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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. #31

    Default Re: The Dangers of Battlefield Digging

    After many years of digging relics I have a good knowledge of the way things can change when in the ground, but even I can get very nearly caught out by making assumptions !

    Had similar thing happen to me regarding making a bad i.d. on an item........ found it in a field in Normandy, covered in mud, took it to be a radio part. ( battery )..... cleaned it up and noticed the flaming grenade marking coming through the dirt. rang my contact in Lux. Police who after taking dimensions rang me back with the news that it was the casing from a US Parachute flare, the spigot had been broken off leaving what looked like the end of a long US Radio Battery..... also gave me the news that it was easy to empty....... removed and kept the parachute and got rid of the rest........
    that was after 20 yrs or so, made me rethink a bit when picking up what looks like harmless stuff from the battlefields.
    There have been some horror stories coming out of Belgium these last few years of people being blown to bits or severely disabled messing about with live shells and grenades......never wanted one bad enough to want to take that risk.

  2. #32

    Default Re: The Dangers of Battlefield Digging

    Hi there, very interesting post here! I have located a handgrenade in my uncle's storage room in Crete where i am from! I am a bit afraid to touch it or include it in my collection in Athens by the fear of explosion! It is an Italian WW2 grenade! Do i need to fear or is there anything i can do or it is completely harmless? Please help me here...

  3. #33

    Default Re: The Dangers of Battlefield Digging

    You need to post a picture of it so we can be sure if it is sage or not. But my best tip is to call the authorities and have them check it out.
    Best Regards

    Vegard T.
    Looking for militaria from HKB 31./977, HKB 32./977, HKB 38./977 or militaria related to Norway

  4. #34

    Default Re: The Dangers of Battlefield Digging

    Thanks, as soon as i visit Crete again i will take pics to share here and hear what you have to say...

  5. #35

    Default Re: The Dangers of Battlefield Digging

    Quote by Steve T View Post
    Oh and by the way, you don't need to be on an old battlefield to find unexploded ordnance. It can turn up anywhere, at any time, as exemplified by a number of threads in this forum.

    Steve T
    I can vouch for that comment.
    One day a few years ago whilst at work, I got a phone call from my eldest son to the effect of, "Dad, dont come anywhere near............Ive just closed off the town centre!" I asked him why, he answers, "Just found a UXB!"
    The location of the UXB? In the grounds of the local SCOUT Group where they were having a clear up of the, overgrown, grounds prior to it being landscaped!!!

    I was on the ambulances at the time, he was/is a serving soldier, at the time, not long back from a tour of Iraq so he knew exactly what to do. Leave it alone, enforce a no-go zone and call the authorities!

    Regards etc

    Ian D
    AKA: Jimpy

  6. #36

    Default Re: The Dangers of Battlefield Digging

    Quote by Steve T View Post
    If you are in any doubt AT ALL about what a relic is, or whether or not it is live, mark the location, call EOD and leave WELL alone. If you get something from a market or house clearance that you discover may well be live, get it down the bottom of the garden and call EOD. Steve T
    Lots of good advice indeed - only one little knit-pick - you can no longer call EOD in the UK, it has to go through the police and recently this caused me a few problems.

    We were moving house, so I decided the old bucket of dodgy bits at the bottom of the garden needed to be properly dealt with! I called my usual EOD number (given to me for use on digs) only to be told they now could not respond, but if I called the local police to log the call so they could follow the new procedure and they would come and sort it out next time they were passing.

    I did as requested, only to have an armed response unit turn up within 30 minutes - I found this a bit disconcerting, but have to say they were very good humoured and after examining the bucket from a safe distance and asking what it contained, they declared they couldn’t take the contents as the armoured collection bin at police HQ was next to the unofficial smoking area and used as an ashtray! Therefore they were worried that some young PC might be tempted to take a closer look & something might go bang!

