Monday, November 11, 2013

Mustard gas blisters and a daily risk of death: Bravery of soldiers still clearing the 'iron harvest' of World War I shells from beneath Flanders' fields

Via WiscoDave

 Cpl. Nico Sierens stands with a collection of rusting World War I shells discovered 100 years later in the former fields of battle

  • Belgian DOVO army squad collects and destroys mines and shells still active after a century
  • Fields littered with tens of thousands of unexploded shells, some with deadly chemical weapons like mustard gas
  • Work to clear as many mines as possible for events marking 100th anniversary of World War I next year
  • In 2012 160 tonnes of munitions unearthed from under Ypres, including bullets, stick grenades, naval gun shellsThe Duke of Edinburgh will represent the Queen and his country on Armistice Day tomorrow at what will signal the beginning of a year of extraordinary remembrance and commemoration ahead of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One.

    He will be in Ypres in Belgium - 'Wipers' to the legions of men who suffered and died in the cauldron of the infamous salient - as thousands of families across Britain prepare for pilgrimages next year to the battlefields where their ancestors held the line against the Germans determined to expel them.  

    The guns fell silent long ago.  But the tranquil beet, wheat and potato fields of Flanders still harbour the whizz-bangs, toffee apples, moaning minnies, Jack Joneses and a terrible plethora of other devices given jocular names by the troops who suffered grievously under their downfall.

    More @ Daily Mail
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