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tammilnad

Today's harvest with the diggers in Boezinghe

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tammilnad
Frans

Very interesting pictures. Sorry I may have missed it, but what is your connection to the diggers. You should be official photographer at least.

Digging up old munitions is not a task I'd fancy, even with "gloves on".Some of them look dangerous even through the computer screen.

Let us see if you get any more pics, please.

I was invited down by Patrick van Wanzeele to spend an afternoon making foto's and see what it is all about. The result has been that I have been asked to make photo's again next time when the next excavation is done. I have also persuaded Patrick to publish some of his photo's of which there are many, so that every body can enjoy the work they have done. I am working on photo's from an excavation of ten years ago made on the old railway line from Ieper to Zonnebeke. Today all this has gone and is now a road.

Tonight I will put on three photo's of some excavations done on the canal bank behind Essex Farm. Photo's are from oktober 2001.

This picture show a small gauge railway, near the top of the bank. On the right is the bunker of John Macrea, straight ahead the monument. The railway actually ran through a channel, so that it was not visible from the other side of the canal.

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tammilnad

This shell was found on top of the bank. The discription which came with the photo's is an artilery shell with dubbell band at the bottom. Most likely a Belgian shell.

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Bert Heyvaert

I am aware that these are old pictures, and the coupe they made looks like nice work, very smoothly finished.

However, do the diggers hold a permit to dig there? I thaught their area was restricted to the Boezinge industrial estate? As far as I know, the canal bank is not a site endangered by industrial progress, so what's the use of digging a coupe there?

Anyway, thank you for posting the pictures, they are very interesting.

regards,

Bert

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Jacky Platteeuw

Bert,

This was a project done in collaboration and under supervision of In Flanders Fields. The prospection was done prior to the works near Essex Farm. A few places were selected to be prospected one of them revealed the narrow gauge. The originators (IFF) wanted to have a kind of overview of the aerea not at least to possibly remove unexploded ordnance.

I left the Diggers already a few years ago but have been and still am a defender of their work. The picture is to me a very good illustration of what they are cappable of. This prospection had no time limits and the result is indeed very good not to say 'professional'.

Best wishes,

Jacky

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Bert Heyvaert

Hi Jacky,

In that case, you are right, the investigation was probably usefull.

regards,

Bert

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Aurel Sercu

Bert,

Do I detect a pinch of criticism ? I can only confirm what Jacky wrote : the Diggers were indeed invited by the IFF Museum, and carried out prospection on Saturday afternoons 27 Oct and 3 Nov 2001. Round the 49th West Riding Division memorial and north up to Lakebos.

Aurel

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Bert Heyvaert

Aurel,

Sorry if my post was not quite clear, it was written quite fast. No, no criticism intended. To the contrary, I think an archaeological assesment is a must when thinking about redeveloping a historical important site like Essex farm.

I just think that it is not necessary to explore sites archaeologically if they are not under an immediate threat of developing or redeveloping. (unless there is a serious and well documented research question). But as this was clearly the case at Essex farm, they were quite right to have it assessed.

regards,

Bert

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Aurel Sercu

Bert,

And though we were there on 2 Saturdays (with 4 or 5 men), not much was found. Apart from the narrow gauge railway and the shell, nothing. (It seems that the area was ploughed up in WW2 by German troops.)

Yet there were indications that in the immediate vicinity of the 49th Div. Memorial there were small dugouts below. (Earth and rubbish dumped in the holes and shafts in the decades after the war.) Next Wednesday I'll show you a map of the many dozens of small dugput rooms between the John McCrae site and the viaduct south. Impressive!

Aurel

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spike10764
I was invited down by Patrick van Wanzeele to spend an afternoon making foto's and see what it is all about. The result has been that I have been asked to make photo's again next time when the next excavation is done. I have also persuaded Patrick to publish some of his photo's of which there are many, so that every body can enjoy the work they have done.

