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Is selling Somme Relics legal?


hillgorilla
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Met a guy 2 weeks ago on Somme who had bragged about hammering the fuse off a very large shell even tho it was live! He is now moving to The Somme area to live so should be interesting if he finds anything in his garden!

Tony

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Tony,

I wonder if the new neighbours have been warned that the incomer is likely to make a replica Lochnagar across all their gardens?

Personally I never cease to be amazed at the blase attitude the Somme farmers display when they make yet another find, but they are used to it aren't they?

I would be wanting a turbo charged tractor and would be ploughing my furrow in the opposite direction!

What is it they say about African safaris?

Take only photographs and leave only footprints?

Youre not kidding. I've heard too many horror stories to be bringing back ordnance of any description.

It reminds me of a corruption of the range saftey declaration at the end of the days firing.

"I have no live rounds or empty cases in my possession, Sir"

or

"I have no rockets in my pockets, or shermuly's behind my g****s, Sir"

Cheers

Nigel

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I totally agree, I remember the first time I went to the Somme (in about 1985), and i niavelly picked up a shell from the side of the road and trundled towards my Dad, he was explosive in his nature for me to gently put it down. I then was niave, as I appreciate some people are, but to continue searching for items as people do beggers belief. If people saw at first hand what ammunition can do to a person, I wonder whether they would still dig it up in woods, or place it in the back of the car.

Like any battlefield through history there has been scavenging (at Waterloo it was the teeth they went after), but what it comes down to, is respect. There are still remains out there, which deserve to be treated well and there are still close relations of these men alive. Would we tolerate the selling of items which came from this country?

Hillgorilla

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Met a guy 2 weeks ago on Somme who had bragged about hammering the fuse off a very large shell even tho it was live! He is now moving to The Somme area to live so should be interesting if he finds anything in his garden!

Tony

Let me know who he is then!!...altho he probably wouldn't find a house here, seems the farmers are buying them. Odd because the farmers all seem to be of Belgian extraction.

Mick

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".....when will people realise that ordnance that was designed to kill, still can and sometimes does.

take a photo and leave well alone....."

Good Advice, why risk it?.....

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Personally I never cease to be amazed at the blase attitude the Somme farmers display when they make yet another find, but they are used to it aren't they?

I would be wanting a turbo charged tractor and would be ploughing my furrow in the opposite direction!

Hello,

I understand but for farmers living and plowing the battlefields (my family does), finding relics; amunition, shell fuse is usual, as you said, so the concept of danger is not the same as people who doesn't know that.

There is many shell in every farm on the battlefields area, so it should represent more than hundreds and hundreds tons of muntions !

And accidents are rare, it doesn't mean that it is not dangerous, because it is, but we have no choice.

Every year, we sort potatoes in the family farm: separating good potatoes from bad, stones... and shells.

Do you remember a few weeks ago a woman living in Italy and coming from the supermarket has found a grenade in his potatoes bag ?

They 've talk about on TV, magazine,...well; potatoes were coming from France !

:)

Sly

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  • 2 weeks later...
Inprinciple all battlefield sites are protectd unless the Prefet, etc decide otherwise. You need a permit to start digging up even your own land in an archaeological dig.

You need a permit also in the UK.

I will say this before and i will say it again.....i think it should be made illegal to dig up or take anything found on a battlefield to sell. Its a place where many of our ancestors were killed and it is a sacred place. If any finds are retrieved, i believe that they belong in a museum where everyone benefits from it, and not stuck on ebay for someones private collection.........i rest my case *sighs* :rolleyes:

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. If any finds are retrieved, i believe that they belong in a museum where everyone benefits from it, and not stuck on ebay for someones private collection.........

Until, that is, the museum decides to sell them! ;)

Dave

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I saw something somewhere on the lines of "leave only footprints,take only memories" This sounds like the best advice to me!

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Is selling Somme Relics legal?

It may not be illegal, but it strikes me as immoral

"leave only footprints,take only memories"

I like that B)

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It's supply and demand.

If no one bought them, nobody would sell them and so nobody would go around metal detecting.

IF YOU BUY THIS STUFF YOU CAN'T MOAN IF ABOUT WHERE IT COMES FROM. You don’t want fakes so it has to be dug up (where did you think it came from). When the price is high enough for badges, shoulder flashes and buttons, they’ll be digging up the graves. And the sad thing is someone will buy them.

My father walked the battlefields in the 50's and 60's. He has photos of rusting helmets on fence posts, old SMLEs leaning up against trees, basically kit every where. All gone now that it's worth something.

And it's only worth something because you are prepared to pay for it. Stop buying and the trade collapses.

IMHO

Dave

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Just been looking at e-bay, several items for sale dscribed as-

"found at High Wood"

"found at Mametz Wood"

"found at Delville Wood"

It's a coincidence of other post on this forum of recent digging in those area isn't it!!

Mick D

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  • Admin

At Dud Corner 2 weeks ago there was a bloke digging a large hole in the field next to the cemetery, I don't think he was planting spuds.

Many years back I met a couple of guys at Mansel Copse. We got chatting, then one of them opened the boot and fished a (live) pineapple grenade out and asked me what it was ; I didn't loiter after that!

