One site – Six visits – Huge volume of relics!

Over the past six weeks I have been rather busy filming series 2 of ‘WW2 Treasure Hunters’. I can’t wait for everyone to see this new series as we have uncovered some incredible stuff and told some unbelievable stories! You are going to love it!

Anyway, the filming has meant I have had very little time to do anything else, so I’m afraid I have neglected this blog somewhat.

Because all the digs I’ve been on are for the TV show, I’m afraid I can’t post the results of any of them on here, not until the shows have aired. So, I thought I’d post about one site that was featured in series 1.

‘The Bomb Factory’ episode concentrated on the RAOC depot at Garendon Park. We had a lot of finds during the filming, but nothing compared to what I have personally recovered over a number of visits to the site. This isn’t about just turning up and picking a spot. The finds are concentrated in very specific areas, so you have to know where to look. However, once you find the hotspots, the finds keep coming and coming.

The site was used as an ordnance storage depot during the war, then converted to an ordnance disposal depot afterwards. Thousands of tons of ordnance went through the gates, with quite a bit of it being disposed of on site. The location of the dump pit, (where unstable ordnance was blown up), is made all the more obvious once you hit on the right spot. One particular portion of one field is rammed with the remains of these explosive disposals.

Other areas hold small arms ammunition and other items such as safety fuzes and personal items.

I thought for this blog I would concentrate on the ordnance items recovered over 6 visits to the site.

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40mm Bofors shell cases…..or at least the remains of them. Notice how all the percussion caps are still in place, showing they were blown up live. Also note the two 4 round clips, showing they were blown still in them! There are more than 40 shell bases in this picture.
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All are dated in the WW2 period
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All are dated in the WW2 period
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No 3 fuzes from the Mk 5 British anti-tank mine. The sheer volume of these shows how many mines were disposed of at the site. And this is just the complete ones! I’ve found twice the amount of incomplete ones! All of these have been disposed of in an explosion, the gaines having been expended.
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Markings on the fuzes
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Markings on the fuzes
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Sectioned fuze to show all it contained was a firing pin. The bottom portion contained the detonator and gaine, but all the ones recovered have exploded, detonating the gaine and thereby making them ‘safe’.
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Tracer element transport caps from large calibre artillery shells
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Service igniter, safety fuze, percussion Mk III. The RAOC guys had to have something to initiate the explosives in the dump pit! All these are perfectly legal, the tiny percussion cap inside being expended.
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No 9 L-Delay. Again, totally safe as the tiny percussion cap in these has been expended.
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Pull switch, No 1.
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The variation in fuze transport caps shows the variety of munitions dealt with at the site. Also note the PIAT fuzes and fuze containers.
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Markings on transport caps
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More transport caps. On the right, tips from 40mm shell fuzes, along with an ‘exploded’ 40mm HE shell
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A wide range of small arms cartridges have been recovered from the site. In this pic you have 50cal, 20mm Hispano-Suiza as well as 20mm Oerlikon, 50cal Vickers, 303 early drill, German 7.92, 30 cal…..and a die-cast 30cal made by the toy company Tri-Ang
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303s! No British army site would be complete without them! Also a few 30cals in this pic.
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Lots of boosters, fuzes and other items can be found at the site. Note the incendiary bomb tile breaker on the left, which shows they were disposing of these at the site as well.
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37mm shell case and central column from a No 36M grenade
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Booster tubes from medium calibre artillery shells
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PDF fuzes from obsolete American 75mm artillery shells. Gaines are, as you can see, empty and/or missing, making these devoid of any explosive material.
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Boosters from medium calibre shells and a spigot mortar drill round
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Badges and button!
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Lee-Enfield pull through rod and wing-nuts from 50cal ammunition crates.
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30cal cartirdge cases, with metal links still in situ.

 

An incredible site with an equally incredible story, and one I was pleased to tell in series one of WW2 Treasure Hunters. Series 2 is going to blow you away!

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