Welcome to this blog which is intended to accompany a website on how Suffolk was defended during the Second War. The blog will describe my trips out and about looking for the remains of the Second War defences while the Website will concentrate on putting these into context.

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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Somme Relics - 2015

Just back from the annual visit to the First War battlefields. Most time as usual spent walking the fields of the Somme. Harder work this year, as due to the very dry spring, many of the winter ploughed fields had been finely tilled, much harder to come across things on this type of surface. So mostly pictures of shells for this year!

Below: One of two relic SMLE rifles found on the Gird Line

Below: German Egg Grenade, Gird Line

Below: Large British HE shell (6" howitzer?), Mills Bomb and 3" Stokes Mortar round, Gird Line

Below: British 18 pdr HE shell near Mouquet Farm

Below: German Granatenwefer 15  round (also named known as the Priesterwerfer or Priestwefer as it was invented by a Hungarian priest named Vecer) and four 77mm rounds. The Granatenwerfer was a small spigot mortar. 

Below - two images of a selection of Mills bombs. The first pile was a result of some track widening at the back of Mouquet Farm. Second image shows three along Stump Road. 

Below: Two German 77mm rounds, near Flers. 

Perhaps the most amazing find of the week was the second SMLE rifle pulled up from the Gird Line. Only the barrel was sticking out of the ground. The soil was obviously not too corrosive as the images will show. The rifle's receiver also had its cover in place when lost (the imprint could be seen on the magazine). When we pulled it out of the ground the condition of the metal work of the receiver was obviously good, to such an extent that in parts the factory bluing was still evident. It was taken to the local museum in Pozieres, where it was washed down, and when sprayed with diesel and a bit of tapping, the safety catch was released and the bolt pulled back!! Amazing, considering it has been in the ground for almost 100 years. First two images shows it as found.  Note the metal work condition on the receiver. Third image shows it after a hose down. Forth, fifth and sixth images show it after the bolt had been freed using a diesel spray. Last image shows it in the museum where it belongs.

Below: Large German trench mortar round, Loos

Next two images show a German 76mm minenwerfer round, Loos. These with the all aluminium fuze are apparently one of the most dangerous unexploded types of ordnance that are still found on the old battlefields; the bomb disposal squads will blow them up in situ rather than collect and take away for disposal as they do with most other shells, grenades etc. 

Below: British "cricket ball" grenade and fragment of granatentwerfer, Loos. 

Image below shows fragments of stick grenades and an oxygen bottle used for mine rescue and also for gas casualties.  The system worked by mixing oxygen in the steel bottles with exhaled breath with carbon dioxide filtered out, allowing rescue to take place in areas with an unbreathable atmosphere such as mine galleries or collapsed deep dugouts. An unusual find at Boom Ravine. 

Image below shows an old fashioned razor, almost certainly part of a British soldiers kit. Found near High Wood. 

Below, a Mills bomb, Ovillers. Note the deep chalk slick in the background, which marks the location of the German trenches. 

The next image shows a 1 pdr pom-pom (37mm) round, Gueudecourt. Almost certainly fired in an anti-aircraft role as the British did not use these to support infantry attacks, preferring to use the Stokes Mortar instead. Both the French and Americans did use 37mm canons to support infantry attacks.  

Below, a British rifle grenade, Gueudecourt. 

Finally, a couple of shots of British HE shells, Gird Lines, to finish off with!

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