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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Only a door stop!


Gunner Bailey
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oh man id love to see the gas report in english, that looks amazing reading

lee.

very good response to the original thread here guys, i really would love to come over to france one day and actually see the ordance i hear so much about, in a way it really is history beneath our feet, yes i know it kills as an ex squaddie i dont need to be told this but still at 36 years of age it fasinates me so much to see this leathal weaponry of yester year. and i dont mean that in a morbid way more of a respectfull way after all i have used and seen modern explosives on the battlefield and belive me one year old or 90 these things were desgined to kill and still do so,and need to be treated with the reverence and respect that they were made for.

regards

again

lee

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Lee

I'm off to the Somme today. If I see any shell piles I'll take some photos and post them on my return.

Gunner Bailey

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For Lee,

Near the Bluff (Ypres)

Once unearthed by farmers, and getting recovered by grass again...

German 77 mm and British shells, in the middle a Mills handgrenade, at the right a British 'Toffee Aple',

Regards,

Cnock

post-7723-1215439546.jpg

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Found this pile last week, really out of the way location. Looks as though some of them have been there quite a while.

The larger ones measure about 26" - 28" in length and 9" diameter. Interesting door stops!

2653491830_f4c5b1f314_o.jpg

John

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Excellent photo, yes some would indeed make great doorstops. Always good to see evidence of the removal of the copper driving bands (big shell) by some brave soul. I can imagine them sat astride and giving it a good whack with hammer and chisel. Pity no photos of this traditional pastime exists! Where was the photo taken, not that I have any intention of going there and taking a few souvenirs.

Norman

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Fair point Tom, but I would lay odds on that particular one being manually removed. The size of the band would have been a far too great temptation.

Norman

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Yes, You would need a good look, although the marks of the chisel will be fairly obvious. Fellahin in Egypt were still at it in the fifties. Every now and then, out in the desert would be heard a big bang.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just got back from my holidays and have a photo of more door-stops.

I was walking the Verdun battlefield of Le Mort-Homme and whilst in the old German lines facing Mort-Homme found a few French 75's literally lying on the ground. A short while later I found a forest worker walking along with a a 75 in each hand. He was collecting them for the next visit by the EOD team. I took him to some I'd seen and we carried them back to the pile. They were mainly percussion fused and some had already had copper bands stripped off.

I left him to it and carried on.

Gunner Bailey

post-8629-1216535344.jpg

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amazing photos, thanks very much for taking the time to post them for me to look at, i really must get over one day to tour the battelfields.

incredible isnt it the amount of ordance still coming up, it just boggles the mind when they tell us of the "stats" of so many million rounds fired etc, now it sort of comes to light that heck we know millions went bang but by god millions? hundred of thousands?, didnt and they are all coming to the surface decades later and still lethal.

cheers

lee

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We know that millions of rounds were fired. We have only vague ideas of the proportion which were duds. Also, in the mobile fighting in 1918, large amounts of ammunition would be lost in retreat by both sides. Something which I have wondered about is how much ammunition was lost in dumps. Unless ammunition was stored on hardstandings of some sort, in bad weather the bottom row of a pile of shells would be pressed into the ground. If there was a move forward, I wonder if those shells would be dug up and carried forward?

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I have never seen or found unfired shells.

Any more pics of Verdun going on the site John?

Mick

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This was one of about ten found in a field by the Diggers last year. None of which had been fuz(s)ed

regards

John

2708835039_cd73199e6a_o.jpg

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I have never seen or found unfired shells.

Any more pics of Verdun going on the site John?

Mick

Hi Mick

I could do. I'll have to get slicker at reducing the file sizes!

John

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We know that millions of rounds were fired. We have only vague ideas of the proportion which were duds. Also, in the mobile fighting in 1918, large amounts of ammunition would be lost in retreat by both sides. Something which I have wondered about is how much ammunition was lost in dumps. Unless ammunition was stored on hardstandings of some sort, in bad weather the bottom row of a pile of shells would be pressed into the ground. If there was a move forward, I wonder if those shells would be dug up and carried forward?

I have a 18pdr shell that was dug up unfired. I bought it from a dealer who got it from someone near Ypres. He had a few. They were 'kindly' defused by an off duty EOD man and there was a batch sold off. This was about 5 years ago but they are rare. Note the perfect drive band.

(Please note, this shell can be safely used as a door stop!)

Gunner Bailey

post-8629-1217230215.jpg

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wow that is a beautiful shell gunner bailey, very lucky to own such an object

lee

Yes Lee, very lucky to be in the right place at the right time. They ain't making these any more. It was £35. A bargain now.

Gunner Bailey

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We know that millions of rounds were fired. We have only vague ideas of the proportion which were duds. Also, in the mobile fighting in 1918, large amounts of ammunition would be lost in retreat by both sides. Something which I have wondered about is how much ammunition was lost in dumps. Unless ammunition was stored on hardstandings of some sort, in bad weather the bottom row of a pile of shells would be pressed into the ground. If there was a move forward, I wonder if those shells would be dug up and carried forward?

Hello, Tom -In his novel EDUCATION BEFORE VERDUN, Arnold Zweig mentions how German support troops searched former German artillery positions for buried unfired (live) shells that the gun crews had used as foundations to stablize very muddy gun pits. [The shells thus salvaged could be cleaned and reissued for use.] Zweig actually served at Verdun, so I suspect that his account of such use of unfired shells as gun platforms might be true, at least in some areas. If so, it boggles the mind to think of what still remains in the ground! Regards, Torrey

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Hi Torrey, I read Education before Verdun and that got me thinking of my experience on building sites before mechanical handling. Bricks were unloaded by hand from lorries as were bags of cement. Unless stacked on scaffold boards, which was frowned upon by the scaffolders, the bottom bricks and bags disappeared into the ground after rain. I figured soldiers would be no more careful with shells and would be no more keen on salvaging them than we were with our bricks. I also got to thinking of a battery in a fluid situation of retreat or pursuit. When given the order to move, how worried would they be about the odd round lying on the ground.

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Hello, Tom -In his novel EDUCATION BEFORE VERDUN, Arnold Zweig mentions how German support troops searched former German artillery positions for buried unfired (live) shells that the gun crews had used as foundations to stablize very muddy gun pits. [The shells thus salvaged could be cleaned and reissued for use.] Zweig actually served at Verdun, so I suspect that his account of such use of unfired shells as gun platforms might be true, at least in some areas. If so, it boggles the mind to think of what still remains in the ground! Regards, Torrey

Hi Torrey

This is interesting in that the Germans used wicker carry cases for their shells, whilst the British used boxes (rather like Champagne cases). I think the French carried theirs in a boxed limber trailer.

The wicker cases would be a suitable 'gripping' shape for the earth so it makes sense.

Gunner Bailey

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  • 2 weeks later...
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

Nigel, you do not have to mess with ordanance to be injured. A couple of years ago at Newfoundland Park, a small French boy touched the electrified fence which prevents visitors straying off the paths. He was felled to the floor and they had to summon an ambulance. What a place to have such a fence.

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People have been allowed to roam freely over Newfoundland Park for years, the fencing off of the areas is recent and to stop erosion not explosion. I thought only the inner fences were connected.

mick

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When I visited Newfoundland Park, the outer fence was definately not live.

Mick

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  • 3 weeks later...

Some more door stops! Taken of yours truly at Mr. Becquhardt's 'Peace Museum" Croonert Wood circa 1982-3. Hopefully all properly defused. All gone now at any rate along with his Museum. Cheers, Bill

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