks of its landing), and corrosion existed through the aircraft. Yet plywood planking was still present inside too. Was it simply rotted for 'restoration purposes'? If rotted for restoration, why salvage it? Can (or should) it ever be repaired?

Whose heritage is that bomber? Is it American.. because it was built in the USA, and flown by Americans? Or Australian... because it flew from Australia? By law, (War Surplus Materials Act) it belonged to the country of Papua New Guinea, where it resided for 64+ years.

Is $100,000 USD enough compensation for such a relic? If so, have the local landowners, province and national museum been paid for this unique relic? How are these sales fostering a museum or display related to WWII in PNG? If selling wrecks is their goal, why not advertize to the highest bidder?

The above questions are mute points for 'Swamp Ghost'. Or, they should have been asked prior to its salvage. What will 'Swamp Ghost' represent for other remaining wrecks? And, specifically for those in Papua New Guinea?
Last edited by Justin Taylan on Mon Jun 19, 2006 8:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Buzzking
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Post by Buzzking » Mon Jun 19, 2006 4:50 pm

My turn,

First as to al the aircraft that are in the US yes there are alot laying around but most oif these are either in the Mountains or in Lakes. Since I have visited many of these wrecks over the past 25 Years alotof them consist of just small amounts of wreckage. While there are a far amount of recoverable wrecks in the States there is no law other then the US Navys Draconian ownership that stops anything from being recovered or exported.(Heck witht he right paperwork you can even get a US Navy aircraft)

Now for you Justin your really need to go and read the War Surplus Laws they state if the item in this case Swamp Ghost was lost durning a combat then they are still belong to the US Goverment. Please don't say I have no idea what I'm talking about because at this very time I'm dealing with the US Goverment on aircraft lost in North Africa durning Combat Missions.

As for the recovery since I knew about it in Feb. of this year it wasn't like it was a big secret alot of folks knew about it hell over on Wixs it was being talked about last year.

As for who's heritage I find it rather funny how the PNG folks talk about there Heritage when most of them rather turn the aircraft wrecks into scrap metel then try to save them. And beside the last time I read the history of the PNG conflict alot of the natives deside to stay out of the fighting.(not saying that all of the PNG Natives didn't fight but you don't hear anything about them like you do with other Pacific Islands)

As for the Swamp Ghost it will return to Calf. to a restoration building to be restored.

Here is a question for you Justin why do you beleive in this draconician veiws that ever aircraft in PNG should stay were they are. If we follow you and others veiw then in 25 years there will be nothing left. Hell we have already lost to many aircraft to either scrappers of fires. As I stated in another thread when David T. returned in 75 to look at some of the Jap aircraft he saw in 70 the three Betty Bombers that he had want to recover in 70 had been destroyed by a grass fire these aircraft while damage by airiel bombs could have been a good source for two complet airframes.

Its simple as this folks alot of folks have offered to help the PNG Goverment and National Musuem build a World Class Musuem but they either two face deals or just don't give a sh1t.

BZK

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Post by originalboxcar » Tue Jun 20, 2006 8:44 am

Thanks Mr. Greinert for being instrumental in recovering the B-17. Keep up the good work!

regards,

t~

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Re: SWAMPY GHOST QUESTION - from one who was there

Post by NS38th_Aristaeus » Wed Jun 21, 2006 10:26 am

Laurent wrote:
Agree but then have to say that Americans must unfortunately be considered as stupid. Most the discussions on several forums were focused on how bad PNG is at preserving its WWII heritage (most of those comments came from US) and that therefore any mean (even illegal) is ok to recover wrecks from PNG.

