Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Elephant Iron?


17107BM
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hi all.

Sorry in advance if seems a stupid question.

Ive been on a couple of WW1 web sites, and when refering to the contruction of trench and defences they mention Elephant Iron.

My question is.. was this a hard steel of some sort? Also, if known, in which part of a trench would it be used? My first thought was maybe over trench ammo?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is I Believe "Corrougated Iron" as used in the re~inforcement of "Dugouts" see :~ Elephant Iron Dugouts Link

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also known as wrinkly Tin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also known as wrinkly Tin.

Yes! I know the stuff. Thanks.

From what iv'e read so for, that picture of a dugout at Hill 60 would not stay comfy for long.

Thanks gent's

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Effectively very large versions of the WW2 Anderson shelter crossed with a Nissen hut

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...and used by the German army as well, with more or less the same design. They called them Siegfried-Unterschlupfe [siegfried Shelters]. Very keen on Siegfried, that well known mythological hero, the Germans. They even named the Siegfried-Stellung [Hindenburg Line] after him, quite forgetting that Siegfried meets his end in dramatic fashion before the end of Goetterdaemmerung.

Here is an example of a pair of them in use

post-6447-1255590067.jpg

Jack

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem is there is a stack just like that in the field next to my house (in the Marches), the farmer sometimes uses them for shelters when the sheep have lambed, and I'm pretty sure they are not of WW2 vintage - let alone WW1

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem is there is a stack just like that in the field next to my house (in the Marches), the farmer sometimes uses them for shelters when the sheep have lambed, and I'm pretty sure they are not of WW2 vintage - let alone WW1

Good point. This was such a useful design that I would have been amazed if it was only used in the Great War for military purposes. I think that the real mcCoy might have a heavier gauge than the more recent agricultural stuff. Corrugated iron in flat sheets was well established. It was victorian MDF.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Corrugated iron in flat sheets was well established. It was victorian MDF.

Nice analogy, Tom - and in the same terms the curved iron sections that 'elephant shelters' were made from were Edwardian HDF, an altogether heavier gauge of metal, often with square section 'corrugations', as well illustrated in the Bayernwald pic above.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great comments which I take refer to the last photo. Perhaps I should have added that this was taken at the rear of the Hooge Crater Museum and whilst I have of course no definite proof that this is ww1 if you look closely you will spot what is I believe a WW1 barbed wire picket or perhaps not as the case may be. As for sheep shelters the field does not look like the sort of field that sheep would graze to me and I cannot remember seeing that many sheep around the Menin Rd, cows yes.

Regards

Norman

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There just had to be a website: http://www.corrugated-iron-club.info/ Although a bity quirky & although there's nothing specifically on WW1 usage, there is a 19th century catalogue showing some wonderful designs which would probably have been in use then. The local drill hall, before it was rebuilt in 1925, was a very sturdy looking structure built of the same. Here's another local building built of the stuff with a definite military connection which would certainly have been in use during WWI: the garrison church at Deepcut (Surrey) http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/59432

NigelS

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The things about the gauge of metal used for elephant shelters etc is that it's structural and heavy-load-bearing in its own right, not mere cladding like flat sheet corrugated iron. It's an engineering product and was probably borrowed directly or adapted from sectional shoring for small tunnels and the like.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just love these intellectual and erudite discussions. I will be totally convinced of the provenance of the rusty iron at Hooge if some kind member can please post a photo of sheep happily grazing in the field directly behind the Hooge Crater Museum as depicted on my last photo. :D

No photoshop fiddles please!

Regards

Norman

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the schism in the Church of Scotland, mid 19th C. many of the new churches were hastily built on odd scraps of land and corrugated iron was a main building material. Tin Kirks were to be the place of worship of many of the Scottish soldiers who served in the Great War. And you thought this was off topic, didn't you?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ho Hum here we go again.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Getting back to the original question: 'Elephant Iron?' Is there any evidence to suggest that corrugated iron (CI) of whatever gauge, dimension etc was ever actually known as Elephant Iron? I've searched the OED (no result), online dictionaries (no results) & online newspapers archives (pre, during, and after WWI ) as well as 'Googling' and using other search engines for ''Elephant Iron'' and, in the latter cases, the vast majority of the results returned relevant to the topic ('elephant' iron on transfers & similar cause a problem!) are coupled with shelters & dugouts ie 'Elephant Iron Shelter' ; In the cases where 'Elephant Iron' does crop up alone it is usually in modern usage connected with WW1. I'm wondering if there might be some confusion and that in fact the modern usage has come about in error from a mis-interpretation off that of WWI and that it was actually 'Elephant' [type] iron shelters and not shelters made of 'Elephant Iron' at all.

