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Fattyowls

The Date (and time) of the 1955 Mine Explosion at Ploegsteert

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Fattyowls

I went looking on the forum and in Mr Broomfield's extensive library for the date and time of the 1955 explosion of one of the abandoned mines dug under the Birdcage position just east of Ploegsteert Wood and was slightly surprised to find that some uncertainty exists. The Wikipedia entry (usual caveats etc) suggests 17th June but gives no time, other references say July 1955. Does anyone have the definitive information?

 

Much appreciated,

 

Pete.

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Uncle George

The important thing is, “the only casualty was a dead cow”. This was not of course a happy ending for the cow.

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Ron Clifton
Posted (edited)

Probably marginally happier than being sent to an abattoir!

 

I am pretty sure that it was in July 1955 (references to June 1955 were possibly confusing it with the month of the battle itself). Local and national newspapers would almost certainly have mentioned the event.

 

Ron

Edited by Ron Clifton

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towisuk

I was doing a video some years ago of the fields where the three unexploded mines still remain at Le Pelerin when a car stopped and the gentleman inside asked me if I would like to see photos of the mine that blew in '55. This turned out to be Daniel who lives in a bungalow at the "tee" junction of the roads, he very kindly invited myself and the friend accompanying me into his home where we spent 25 minutes looking at the original photos of the mine that went up along with photos of his relatives who fought throughout the war.. I do remember him saying that the date of the explosion normally accepted  as the "norm" was wrong, and I can't remember for the life of me which was the correct day he gave me..!!

My friend took photo's of the photo's and I have them somewhere on one of my many backup drives, and I'm sure I've posted them on the GWF before

 

There was an excellent discussion on the "Birdcage" mines a number of years ago on Paul Reeds "Ypres Battlefields forum" in which a number of "Tunneling" experts took part in, and a lot of interesting maps and details of the mines were posted.  https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/ypres1917fr/the-birdcage-t286.html#.VBqnqPldUZw

 

***And I've just found found the photos I posted in an earlier topic on the mines.....https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/58613-unexploded-mines/page/2/

 

 I posted a date and time of  7th July 1917 at 3:10am in this topic from 2008.... https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/91025-messines-mines/?tab=comments#comment-849331

 

Regards

Tom

 

 

 

 


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Ron Clifton
9 minutes ago, towisuk said:

 I posted a date and time of  7th July 1917 at 3:10am in this topic from 2008

I wonder if someone has confused this date with 7 JUNE 1917 at 3.10am.

 

Ron

 

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Alan24

Am I correct in thinking it was set off by thunder storm?

 

Regards 

Alan 

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towisuk

I believe that that is the assumed reason for the mine going up Alan..    an induced electrical charge into the detonators should do it...

Tom

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nigelcave

I think that it was also related to the nearby electricity pylons, which were then a recent addition. which might have attracted the strike.

 

Many years ago I was asked with doing some work in the PRO and came upon correspondence between the British and Belgian authorities, dating from c. autumn 1917 re defusing these mines and whose responsibility it was. The matter became academic when the Germans captured the area during the Lys 1918 and the issue did not seem to come up again. Alas, I stumbled across this correspondence and did not make a note of the reference.

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Fattyowls

Thank you to everyone for the contributions, they are really interesting. I feel a bit better not being able to find the date and the time of the 1955 explosion since it doesn't appear to be as readily accessible as I thought. I feared it might be like when you ask where something is in the supermarket and find that you are standing next to it and you've already walked down that aisle twice already.....:wacko:

 

I wonder if there is a Belgian equivalent of the British Newspaper Archive? I know both @Aurel Sercu and @Marilyne are interested in, and very knowledgeable about Messines so if I can get the '@' thingy to work hopefully this will draw their attention to the thread.

 

Pete.

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towisuk
Posted (edited)
On 30/05/2019 at 09:12, nigelcave said:

I think that it was also related to the nearby electricity pylons, which were then a recent addition. which might have attracted the strike.

