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(Daily Mail)   A century later and bomb disposal units are still finding and detonating WWI ordnance. Great photos in link   (dailymail.co.uk) divider line 24
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3160 clicks; posted to Geek » on 27 Jun 2014 at 12:25 PM (7 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-06-27 12:14:18 PM
I'll never say a cross word about the Belgians again.
 
2014-06-27 12:30:28 PM
stupid Flanders
 
2014-06-27 12:31:07 PM
About 300million of the billion projectiles launched between the British and Germans were duds

That can't be right, can it? A third of the bombs didn't work? Sounds like they sucked at bomb-building.
 
2014-06-27 12:34:29 PM
i.dailymail.co.uk
This one made my pants feel funny.
 
2014-06-27 12:44:03 PM

Sin_City_Superhero: About 300million of the billion projectiles launched between the British and Germans were duds

That can't be right, can it? A third of the bombs didn't work? Sounds like they sucked at bomb-building.


Considering the pressures that both sides were under, the high failure rate isn't all that surprising:
though both sides in WWI had been preparing for a war for several years, they had no idea how godawful
a modern mechanized war would be, and how much ammo they would go through.  They went through
their prewar stockpiles within the first few months, and by 1915 both sides had to ration their firing to not
outstrip their industrial capacity (and overseas purchasing from places like the US).  In that sort of
situation, one could easily imagine quality control standards being fairly lax.

Dan Carlin's HARDCORE HISTORY podcast is currently in the middle of an extended examination of
WWI.  Each episode is 3-4 hours long, but damn compelling listening.
 
2014-06-27 12:53:27 PM
Very cool read
 
2014-06-27 01:03:12 PM
I find it interesting, if macabre, that the land minds are outliving the war, all of the combatants on both sides, and several of the warring nations themselves.
 
2014-06-27 01:21:42 PM
TFA mentions nothing about interference from the gigantic ferrous orbs dangling from between the legs of every person on that detail. I wonder if that farks with the instrumentation.
 
2014-06-27 01:25:02 PM

DjangoStonereaver: Sin_City_Superhero: About 300million of the billion projectiles launched between the British and Germans were duds

That can't be right, can it? A third of the bombs didn't work? Sounds like they sucked at bomb-building.

In that sort of situation, one could easily imagine quality control standards being fairly lax.


The details of this are quite interesting.  There were a lot of reasons for it, but fuse quality was the main one.  Premature firings killed a lot of gunners early in the war.  Not a job for the feint of heart.

That said, having shells rain down on you that don't explode on impact has got to be pretty nerve-racking as well.  I can't imagine the psychological impact of sitting in a foxhole beside an unexploded bomb.

And as much as we're all glad not to be experiencing this sort of horror, let's not forget the billions of unexploded bomblets from cluster munitions that are scattered all over places like iraq.  Bomblets that will be taking limbs and killing long into the future, just like in Flanders Fields.
 
2014-06-27 01:30:32 PM
I saw a documentary on these guys a while back.  They estimate that it will take 800 years to clear France and Belgium of all the munitions from both world wars.
 
2014-06-27 01:35:55 PM

DjangoStonereaver: Sin_City_Superhero: About 300million of the billion projectiles launched between the British and Germans were duds

That can't be right, can it? A third of the bombs didn't work? Sounds like they sucked at bomb-building.

Considering the pressures that both sides were under, the high failure rate isn't all that surprising:
though both sides in WWI had been preparing for a war for several years, they had no idea how godawful
a modern mechanized war would be, and how much ammo they would go through.  They went through
their prewar stockpiles within the first few months, and by 1915 both sides had to ration their firing to not
outstrip their industrial capacity (and overseas purchasing from places like the US).  In that sort of
situation, one could easily imagine quality control standards being fairly lax.

Dan Carlin's HARDCORE HISTORY podcast is currently in the middle of an extended examination of
WWI.  Each episode is 3-4 hours long, but damn compelling listening.


Not only that, but the shells were often landing on soft mud. When you shell the same acre of land over and over, after a while it becomes nothing but soft dirt.
 
2014-06-27 01:36:00 PM

unyon: DjangoStonereaver: Sin_City_Superhero: About 300million of the billion projectiles launched between the British and Germans were duds

That can't be right, can it? A third of the bombs didn't work? Sounds like they sucked at bomb-building.

In that sort of situation, one could easily imagine quality control standards being fairly lax.

The details of this are quite interesting.  There were a lot of reasons for it, but fuse quality was the main one.  Premature firings killed a lot of gunners early in the war.  Not a job for the feint of heart.

That said, having shells rain down on you that don't explode on impact has got to be pretty nerve-racking as well.  I can't imagine the psychological impact of sitting in a foxhole beside an unexploded bomb.