The only real evidence I can offer - by no means conclusive - is from some plans available on the 'Landships' site which I assume - possibly wrongly - are from a WW1 perod training manual:

( http://www.landships.freeservers.com/new_p..._schematics.htm )

specifically: Plate 19, which show structures with CI specified (not 'elephant iron' ) together with a diagram of a 'small elephant shelter' apparently formed from CI with no mention of the material - CI or otherwise - given (although, of course, if this was built from a standard 'kit' the material would not need to be specified)

Plate 9 which gives a trench plan with handful of 'small elephant' shelters (not 'elephant iron' shelters) shown

finally, Plate 20 shows 'small elephant steel shelter' which on the same basis as 'elephant iron' would mean - possibly splitting hairs - that there was also 'elephant steel'

As I said, not by any means conclusive, but if CI was ever known as 'Elephant Iron' - even as a brand name - I would have expected, as it would have been used in may other construction and engineering applications than just dugouts and shelters, to have been able to find many other references to it. If anybody can come up with references to say 'elephant iron sheeting', 'elephant iron roofing', elephant iron xxxxx' etc I would be convinced that it was used as an alternative name for CI, otherwise I'm afraid I have my doubts.

Now having said all that, do I get a prize for the largest number of mentions of 'elephant' in a single post?

NigelS

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The elephant reference is definitely to 'elephant shelter', as in the shelters built for working elephants in India, not 'elephant' as in 'jumbo', as in bigger, heavier, more substantial etc ...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Getting back to the original question: 'Elephant Iron?' Is there any evidence to suggest that corrugated iron (CI) of whatever gauge, dimension etc was ever actually known as Elephant Iron? I've searched the OED (no result), online dictionaries (no results) & online newspapers archives (pre, during, and after WWI ) as well as 'Googling' and using other search engines for ''Elephant Iron'' and, in the latter cases, the vast majority of the results returned relevant to the topic ('elephant' iron on transfers & similar cause a problem!) are coupled with shelters & dugouts ie 'Elephant Iron Shelter' ; In the cases where 'Elephant Iron' does crop up alone it is usually in modern usage connected with WW1. I'm wondering if there might be some confusion and that in fact the modern usage has come about in error from a mis-interpretation off that of WWI and that it was actually 'Elephant' [type] iron shelters and not shelters made of 'Elephant Iron' at all.

The only real evidence I can offer - by no means conclusive - is from some plans available on the 'Landships' site which I assume - possibly wrongly - are from a WW1 perod training manual:

( http://www.landships.freeservers.com/new_p..._schematics.htm )

specifically: Plate 19, which show structures with CI specified (not 'elephant iron' ) together with a diagram of a 'small elephant shelter' apparently formed from CI with no mention of the material - CI or otherwise - given (although, of course, if this was built from a standard 'kit' the material would not need to be specified)

Plate 9 which gives a trench plan with handful of 'small elephant' shelters (not 'elephant iron' shelters) shown

finally, Plate 20 shows 'small elephant steel shelter' which on the same basis as 'elephant iron' would mean - possibly splitting hairs - that there was also 'elephant steel'

As I said, not by any means conclusive, but if CI was ever known as 'Elephant Iron' - even as a brand name - I would have expected, as it would have been used in may other construction and engineering applications than just dugouts and shelters, to have been able to find many other references to it. If anybody can come up with references to say 'elephant iron sheeting', 'elephant iron roofing', elephant iron xxxxx' etc I would be convinced that it was used as an alternative name for CI, otherwise I'm afraid I have my doubts.

Now having said all that, do I get a prize for the largest number of mentions of 'elephant' in a single post?

NigelS

Yes they are from a WW1 publication. You are quite correct the references on the drawings are to elephant shelters not elephant iron. The steel reference I suspect is to distinguish between an elephant shelter made of corrugated steel as opposed to CI. There were two sizes of prefabricated elephant shelter designated large and small but I have seen photos of others that don't match these which suggests that some were 'custom built' I don't believe that the name comes directly from India as the small elephant shelter was much too small for an elephant and is completely the wrong shape. Elephant shelters (for elephants) in India and SE Asia are open sided see photos

http://img5.travelblog.org/Photos/53364/23...t-shelter-0.jpg

http://www.at-bangkok.com/places/ayutthaya.../chang-head.jpg

http://bangalore.metblogs.com/archives/ima...0shelterJPG.JPG

http://www.svzoo.org/graphics/zanimal/photos/elehouse.jpg

http://bugbitten.com/photogallery/data/ff8...2_p4182634.jpeg

Elephant shelters today are defined as "Portable, collapsible shelters to protect the work area when welding large work pieces out of doors." and can be hired from various suppliers. They are often made out of canvas.

There are heaps of references to elephant iron but all seem to be of modern origin - often captions for WW1 photos

but I can find no contemporary refereces to it - the closest being iron elephant shelters - suggesting that elephant shelter refers to the shape not the material. Post WW1 an elephant hut was a nisen shaped building (in WW2 often built by Quanset) which was often made of CI but sometimes wood covered with tar paper. I suspect that elephant iron is a modern misnomer for CI of various guages

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...