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Remembered Today:

Steel shelters in Shrewsbury Forest.


bierlijn
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Hi Forum,

I spotted a couple of iron/steel shelters dug into a bank in Shrewsbury Forest. One was collapsing and starting to disappear, but the other (see pic) was in good state. Do similar shelters exist elsewhere? I've other photos of them if anyone's interested.

Hugh

post-19252-1190148493.jpg

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Any idea what the measurements are/were of those shelters?

Could you post the other pics as well?

Roel

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Any idea what the measurements are/were of those shelters?

Could you post the other pics as well?

Roel

Hi Roel,

About half a metre wide and tall. Inside goes in just under a metre before mud and tree roots. Pressure from the bank above had pushed the entrance of the second one down like a staple into a piece of wood. The two structures are about 8 metres apart.

Hugh

post-19252-1190216487.jpg

post-19252-1190216495.jpg

post-19252-1190216501.jpg

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I have seen these before, they are WW2 and can be for Britain's secret army the Auxiliaries, unless you have something like an Ack Ack site nearby, in which case I am told they are a form of bomb/splinter shelter for sentries.

Gareth

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Hi Roel,

About half a metre wide and tall. Inside goes in just under a metre before mud and tree roots. Pressure from the bank above had pushed the entrance of the second one down like a staple into a piece of wood. The two structures are about 8 metres apart.

I expect they have been much wider originally?

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One of these shelters can also be seen in this topic. And yes they date from WW I.

http://www.forumeerstewereldoorlog.nl/view...ighlight=bunker

Photo's 3 - 6 are also in Shrewsbury forest...

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The construction is in overlapping sections, rather than a solid pipe. I think the front has been bent over by the weight of earth. It seems to have originally been a rounded, upturned V shape. The other shelter is a U shape and seems,well, newer. Here's a photo which shows the sectional construction of the older shelter.

post-19252-1190283765.jpg

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I've found the following reference, Lyn MacDonald in Roses of No Man's Land, p.244, quoting Quartermaster-Sergeant Gordon Fisher, 1st Bat. Hertfordshire Regt.:-

"I was in a little "baby elephant" hut - that's a little dugout of corrugated iron about four feet high. You could just sit inside there with your knees up".

Google search brings up the following reference to the Royal Engineers "Baby Elephant Shelter" and "Baby Elephant Dug-Out"

http://www.awm.gov.au/firstopac/bin/cgi-js...ject_match=FULL

And:-

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Story of the "9th King's" in France

by Enos Herbert Glynne Roberts

June 2nd.--The IV. Corps Commander visited the Battalion's

sector. The Battalion did considerable work in its own sector

digging rifle slits, and making baby elephant dugouts, besides

providing the Royal Engineers with the usual working parties.

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Elephant shelters came in a variety of sizes and were often used as a frame to be covered with sand bags, earth or in at least one example built by US Army Engineers, concrete. Unfortunately the small ones look very like one of the WW2 varieties of Anderson shelter (which may have been inpired by them).

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This may be of interest, extracts from an army surplus sale booklet dated 1919.

This was just one sale with 160 pages of army surplus of every description available - some of the quantities are mind boggling. A huge array of shelter material was included from small iron pieces as above to 100ft long sectional timber huts. I will just post some photos of the steel. There is page after page of this stuff - at one location alone over 30,000 steel shelters were up for grabs - each shelter had seven sections. You can still find plenty of this old 'elephant iron' on the Western Front; lying in woods, pieces in the fields or as shuttering for concrete pill boxes etc:

sux.jpg

surplus1.jpg

surplus2.jpg

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I'll take 20 pressed steel trough gutters please.

What aeroplanes are available?

Hugh

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Hugh,

Here is a scan of some aircraft for sale. You could also buy Whippet and MK1V tanks, various guage steam locomotives, 120 ft roadbridges and everything imaginable from thigh boots to pickaxes and anti-gas mask cloth to tins of Maplemeat. If people are interested I can start a new topic with some more scans - don't want to hijack your topic any more. ;)

aero.jpg

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Thanks Max, It'd be nice to think of people driving their privately owned MKIVs to work, but I suppose it ended up a scrap dealer's field day. I think it would attract interest as a topic on its own.

Getting back to the shelters, which fit the 'four feet high' huddle boxes described earlier, they are in the banked west side of Kranenbrugstraat. I'm guessing that this spent more time as a German front/reserve line position than a British one, but I may be wrong. Can anyone provide a map/potted history of the Shrewsbury Forest position? Was there any WW2 confrontation in the area?

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  • 8 years later...

I noticed in the WD of 419 Field Company RE (1 West Lancs FC of 55 Div) the entry for 10/05/1916:

"Work in shop as usual making rifle rests, small baby elephants, notice boards, grenade boxes" etc.

On 16/05/1916 the CE V1 Corps Park visited to see the baby elephants. He asked for a complete set of corr iron for the baby elephant.

This is the only reference I have seen so far in RE WDs to these baby elephants.

Brian

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I just found this topic. They seem typical German WWI shelters from 1917-1918 to me. If you want to know more about them, check out the temporary exhibition next year in the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 and the accompanying publication about German WWI constructions.

Jan

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I searched the Forums for "Baby Elephant" and found this thread. I then took the advice of Hugh in post 8 and googled away. Royal Engineers Elephant Shelter brings up a picture of a large one on the IWM site.

Brian

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I came across these two a few years ago (2008-9?) and photographed and recorded them on Linesman at the time (though they were a little more flooded at the time). Whilst I've since lost the location overlay I remember they corresponded to some German shelter structures on a contemporary British trench map. I had always presumed them to be a German equivalent of an Elephant structure.

Kind regards

Colin

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Steel shelters were used in their thousands by both sides. For instance, in 1917 alone the RE stores issued 24170 large and 21000 small steel shelters. The designs fall into 2 basic patterns....2 piece, with a central locking bar down the apex, or 3 piece, formed of 3 sheets which are connected 1/3 way up the arc. Will post some plans and examples if anyone interested and I can find them in my archives.

RE diaries are littered with references to erecting them, often known as Elephant pattern, English pattern, Champagne type, C type and others. There are still well over a hundred still to be found in France and Belgium. If you look at the majority of British, and many German, concrete constructions still to be found you will see they are formed over such iron linings.

How to tell their origin if found today? Either, carefully measure the corrugations and compare with original drawings. Or, more simply, find which way the opening faces. Facing east, probably German. facing west, one of ours.

Peter

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