What were these mini-corkscrew pickets used for?

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Jorolat, Aug 19, 2009.

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  1. Hi,

    I found a number of these 'mini-corkscrew pickets' (they're about 12-15 inches long) in the undergrowth on the southern side of Dover's Western Heights fortifications:

    [Click on the photo to see the original web-page][/align]

    One of several still embedded into the ground:

    [Click on the photo to see the original web-page][/align]

    Does anyone know for sure what they were used for?

    I thought they might have been intended for tethering horses, but I'm only guessing!

    John Latter / Jorolat
  2. Yup - and they could be screwed in quietly! Possibly a hangover from WW1.
  3. Gremlin

    Gremlin LE Good Egg (charities)

    Nope, mainly from WWII.

    I was brought up on top of the White Cliffs and you used to find this sort of stuff all over 'Hell Fire Corner'.

    I believe that they were used for low level barbed wire containment and delay areas, mainly at ankle level.

    Try looking in the field edges around Langdon, there used to be loads in there as well!
  4. Must play havoc with your scrotum then, oh stumpy one!!!
  5. Schaden

    Schaden LE Book Reviewer

    Design is from WW1 where one spent one's evening hours crawling around in front of the trenches fixing the barbed wire - you couldn't stand up and whack the pickets into the ground as Jerry might take offence - so you screwed the pickets into the mud and fixed the wire to them.
  6. Gremlin

    Gremlin LE Good Egg (charities)

    I don't have one any more. It was ripped off at an early age by said military hazards.

    Oh and: You Bloody Hypocrite!
  7. Always crawled under them..... :D
  8. I've seen them re-used for securing tentage guy ropes. More efective than pegs.
  9. Well, I was in the Royal Signals and only have a vague idea about what the real Army got up to.

    Consequently, I couldn't see the point of a single-strand barbed wire obstacle until I thought about what's been said above - which does make sense, I hasten to add :)

    As far as I'm concerned, the barbed-wire is an optional extra: I'm as blind as a bat and have been tripping over these flipping things all morning.

    The reason I thought they may have been used for horses is because of the close visual match to what the Americans call 'spiral tie-out stakes' for tethering dogs:

  10. But surely you're referring to the 'full-size' pickets such as this one:

    [Click on the photo to see the original web-page][/align]

    You can see the 'curly-wurly' bit sticking out from the right of a leaf; to the left of the leaf the picket is at least another 3 feet long and has several looped eye-holes for attaching coils of barbed-wire to.

    You just needed to put an iron-bar (whatever) through the eye-hole immediately above the curly-wurly bit and you could, um, screw away all night if you wanted to (no 'banging', see?).

  11. Yep, that makes sense, too :)

    Fig 4-10 shows the pickets, the short ones being recommended for a 'tanglefoot' barrier which is lower than a low-wire entanglement.
  13. Absolutely brilliant, WaltOnTheMildSide, thanks ! :)

    Here are two relevant sections:

  14. From Wiki
    Military non-equestrian use;

    Screw pickets, used as supports for barbed wire defences, were introduced around 1915 as a replacement for timber posts. The French name for this type of steel stake was 'queue de cochon' or pigtail. The World War I steel stake became known in the British Army as a 'corkscrew picket'. The corkscrew picket was made from a steel bar which had its bottom end bent into a spiral coil. It also had three loops or 'eyes' (some even had four) formed, one at top, one at midway and one just above the corkscrew spiral. The final product was about five feet long.
    Seen quite few lying about , wondered what they were,