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Computer based research finds US military dump in UK.

Article about: Following on from recent forum posts showing finds from US airfields and later further threads mentioning US military dumping sites, I thought I'd post details of how I discovered a site and

  1. #1

    Default Computer based research finds US military dump in UK.

    Following on from recent forum posts showing finds from US airfields and later further threads mentioning US military dumping sites, I thought I'd post details of how I discovered a site and the research involved. I'm not local to the area and therefore haven't visited so it's open to any forum member living near and prepared to visit.

    I first became aware of this site whilst reading the book FRIENDLY INVASION Memories of Operation Bolero (The American occupation of Britain 1942-1945) by Henry Buckton ISB 1-86077-433-4.
    It's a very interesting and informative book covering all aspects of life and interaction between the US forces and British during the US build up in the UK that lead to the invasion of mainland Europe on 6th June 1944 and later ending of the War.
    One section of the book I thought worth further investigation (pages 158 to 160) concerned the memories of Ron Green a school boy living in Norfolk at that time.
    During World War 2 an often overlooked but major problem faced by the US forces in Britain was how to dispose of their waste. Ron lived near Wymondham in Norfolk and had to walk along Chaple Lane into Wymondham to get to School every day. Along this lane were two large dry Gravel pits each around 30 feet deep. He recounted as a boy how a colony of Sand Martins (birds) dug out nests in the pits walls and Ron with his friends would often try to collect the bird eggs, being a popular hobby for boys at that time. Luckily for the birds, they chose the nest sites well due to the height of the cliffs he could never be reached.
    During the War the Americans heard about these pits and soon everyday a lorry would turn up to dump rubbish from the local airfields. The boys soon found they could get gum, chocolate and even comics from the drivers of these lorries, but when they left the lads would climb down into the pits hunting for anything of use.
    A particularily sort after commodity to find was airplane canopy glass from the cockpits and windows of Flying Fortresses (similar to perspex it was about 4mm thick). Often large peices were found, he also used recover and then take to school bandoleers of both used and occasioally live cartridges. Many large bomb boxes were also thrown into the pits some being recovered by the boys to make rabbit hutches. Even the local ladies got in on it and used to push empty prames to the site to enable then to recover and take away large quantities of US trash. Anything could be found amongst the dumped rubbish even unopened tins of meat.
    When the Americans left one pit was full to the top about 30 feet so Ron thought it a last chance to get at the Sand Martins eggs, but wading across the tins he soon found himself sinking like quicksand and struggled to escape back to the edge. But sadly for the birds the pits were finally covered with soil sealing all the treasures underneath.

    Below I attach a selection of the maps I found showing my research into the location, initially I didn't even know where Wymondham was. When I found its location, I then checked where it's local airfields were. You can see from the map several were close but Deopham Green was the cloest. Below I also show an aerial picture of the airfield taken during the war. Look closely and you'll even see the firing butts marked.
    Below this are included close up maps of the site with crosses were the pits were. To confirm the sites as correct I also visited the UK Environment Agency (website) and their historic landfill/waste tip maps, This also showed the tip but gives no further details of what refuse was actually dumped. This again ties in with WW2 US military tipping rather than local council refuse where detailed records were usually kept.
    Finally for reference are shown a couple of aerial pictures of the houses built on one of the pits. As you can imagine this does make me wonder 'do the owners know they're living above 30 feet of rusting tin, ammo boxes, parts of aircraft, field gear and ammo'.
    I hope this is of use to someone and if you do check it out, Good Luck with your search and please take some pictures.
    Happy hunting.
    LUCKYSTRIKE.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Wymondham Village.jpg   Local Airfields.JPG  

    Deopham Green.JPG   Zooming in.jpg  

    Land Fill.jpg   Close up.jpg  

    Normandy US stores inland from Utah.jpg   Aerial picture.jpg  

    Close up of house built on site.jpg  

  2. #2

    Default Re: Computer based research finds US military dump in UK.