 

Many years ago I was asked with doing some work in the PRO and came upon correspondence between the British and Belgian authorities, dating from c. autumn 1917 re defusing these mines and whose responsibility it was. The matter became academic when the Germans captured the area during the Lys 1918 and the issue did not seem to come up again. Alas, I stumbled across this correspondence and did not make a note of the reference.

 

Hi Nigel, Daniel did tell me to look for the tallest (it stood a bit higher) electric pylon along the Wolvenweg.....and that was the position of the 1955 mine that blew....they are of concrete construction today. I presume the original line consisted of wooden poles.... maybe with copper wire running from the top to earth as a lightning conductor ??

 

It's a pity the maps, photos and overlays from the link I posted .....    https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/ypres1917fr/the-birdcage-t286.html#.VBqnqPldUZw 

are no longer accessible, there was some cracking work done by contributors to the topic.

regards

Tom

Edited by towisuk

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Muerrisch

and there is of course another big one lurking ..... I always speed up when driving south past it.

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Fattyowls
12 hours ago, Muerrisch said:

and there is of course another big one lurking ..... I always speed up when driving south past it.

 

Would that be Le Petit Douvre farm by chance Mr G? I feel the same impulse going in either direction if so. That said until I read @Simon Jones' excellent piece* about the lost Messines mines I hadn't realised that wandering around Peckham is not without some risk......

 

Pete.

 

*other excellent Simon Jones pieces are available. Part of the impetus for this thread was not finding the date in Simon's stuff.

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Don Regiano
1 hour ago, Fattyowls said:

 

I hadn't realised that wandering around Peckham is not without some risk......

 

 

 

Yeah, watch out for the Del Boys Pete ;)

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Fattyowls
9 minutes ago, Don Regiano said:

Yeah, watch out for the Del Boys Pete ;)

 

You plonker Rodney, not that Peckham......:D

 

The Peckham mine crater to the right of the farm buildings behind the trees with Spanbroekmolen on the horizon, taken from Maedelstede Farm........

 

image.png.a1d5c1b38cc07ed0895990281ebd55b0.png

(image from Wikipedia)

 

Peckham SE15 in that London.......

 

1113213433_Mysterylandscape.JPG.9b9bbad82c2c11f3f647b1ec839fd856.JPG

 

Could they possibly be related?

 

Pete.

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walbeer
Quote

La mine qui explose le 17 juillet 1955 est placée sur la ''Trench 121'' ou aussi nommée '' The Birdcage '' et est située sur le territoire de la ville de WARNETON au lieu dit ''le Gheer'' c'est la mine n°3 la charge était de 30000 pounds ( 13608 kg) trois mines sont encore non explosées.  Walbeer.

 

 

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towisuk
19 hours ago, Muerrisch said:

and there is of course another big one lurking ..... I always speed up when driving south past it.

 

At the Birdcage there is another THREE unexploded mines......The one of the four that blew in '55 is the most easterly one (right)

 

Mines.JPG

Mines2.JPG

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Fattyowls

Merci beaucoup @walbeer il est bon d’obtenir la confirmation de l’expert local.

 

Pete.

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Muerrisch

An article that I wrote for Stand To! The natural logarithm diagram failed: if anyone is desperate enough to want it, please PM me.

 

Mine Warfare: the Royal Engineer officers’ problem. 

 

In all the literature of the Great War, surprisingly little is devoted to Mine Warfare, especially considering the amount of effort and material that went into mining, and its effectiveness when employed intelligently.  This article deals with an aspect which is not covered at all in Tunnellers1 or War Underground2, surprisingly not covered in The  Work of the Royal Engineers in the European War, 1914-19, Military Mining,3 and little more than hinted at in the recent and excellent Beneath Flanders Fields 4.

 

The basic question facing the mining officer in the Great War was ‘given the tactical needs of the situation, how much of what type of explosive do I need to achieve the result required?’.  The consequences of too little are clear: either the crater is non-existent (a ‘camouflet’) or inadequate.  The consequence of too much is to risk great unpopularity with one’s own ground troops, who, at best, might have to rebuild trenches and dugouts, and at worst would lose men in the explosion.