But just browse on US wrecks & recovery sites and anyone will discover that there are still plenty of well preserved wrecks (P-38, B-23, early B-17 to name just a few) litering US and being left there to rot.
Where have you been? The wrecks that are in the U.S. are being recovered at a very quick pace. The most activity being in Alaska where severl wrecks were recoverd recently.
Those few cases where wrecks cant be recovered is due to the military.
A rare Corsair (if I remember correctly) was recovered from a swamp in the south and the Navy laid claim to it. The guy had to go to court and I believe he won.
Here are links to one B17E recovered in the U.S.
http://www.marengometalworks.com/MMWWRD ... rtRat.html
It took 40 years for recovery and restoration but it got done.
That is not the case in the PNG with the exception of interested outsiders.
I would love to see US reactions if one of those wrecks was illegally recovered and exported.
Chances are that if a foriegn national came to the U.S. and wanted to recover a wreck he would not have to resort to illegall recoverey.
Besides he would be recoverying a U.S. military A/C from American soil.
That is cleary not the case in PNG.
I don't recall any A/C bearing PNG national insignia being recovered from PNG soil.
If for instince a British, or Austrailian, or french A/C that was lost in the U.S. bearing their National insignias were found I am sure that upon request the wreck would be returned to them at their request

The point is is that it does not matter who recovers these aircraft as long as their is oppertunity for interested ppl to be able to do so.
It is not just in PNG where this problem lies but throughout the Pacific.
I do not expect every govt to recover every A/C but when interested parties show up and req to recover they should be allowed to do so.
The fact that ppl are not allowed to recover even though the govt has no intention to do so themselves is notheing but a childish attitude from a childish Gov't.
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wreck or grave

Post by jayhain » Thu Jun 22, 2006 8:28 am

when do you consider an aircraft to be a wreck or a grave....we all lost a great deal during ww2.but trying to make a call on who's property an aircraft belongs to is a bit short sighted.as many don't consider the people of png didn't ask the japanese or anyone else to come fight there....history belongs to everyone , not just the ones that fought,died or were just caught up in the war.i believe with coperation between png and who ever else is interested things such as wreck restoration,preservation can be done.having said this when brave men died in these or some aircraft is it right to restore the wreck or just preserve it on spot as a way to honor these fallen men.......some wrecks are the graves.....do we or others rob the grave just for a piece of history or money?

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SWAMPY GHOST QUESTION - from one who was there

Post by Ranuguri » Sun Jul 16, 2006 8:15 am

Buzzking wrote:My turn,


Now for you Justin your really need to go and read the War Surplus Laws they state if the item in this case Swamp Ghost was lost durning a combat then they are still belong to the US Goverment. Please don't say I have no idea what I'm talking about because at this very time I'm dealing with the US Goverment on aircraft lost in North Africa durning Combat Missions.


BZK
For the benefit of Buzzking, the United States Government transferred to Australia which subsequently handed this responsibilty to the Administration of the Territory of Papua New Guinea in 1950 all rights and possession to surplus American war material on land and in the sea within the territorial limits of the Territory. In 1952, the Administrator's Executive Council passed the War Surplus Material Act of 1952 formalizing this matter. Therefore from that date, the United States Government was no longer the owner of any war surplus material that originated from the United States. To say that the US Government still owns any material within Papua New Guinea that originated during World War Two is grossly inaccurate. This Act was designed to return Papua New Guinea to its original condition prior to 1942 in that war surplus material of every nature, both Japanese and Allied was to be recovered and disposed. The Territory was to receive a royalty from all sales. From 1952 until the early 1960s, many salvage companies operated in Papua New Guinea and tons of war surplus material was recovered, smeltered andf sold. Since 1976, The Independent State of Papua New Guinea is therefore well within its rights to do whatever it thinks fit. In the past, it has acted quite responsibly, although in recent years, money has brought co-operation into disrepute.

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Swamp Ghost

Post by rod » Fri Jul 21, 2006 9:02 am

This has been a very interesting story to follow over the past months. The recover/leave debate has brought to the surface issues that all have their merits. As an archaeologist the whole concept of heritage is relative. Who's heritage are we talking about? What is the significance of the plane (relic) it's cultural worth and rarity? In Australia we have laws governing relics (items over 50 yrs of age) because we value them and are usualy left unless they have been assessed as vunerable or in danger of decay. If an item is extremely significant (can be on the following grounds, social, technical,rarity etc) then preserving the relic in a suitable location is desireable. Unfortunately PNG does not have the finance or means to recover and restore aircraft/relics. I visited the Museum way back in 1983 and this was all too noticeable and things have not changed much i hear. This is understandable as priorities there are different and rightly so. If the Government had surveyed and recorded all wrecks and assigned them grades of significance and viabilty of preservation maybe some of these wrecks could have been saved and some set aside to sell and fund the restoration and building of a suitable display. Lets just hope that the Swamp Ghost is put on display for future generations and be a testament to those who flew her and to those she help liberate!

