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Confusing Dig Find

Article about: Hi everybody, this is my first time on your site so if my etiquette is wrong or I make mistakes please feel free to correct me. Thanks. I have dug these up in a field (S.France) They are spr

  1. #1

    Default Confusing Dig Find

    Hi everybody, this is my first time on your site so if my etiquette is wrong or I make mistakes please feel free to correct me. Thanks. I have dug these up in a field (S.France) They are spread around a large area 10-20cms deep. I think I have identified them as part of french shell casing. The strange thing is that they appear to have all been blown apart as all I am finding is the heavy disc like end, and they have all been fired, or at least their firing cap has been struck. In these fields are also many small pieces of the 'casing tube'. As this field is located behind heavy coastal gun battery, is there a chance that these shells have been modified/ used as for example improvised anti personnel mines? I would appreciate any comments as I have asked around generally and I can't get an answer. So far I have found approx 40 of these. Thank you for your time. Regards, Francis.
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  2. #2

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    Bonjour Francis, and welcome to the WRF ;-)

    The cleaned up one is a WWI French 75mm shell (looks like they maybe all are), there is a quite a bit of info out there on deciphering the factory codes, I researched an ashtray made from one of these not all that long ago, here's a link to some info.

    Large calibre markings (The Western Front Museum)

    It looks to me, a guess, that these were blown up, either accidentally or on purpose?

  3. #3
    ILH
    ILH is offline
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    It looks, to my archaeological eye, to be impact damage rather than explosive damage so I'd suggest it is plough damage. This would also explain the depths you are finding them at.
    If there is a more concentrated area within the general scatter then that might suggest a disposal pit?

  4. #4

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    [QUOTE=francis;1515385]is there a chance that these shells have been modified/ used as for example improvised anti personnel mines?

    That was the first thing that came to my mind as well, according to your description...Southern France was lightly defended due to lack of resources and it is well-known that Shells were modified for static use...There is also a possibility of an exploded Ammo Dump (?)...Very Interesting find, thanks for showing and welcome to the Forum!
    cheers, Glenn

  5. #5
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    LUM = lumiere? Illumination round??
    Maybe less dangerous to blow up ? They look sort of burnt.

    Oz.

  6. #6

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    What first caught my attention is that they all are lacking their Primers, so it's looking to me like these shells were disposed of. Perhaps they were defectives,damaged, etc and just sitting around being dangerous and useless so they were destroyed deliberately.
    William

    "Much that once was, is lost. For none now live who remember it."

  7. #7

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    I agree with glenn. Exploded Ammo Dump. The US had 2 major ammo dump blown up by German agents during world war 1. I have seen pics of the aftermath. A great number of the shell casings distorted,blown into several pieces. There was loads of shell casing bases all over the place. The bottoms of course are more durable. I will try to find the pics4

  8. #8

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    Hi Larboard, ILH, Glenn, Oz, Wagriff and General Putnam. Thank you very much for your views and opinions. Hope you all had a good weekend. I just firstly want to apologise for delay in responding. It always takes me a bit of time to get back although I did read all comments pretty much straight away. I don't think it is plough damage as I have found several in woodland area as well and I have found allot of shell casings in the past that have been ploughed over the years and they are nothing like these, too uniform and even. Some of the shell ends with a bit of the edge left are slightly bowed outwards so I'm inclined to think they have exploded one way or another. Maybe I was a little misleading in my first post. Here are some more details: Location was SW France, specifically 10 kilometres north of Hendaye (Basque) region. there were originally 5 0r 6 large casements on the cliff edge that faced out to sea. Sadly only one remains as others have all fallen into the sea due to erosion. It was a huge German defensive position with a large area (located 500metres behind the casements) consisting of bunkers, tobruks, and all relevant support infrastructure. From appearances it sustained a massive bombardment of smaller ship fired ordnance as I have found approx. 100 various fuses from smaller shells (pic1) and found lots of exploded shells (pic 2-4) along with unexploded of the same. Not only that but the huge craters (now filled with bamboo 8 metres high) 6metres deep x 10 metres across and the total destruction of huge solid bunkers shows that several bunker busting size shells were also used. Strangely there is almost no small general stuff like rounds, personal items etc. which makes me wonder if it was close to the end of the war and was abandoned??? If anyone has any information or better still pics I would be very grateful. One item that turned up (pic 5,6) was interesting. Do you think underground water supply, or fuel? The pipe coming out appears to have a type of rifling inside, would this speed up the removal of a liquid? It clearly isn't to fire anything. There is a removable screw cap behind the bent pipe and the structure it is fitted too seems to be a huge curved storage tank. any way, I have uploaded a couple of shots from the area in case you are interested. Am I allowed to upload an aerial shot from Google Earth or this bad/frowned upon. Thanks again and bye for now. Francis
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  9. #9
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    The flat round things with a hole in the center may be "pusher plates" The were at the bottom of shrapnel rounds, and a hollow tube went down the center the was a powder charge below the pusher plate that was set off by the set fuse, and the center tube carriered the flame to the charge below it, pushing the shrapnel balls out.

    These are 2 British pusher plates with tubes, The smaller one is for the 18 pounder the larger for the 4.5
    The powder cup is also for a 4.5 and held the charge below the plate

    Just my thoughts

    Dean O
    Canada




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  10. #10

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    Hi Dean, thanks for your pics. Really interesting. At least if/when I find one I will know what I am looking at. Never seen these before. As for the discs shaped things I posted. These are definitely the end of French ww 1 shells as identified by the markings and pointed out to me by Larboard. I seem to have two choices here. Blown up deliberately ( or act of sabotage) suggested by Wagriff and General Putnam or they were used in an anti personnel capacity as a mine. Still open to more comments, now that I have given more details. Thanks again. This is a great forum. Unfortunately or fortunately there are so many interesting things on here I could spend days looking through the posts and pics. Is it possible for the primers to blow out from their holes if exploded? Just curious.

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