 

To set the problem in context one needs to consider the history of military mining.  The use of shallow tunnels (as shallow as one could get away with, but bearing in mind the need to drive them under moats or ditches) to break into enemy defences is a very old method of warfare.  It was of particular use in static warfare such as the siege of a castle or fortress.  With the advent of gunpowder, tunnels could be charged with powder and used to bring down walls.  Such a tactic could place a great deal of destructive force in precisely the desired place, rather than inefficient battering by siege artillery.

 

Rudyard Kipling wrote of the Engineers that ‘our Colonels are Methodist, married or mad’ . Mad or not, what gunfire was to the artillery, a big explosion was to the Engineers, and they were the subject of considerable experiment and theorising.  Many official and unofficial treatises and text books on military mining were published in the 19th century so that, by 1900, the official Instruction in Military Engineering Part IV ‘Mining and Demolitions’5  was able to state ‘While it is impossible at present to say what new methods of attack may follow the improvements in artillery  …….  it is quite safe to assume that mining will still have its rôle, and from time to time its opportunities’.  This was written just before the bloody Russo-Japanese war of 1904-5, and indeed that war saw a significant use by the Japanese of mine explosions to reduce and take Port Arthur, having failed by all other means including reasonably modern rifled artillery.

 

At this time, and indeed up to the outbreak of The Great War, black grained gunpowder was envisaged as the best explosive in common use.  Its action was said to be less violent than that of high explosives, but almost equally extensive, giving off less poisonous fumes than gun-cotton, dynamite and picric acid (this latter is a major consideration if the crater is to be immediately occupied by friendly forces, which was usually the intention).  The effects of mines depend on three factors: the quantity of the explosive used (here, gunpowder is assumed), the depth of the charge below the surface, and the nature of the soil.  It is worth quoting the definitions which follow, as they form the basis of all their further experiment and of our understanding.

 

‘ The effect of the pressure of the gases formed by the explosion of the charge is, first to compress the earth around it into a hollow sphere, and then if the charge is strong enough, to burst outwards in the direction of least resistance, forming a hollow called a crater.  The crater is really an inverted cone, having its apex at the centre of the charge, and is partially filled up again by the falling back of the earth.  The shortest distance from the centre of the charge to the surface of the ground is called the Line of Least Resistance (LLR) measured in feet, and represented by ‘L’, in feet, in the formulae.  The radius of the circular opening on the surface of the ground is called the radius ‘R’, in feet, of the crater.  For any value of ‘L’, ‘R’ varies with the charge’

 

 

All very straightforward and intuitive.  A ‘common mine’ was defined as one having ‘R’ equal to ‘L’. One with a larger radius was said to be ‘overcharged’: this could be deliberately done to raise taller lips, helpful in consolidating a captured crater.

 

As a result of experiment and observation, principally at Chatham (but also elsewhere and, one suspects, as often as possible, Engineers being what they were) an empirical formula had been derived for calculating the amount of gunpowder required.  Substantial mines were prepared and blown in 1868 and 1877, and as many as 26 in 1907.  The assumption was always made that the charge would be packed solidly, that is ‘tamped’: constrained into as small a volume as possible, touching walls, floor and ceiling of the chamber,  and with sand bags or similar material massively sealing the chamber from the approach tunnel.  The effect of this was to give the charge, once fired, the maximum time to thrust, rather than dissipating.  The Chatham results between 1880 and 1894 form the first nine data points in the tabulation shown at Table 1.

 

Chatham was the favourite location for experimentation and exercises: it was a major RE depôt, it had suitable well-drained chalk land, and the area had many obsolete fortifications to demolish.  At this point we need to consider the effect of what the 1900 manual calls ‘the nature of the soil’.  Mines hitherto had been mainly in one medium only, being as shallow as could be got away with, and therefore not penetrating several strata of different characters.  In addition to considerations of ease or difficulty in driving shafts and tunnels, the geology had a profound effect on the size of the crater, such that it had to be factored into the empirical equation.  The Engineers called the factor ‘S’, and tabulated its known values.  This tabulation (published in 1923 and much amended from early versions in the light of Great War experience with very large charges) is given at Table 2.

 

The empirical formula given in 1900 for calculating the correct charge, ‘C’, in pounds, of gunpowder for a common mine ( ‘L’ = ‘R’)  is at Table 3.

 

With this, the Engineer had enough data: given that he knew how deep the charge centre was, given that he had acquired a knowledge of the geology, and, given that he wanted a common mine, an answer was available.   It was clearly understood that the problem lay with the value of ‘S’, so he was urged to ‘be well on the safe side until some experience of the local soil is gained’.  The Chatham conditions were well known by 1893, so we can check a mine for that year:  1000 lbs of gunpowder at 12 ft depth in clay loam (value ‘S’ = 1.4) produced a crater of 22 ft 9 ins radius.  As the radius is all but twice the depth, the simple formula was inappropriate, the mine would be defined as ‘overcharged’ (one hopes that this was intended!), and a  revised formula was provided, also shown in Table 3. 

 

The right hand side of the revised equation will give us the theoretical charge to produce the real observed effect, and this turns out to be 1470 lbs of gunpowder.  Clearly the Engineer got  more ‘bang for his bucks’ as the saying goes.  The above goes to show that, if mine warfare was a science, it was an inexact one.  The results of calculations were better than a guess, and sometimes spectacularly correct.  One suspects the Engineer was very nervous indeed if a mine had to be exploded near his own lines, but was also required to have a major effect.

 

The  1912 version of Mining and Demolitions  changed little, although it did add some results of the 1907 tests, including a new explosive called Tonite, a derivative of guncotton.  It made the prescient point that ‘Whether the occasion for the use of military mining arises suddenly, finding both sides unprovided with suitable material  ………. the general principles governing the action of both sides will be the same as they have been hitherto’.  After the outbreak of the Great War and the early onset of trench warfare, the Western Front took on many of the characteristics of siege warfare, but with both sides simultaneously besieged and besieging.  Before the end of 1914, the belligerents had begun offensive and defensive mining, using whatever materials and methods were readily to hand.  These materials included explosives more powerful than gunpowder, some of them about three times more powerful, and the formula for calculating the charge had to be amended again (one suspects by trial and error, and over a period) to the form quoted in the 1923 edition, entitled Demolitions and Mining.  This is at Table 3.

 

Values of E are at Table 4.  Those from official sources are in bold thus, those derived from various other publications in plain face. As a matter of interest, one wonders how the 1923 version would have worked with the 1893 Chatham example.  It would in fact have given a theoretical charge of 1260 lbs, clearly a more accurate result, but far from perfect.  No doubt the Engineer would have blamed a bad value of S.  The formula could be displayed as a nomogram or ready-reckoner, and one such is shown in Beneath Flanders Fields.  Although a daunting and complicated equation at first sight, the Engineer always knew most of the variables on the right hand side: L by survey, N, defined as R/L, by the tactical requirements of the Divisional Commander, E by whatever explosive was to hand (complicated at times by having to use more than one explosive and thus having to do several separate calculations).  It all came down to needing a good estimate of S, and this became a major problem when, in 1916, the mining war moved deep underground, not a few tens of feet, but more like a hundred feet, thus involving different strata with different characteristics and different S values.  In reality, the theoretical calculations could produce unacceptable errors: the mine at Ontario Farm produced a negligible effect in terms of a resultant crater,  whereas the Somme mines produced eye-watering effects which must have shaken the Engineers almost as much as the enemy, as witness ‘blue on blue’ casualties to our own troops.