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Re: SWAMPY GHOST QUESTION - from one who was there

Post by Buzzking » Sat Jul 22, 2006 11:51 am

Ranuguri wrote:
Buzzking wrote:My turn,


Now for you Justin your really need to go and read the War Surplus Laws they state if the item in this case Swamp Ghost was lost durning a combat then they are still belong to the US Goverment. Please don't say I have no idea what I'm talking about because at this very time I'm dealing with the US Goverment on aircraft lost in North Africa durning Combat Missions.


BZK
For the benefit of Buzzking, the United States Government transferred to Australia which subsequently handed this responsibilty to the Administration of the Territory of Papua New Guinea in 1950 all rights and possession to surplus American war material on land and in the sea within the territorial limits of the Territory. In 1952, the Administrator's Executive Council passed the War Surplus Material Act of 1952 formalizing this matter. Therefore from that date, the United States Government was no longer the owner of any war surplus material that originated from the United States. To say that the US Government still owns any material within Papua New Guinea that originated during World War Two is grossly inaccurate. This Act was designed to return Papua New Guinea to its original condition prior to 1942 in that war surplus material of every nature, both Japanese and Allied was to be recovered and disposed. The Territory was to receive a royalty from all sales. From 1952 until the early 1960s, many salvage companies operated in Papua New Guinea and tons of war surplus material was recovered, smeltered andf sold. Since 1976, The Independent State of Papua New Guinea is therefore well within its rights to do whatever it thinks fit. In the past, it has acted quite responsibly, although in recent years, money has brought co-operation into disrepute.
I guess you didn't read what I said then I said aircraft lost DURNING COMBAT MISSIONS not a wreck yes that is what the WMSA of 52 did but the US Goverment never gave up ownership of Combat lost Aircraft for the simple fact many of them contain human remains. Please don't tell me that I don't know what I'm talking about I'm in the process of getting permission to do recoverys in North Africa and Libya and have run into this problem with the Dept. of Defence

BZK

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Re: SWAMPY GHOST QUESTION - from one who was there

Post by Wolverine » Sun Jul 23, 2006 8:26 pm

Laurent wrote:But just browse on US wrecks & recovery sites and anyone will discover that there are still plenty of well preserved wrecks (P-38, B-23, early B-17 to name just a few) litering US and being left there to rot.

I would love to see US reactions if one of those wrecks was illegally recovered and exported.
Yeah, just for fun...

1. P-38 wreck here in the US? Where? (I'm a P-38 fanatic)
2. B-23--no argument there
3. B-17C...ain't that well preserved at all!

Perhaps better examples would be the B-29s in Lake Mead and Alaska, the B-24D in Alaska, and everything at the bottom of the Great Lakes.

The people who would react would include locals (maybe not in the case of the Great Lakes or the B-17C), dive shop owners (B-29 in Lake Mead), Alaskan Air Museum (the B-24D), and the government (who is preventing the recovery of all of these aircraft).

Pardon me, I'm merely a teenager and am a bit sick at the moment, so I may not have written this the best.

----

Thanks very much, Mr. Greinert. I really appreciate the work you've done.

If Mareelee II hasn't been recovered...just a suggestion for your next recovery.

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Re: SWAMPY GHOST QUESTION - from one who was there

Post by originalboxcar » Tue Jul 25, 2006 6:29 am

Wolverine wrote:1. P-38 wreck here in the US? Where? (I'm a P-38 fanatic)
This one:

http://www.pacificwrecks.com/photos/cur ... index.html

Right Rob (ah Buzzking)?

regards,

t~

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Post by Jarhead » Wed Aug 02, 2006 12:58 am

" An intelligent man doesnt leave his heritage to rot in a swamp"

Good point

Unless of course it has a significant doller value

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Post by Andy in West Oz » Wed Aug 16, 2006 1:41 am

Of all the people to lead the recovery, I am glad it was Rob Greinert. From what I have seen over the years, he knows the rules, he respects the locals and he respects the heritage. Can't do any better than that.

Cheers

Andy
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