Battlefield Debris from WWI


The Dangers Of Battlefield Debris

Photograph: Peter Fairweather. The photograph alongside this item was taken by me and shows how easy it is to come into contact with some very, very dangerous items when looking round old battlefields. These items comprising a high explosive shell, a mortar bomb and a hand grenade from the first world war were turned up from a trench just in front of the gate of Tyne Cot Military Cemetery in Belgium and photographed on Sunday 20th April 1997. They were very, very unstable and dangerous. If you should come accross anything like this - LEAVE IT WHERE IT IS AND DO NOT TOUCH! More Pictures

The little article below is an extract copied from the book by Rose E. Coombs MBE, called BEFORE ENDEAVOURS FADE. a guide to the battlefields of the First World War. It is an AFTER THE BATTLE publication and an excellent guide. It is copied in the hopes that you will heed the warnings given and BE SAFE!!!

The colossal expenditure in shell and ammunition during the First World War has left a dangerous legacy for the careless visitor today. Often, as the battle areas are traversed, small piles of rusting shells will still be seen on the verges. These neat piles of ammunition are usually the result of a field being ploughed - the "Iron harvest" I call it - and still to this day, regular collections are made by the military authorities to take these very dangerous objects away for safe demolition.

The sight of such things seems to turn many visitors into collectors and, with little thought of the danger of these seemingly inoffensive objects, they are bundled into the car PLEASE LEAVE THEM WHERE YOU SEE THEM - or if it is within any of the memorial parks draw the attention of the Superintendent to them. Explosives do NOT improve with age and many local children are still maimed and blinded by handling such objects.

Even the apparently innocent rusty bayonet or length of barbed wire carries with it the danger of Tetanus if carelessly handled. Recently scientists have been working on one aspect of the spread of the deadly disease Rabies, as it has been realised that the old battle torn woods and shrublands are breeding grounds of the most frequent carrier - The Fox. The French medical authorities have been investigating some of the untouched regions and have found evidence that careless wandering through dirty infectious ground can be dangerous.

Remember also that the removal of anything from private land is stealing. It is often possible to aquire material quite safely and legally for a small sum. However, always bear in mind the strict Customs Regulations on the import of weapons and ammunition.

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This site is a work in progress. This page last updated 17th February 1999