 

The official Royal Engineer documents on the 1917 mining offensive are at the National Archive, Reference WO 153/ 909.  They include maps, cross-sections and a few comments on the efficacy or otherwise of their efforts, and there is a suggestion that more subtle and accurate values for ‘S’ were attempted than the basic value for clay, 1.5.  For example, the comment against St. Eloi is that ‘2.0 should have been used rather than 1.7’, whereas 1.7 in the 1923 reference is for hard chalk!   In each worked case, however, I have used the 1923 equation and state of knowledge. At Table 1. the results of 31 military mine explosions are shown, ranging from the early Chatham experiments to the Western Front on the Messines Ridge and the Somme and finally, as an extreme and inadvertent case, the accidental explosion at RAF Fauld in 1944. The Fauld tragedy turned a vast underground bomb dump into a large hole in Staffordshire.  The explosion had many of the characteristics of  a military mine, and it is instructive to examine how the RE formula performs with such extreme cases.  Fauld, however, is not exactly analogous: although individual munitions had an E value in excess of 3, deliberate tamping had not taken place, and the explosion, from some of the evidence, was a series of events rather than one, borne out by the non-circular nature of the crater.  Given that the RE formula of 1923 produces good results if ‘S’ is known, and that the Fauld bomb dump was in a very hard medium with an ‘S’ value of about 2.5, it can be inferred that only about half the 3500 tons of bombs exploded (the rest probably ‘burning’ over a few seconds) and then only with an efficiency approximating to gunpowder.  Putting these assumptions in the equation produces a close approximation between actual and theoretical amounts of explosive.

 

Finally, at Figure 1. the results of comparing the theoretical charge Ct. (inferred by working back from the actual crater dimensions using the 1923 equation) with actual charge Ca. are shown as a scatter diagram.  Because some charges were very small, and Fauld so massive, both axes are necessarily presented as logarithmic scales.  This tends to obscure the fact that in many cases the disparity between actual and theoretical charges varied widely.  Suffice it to say that use of the formula to calculate the charge to excavate a garden pond cannot be recommended.

 

David Langley,  Baston,  2005.
Table 1.

Thirty-One Craters analysed.

 

 

Name of crater

 

Explosive power factor compared with black powder:

 

E

 

Actual explosive charge in equivalent black powder:

 

 

Ca. lbs

 

Depth below surface of charge:

 

 

 

L ft

 

Radius in feet of crater:

 

 

 

 

R ft

 

Ratio  R/L

 

 

 

 

 

 

N

 

Geological factor ‘nature of soil’

 

 

 

 

S

 

Theoretical charge to produce actual crater, in black powder

 

Ct. lbs

 

Ratio Ca/Ct [where 1.0 is perfection, less than 1.0 is a very effective explosion]

 

WO153/909 notes

Chatham 1

1

900

15.8

24

1.5

1.4

1542

0.6

 

Chatham 2

1

1000

10.3

22

2.1

1.4

1094

0.9

 

Chatham 3

1

1000

12

23

1.9

1.4

1260

0.8

 

Chatham 4

1

1000

14

26

1.9

1.4

1885

0.5

 

Chatham 5

1

800

14

28

2.0

1.4

2219

0.4

 

Chatham 6

1

200

7

11

1.6

1.7

179

1.1

 

Chatham 7

1

414

9

15

1.7

1.7

447

0.9

 

Chatham 8

1

250

8

16

2.0

1.6

499

0.5

 

Chatham 9

2.5

500

9

18

2.0

1.7

724

0.7

 

Hill 60 left

3

152700

90

95

1.1

1.5

124439

1.2

 

Hill 60 right Caterpillar

3

210000

100

130

1.3

1.5

279213

0.8

 

St Eloi

3

298560

125

88

0.7

1.5

157405

1.9

‘wrong S value, should have been 2 not 1.7, detonators not central’

Hollandscheschuur 1

3

90000

60

91

1.5

1.5

90812

1.0

 

Hollandscheschuur 2

3

44220

58

53

0.9

1.5

24669

1.8

 

Hollandscheschuur 3

3

52000

55

71

1.3

1.5

44845

1.2

 

