Live Ordnance is Discovered Left Over from WWI

A slew of live ordnance that has been left over from the First World War is currently being discovered in France. These deadly explosives, which are known to have killed millions of people while the conflict was still ongoing, are still capable of taking lives today. So far, estimates place hundreds of millions of bombs and other live ordnance in the soil of just France and Belgium alone.

Even though one hundred years have passed since the beginning of the four-year Great War, many bombs, missiles, mines and other explosives have still been left where they lie without going off. This has become a problem, as these devices are generally found by construction workers starting new projects. When they strike the live ordnance during their work, it goes off and takes out those who are working on the site. Workers in Ypres have already died this year. Experts in bomb disposal have been working to fight the problem to the best of their abilities, but so far the issue persists. It has been such a prominent issue that it has even earned its own name: the “Iron Harvest.”

This name is apt, for the cultivation of unexploded bombs and shells has been a grand event. In just the past few years, hundreds of tons have been discovered. With over six hundred tons and over three hundred deaths, the issue of live ordnance left over from the First World War has become a growing concern. Especially in areas that were known to have been bombarded heavily during the war, there is a need to take this issue into consideration whenever new construction sites are formed.

Construction sites are not the only places where explosives have been discovered. They have also been discovered on farmlands, where they can get caught in the blades of field ploughs. Massive amounts of live ordnance have been discovered in this manner, leading some to wonder which locations are truly safe from this threat. Even worse, not all of the devices found have been explosives; WWI was the war which helped pioneer the use of gas attacks, and such devices are among those which have been found, the Irish Mirror reports.

Whenever live ordnance is found, the first step is always deactivation. In some cases, this has presented a problem. There are also a great deal of explosives currently being discovered in Italy, and the deactivation of a recently discovered blockbuster bomb took months to complete. No matter what form it comes in, live ordnance presents a safety threat to anyone who might discover it.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE