Iron Harvest

The iron harvest. In the course my walks yesterday I noticed dribs and drabs of iron harvest in areas that were contested during the battles. But this became much more intense as I entered areas that were fought over repeatedly through the later summer and into the fall of 1916. The western flank of High Wood is a perfect example. Approaching traffic sent me to the side of the road opposite the wood, where a plowed field abutted the road. In the space of one hundred metres I noted one unexploded shell (British 18 pounder?) and a grenade, The former had been carried to the margin of the field; the latter was stuck in a clot of earth, but still clearly visible. There were also, of course, many shell fragments large and small scattered in the freshly turned soil. Farmers must get a little twitchy when working ground in this part of the world. The same must go for the guys who excavate for foundations and roads etc. Yesterday, just outside Fricourt, I saw a shell in the spoil from a foundation for a new house. It’s just normal for the locals of course. No one here can remember a time when it was any different. But it’s strange for someone who grew up in a place where the most dangerous piece of ordinance likely to turn up in a field is a stone arrowhead.

About cahagerman

Dad, husband, writer, historian, recovering academic, and the Consulting Professor.
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