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Pre D Day Canadian rubbish pit.

Article about: Like the finds lucky, i always especially like the bowls and cutlery of the sort. Wish we had places like this in canada! Regards, Finn

  1. #1

    Default Pre D Day Canadian rubbish pit.

    Living in the South of England I'm lucky to have plenty of WW2 sites to explore, particularly due to the large build up of forces prior to the invasion of Continental Europe and D-Day Normandy.
    Recently in a small wood used by Canadian troops prior to D-Day I found and dug out a small rubbish pit. I think I can say I made some usual finds.
    The first pit contained plenty of ash, showing it had obviously been burnt. There were a couple of old rusted chairs, lots of broken beer bottles, fragment of pottery and rusted batteries but nothing spectacular mainly dross. But I did get one or two items including a Naafi plate, a pick axe head, beer bottle, and fragments of khaki material and fragments of a thin black jumper. I also found several metal rods, threaded at one end with a wing nut on the other (see pic) if anyone can identify them please let me know.Sadly this pit wasn't as productive as I'd hoped, however I spotted the corner of a large black bakelite battery sticking out of the earth nearby.
    So I opened up another hole and immediately found in the top few inches two rows of three large batteries which were dated (on the bottom) either 42 or 43. After digging these out I noticed that below them there were yet more.
    I continued digging down and discovered my best finds, two more sets of batteries but these were still in their original wooden battery carry boxes, all still complete. It's amazing that the wood has survived so long underground. After a lot of precision digging I eventually managed to free them without damaging the wood. But the hardest part was actually lifting them out the hole because they're both extremely heavy. The cells are accumulator batteries similar to today's car batteries containing lead plates. So with one case holding three batteries and the other holding six slightly smaller ones its the equivalent of lifting around 3 car batteries at the same time so not easy. Anyway lucky for me I had my child's push chair in the car and was able to use this to wheel them out of the wood to my car otherwise I would have had to leave them there. I refilled the hole returning the site to how it looked before I dug, see pic.
    The batteries discovered near the surface would also have been in wooden boxes when dumped, due to the wooden fragments and handles I found with them but most of the wood had rotted away. So its remarkable that the lower ones were still intact, when you consider that they were buried in May or early June 1944.

    I've now cleaned them and am waiting for the wood to slowly dry out before painting them either with a mat varnish or waxing them.
    The better condition one has 6 battery cells with the manufacturers name and details of voltage etc painted on the front, sadly most of this has now gone but the date of manufacture has thankfully survived 1940. The second one is different having 3 larger battery cells the front has been engraved with the manufacture details and is dated 1942. There is also an electric socket mounted on it's side. Because the base was loose I took the wooden box off the cells and this revealed (on the bases) manufacture dates of 01 42. When the wood has dried completely I will repair this box sympathetically. For reference I include a picture of a battery box power supply in use on the beaches of Normandy.
    I also kept a couple of the smaller batteries and was amazing to find that it is still possible to read the label including WD and the date of manufacture July 1942. I also kept a broken one because it reveals the linen coated cell inside.
    Although the second midden was only small it contained no less than 15 of the larger battery cells, so I'm guessing was probably used by a Signal unit.
    The final find reflects the human history for me, an empty bottle of Booths Gin. I like to think of the Canadians passing a pleasant time drinking in the wood before shipping out for Normandy, but the end of May beginning June 1944 was fowl grey weather cold, wet and windy thoroughly miserable so perhaps it was drunk to shut out this depressing time and stay warm. I'll never know but it's certain that soon after it was drunk and dumped they shipped out for an uncertain future on the shores of Juno beach.
    LUCKYSTRIKE
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Pre D Day Canadian rubbish pit.

    Excellent finds LS.

    When I was reading your text I thought your wingnut poles might be barrel cleaning rods......however they don't look anything like that at all.

    Did the batteries still have acid in them ?

    You could sell the lead from the worst examples for quite a bit I should think

    Cheers

    Steve T

  3. #3

    Default Re: Pre D Day Canadian rubbish pit.

    Pics continued...
    LUCKYSTRIKE
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Pre D Day Canadian rubbish pit.

    Wow Steve, That was a quick reply I hadn't even finished posting. Only one of the battery boxes cells had all the caps intact and when I removed these two of the cells contained a small amount of liquid. Which I removed, the others had caps missing and were full of rain water. All emptied out to make them just a little lighter for carrying.
    The scrap mans a good idea but I don't think I could bring myself to sacrifice them being wartime dated. But space is the issue, I'm surprised my wife hasn't said anything yet with them drying in the spare room, she's usually very hot on spotting my latest accquisions.
    LUCKYSTRIKE

  5. #5
    ?

    Default Re: Pre D Day Canadian rubbish pit.

    very nice finds lucky .....makes me a little jealous not having any places to look for stuff like that here in canada about the best i get is living not to far from camp 30 to have a look at once and awhile

  6. #6

    Default Re: Pre D Day Canadian rubbish pit.

    Are the rods slightly taller than the batteries? They could be part of a hold down kit for a vehicle. There would be a cross piece with a hole on either end the rods would run through, the wing nuts holding it snug.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Pre D Day Canadian rubbish pit.

    Quote by bigfoot View Post
    Are the rods slightly taller than the batteries? They could be part of a hold down kit for a vehicle. There would be a cross piece with a hole on either end the rods would run through, the wing nuts holding it snug.
    you beat me to it, that what my guess was hold down rods.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Pre D Day Canadian rubbish pit.

    Hi Guys,
    Ive checked the length of the rods against one of the battery boxes and it is around 2 inches longer than the box, meaning an extra threaded inch at either end so as you stated probably was used for securing items to a vehicle. Im pretty certain your ID is correct, Thanks for that.
    I've now cleaned one of the rods up, it has a screw thread at both ends one end still retaining a wing nut. The nut is made of brass and is marked 7 which is probably the size, it still retains traces of allied green paint as used on vehicles during WW2.
    All the best.
    LUCKYSTRIKE

  9. #9

    Default Re: Pre D Day Canadian rubbish pit.

    "There were a couple of old rusted chairs, lots of broken beer bottles..."

    I was going to ask how you knew for a fact that this was a Canadian area...and you just described what it looks like when I go camping with my pals. Try looking for the 'back bacon' and 'maple syrup' ration tins, they can't be far.


  10. #10

    Default Re: Pre D Day Canadian rubbish pit.

    Hi Mate,
    Research told me that the area was a Canadian Camp prior to D Day although I haven't as yet found anything I can positively identify as Canadian.
    But its funny you should mention the bacon and maple syrup, I came across several old bones showing knife cuts where the meat was carved off and of course a lot of rusty old tins. So may be just may be, these contained the syrup.
    LUCKYSTRIKE
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture 26.jpg  

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