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

Only a door stop!


Gunner Bailey
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hi Lee. Welcome to the forum!

If you strip a WW1 fuse I don't think you'll find any of the features you list for modern fuses. Certainly in the Type 80, 85 and French Beehives fuses I've stripped I've not seen any such features. Some of the rifle grenades have such things especially the German rifle grenade fuses and I think the No 3 Hales, but most seem pretty basic.

Gunner Bailey

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The sheer stupidity of people just blows me away (no pun intended).

Even over here in the States, I hear probably a half dozen or so reports every year about live bazooka rounds, mortar shells, HE rounds, and even bombs being found in someone's garage or attic. Pretty scary stuff, which is why I stick to medals and uniforms and never touch ordnance unless it's a bullet that's been obviously demilled. I'm much less likely to get maimed by an exploding tunic :lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Absolutely right Jeff. I should point out that the fuses I mention in post 51 are already disarmed!

Gunner Bailey

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

After WWI,

warning Flemish children not to touch explosives,

'death is watching You'

Cnock

post-7723-1211308655.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest tafski
Interesting that it should be specifically warning them against fuzes. Shiny brass things, perhaps?

Tom

i have heard many stories that families used to go out and collect war scrap such as fuse cones and drive bands shrapnell balls ect to supplement their incomes also youngsters to earn more pocket money so yes it is an intresting warning aimed at the young

out of intrest i wonder how many deaths after the war that could be attributed to scrap collecting ??????

tafski

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi,

The first time I went to Vimy Ridge, our guide told us that the woods in the area used to have sheep in them to keep the grass down because it was too dangerous to mow, as well as the ground being too uneven. Eventually the cost of replacing the sheep that were blown up was considered prohibitive and they were not replaced.

We we also told that only a few months earlier, a young boy out from England on a school trip was killed when he nipped over the fence into a wood to answer the call of nature - he wasn't a collector of this stuff. He apparently stood on something that had failed to go bang 73 years earlier. This was definitely not a case of better late than never.

A reminder if it was needed that the fence is there for a reason.

Cheers,

Nigel

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Keystone Two-Eight

You know, I can recall when I was stationed in Charleston,that a lot of urban renewal was going on in downtotwn, and that every now and then, as they renovated these houses, theyd find live shells lodged into walls from the naval bombardments during the Civil War.

I had also recently heard that the country with the most active bomb disposal unit to this very day is still Belgium. I had looked at taking a tour of WWI & II battle sites on a trip the wife and I are planning on taking (some day) to Europe, and this one site had a strict policy of staying with the guide at all times, to ensure our safety. sobering stuff.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Keystone. Yes, its strange how quickly one gets to be quite blase about ordnance in little piles by the side of the track and up against cemetery walls. It pays to be cautious though. We still get the occasional accident and they are generally fatal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It pays to be cautious though. We still get the occasional accident and they are generally fatal.

Yes I've heard of 3 fatal incidents in the last two years - two in Verdun and one in Belgium. One of the incidents involved an EOD team who were blown up moving some shells onto a truck for disposal.

You still see stupid behaviour from the locals though. At the market in Amiens there was a guy selling a whole box of German mortar rounds, still with the pins in, just as they had been dug up. Covered in mud and rust. No attempt to defuse.

Gunner Bailey :o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The first time I went to Vimy Ridge, our guide told us that the woods in the area used to have sheep in them to keep the grass down because it was too dangerous to mow, as well as the ground being too uneven. Eventually the cost of replacing the sheep that were blown up was considered prohibitive and they were not replaced.

We we also told that only a few months earlier, a young boy out from England on a school trip was killed when he nipped over the fence into a wood to answer the call of nature - he wasn't a collector of this stuff. He apparently stood on something that had failed to go bang 73 years earlier. This was definitely not a case of better late than never.

A reminder if it was needed that the fence is there for a reason

Hi,

:glare:

It's a legend, the sheep at Vimy ridge & Beaumont Hamel don't blow up ! (the sheep are clever enough not to manipulate the shells...) . Remember that it was possible to walk everywhere in Newfoundlandpark some years ago...

The red signs "No entry - non exploded ammunitions" are dissuasive.

Sorry but I don't believe at all in the story of the young boy jumping over the fence and killed, these are kind of stories told for tourists by some guides people...

Walking in a field is not dangerous!

People are still killed by ammunition (a French worker has died last saturday because of a WW1 shell) most of the time because they manipulate them, try to get the fuse, etc...

Last year 5 were killed in France and 2 men from the bomb disposal squad.

Sly

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Sly,

I didn't use it this time, but I would normally say that I'm happy to be corrected on a point of fact.

I hadn't heard of exploding sheep at Beaumont Hamel, but I take your point about Newfoundland Park. I couldn't see the authorities allowing people to roam freely if it could be dangerous.

Cheers

Nigel

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Strictly speaking, Sly is correct but since there are many people who do not know how to treat possible ordnance. i.e. it is a bomb ready to go off until you know better, to err on the side of caution makes sense. I have seen a visitor to the battlefields kick a mills bomb several yards to demonstrate to his wife how safe these things were. He was most upset when others on the tour remonstrated strongly with him. That is the behavior of a WW1 enthusiast who presumably should have known better. Any story told to persuade people to leave metallic objects alone is a good idea in my book.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To return to the point made about why these things 'could go off at any time'..

One thing of course to remember about these 'doorstop' stories is that they've passed through a journalistic process called firming up in which a sub-editor removes what they see as needless equivocation and language to increase the impact and readability of the piece. As in:

Journalist: "Was this shell dangerous?"

