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The Dangers of Battlefield Digging

Article about: We've all heard stories of the dangers of battlefield digging. Unexploded ammo, mines, etc.... As a relatively new enthusiast, i would greatly appreciate some advice on detecting and digging

  1. #91
    TWS
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    Quote by Simonk View Post
    Some say don’t touch and inform the authorities and then we see videos of people handling them without much concern. Are they just lucky or is the risk lower than some say?
    Some explosives can become inert after so much time... others become unstable! The smart thing is to simply leave unexploded ordnance alone.
    Todd
    Former U.S. Army Tanker.
    "Best job I ever had."

  2. #92

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    Or they choose to explode all on their own.

    The Dangers of Battlefield Digging

    This was the aftermath of a WW2 aerial bomb exploding near Limburg in 2019. Locals woken by the sound of a meteorite hitting the earth later found it was a bomb that had detonated. Thankfully no one was hurt, but this does happen once or twice a year in parts of Europe.

  3. #93
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    Very interesting. What could be the actual cause for detonation of a device not tampered with?

  4. #94

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    As someone who actually is the authorities the reason for ammunition to function is normally down to the addition of an idiot. However on occasion the chemical decomposition can reach a state where it has created a reactive substance or something so sensitive that minor movement or disturbance causes it to function. I dealt with an incident where the percussion cap in a WW1 German 7.92mm Cartridge within a spigot mortar had mutated creating cupric azide. When replaced on the weapon the minor jolt was sufficient to cause it to function and it launched taking the mans leg off. He did live but cannot tap dance anymore!

    Other chemicals used can create Picrites that are really scary, the German WW2 Explosives are well known for this. We watch the mental pygmy's on social media and my advice to anyone who thinks copying them is a good idea is to write your name on as many body parts as you can in permanent marker so that my colleagues and I are saved the task of trying to figure which bit goes where!

    So in agreement with many of you, one simple rule - DO NOT TOUCH!

  5. #95

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    Quote by Simonk View Post
    Very interesting. What could be the actual cause for detonation of a device not tampered with?
    Corroded part suddenly gives way, vibration, exposure to air, bad luck. Take your pick (no that means take a choice not pick axe ) you simply do not know and can not predict so if in doubt keep your hands in your pockets. That way they remain attached to your arms

    It is not worth the risk and really unfair on those who might join the digger on his flight into low earth orbit!

    Regards

    Mark
    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

  6. #96
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    I liked the idea of getting a metal detector one day and trying my luck at some known WW2 battlefields, but know I’m not so sure. I might just settle for watching videos of others finding stuff - certainly the safer option!

  7. #97
    TWS
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    In 2001 I was visiting the friends of a colleague at their house in Berlin. They were in the midst of doing some modifications to their back garden and related to us how a police bomb squad had to come out and do a survey before they could change anything in their garden due to the nearly unimaginable plastering that Berlin had suffered both due to Allied bombing and the Red Army conquest of the city. It's taken quite seriously there and they could not move a single meter of earth before the bomb squad came out, surveyed, and signed off on what they wanted to do to their own garden.
    Todd
    Former U.S. Army Tanker.
    "Best job I ever had."

  8. #98

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    I have over the years attended far too many incidents where people have discovered this is a poor subject to be an enthusiastic amateur in. After doing this professionally for 42 years I am comfortable in most situations now, but still treat everything with the same respect and apply all the safety precautions that we insist upon.

    When I am digging on the WW1 battlefields as both an archaeologist and one of the only people authorised to conduct the EOD as well, on site my whole dig team have a strict 'No touch' rule and we safely and successfully work in some of the most heavily contaminated areas in the world. Actually when we are working some of my colleagues in both France and Belgium normally send some of their junior EOD Operators to observe and learn so I normally end up conducting lectures to them on the best practices and how to conduct them, as well as EOD in that unusual situation.

    I wish the law was stricter purely from a people not hurting themselves perspective but Western Europe is not too bad with only a few morons completely disregarding the rules. Eastern Europe is completely different and does create a 'digger' who generally is dangerous with regards to EOD although most consider themselves experts, (right up to the point where it goes wrong). The biggest problem is that the ability to recognise an item is only the first stage of EOD. Then understanding how the item works is required, understanding how it's condition or circumstances affect it and finally taking the full technical appraisal and translating it into a Render Safe Procedure, (RSP).

    It is possible to learn this but you do require a couple of years of courses and then several years of on the job tuition before you are really competent.

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