Frans

Ahh - official photographer it is then :D

Thanks for the reply and keep the pics coming

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tammilnad

The old railway bedding of the Ieper-Zonnebeke railway line. It is now the road which starts at Hell Fire corner over the A19 to Zonnebeke. The position of the foto's is, looking forward to the junction onto the A19 at the top, and Zonnebeke about 250 meters behind you.

These pictures are of the same place, the first one as it is today and the second in the summer of 1995. There were large amounts of ammo found which I won't bore you with. Some of the more unusual finds I will show a picture of. Some of the pictures I had to work on, but thankfully all the negatives are in mint condition.

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Paul Reed

Is that the remains of a bunker? Did that disappear with the new road?

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tammilnad
Is that the remains of a bunker? Did that disappear with the new road?

Hello Paul,

I am posting more pictures. You are correct,there is nothing left of any of these bunkers.

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Alan_J

Absolutely fascinating pictures and information in this thread!

Many thanks for posting these, Frans - I was particularly moved by the picture of the narrow gauge rail line excavated near Essex Farm, with the 49th Division memorial in the background. The old battlefield exposed with the memorial to the men who died there behind.

Thanks for these.

Alan

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tammilnad

Before the railway bedding was stripped and removed. The only finds were of ammunition.

Picture one remains of English 15 inch shell, and leaning against it a 18 pounder shell. The band of the 15" shell is on the right of the picture.

Picture two mills grenade with rifle attachement.

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tammilnad

The top picture of a flare pistel after being preserved.

The second one is a German grenade.

The third of German amunition.

The last picture shows sandbags and concrete blocks, which the Germans used to make quick fortifications. The blocks were stacked on top of each other and often railway sleepers put in front of them.

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tammilnad

Top picture shows bunker build out of concrete blocks. The concrete blocks measured 15 x 30 x 60 cm.

Bottom picture shows damaged bunker.

All the bunkers were badly damaged, especially when the railroad was rebuild after the war.

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Paul Reed

Great pictures - many thanks for sharing them here.

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tammilnad

Bunker before and after excavation.

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tammilnad

This is the last of the bunker pictures. It was very faded and is the only one looking towards Zonnebeke. The originall picture in the posting is taken about 100 yards behind the little white van.

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tammilnad

The pictures before these are taken before the railway bedding was removed.

Once the bedding was removed some surprising finds were made.

The German trench on the photo's ran straight across the railway bedding. The pictures speak for themselves.

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tammilnad

When the bedding was removed, this wooden German dugout appeared.

The small line of trees, is where I took my photo at the beginning of the posting.

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tammilnad

A diagram of the cross section of the dugout.

I will translate the two words on the diagram.

1. Spoorwegberm-railway bedding

2. Slaapplaats-sleaping quarters.

The dugout was hit by an enormous explosion and while digging continued the remains of six german soldiers were discovered.

The bottom foto shows a close up before excavation started.

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tammilnad

Top photo is of one of the entrances to the dugout. Two on the left of the railway bedding and one on the right.

Bottom photo of the dugout after excavation. On the left of the picture is where a large explosion took place.

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tammilnad

Just to make something clear. When remains are found, they are covered up again, and the authoreties are alerted. Then in the presence of usually the police the remains are carefully excavated. Great care being taken so that anything that could help to identify the soldier is not lost.

Photo one is of one of the soldiers belt and buckle.

Photo two is of the place where three remains were found.

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tammilnad

Photo one is of three of the diggers who carry on looking for anything that could identify any of these men. Another three were found to the left of this photo.

Photo two is of a wedding ring found on one of the remains. This ring helped to identify one of the German soldiers.

This is the last photo of this excavation. I hope it has given a good picture on how this excavation was done. None of these pictures have ever been published or shown on the internet. Patrick van Wanzeele who is one of the original diggers who started out in the early eighties, has given me the opportunity to share these photo's with you. There is much more material dating back to the early eighties which I can search through and hopefully in the coming month's I will be able to share these as well.

Although some of these pictures are faded, the negative material is perfect. If any body would like any photo's for a project or website I will be pleased to help.

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Regards, Frans

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