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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

British Army brings ‘Monuments Men’ unit back to life to protect historic artefacts in war

The group will be made up of 15 men who are expert in art, crime investigation and archaeology.

The unit will prevent looting and provide information to allied forces. AFP
The unit will prevent looting and provide information to allied forces. AFP

A Second World War group famed for protecting art and historic artefacts is being reborn and is looking for recruits.

The Cultural Property Protection Unit (CPPU) will be led by Gulf War veteran Lt Colonel Tim Purbrick and is looking for 15 recruits from all sections of the armed forces, The Telegraph reported.

“We’re looking for experts in the fields of art, archaeology and art crime investigation,” said Lt Col Purbrick, 54.

The original Monuments Men were a group of US and UK soldiers, later depicted in a film starring Matt Damon and Bill Murray.

The creation of the unit, which will be based in Berkshire, UK, comes in the wake of ISIS destroying some of the world’s most ancient and interesting historical sites, including Palmyra in Syria. A group of pillars and the front of a theatre at the ancient Roman site were destroyed by the group in 2017.

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The new group will aim to inform UK and its allied forces of important sites to avoid in air strikes and ground fighting and prevent looting, in accordance with the The Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Bill, which was passed in early 2017 and ratifies the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

The Hague Convention was written after the Second World War in response to the huge destruction of cultural and historical artefacts during the conflict. The UK was the last major military power to ratify the convention.