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The US says it has identified the remains of a World War Two tank commander who was killed fighting in Germany in November 1944.

The UK is to send a second warship to the Gulf, in response to rising tensions in the Middle East.

HMS Diamond - a Type 45 destroyer - is en route to join the frigate HMS Lancaster. Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said it was "critical that the UK bolsters our presence in the region. In addition, a UK-led task force is to soon begin patrols from the English Channel to the Baltic Sea, to protect Europe's critical undersea cables.

HMS Lancaster has been stationed in the Gulf since last year. It is there alongside three Royal Navy mine-hunters.

Mr Shapps said the addition of a destroyer would bolster deterrence in the region at a dangerous time.

"It is critical that the UK bolsters our presence in the region to keep Britain and our interests safe from a more volatile and contested world."

Specifically, he said, it would send a clear message to Iran and its proxies. Israel's war in Gaza has already prompted a response from Hezbollah in Lebanon as well as Houthi rebels in Yemen - although not yet on the scale first feared.

The US boosted its naval footprint in the region soon after the Hamas-led attacks on 7 October. It has sent a US carrier strike group east of Suez, as well as placing a second aircraft carrier in the eastern Mediterranean.

A US destroyer in the Red Sea has already intercepted missiles and drones - reported to have been launched by Houthi rebels in Yemen. Houthis have also been harassing commercial shipping in the region - seizing the cargo vessel MV Galaxy Leader and attempting to hijack a second

The Ministry of Defence says the addition of HMS Diamond will ensure the freedom of navigation, reassure merchant vessels and allow the safe flow of trade. Around 50 large merchant ships pass through the Bab-el-Mandeb strait daily while double that number pass through the Strait of Hormuz.

The defence secretary also announced a second major naval deployment, closer to home, to protect undersea cables and critical national infrastructure. The task force of seven ships will set sail early next month, alongside allies, and will mount patrols from the English Channel all the way to the Baltic Sea.

Royal Navy vessels will work alongside members of the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), which includes Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. Though they've conducted exercises together in the past this will be the first time the JEF has conducted a joint operation.

Mr Shapps described the deployment as historic - with allies from across northern Europe working together "to defend our shared critical infrastructure against potential threats. He did not mention a specific threat. But the UK and other nations involved in the JEF have highlighted concerns about the activities of Russian surveillance ships near, in recent years.

The US says it has identified the remains of a World War Two tank commander who was killed fighting in Germany in November 1944.

Lt Gene F Walker was battling Nazi forces near the German-Belgian border when his M4 Sherman was struck by an anti-tank round. His crew escaped the blast, but were prevented from recovering his body by heavy fighting. But almost 79 years later, US military researchers have identified the tanker.

Lt Walker, who hailed from the state of Indiana and was 27 when he died, had been fighting with the 3rd Armored Division at the time of his death. Under the command of Gen Omar Bradley, the division was helping to spearhead the incursion into the German heartland from Belgium. The young tanker died as US forces pushed forward and was killed on impact after an anti-tank munition struck his vehicle near the town of Hücheln.

"The hit caused a fire and is believed to have killed Walker instantaneously," the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), an organisation tasked with identifying missing war dead, said.

"The surviving crew bailed out of the tank, but when they regrouped later were unable to remove Walker from the tank due to heavy fighting," it added. In April 1945 the US War Department issued a presumptive finding of death for Lt Walker.

The young commander left behind a wife, Mary, and a baby daughter named Anne, who he never got to meet after joining the army in 1942, according to an obituary written at the time of his death.

After the war ended, the American Graves Registration Command was tasked with recovering missing US military personnel in Europe. Despite conducting investigations in the Hücheln area in 1948 - where they interviewed two locals - the agency found no reports of deceased US military members in the area.

It appears Lt Walker's remains were actually removed from a burned-out tank in Hücheln in December 1944. He was then buried at the Henri-Chapelle US Military Cemetery in Hombourg, Belgium.

His name was recorded on the Walls of the Missing at Netherlands American Cemetery.

But in 2021 his remains were exhumed and sent to a DPAA lab for analysis after a researcher found evidence that they may have belonged to Lt Walker.

"To identify Walker's remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)," the agency said.

The former tank commander will be reburied in San Diego in early 2024. A rosette will be placed next to his name at the Wall of the Missing in the Netherlands to indicate he has been found. Since its formation in 1973, the DPAA has accounted for some 1,543 missing US servicemen. But government figures indicate that more than 72,000 troops who fought in World War Two remain missing.

In November, researchers managed to idenitfy the remains of 2nd Lt Gilbert Haldeen Myers, an US Army Air Force Pilot killed in 1943 when his bomber was shot down over Sicily.


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