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towisuk
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Reading the of the Durand group activities I came across the fact that 25 mines were laid in the Messines Ridge area and only 19 fired.

Subsequently 1 other was detonated by a thunderstorm in July 1955. does anyone know were the other 4 unexploded mine charges are and their location??

post-5284-1157110563.jpg

The map is from the Durand groups site (many thanks)

regards

Tom

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I probably am not quite understanding something here, but presumably the remaining mines are the ones coloured in blue and marked as not having been fired in the map posted above.

Jon :huh:

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Jon is correct. Peckham was lost owing to an inrush of running sand. Petit Douve lost owing to enemy action. The four at the Birdcage not used for tactical reasons & the southernmost one went off in 1955.

Simon

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Thanks Jon & Simon,

I understand the fact that the unexploded mines are marked on the map I posted

what i was wondering is .............does anyone know the EXACT locations of these underground mines//

i.e. what is directely above them ? I was given to understand that they were "lost"

regards

Tom

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Actually this just dawned on me... the mines that were lost, did that happen before they were armed? Meaning could they be totally harmless (from an explosive stand point) today because they were never filled with explosives?

Andy

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According to the Durand report 5 fully charged mines containing a total of 166,000lb of explosive remain!!!

Tom

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I can remember that there was a documentary on channel 5 upon this very subject a few years ago. They did find the exact location of one of the mines, underneath a Belgium farmhouse :o . Although I cannot remember which. I do always make a silent prayer every time I travel over Messines ridge, in case one of the mines decides that todays the day. I also make a point of telling everybody around me that annhilation is just one lightning bolt away.

Jon

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'Lost' is nonsense. These fully charged and primed mines are ready to roll, and their exact whereabouts are known, charted at TNA on the official documents.

For the nervous tourist, the blue dots are near enough!

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I have found an article that puts one of the remaining mines under the barn of la Basee Cour farm adjacent to the farm house. if thats correct that leaves 4 more to be "discovered"

regards

Tom

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So if their location is known and they are fully loaded why haven't they been disarmed? I guess at this point there might be a level of acceptable risk, but back in the day it would have seemed to have been a prudent measure to act proactively.

Andy

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Oh come on! We all need a little excitement in our lives! Also, the perfect ice-breaker at parties......"By the way, do you know that right under your feet..................."

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Peckham was 'lost' in the sense that it was impossible to recover owing to an inrush of running sand which broke through into the clay level.

La Petit Douve was 'lost' in the sense that recovering access to the charge would have alerted the Germans to its presence.

The four at the Birdcage were only 'lost' in the sense that they were forgotten.

I have posted plans of these mines from the National Archives on previous threads on this forum but I don't know if they are still present. The depth of these mines and the nature of the water bearing sands which overlay them means that recovery would be extremely expensive and also dangerous. These charges were very carefully waterproofed - the detonators and primers were sealed in bottles, the detonator leads placed in armoured hose and the explosives put into petrol cans covered with canvas coated in tar. Hence the perfect detonation of the Birdcage mine in 1955.

Regards

Simon

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The depth of these mines and the nature of the water bearing sands which overlay them means that recovery would be extremely expensive and also dangerous. These charges were very carefully waterproofed - the detonators and primers were sealed in bottles, the detonator leads placed in armoured hose and the explosives put into petrol cans covered with canvas coated in tar. Hence the perfect detonation of the Birdcage mine in 1955.

Four did you say......

post-1137-1157138121.gif

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It would seem that the great care in waterproofing the explosives and detonators which Simon commented on would be all the more reason to make sure that no one could be injured by the detonation of one the mines.

The farmer living in La Basee cour must have cast iron underpants!!!!

Tom

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The "Durand group" map:

Messines Ridge mining? : Strange map ...

What is shown is not the "Ridge" ( Believe it or not but Messines Ridge is not in Messines but 90% Wytschaete...

1. The mines were not blowing the Ridge. The Ridge is not there...

2. Looking for Wytschaete ? forgotten ? Wytschaete is 8 times Messines.

3. On the map Warneton seems to be a very small town. Wrong Messines is very small,

4. There was only 1 mine (not fired or lost Petite Douve Farm) at Messines

Poor geography...

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I've tried to find the plans that Simon posted on a previous thread about these mines but as yet no luck !

I'll keep looking

Tom

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Guest gumbirsingpun

a few weeks ago or so, a Turkish mine of 1915 discovered a little way off the coast was blown up in the dardanelles,

did you hear anything about it?

regards

tuna

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I've tried to find the plans that Simon posted on a previous thread about these mines but as yet no luck !

I'll keep looking

Tom

Tom

I can't find them either! I'll post them again sometime today.

Tuna

You must mean the fishy type of mine :lol:

Simon

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Sugest you all check out the DVD-Video "One Of Our Mines Is Missing",this should answer a lot of the questions asked in this thread :D

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Many thanks for the offer of reposting the maps Simon, I'll look forward to seeing them.

Regards

Tom

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Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I thought there were 21 mines at Messines, nineteen went off as planned, one got cooked off in a thunderstorm in 1955 and the last... Older books mention that it 'still lurks underground', others more recently published that it has been located +/- dealt with.

So there are extras, then. Where have they come from, data that were released after most of the older books we know and love came out, and the newer ones also have perpetuated the 21 mine story?

Someone should write a novel in which the Soviet invasion of Western Europe happened and a small group of heroes wins the war by sacrificing themselves to tunnel underground and detonate the last mine, on top of which the Russians just HAPPEN to have built their HQ...

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Here are two plans of the Birdcage mines and one of Peckham. The first shows the four Birdcage mines plus Factory Farm and Trench 122 to the north. The second is a mining plan of the Birdcage mines updated to the point where three of the four had been charged and tamped. The third plan shows Peckham. The mine covering the P of Peckham was the one blown, the other to the north east is the one lost owing to running sand and lies beneath the rebuilt farm.

The mines are at depths of 65-80 feet.

These plans are all from the National Archives WO153/909. I have put them on Image Venue so hopefully they should stay on the Forum long-term.

Simon

th_89863_Birdcage_TM_WO153_909_122_330loth_89873_Birdcage_WO153_909Res_122_356loth_89878_Peckam_TM_WO153_909_122_530lo.j

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Seems to be some controversy re these mines to which I will add my contribution;

Messines Ridge is the name by which the battles for the area are known therefore the map is correct.

Messines sat (sits?) on the Southern end of the Ridge which runs North to just short of St Eloi.

Wytschaete, at the time, was insignificant compared to Messines as was Warneton. Since Messines and Wytschaete were both totally destroyed by the end of the war subsequent development may have altered the relationships.

The mines were against strongpoints on the front line which was not on the ridge but in front of it. The second line ran along the crest of the ridge.

Peckham was not lost, Peckham Crater is a feature in the landscape today.

Petit Douve Farm was the one mine lost due to enemy action.

If there are remaining mines then you can bet there is occupation close by as the mines were designed to remove strongpoints ie occupied places. The German front line itself had been de-manned as was in poor condition by July 1917.

Doug

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