Battlefield cleanup

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Hussar, Oct 8, 2009.

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  1. I've been looking for information about who, when and how the first world war battle fields were cleared of debris, munitions etc. I can't find much although I have been told that chinese coolies were used extensively.
    Anyone have any info?
     
  2. To OP I cannot say anything about immediate post war clearances but could describe conditions today. The clearing of ordnance from WW1 battlefields continues even now, particularly in northern France and around the Belgian town of Ypres (where 2/3rds of the British Army saw action).

    In my several visits to the sites I have always found unexploded munitions; farmers place finds by the side of the road, or in the holes in concrete formed lamposts. Finds can range from SAA to medium artillery shells, fragmentation, shrapnel and even gas. Hand grenades, usually British, can be found in clumps. All these munitions are taken away by military teams for disposal.

    The Belgians reckon clearing the battlefields will take another 100 years. Their greatest problem is disposing of gas shells -- they already have considerable stockpiles to destroy and more is being found.

    Fieldwalking battlegrounds looking for finds, if done in an informed way, is an absorbing way of understanding WW1 and if done considerately rarely attracts undue attention from locals.