Major Brown "Clearly any munitions with the explosive charge still present cause a danger. In this case while the detonation system had been de-activated the main charge was still intact and, while normally this is very stable over time it degrades to the point at which it may spontaneously detonate. So for example a sharp jolt, extreme heat, or some other major change to it's condition could have caused it to detonate and that could easily have have resulted in death or serious injury. Civilians really shouldn't have munitions in their possession, however old they are."

After firming up

Unexploded bomb in family home

A critically unsafe shell from the first world war has been found being used as a doorstop in a family home in Loamshire. Army explosives expert Major Brown said "This was extremely dangerous and could have gone off at any time killing everybody in the house. All domestic ownership of military souveniers should be banned at once"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good point Andy. The reality is though that probably 99%+ of military souvenires (as opposed to stuff recently dug up on battlefields) are very safe and the biggest danger is dropping it on your foot. It's the 1% that may kill - like the rare live round featured.

Gunner Bailey

Link to comment
Share on other sites

....but how do we know that "probably 99%+ of military souvenires" are safe? The fact that the word "probably" has been used makes it a dodgy proposition , if you see what I mean. And where did there memento's come from in the first place?

TR

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Reading the interview, I believe the precis is a fair and accurate summing up. The main point is that civilians should not be in possession of munitions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

....but how do we know that "probably 99%+ of military souvenires" are safe? The fact that the word "probably" has been used makes it a dodgy proposition , if you see what I mean. And where did there memento's come from in the first place?

TR

Terry

My standpoint would be that in the last 90 years we have not had people being blown up by shells or grenades in their homes except (and I have researched this) in the periods immediately following both wars (seemingly around 5 years after hostilties cease then it dies out). After a small peak, all lethal stuff seems to be surrendered or disposed of. This is because most people are very sensible and do not want to live with live munitions. I have found instances of grenades blowing up when placed on hot cooking ranges (1920's) and even live grenades being thrown from trains (1940's), but this activity soon disappears and what is left is the safe stuff.

About 25 years ago I did some work on aircraft at the IWM in Duxford and one day the place had to be cleared because a live HE shell had been found in the breach of a naval 6 prd deck gun being cleaned up. This had been there for over 20 years in a navy depot. Thankfully nobody had freed up the trigger from many layers of paint.

As someone who shops in the British and French antique markets for WW1 items I can confirm that all of the old collectables I have found, seen, bought have been safe. It is only the odd idiot in French markets who brings freshly dug up stuff to sell, mainly rifle rounds, which the French don't seem to worry about too much.

Gunner Bailey

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The deaths in the Verdun area recently were in their homes, were they not? In the garden shed anyway. The two I know of were collectors and " experienced", " knew what he was doing". The American one again was at home by a very experienced collector.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The deaths in the Verdun area recently were in their homes, were they not? In the garden shed anyway. The two I know of were collectors and " experienced", " knew what he was doing". The American one again was at home by a very experienced collector.

The Verdun cases were extreme cases where both collectors had over 3 tons of unexploded shells each. In most cases the family heirloom, or bought souvenire will be a single item and will not have the same risk. I would not say that experienced collectors 'knew what they were doing'. Unless they have had professional EOD training they will be in danger (they could still be with EOD training of course).

You can't prove any arguement by quoting the worst case I'm afraid. The average collector will not have sheds full of unexploded shells.

Gunner Bailey

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've gotta say Gunner...whilst your practical knowledge of these matters is probably better than fifty of us, the postings do seem to suggest 'there's nothing harmful about WW1 ordnance..it's unlikely to go off!' Well, I for one would be reluctant to touch any of the stuff I've sen lying around and I hope to hell that any visitor to the battlefields (especially the new converts and less-experienced) take the established advice; TAKE PHOTOS BUT LEAVE WELL ALONE!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've gotta say Gunner...whilst your practical knowledge of these matters is probably better than fifty of us, the postings do seem to suggest 'there's nothing harmful about WW1 ordnance..it's unlikely to go off!' Well, I for one would be reluctant to touch any of the stuff I've sen lying around and I hope to hell that any visitor to the battlefields (especially the new converts and less-experienced) take the established advice; TAKE PHOTOS BUT LEAVE WELL ALONE!!!

I agree entirely. Any battlefield munitions found must be left where it is. This is a specialist job to clear and make safe. The people in Verdun paid a very high price for collecting such debris and it also took out two EOD people as well. Yes, take photos not risks.

What I have referred to in the post above is the vast array of items in the collectors and antique markets which from my experience over 40 years of buying / selling and collecting is safe. People do mix things up and that's where threads go off track.

Gunner Bailey

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was not really arguing and have no theory to prove. I simply pointed out what I took to be a relevant fact.

No problem with that Tom. All discussion is welcome.

GB

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Keystone. Yes, its strange how quickly one gets to be quite blase about ordnance in little piles by the side of the track and up against cemetery walls. It pays to be cautious though. We still get the occasional accident and they are generally fatal.

I'm always amazed by these stacks of unexploded artillery rounds.

Who has made the stack? Does the farmer carry over each round when it's turned up by the plough? Or have the farmers learnt the lessons of many years past?

Does the farmer call the police in these cases? It's surely no more safe for the local plod to undertake this task than the farmer?

So, are the bomb disposal teams called out? If so, why then leave a stack of these things by the side of a track where a coach will disgorge a party of schoolkids the next day?

Can you imagine a pile of unexploded ordnance being left for weeks or months at the side of a field here at home? The frequency and scale of the problem over all those years obviously accounts for this more casual attitude in France and Belgium, but it still seems so incongruous when you consider the burden of EC health and safety standards and regulation we so like to complain about!

Bryan

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...