    I was told to leave the bucket accessible in the front garden and EOD duly turned up a few days later whilst I was at work. The neighbours got quite a fright as armed police sealed the area off – closed the main dual carriageway in front of thehouse – and moved everyone to a safe distance as the offending bucket was picked up.

    Its contents? Three flares and an ejector seat barometric firing device! - Don’t get me wrong, these were all live items and tampered with could indeed have caused serious injury and needed disposing of properly. But EOD are true professionals and do a great job – as do the police firearms units - but I have to say I felt sorry for them having to put up with this new “procedure” and each should be allowed to do their own jobs.
    Last edited by NickW; 12-19-2010 at 11:09 PM.

  7. #37

    Default Re: The Dangers of Battlefield Digging

    Quote by NickW View Post
    Its contents? Three flares and an ejector seat barometric firing device!
    Out of intrest, where did you get a armed barostat unit? We call it the BTDFU, a Barostatic Time Delay Firing Unit. It prevents the Pilot from being seperated from the ejection seat (and therefor be under the canopy) at an altitude where the pilot can't breath. The seat contains a bottle of oxygen to keep the Pilot alive above a set height above sea level (Can be adjusted with Barastat rings). Usually, when a seat is disarmed, we remove the 'TOP 3', the BTDFU, the Drogue gun and the main gun. The only seat I've worked on thats diffrent to this is the Mk16A for the Typhoon. Could it be from a crashed aircraft?

  8. #38

    Default Re: The Dangers of Battlefield Digging

    Yes it was from an excavation - full details here: Supermarine Attacker WA535

  9. #39

    Default Re: The Dangers of Battlefield Digging

    Just a quick addendum to what wrote before.

    it is always better to avoid to touch or transport what you don't know. It seems obvious but new enthusiasts of the hobby tend to collect anything, even rusty nails.

    Just as a "horror" reference, 2 stories:

    about 10 years ago 2 austrian hikers were blown to pieces because they molested a barrel containing blasting gelatine in an abandoned barrack on a mountain top of a glacier. The barrels looked creepy but anonymous and rested there for 90 years. The rescue team knew there were 2 hikers...because of the 2 rucksacks they found.
    Someone reported that crowes had a banquet for a week after that, in the range of 100 meters.
    In all the Ww1 theater it is not so uncommon to find live and potentially dangerous things. Considering also that most of the places became tourist or hiking spots...

    a police officer new to the hobby posted on a local forum a german unexploded HE rifle grenade picked up in the woods on his first detecting trips. he kept it in a basin in the kitchen, with 2 young kids around, not mentioning he picked it up and brought it back in the rucksack and car for hours. It was only when someone ID'd it on the forum that he realized the risk.

    The list of people here who die, loose fingers or eyes every year is long too.


  10. #40

    Default Re: The Dangers of Battlefield Digging

    Ive posted a thread previously concerning live ordnance, but this seems to tie in, its quite right that items found do not necessarily need be found on battefields, but there is one thing that people are constantly doing and that is taking the item personally to the police station, i had three incidents involving live ordnance when performing police duties, whilst on station duty. One involved a live grenade found in a field and brought back to its master by a dog, this guy then put it in his car and drove to our station and literally plonked it down on the counter, there was no spoon, the striker had gone down and you could just about see it. I had to remove this to our washdown area and await EOD, and this guy was ex military Royal Engineers, another was a police officer was called to a local special needs school that was having some foundations dug, a tail fin was found sticking out of the ground, he pulled it out put it in the boot of the police car and brought it back to the station, it turned out to be a live ww2 german incendiary , and he got a chief constables high commendation for that and a bravery award, the word PRATT should have been typed on the award, a member of the public who had seen an episode of Danger UXB came into the station and presented me with a live german butterfly bomb that had been in the shed since the war and had been found in the tree of her garden when they were having some branches removed, unfortunately it doesnt matter how much you warn, inform or educate people regarding the dangers of seemingly harmless ww2 suspect items, its an inherrent curious nature of people who think nothing will happen to them albeit that news broadcasts, papers and the general media report that people every year are killed or maimed by such things

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