Petit Bois 1

3

88200

70

88

1.3

1.5

86872

1.0

 

Petit Bois 2

3

88200

57

109

1.9

1.5

146390

0.6

 

Maedelstaede Farm

3

280400

100

103

1.0

1.5

160120

1.8

‘detonator circuits not balanced’

Peckham

3

251000

70

120

1.7

1.5

200875

1.2

‘detonators not central’

Spanbroekmolen

3

273000

88

125

1.4

1.5

238946

1.1

 

Kruisstraat 1 plus 4

3

148100

57

118

2.1

1.5

184992

0.8

 

Kruisstraat 2

3

90000

62

109

1.8

1.5

147962

0.6

 

Kruisstraat 3

3

90000

50

101

2.0

1.5

117562

0.8

 

Ontario Farm

3

180000

103

100 *

1.0

1.5

156057

1.2

‘heavy overburden of saturated sand & too few detonators’

Trench 127 left

3

108000

75

91

1.2

1.5

99368

1.1

 

Trench 127 right

3

150000

76

105

1.4

1.5

143170

1.0

 

Trench 122 left

3

108000

77

97

1.3

1.5

117860

0.9

 

Trench 122 right

3

120000

58

114

2.0

1.5

169345

0.7

 

Hawthorn Crater Somme

3

121800

75

150

2.0

1.6

411012

0.3

 

Lochnager Somme

3

162000

55

135

2.5

1.6

299367

0.5

 

RAF Fauld 1944 +

1

3500000

100

250

2.5

2.5

2973168

1.2

 

*  Ontario Farm crater is flattered by this figure: there was no crater to speak of, only disturbed ground.

+ See text for the assumptions made, e.g although individual munitions had an E value of at least 3, the explosion was manifestly very inefficient.

Table 2.

 

 

Values of S

 

Taken from the 1923 edition of Demolitions and Mining.

 

Light sandy soil in ‘made ground’, embankments etc.                    0.7

Heavy clay soil  in ‘made ground’, embankments etc.                    0.9

Soft sand                                                                                                   1.0

Hard sand                                                                                                1.1

Gravel                                                                                                       1.3

Sandy loam, clay                                                                                     1.4

Blue clay                                                                                                   1.5

Soft chalk                                                                                                  1.6

Hard chalk                                                                                               1.7

Soft rock                                                                                                   1.8 to 2.5

Hard rock or masonry                                                                            2.5 to 4.0                       

 

NB. The reference stresses the variability of S according to the lie of the strata, amount of water present etc.  Previous official publications gave differing values for S and it is not possible to state which values were used for specific mining projects.

 

 

 

 

Table 3

 

The official formulae for calculating charge needed for a given effect.

 

1900.     Common.           C = [S/10] x L3

 

1900.     Overcharged.    C = [S/10] x {L + (0.9 x [R – L]){3 :a variant which takes into account the radius being larger than Line of Least Resistance, L.

 

1923.                                  C = S/10E  x L3  x [√(1 + N2) – 0.41]3 :a version where ‘E’ was defined as explosive factor (gunpowder = 1), and where N = radius of crater divided by Line of Least Resistance.

 

 

Table  4.

Values of E

 

This is an approximate hierarchy by power, most powerful at the top, gleaned from many sources, and necessarily liable to error.  Those taken from official sources are in bold.

 

EGDN nitroglycerol

Blasting gelatine

PETN

HMX

Nitroglycerine

RDX

Ammonal                                       3.0

Sabulite                                          2.9

Amatol

Torpex

Amatex

Minol

RDX/ TNT 60/ 40 (cyclonite)

Blastine                                           2.8

Permite                                           2.6

Gun cotton dry

Alumatol                                        2.5

Amatol                                            2.4

Perdite                                            2.3

Donarite                                         2.1

Tetryl

Dynamite

Trinitrobenzene

 

Gelignite

TNT /trotyl

Picric acid/ lyddite

Tri-nitro-anisol                             1.7

Guncotton wet

Baratol

Service black gunpowder           1.0

 

 

 

Figure 1.

