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Making lemons into lemonade at Verdun or perhaps, Porky’s revenge.

Article about: Greetings all, First, all items of interests were photographed, and left in place. Personally, I possess no interest in items, which remain illegal to remove from public lands and/or are pot

  1. #1

    Default Making lemons into lemonade at Verdun or perhaps, Porky’s revenge.

    Greetings all,

    First, all items of interest were photographed, and left in place. Personally, I possess no interest in items, which remain illegal to remove from public lands and/or are potentially dangerous as in UXO. No need to ask or to PM me as to exact locations of these items, if you stumble upon them on your own Verdun’s visit, then they are your potential ethical/hazardous dilemmas to address; not mine.

    A few weeks ago, I and a good friend, spent fifteen glorious days visiting WWI Battlefields in France and Belgium. We spent the majority of our time visiting military themed museums as many of them had, had their exhibition galleries updated since I had last visited in 2011. Fortunately, we did spend some decent time walking around various battlefields. And too, we really lucked out on having outstanding weather the entire trip.

    First up (below), this remnant of a narrow gauge rail track and steel sleeper (though, it could have well been cast iron as at the time, I did not care enough to find out), which was propped up just off the hiking trail. I assume the section was moved off the trail so as to keep it from puncturing the tires of the government’s vehicles, which regularly access these trails.

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    The above pictured rail and sleeper set up is exactly like the ones seen at the 2:20 mark (below):

    I had assumed they used wood sleepers in WWI (as viewed at the very beginning of the same linked video), but it appears that was not always the case.

    As we progressed along the trail, we moved into an area where thick woods bordered each side. In patches along the trail, there were spots of noticeably darker soil. These darker areas were where moss/grass had recently been overturned by wild pigs in search of food (truffles?).

    For the better part of the day, my friend was busy looking on the ground for some remnant of the war and without luck. Throughout our hike, I had repeatedly and authoritatively explained that these approved trails have been picked clean by decades of visiting tourists and all the interesting stuff remains hidden under a thick coat of leaves well-off of the approved hiking trails (in other words out of reach/bounds). Within seconds of finishing my latest cautionary commentary, she said, “hey, I found a hand grenade!” In fact, she had found not one, but two French Citron Foug modèle 1916 grenades. One appeared to have soil where the wooden fuze assembly would have been (pictured below left), but the other appeared to have a heavily degraded fuze assembly still in situ (pictured below right). While the likelihood/probability of a wooden housed fuze exposed to the elements 100+ years on still functioning is highly unlikely, yet UXO will always receive a wide berth from me regardless of its age. Though I am long-retired from my 28 years’ service as an Infantryman, that experience has provided the opportunity and life’s-lesson to view what happens to people who needlessly accept risk. As such, I prefer not too.

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    So I swallowed what little remaining pride I possessed and quietly (very quietly) took photos of each grenade. I had thought about verbally crediting the pigs for “finding” them, but I quickly (read: wisely) realized this subterfuge would not suffice (long-term) and I (heartedly) congratulated her on her unexpected wealth of discoveries. Who finds intact grenade bodies on major WWI tourists’ thoroughfares in 2017?

    Yes, yes I’m quite aware of the “iron harvest” and the effects of decades of freezing and thawing upon the soil continually pushing out objects. However, other than the occasional group of shells against a farmer’s fence awaiting the démineurs' attentions, I had not experienced this discovery in such a high pedestrian trafficked location. Just between you and me, I still believe it was the pigs who found them and boldly nudged them into plain view. I feel it was their means of seeking revenge for years of my dining on their not so distant relatives.

    Overall, it was a very rewarding visit and one that gave my companion hours’ of unspoken crow for me to feast upon. So in closing, before mentioning the low-probability of the discovery of any remnants of WWI on a well-traveled hiking trail in Verdun, make sure the pigs have not recently tilled the area, as they just may have it in for you too.

    Hmmmmnnnn, that does remind me I do need to pick up some bacon on my way home today.


    Last edited by MilitariaOne; 12-27-2017 at 09:40 AM. Reason: Fixed wording

  2. #2
    MAP is offline


    Nice Lance. Wish I was there
    "Please", Thank You" and proper manners appreciated

    My greatest fear is that one day I will die and my wife will sell my guns for what I told her I paid for them

    "Don't tell me these are investments if you never intend to sell anything" (Quote: Wife)

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