The Iron Harvest

I had heard about the ‘Iron Harvest’ before visiting the WW1 battle fields but have been shocked at the sheer volume of shells casings and shrapnel fragments all over the landscape. The urge to walk into a field and look for “rusty bits” like lumps of iron shell casing, shrapnel balls or bits of equipment is hard to resist. Although the fighting in the northern front stopped over 90 years ago, there is still a large quantity of WW1 ammunition, artefacts and explosives in the Salient. During World War I an estimated one tonne of explosives was fired for every square metre of territory on the Western front and as many as one in every three shells fired did not detonate. In Ypres an estimated 300 million of the 1.4 billion projectiles that the British and the Germans forces fired at each other during World War One failed to explode and most of them have not been recovered. Today I was advised that in 2013 alone 160 tonnes of munitions were unearthed from the areas around Ypres.

Surface Ordinance and Artifacts

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