Back in 1944, a young boy in Estonia noticed a peculiar set of tracks near Lake Kurtna Matasjary. They looked like tank tracks leading directly into the lake, but there were no tracks leading back out. Over the next two months, he also noticed air bubbles coming from the lake as if something was slowly sinking. The boy was naturally quite curious, but he didn't have the means to investigate, so he put it out of his head.
Nearly 50 years later, the boy (now a grown man) recounted what he saw to a local war history club called "Osting." The club was fascinated by the old man's story and in September of 2000, they set about a full investigation into what was at the bottom of the lake. What they found was absolutely stunning.
This is the path leading to the lake where the boy saw the tank tracks all those years ago.
An entire team of people got together to find out what was at the bottom of the lake.
Whatever it was, it was huge, very heavy and had sunk to a depth of seven meters (roughly 23 feet).
Heavy machinery was called in to aid their efforts.
This is the first glimpse. Can you guess what it might be?
Just as the boy suspected, it was indeed a military tank, but how did it come to be at the bottom of a lake?
Northeastern Estonia was one of the battlegrounds of WWII, with roughly 100,000 casualties and another 300,000 wounded. During the course of those battles, the German army managed to capture this Soviet tank.
Eventually, the German soldiers were forced to retreat around the lake. Experts believe it was probably abandoned in the lake on purpose, possibly to avoid it ending up back in the hands of their enemy.
The 30-ton tank took nearly six hours to dredge up out of the lake.
Tanks such as this one are known as "trophy tanks," which were captured, used for a time and then discarded. That means this tank actually fought on both the Soviet and German sides of the war. Double agent!
The tank was recovered with 116 shells still onboard. Even more surprisingly, all systems except for the engine were still in working condition! The thick layer of peat and acidic environment of the lake created a protective cocoon of sorts around the tank, protecting it from corrosion for 56 years.
The restoration of the tank is still under way and plans are to eventually display it in a war museum that will be founded in nearby Gorodenko.
Who could have guessed that an operation, 56-year-old tank that had served on both sides of WWII was waiting just below the surface?
Via: Lifebuzz | Reddit