 

Natural logarithms of ‘actual charge’ Ca. [horizontal scale] against ‘theoretical charge’ Ct. of 31 craters.

 
 

 

 

Sources.

 

1.           Tunnellers.  Captain WG Grieve & B Newman. London 1936, reprinted Naval & Military Press c 2002.

 

2.           War Underground. A Barrie, Frederick Muller Ltd 1962, reprinted WH Allen & Co. London 1981.

 

3.           The Work of the Royal Engineers in the European War, 1914-19, Military Mining, Secretary, Institution of Royal Engineers, W & J Mackay Ltd, Chatham, 1922.

 

4.           Beneath Flanders Fields, P Barton, P Doyle & J Vandewalle, Spellmount Ltd, Staplehurst, 2004

 

5.           Instruction in Military Engineering Part IV,  Mining and Demolitions, War Office, 1900

 

6.           Military Engineering (Part IV,) Mining and Demolitions, War Office 1910 revised to 1912

 

7.           Military Engineering (Vol IV,) Demolitions and Mining , War Office 1923.

 

Also consulted:

 

The Day the Dump went up by Mark Rowe, , Mark Rowe 1999.

 

After the Dump went up by Mark Rowe , Mark Rowe 2000

 

Proceedings of the Court of Inquiry investigating the explosion at RAF Fauld 27th November 1944., Staffordshire County Library item SHA 140.

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Fattyowls
On 02/06/2019 at 19:12, Muerrisch said:

An article that I wrote for Stand To!

 

Grumpy, above and beyond the call of duty; this will help with the homework for generations.

 

On 02/06/2019 at 18:48, towisuk said:

At the Birdcage there is another THREE unexploded mines......The one of the four that blew in '55 is the most easterly one (right)

 

Excellent Tom, I'd seen the top map before but on checking my photos from when I last visited with Marilyne I find that I might just have photographed the area; this one is taken with the northernmost mine behind me (I think) looking over Factory Farm, which would put the 1955 explosion on the extreme right of the picture. But of course with my talent for leaving key points on the Western Front just out of shot that may be wishful thinking........

 

Pete.

 

279395210_Point122orFactoryFarmagain.JPG.61956b123d4f686ec8dba05b70dd6eec.JPG

 

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Doug504

This thread about possible mines in situ brought to mind “The Dump” at Hill 60. Bit off this area, but when reading 171 Tunnelling Companies War diary it mentions mining “the dump” at Hill 60. Diary entry for 9th May 1915 as follows,

 

Decided to mine “The dump” behind trench 137 + 36 and have charges ready to be fired after possible occupation by Germans, in order to destroy artillery observation station and ????? which are certain to make use of the mound.
It was arranged to drive gallery from rear into the dump and place 1000lb of gun cotton in two charges. Firing by electric and by fuze.

 

When in the area I often wonder if this charge was removed, although being guncotton it is unlikely to be viable even if left in situ.

 

Doug8AB4E3A0-12C4-4BE0-9023-24E3A3BA289E.jpeg.afe7cd36a47fb721aed0a28aa2c5c24f.jpeg

 

 

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Don Regiano

support?

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walbeer
On 02/06/2019 at 20:05, Fattyowls said:

Merci beaucoup @walbeer il est bon d’obtenir la confirmation de l’expert local.

 

Pete.

Voici une photo quelques jours après l'explosion.  Walbeer.

cratère de la mine juillet 55.jpg

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Marilyne

Thanks for tagging me in this, Fattyowls.

It's been some time since I visited my documentation on the Messines mines… and even longer since I was there, but the topic is still interesting.

The cow certainly died painlessly, that's the most important.

Thanks to all others for the information.

But it's even more interesting to think about the fact that some mines are still there… what's the probability of them still exploding today?? And how??

This one was triggered by lightning striking nearby. What could eventually trigger the remaining mines to blow??

 

M.

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