Skip to comments.First World War battlefield in Verdun still a danger
Posted on 08/07/2018 4:43:59 PM PDT by robowombat
First World War battlefield in Verdun still a danger with thousands of exploded shells 100 years on
Nearly 100 years since the end of the First World War and there are still areas of France unsafe to be visited because of unexploded shells.
Some 300,000 soldiers were killed in the Battle of Verdun between France and Germany from February to December 1916.
During the onslaught, around six million shells - including many containing mustard gas - were fired by the opposing sides. One million of those failed to explode. Dozens of unexploded shells are unearthed every day.
At the end of The Great War, France bought the battlefield land from villagers and designated it a "red zone", and since then it has been inaccessible to the public.
For years, bomb disposal experts have slowly been removing the ordinances, finding dozens of shells a day, but experts fear the work may yet require another century to be completed.
The Battle of Verdun cost 300,000 lives. The land on which Verdun was fought was originally agricultural land, fields upon fields.
But except for shell removal squads, nobody has set foot there since the war's end, and the area now resembles a forest.
Pierre Moreno, one of the bomb experts, told ITV News he thinks it will take years to clear the land.
"There are still tonnes and tonnes," he said.
"There will be decades, centuries, of work for us, because the ammunition is buried and every year it is rising naturally to the surface."
Experts believe it may take another 100 years to clear the forest. This year alone, some 500 tonnes of shells have been removed from the ground, and are currently being stored until they are disposed of by way of controlled explosion.
Experts fear that the land make never be able to be used again - certainly not for agricultural purposes.
While those who died in the Battle of Verdun are remembered 100 years on, the legacy it inflicted upon the land on which it was fought continues to be felt too.
The guns of August. There’s unexploded bombs, grenades, gas canisters on that battlefield. Likely a few bones still laying around here and there.
Great editing job there.
...but how many of the shells detonate on their own?
Is the battlefield actually dangerous assuming one doesn’t go banging on rounds with a sledgehammer?
Sequestering chemical rounds is still probably a good idea.
My french wifes great grandfather died at Verdun two weeks before her grandfather was born. Her grandfather was taken by the Germans in WWII for farm labor. They don’t care much for the Germans.
A member of my Father’s platoon in WWII, had an 88mm shell hit two feet from him and not explode.
Petain was promoted to Marshal and later command of the Army as he hero of Verdun. We know how that turned out.
No need for the Danger UXB crowd from the second war then....
More than a few. 72,000 British and Commonwealth missing and never found from the Somme alone. Soldiers in the trenches could shake the protruding hands of dead comrades before going over the top. MIA numbers for WWI Apparently, it was considered "good luck". Horrible war that led to British and French aversion to another one and their appeasement of Hitler.
I think I read somewhere that at the Ypres battlefield there are underground piles of explosives that were meant to be exploded along the German line, that were placed there by sappers during the war, and never detonated or removed. Back in the 1950s one of caches detonated due to a lightning strike, and it was a huge explosion. There still one other cache that they know about.
I wonder how long they store these explosive shells.
TNT becomes less stable with age. One shell stored with dozens of others self detonates setting off the others would be bad.
Question: Did they work on ridding it of explosives while they were Vichy France under the thumb of the Nazis?
Field Marshall Montgomery was shot through the body during WWI. He was a Lieutenant. After a year he returned to his men instead of taking a well deserved retirement.
I believe that had something to do with his being so careful in WWII.
Thanks to slave labor I would guess
Log the forest with drones. Plow up with drones. Remove bombs with drones.
Visited the battlefield with my dad in 1958, it was still dirt and dead trees with barbed wire strewn about. We dug in the dirt finding bullets and ended up getting slightly gassed from ruminant chemicals in the dirt...never forget my eyes burning and tearing.
It’s just astounding how many lives were poured into those battlefields.
The senseless slaughter of WWI boggles the mind. But goes a long way in explaining British caution under Montgomery. The Brit public wouldn’t have accepted such losses again.
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