40mm Bofors, Mine Fuzes, & Much More – Digging An Old RAOC Disposal Pit!

During season one of WW2 Treasure Hunters, the episode ‘The Bomb Factory’ was filmed just outside Loughborough. The land around Garendon House was occupied by No 32 Ammunition Sub-depot and they were responsible for over 30,000 tons of ordnance stored on the site, and on the grass verges of the country lanes surrounding Loughborough.

At the end of the war the RAOC had to recovery all of this ordnance and either put it back into service, send if for recycling, or (for the more unstable items that they had) blow the living daylights out of it in a disposal pit.

WW2 Treasure Hunters covered the story well, but what it didn’t dig down in to was what they were blowing up at the depot. After all, they dealt with everything from small arms ammo to artillery shells, grenades, mines and even incendiary bombs. The finds made around the location of the old disposal pit over the last few years, have given a real insight into what they were disposing of. The location of the pit and the surrounding field is littered with the exploded remains of many a piece of ordnance, and identifying each piece confirms exactly what they were blasting into pieces!

The site was visited by members of the WW2 Relic Retrieval & Preservation Group on the 15th September, then a return visit by just myself on the 21st September. Some of the finds were what we expected to find, having been digging the site for a few years now. 40mm Bofors shell fragments, No 3 fuzes from Mk V anti-tank mines and incendiary bomb tile breakers are all common finds at the site. But some of the finds have added to the story, with evidence of other bits of ordnance being blown to hell and back in the quiet country estate!

First off, the finds made by the group members from the first dig…..

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Bases from 40mm Bofors shells, No 3 mine fuzes, 40mm nose fuze, Spigot mortar drill round, protector for the base of an artillery shell, trip plate from a Mk 2 shrapnel mine
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No 3 fuzes from Mk V anti-tank mine, 40mm HE shell, 40mm booster tuber
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More 40mm and No 3 fuzes along with a trasport cap from a 25pdr
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Artillery shell base protector, 40mm, transport cap and a spanner (probs not WW2 but who knows!)
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40mm base just coming out of the ground. Spotted it?

 

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Freshly dug…..and nicely dated
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My finds from the dig after a bit of a scrub.
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No. 3 fuzes from British Mk V anti-tank mine
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No 3 fuze markings
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No 3 fuze markings
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No 3 fuze markings
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Chunk of 40mm shell as well as a peice of drive band
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Trip plate from a Mk 2 Shrapnel mine (many thanks to Alan for the prompt ID of this item)

 

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Diagram showing the trip plate, top right.
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The very battered remains of a 20mm Oerlikon cartridge
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40mm shell bases. Looks like the demolition charge was placed just above the rim of the cartridge case, as we rarely find anything bigger than this
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Headstamp
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Headstamp

 

Not a bad dig at all with plenty of finds. The piece from a Mk 2 shrapnel mine was a first for this site so it has added to the inventory of what was being disposed of.

I returned 6 days later, on my own this time, and had another good dig.

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Pre-cleaning
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Post cleaning
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More No 3 fuzes
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More 40mm cartridge case bases
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40mm HE shells, or at least the remains of them. Look closely on the drive band and you can see a WD arrow and the number 33.
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Booster from a 40mm
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From left to right…..internal component from a fuze, 45cal bullet, .50cal cartridge case, percussion cap from inside a No. 36M grenade. This last item is a very unusual find and must have been removed from the grenade as it would not have survived the explosion if it was still in place inside the grenade.

 

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Diagram showing the percussion cap at the bottom of the centre piece.
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Incendiary bomb tile breaker, British made (shown by the rings on the bottom portion)

 

These two digs have shown that there were No 2 shrapnel mines as well as possibly No 36M grenades also being disposed of at the site. The artillery shell protective caps were also a new find! The history keeps coming……

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