As Borderman said, it's supply and demand.

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Ripping metal items out of their ground context is always poor archeological practice. In the case of the Western Front , you might be denying someone a known burial place by the practice. Not much worse than this in my book. Those dreadful stories of human bones being thrown away once the valuable badges etc have been taken make my blood boil. I hope this is a rare event. I suspect it may not be.

That said, you will never end this trade in these fascinating items.

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It's supply and demand.

If no one bought them, nobody would sell them and so nobody would go around metal detecting.

IF YOU BUY THIS STUFF YOU CAN'T MOAN IF ABOUT WHERE IT COMES FROM. You don’t want fakes so it has to be dug up (where did you think it came from). When the price is high enough for badges, shoulder flashes and buttons, they’ll be digging up the graves. And the sad thing is someone will buy them.

My father walked the battlefields in the 50's and 60's. He has photos of rusting helmets on fence posts, old SMLEs leaning up against trees, basically kit every where. All gone now that it's worth something.

And it's only worth something because you are prepared to pay for it. Stop buying and the trade collapses.

IMHO

Dave

I could not agree with you more Dave, and if the collectors didn't by this stuff then most of this stuff would just simply perish, so i see it as preservation for future generations

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..........so i see it as preservation for future generations

Or grave robbing, dependant on your point of view of course.

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If any finds are retrieved, i believe that they belong in a museum where everyone benefits from it,

There could be rather an excess of spent ammunition rounds, I suspect.

I bought, for a couple of euros, a shellcase from the Museum at Albert. It's the only bit of debris I own. Once I cleaned it up, I could make out engraving which indicated it was a "souvenir de la guerre". Tourist tat even then, eh?

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I could not agree with you more Dave, and if the collectors didn't by this stuff then most of this stuff would just simply perish, so i see it as preservation for future generations

A bit of a weak case.

Ever been to a museum and seen Roman stuff (2000 odd years old). How quickly do you think a brass 303 case 'dissolves' back into the soil? How many Brodies do we need to keep in museums? How much better to follow a fight on the ground with the relics in place? It’s the future generations heritage that people are saving 'for the world' in their garden sheds and selling on ebay.

Tommys' Bar - found all that stuff in his back garden? Never came across bones?

I can’t stop the trade and indeed it won't stop but adults take responsibility for their actions. On a moral ground it’s wrong and if you don’t think so, here’s an acid test –

Receiving stolen goods is OK if you didn’t know they were stolen? Debate and then ask a grown up for the answer.

IMHO

Dave

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I visited El Alamein last year and whilst visiting the German Memorial, its (local) caretaker actually offered to sell me pocket watches, id tags and personal posession he had found locally! These were from both Germans and British -very distressing had I been a relative! Only the day previous, I met sons and daughters of Germans who were actually killed in the area!

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There will always be a trade for stuff like this and no battlefield is immune look at the stuff that is still coming out of Roorks Drift, and the Crimea and if it lying on the surface in where ever it will be taken. We might stand as pillars of respectability but I've got as probably most of you have souvenirs from Grandparents (2 18pd shellcases, and a couple of German ones) and have found the standard bits field walking.

It is the point where it becomes dangerous and there are lunatics out there who will load the boot with nasties and bang we have a problem in a ferry or the Tunnel.

So, its not the selling I am against but the certail lunatic items that end up in the unsuspecting hands of an innocent. I say increase prosecutions and hit the purveyors of the dodgy stuff!

Rob

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I am not entirely sure about the legality of this issue.

I suspect there may be problems in exporting cultural material (which is broadly defined in various documents and does include militaria) outside of its country of origin (however that is defined).

I will investigate and then return to you.

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I can’t stop the trade and indeed it won't stop but adults take responsibility for their actions. On a moral ground it’s wrong and if you don’t think so, here’s an acid test –

Receiving stolen goods is OK if you didn’t know they were stolen? Debate and then ask a grown up for the answer.

I am not entirely sure about the legality of this issue.

I suspect there may be problems in exporting cultural material (which is broadly defined in various documents and does include militaria) outside of its country of origin (however that is defined).

I will investigate and then return to you.

Simon as I said it's a moral issue, is it legal to receive stolen goods in the UK? Why not? If you don't know or care where items you buy have come from it speaks volumes about your character. I frankly don't care if a lawyer could get someone off for doing it. If you buy something that has clearly been taken from the battlefields recently you are in no position to moan when sites are robbed out, holes dug in woods or graves defiled. It’s a filthy trade and neither the seller nor the purchaser is clean. And the excuse that ‘it was lying around so I might as well take it’ is as pathetic on this forum as it would be a court of law.

If you field walk for finds rather than walk the battlefields that’s fine but those who do that can’t complain when the process is taken further. What do I think of those who pick up the odd nosecone or shrapnel ball? Not a lot really, the temptation must be huge to have a relic they can touch but it doesn’t stop there. Some time ago, I was with a friend who visited a forum member in France on our way to the Somme. He had quite a collection, very impressive, all found field walking “just need good eyes, know where to look and practice blah blah...”. As we left we both noticed the metal detector in the corner of the kitchen.

As I have said I can’t stop the trade but I hope I have enough character to be against it and take no part in it.

Dave

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