Army forms new ‘monuments men’ unit
The British Army is putting together a team to protect art and archaeology in war. The newly created Cultural Property Protection Unit (CPPU) is led by Lt. Col Tim Purbrick, a former Gulf War tank commander. The new unit will draw on members of the Army, Navy, RAF and Royal Marines. Civilians who want to join will have to enlist in the Army Reserves.
Once up and running, the 15-strong unit will be sent into war zones where art and archaeological sites are at risk from fighting.
“It’s a revival of the Monuments Men, which was disbanded at the end of the Second World War,” Lt Col Purbrick, of the Royal Lancers, said.“We’re looking for experts in the fields of art, archaeology and art crime investigation.”
The CPPU will be tasked with protecting art and archaeology, investigating looting, bringing smuggling gangs to justice and informing allied forces about the location of cultural heritage sites.
At the Merkers salt mines in central Germany, American GIs admire Édouard Manet’s In the Conservatory, one of the thousands of rare works and documents stored there by the Nazi regime late in World War II.