Incredible volume of WW2 relics recovered – One site, one dig!

There are a lot of pictures in this blog entry. I found one heck of a lot of relics and wanted to show them all. Give yourself plenty of time to go through them!

I have a number of different permissions across the country, some of which are average producers of relics, some good. One of the sites, an old British army dump pit, is by far the most productive. There is no need for a metal detector as the ground is full of metal, it is just a case of picking a spot and digging a hole!

This site is not only amazing because of the volume of relics in the ground, but also because of the sheer variety. There are examples of military items from not only WW2, but also WW1 and even earlier. The problem you face with this site is the digging can be hard going, as many areas of the dump were burnt in an effort to destroy the stuff thrown in there. These burnt areas tend to be melted together so you can hit a huge layer of rock solid metal. The dump can also go quite deep, up to 8 feet in some places, with other spots only just beneath the surface.

Some areas though escaped the burning, so all you have to contend with is the rust. This leads to another problem, which is the time it takes to clean everything. The pictures below show the results of two visits to the site. Ok, so not strictly speaking one site one dig, but the visits were so close it may as well have been! It took so long to clean one lot of relics, I was back at the site recovering more before the first lot were done. I much prefer to get everything cleaned and preserved from one dig before adding more cleaning to the pile!

I’m not going to say any more really, as the pictures speak for themselves. An incredible site, full of some of the most amazing relics. It really puts your cleaning and preservation skills to the test!

So, what did I recover from the site?

Let’s begin…..

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First trip – Rusty and corroded stuff before cleaning.
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Much better cleaned!
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Bren oil bottles
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Vickers MG top and bottom pawl springs. Lee-Enfield oil bottle. The two brass hooks were unidentified until I posted this blog.

Following the posting of this blog, the two brass hooks were identified by a gentleman on one of the military FB pages I frequent, (many thanks Dean!). Turns out they were from one of these….

M1917 US canteen
US army M1917 canteen. You can see the hook on the leather strap fitted to the water bottle cover.
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303 cloth belt starter tabs
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Vickers MG condenser pipe adapter. Rear sights. Besa belt links
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Vickers MG water jacket stoppers, 30cal drill, Lewis MG aerial sight
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Markings on the jacket stoppers
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Lewis MG pistol grip
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Long-Lee butt plates
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Long-Lee butt plates
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The tangs were unit marked on all Long-Lee rifles
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Lee-Enfield butt plates
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Sten and MP38 magazines
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It even says MP38
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Lee-Enfield magazines
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Lee-Enfield No 1 nose caps, with standard bayonet lug and a No 4 front sight protector
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This one has an unusual lug, thought to be for an Arisaka bayonet

 

Not a bad little haul……but there was more to come!

On the next trip a few weeks later, we shifted position slightly and struck a patch of dump where they had been getting rid of Bren parts…..along with a lot of other stuff.

 

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The relics were a little bit rusty……

 

With the right cleaning methods and a lot of patience, even this rusty pile of corroded crap can be brought back to life…..

 

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Brass comes up very nicely though, with the right techniques!
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Kerr sling buckles (Thompson sling)
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Kerr sling overlap buckles (Thompson sling)
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Kerr sling buckles (Thompson sling)
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Nicely marked, all of them
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Pattern 1914 leather braces buckle
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Browning M1917 MG water jacket funnel spout and Vickers MG pawl spring
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Cloth belt starter tabs, Vickers and Browning
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An unusual mark on this one
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Lee-Enfield oil bottle, 303 drill and a cap off a bore mirror
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Oil bottle nicely stamped
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Lee-Enfield sling buckles
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Another Vickers condenser pipe adapter
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Browning M1917 ammo box catch
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Original ammo box, showing the catch
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Lee-Enfield cleaning funnel spouts
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Original funnel showing spout
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Bren return springs (buffer)
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Nice serial mark on this one
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Another serial mark
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Broken down Bren showing the return spring (you can see it where the stock meets the body of the Bren. The housing for the return spring sits inside the stock itself)
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Bren butt plates
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An unusual little lug on this Bren butt plate
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Bren oil bottles
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Butt bracket, Bren
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Bren case catcher bag brackets
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M1917 bayonet scabbard tops
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M1917 bayonet scabbard tops and chapes
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Bakelite spike bayonet scabbards
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A weird find in a military dump. These were found in among some old cavalry equipment, so must have been for the horses. RSPCA ‘Humane Killer’, .455 calibre
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Original Humane Killer
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More Lee-Enfield magazines
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And yet more Lee-Enfield magazines
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Another load of Lee-Enfield No 1 nose caps
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Parts from the Lee-Enfield training tripod
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‘Stay’ from the training tripod
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Original tripod showing all the parts
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Sten Mk 5 stocks, with the wooden bit burnt away.
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Sten Mk 5 stocks, with the wooden bit burnt away.
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Catch from a Besa case catcher bag
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Boys magazine, but in a baddddd way!
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Metal frame for winding/loading Bren 100 rnd magazines
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Very badly corroded and fragile Lee-Enfield funnel
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Remains of a Vickers 50cal cloth belt. It is falling to pieces but is the first piece of cloth from the belt recovered from the dump. Most was used as fuel for the fires.

That lot took quite some cleaning. But at least now everything has been cleaned and preserved and added to my museum. The ‘War Room’ is getting rather over-crowded!

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