Every time the metal detector beeps it creates some kind thrill. "What am I going to dig for this time? Is it shrapnel, a shell .... or maybe a gun." This thrill is well known to metal detector owners.
There is also great danger. It is not unlikely that live explosives (mortars or bombs) or ammunition rise up. Care, caution and awareness are therefore needed. We highly unrecommend to search with a metal detector without any knowledge of what you might find, especially on former WWI or WWII battlefields!
We hereby warn you about the fact that in most part of Holland, Germany and Belgium it's highly illegal to search with metal detectors. Especially Arnhem, Nijmegen, Oosterbeek, Ardennes, Berlin and Huertgenwald have laws against metal detectors. Mind that if you are caught while searching, your equipment will be taken from you and/or you might even get a huge fine.
During our fieldtrips we find forests severely damaged by treasure hunters and a lot of debris left behind. This annoys not just us, but also the forest rangers. It took us quite a while to convince authorities that this is not the way Stichting Missing In Action (MIA) works. We only search with required permits and using metal detectors is not very likely. Usually we will search in a different way and digging is not always a necessity.
Is it worth the money to rob someone's grave? Stichting Missing In Action (MIA) believes it's not. Imagine that your son, daughter, parent or husband never returned from war. The perpetual uncertainty was, and still is dreadful to the survivors.
Apart from that, it's an obligation to report discovered human remains and you need to contact local police immediately. How can you possibly know for sure that the deceased derives from the war era? It could be a crime scene you're dealing with or a postwar missing individual!
The identity tag or dogtag of a soldier was, and still is an important attribute. It could help with identification and it was an important item for the families and emotionally for the carrier.
Have you found such a tag or maybe you are going to, please notify Stichting Missing In Action (MIA). Perhaps you still remember the location. Even better would be if you can show us the site.
If you find human remains, you first of all need to contact local police immediately. It is of great importance that you do not touch anything!
If you found identification tag you may contact us. At the bottom of the "How we search for WWII missing" topic is mentioned how we proceed after receiving such a notification. You can contact us by using the contactform on the right side of this page.