    Ok....I say we hire a bus and get as many of us down there as possible.

    I am free anytime in January. Who's in ?



    relichunter

    PS SUPERB research !

  3. #3

    Default Re: Computer based research finds US military dump in UK.

    Hi relichunter..
    Sounds a good idea or perhaps one of the house owners needs a deep foundation digging for an extension. We could offer to dig it for free !!!!.
    Actually if I was going to try the site I'd be more interested in the other pit on the other side of Chapel Lane. At ground level you'll probably be able to see the lip of the former pit where the filling has settled over the years. Of course the other site worth checking is the aircraft fire butt marked on the airfield map, today its just a part of a field near the old perimeter track and a farm house. Perhaps a chat with the farmer would gain access and even a few relics he'd found.
    I hope someone does use the information because I'm sure with a bit of work a few interesting relics could be uncovered.
    LUCKYSTRIKE

  4. #4

    Default Re: Computer based research finds US military dump in UK.

    Ive just been following a gut feeling and think its paid off. I love the abilities of satellite images (Google Earth - Found me a WW1 Uboat last week) and I think the outline of said pits may be evident to see!

    Looking at your map and the positioning as well as these outlines that dont match the rest of the land in the surrounding area, I think it would be a great place to start.




  5. #5

    Default Re: Computer based research finds US military dump in UK.

    Hi Mugshot,
    Thats a superb peice of work, your finds are definately not the natural earth, from the book I took it that the second pit was to the left of Chapel Road and you have found a site there but I'm also very intrigued by the earth works North of the houses above the pond. That looks like the remains of a pit as well. If we could get hold of a pre 1940 map it would show the pits as they were. The best place for that would be probably be the Norfolk records office where ever that is (Perhaps Norwich). If someone local to the area could check that out it would be a great help.
    LUCKYSTRIKE

  6. #6
    ?

    Default Re: Computer based research finds US military dump in UK.

    Quote by relichunter View Post
    Ok....I say we hire a bus and get as many of us down there as possible.

    I am free anytime in January. Who's in ?
    Count me in!

    Excellent work!

    P.S. I own a bus.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Computer based research finds US military dump in UK.

    DonB

    Excellent ! You gotta drive sort of past my home town on your way there !

  8. #8

    Default Re: Computer based research finds US military dump in UK.

    I Googled the area today, the first picture shows how close Deopham Green airfield is to the tipping site. Second picture shows the airfield as it looks today, to me quite well preserved. I've marked the position of the firing butt with the red cross. The final picture is a close up of the firing butt area.
    LUCKYSTRIKE
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture deo 3.JPG   dEO 2.JPG  

    dEO 1.JPG  

  9. #9
    ?

    Default Re: Computer based research finds US military dump in UK.

    Quote by mugshot View Post
    Ive just been following a gut feeling and think its paid off. I love the abilities of satellite images (Google Earth - Found me a WW1 Uboat last week) and I think the outline of said pits may be evident to see!

    Looking at your map and the positioning as well as these outlines that dont match the rest of the land in the surrounding area, I think it would be a great place to start.




    The crop markings certainly give away that something is under that earth, and is preventing the grass/crop from growing properly. And this is certainly characteristic of a dump. I once went on a dig to uncover a medieval hospital and found a large amount of rubbish as well as old out-houses. Anyway, the soil was very much like this.
    Be careful though, as it is likely that alot of the crap from the housing development is buried in those areas.

  10. #10
    ?

    Default Re: Computer based research finds US military dump in UK.

    Quote by LUCKYSTRIKE View Post
    If we could get hold of a pre 1940 map it would show the pits as they were.
    A touch of thread necromancy here, but while I was going through some 1947 aerial photos of elsewhere in Norfolk I though I'd see if anything showed up....



    The pit underneath the housing estate appears to be well filled with debris, the continuation of the quarry to the north of the road can be clearly seen.
    Comparing with the modern photo directly upthread there is a large section of the debris-filled pit under grass south of the new houses.

    All the best,
    PB

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