And as much as we're all glad not to be experiencing this sort of horror, let's not forget the billions of unexploded bomblets from cluster munitions that are scattered all over places like iraq.  Bomblets that will be taking limbs and killing long into the future, just like in Flanders Fields.


And Laos.  And Vietnam. And even downtown London, where they still find the odd UXB from WWII.
 
2014-06-27 01:57:29 PM

Rent Party: I saw a documentary on these guys a while back.  They estimate that it will take 800 years to clear France and Belgium of all the munitions from both world wars.


I think I saw the same one, that is some job security right there.

Great Grandpa was in the artillary during the war so I'm guessing a few are from his crews. Dad gave me one of the German bayonets grandpa brought back, damn thing is 2 1/2 feet long with the sawback!

And tomorrow is the day Archie Duke was shot.
 
2014-06-27 02:19:26 PM
Did a great tour of WWI French area ( in and around Beaumont Hamel )(and the crater mine exploded there). I recommend it to all my fellow Farkers/Farkettes. Still can see the trenches in and around the woods/ fields. And many museums/ mini displays/ and of course a whole slew of mini-cemeteries  are there.
 
2014-06-27 02:24:51 PM
The Army uses the Jefferson Proving Ground in southern Indiana to QA/QC munitions before sending them out to the field.  Occasionally, a round will expose an unexploded WWI gas shell and the downwind houses and farms have to be evacuated for awhile.

There was talk in the 1990s of closing the base, but an environmental study indicated the Army would have to excavate several square miles of the primary impact zone to a depth of 8'-12' to clear all of the UXBs, and that would cost far more than just maintaining it as an inactive facility for the next 200 years.
 
2014-06-27 02:28:53 PM

Dr Dreidel: TFA mentions nothing about interference from the gigantic ferrous orbs dangling from between the legs of every person on that detail. I wonder if that farks with the instrumentation.


Brass is non-magnetic.
 
2014-06-27 02:42:43 PM
The softball fields at American university are filled with shells, mostly chemical if IIRC and it has been an ongoing cleanup there.
 
2014-06-27 02:45:36 PM

2wolves: Dr Dreidel: TFA mentions nothing about interference from the gigantic ferrous orbs dangling from between the legs of every person on that detail. I wonder if that farks with the instrumentation.

Brass is non-magnetic.


They could be iron.

// I know the usual formulation is "brass balls", but I wanted to make a joke about farking with the instruments
 
2014-06-27 02:52:58 PM

DjangoStonereaver: I'll never say a cross word about the Belgians again.


Outside of next Tuesday, I'm with you.
 
2014-06-27 02:56:15 PM

groppet: The softball fields at American university are filled with shells, mostly chemical if IIRC and it has been an ongoing cleanup there.


Every few months there's a notice in the local Tenleytown(?) paper about someone doing yardwork or
a house renovation turning up a cache of grenades or other old munitions.
 
2014-06-27 03:22:23 PM

Sin_City_Superhero: About 300million of the billion projectiles launched between the British and Germans were duds

That can't be right, can it? A third of the bombs didn't work? Sounds like they sucked at bomb-building.


It varied by ordnance, but yes, the dud rate was as high as 30% during WWI.
 
2014-06-27 03:38:45 PM
In France, there were about a dozen or so villages that were completely and utterly destroyed during the war - as in, if you were flying overhead, you wouldn't be able to tell where the roads used to be - and never rebuilt; the lines on the map that used to belong to them are still there, but the town has otherwise ceased to exist except as a memorial.

Also, all across the northeast portion of the country, there are still parts of the so-called "Zone Rouge" where civilians are not permitted to enter except under very, very limited circumstances, because of the danger.  There's less of it these days, of course, but even so a lot of land (around Verdun in particular) has been essentially off-limits ever since the end of the war.

The human cost just beggars belief.  If the US of today were in a war and suffered casualties to the same proportion that they did here back in WWI, it would come to something like 30,000,000 dead and wounded, just for the military alone.  But on a smaller, more personale scale, I've been to villages that have had about 100 inhabitants since Caesar and Vercingetorix butted heads, and have 40 names carved into the WWI memorial in the church cemetery.  It's almost impossible to fathom.
 
2014-06-27 04:55:32 PM
When you think about the quality control and manufacturing methods etc of the day a 30% failure rate means 70% of the munitions did go off as intended which IMHO is pretty spiffy.
 
2014-06-27 06:34:10 PM
There was an article about the French "deminers" who do this same work, published February 1994 in Smithsonian magazine. At the time, about 150 of them, and they had 10 or 12 casualties each year. Hard to make French "surrender" jokes about those guys.

In the U.S., it's easy for us to forget that war lives on, that Europe has seen two major land wars fought in recent memory, while we get exercised with the occasional black powder shell from our last major land war, now 150 years ago.
 
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