The remains were handed over in a ceremony at the Chkalovsky airfield just outside of Moscow, with Russian soldiers marching through a snow storm to carry a box draped in the Italian flag and covered with flowers onto a waiting C-130 cargo plane. Russian news agencies said the Russian and Italian defense ministers attended the ceremony.
During World War II, nearly a quarter-million Italian troops were sent by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini to help ally Germany's forces, but most lacked the warm clothing and cold-weather survival skills of the Russians, the AP reports.
With most of their vehicles broken down or lost in battle, the Italians trudged in retreat, often traveling hundreds of kilometers (miles), during the winter of 1942-43. Many dropped dead in forced marches to prison camps. Others survived the cruel journey, only to die in camps as far away as Siberia.
An estimated 70,000 Italian soldiers never returned from the campaign. A.M.
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