We have been riding around the Somme Battlefield just as the local farmers are finishing the drilling of spring crops, but all year round they have to deal with an altogether much more deadly harvest. That of the tonnes of unexploded munitions that still remain as a silent threat beneath the soil of the Somme. Locally it’s called “La récolte de fer”, The Iron Harvest.
When we stopped near Mouquet Farm, I spotted this rusty old shell in the corner of the adjacent field. That’s my riding gauntlet for scale.
Talking to the owner of our Chambres d’Hôtes about what we had seen, he was quite amused that we did not find abandoned munitions to be normal! He has after all been brought up with such things. Tonight he took us to some private farm land where there is a veritable ammunition dump of old shells and mortar bombs. Some of them were clearly British 13 pounder ammunition, nasty little shells that were basically massive shot gun rounds filled with explosive and steel balls that exploded above ground for maximum effect on enemy troops. >
Finally and most scary of all, was this British Mills Bomb grenade. >
It is complete with live fuse and is minus it’s safety pin, a silent killer and very dangerous. Only in the last month were two men killed in Belgium by an item such as this. Apparently, the local council have a bomb disposal truck that collects all munitions once per month, all you do is give the Mayor’s office a call! Grenades are treated a little more urgently and with considerable respect!
Quite an interesting day really!
Catch you soon.