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76th Anniversary of D-Day & 4% Of Normandy's Beach Is Still Shrapnel

BeyondTheNow

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D-Day Fighting Was So Intense That 4% Of Normandy's Beach Is Still Shrapnel

It turns out that the fighting on D-Day was so fierce that as much as 4% of the sand on Normandy beaches is magnetic shrapnel that has been broken down over the decades into sand-sized chunks.
From BLDGBLOG, a paper in the upcoming issue of Archeology  finds that the spherical metal shards are a significant portion of the beach's composition.

In the photo to the right, see the smooth sphere? It's got a diameter of around one-tenth of a millimeter judging by the legend. That's sixty-year-old shrapnel, sanded down to a smooth, microscopic ball.

Also fascinating is the fact that — within 150 years — the beach will lose most of this metallic memory to rust. The sand-size fragments of steel will also be wiped away by waves and storms.

For now, though, it's still a poignant reminder of the immense loss of life and sacrifice that occurred there almost seventy years ago.

You can read the full post here.

http://www.bldgblog.com/2012/08/war-sand/?

https://www.businessinsider.com/d-day-fighting-was-so-heavy-that-4-of-normandy-sand-is-still-shrapnel-2012-8?IR=T


Pandemic makes for a lonely D-Day observance in Normandy

BENOUVILLE, FRANCE -- At daybreak on Saturday, Charles Shay stood lonesome without any fellow veteran on the very same beach where he waded ashore 76 years ago, part of one of the most epic battles in military historic that came to be known as D-Day and turned the tide of the Second World War.

Compared to last year, when many tens of thousands came to the northern French beaches of Normandy to cheer the dwindling number of veterans and celebrate three-quarters of a century of liberation from Nazi oppression, the coronavirus lockdown turned this year's remembrance into one of the eeriest ever.

"I am very sad now," said Shay, who was a 19-year-old U.S. Army medic when he landed on Omaha Beach under horrific machine-gun fire and shells. "Because of the virus, nobody can be here. I would like to see more of us here," he told The Associated Press.

Normally, 95-year-old Shay would be meeting other survivors of the 1944 battle and celebrating with locals and dignitaries alike, all not far from his home close to the beaches that defined his life.

"This year, I am one of the very few that is probably here," he said, adding that other U.S. veterans could not fly in because of the pandemic.

When a full moon disappeared over land and the sun rose the other side over the English Channel, there was no customary rumble of columns of vintage jeep and trucks to be heard, roads still so deserted hare sat alongside them.

Still the French would not let this day slip by unnoticed, such is their attachment to some 160,000 soldiers from the United States, Britain, Canada and other countries who spilled their blood to free foreign beaches and fight on to finally defeat Nazism almost one year later.

"It's a June 6 unlike any other," said Philippe Laillier, the mayor of Saint-Laurent-Sur-Mer, who staged a small remembrance around the Omaha Beach monument. "But still we had to do something. We had to mark it."

The moment the sun broke over the ocean, the Omaha Beach theme from the film "Saving Private Ryan" blared across the sand for a few dozen locals and visitors dressed in vintage clothing.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc across the world, infecting 6.6 million people, killing over 391,000 and devastating economies. It poses a particular threat to the elderly -- like the surviving D-Day veterans who are in their late nineties or older.

It has also affected the younger generations who turn out every year to mark the occasion. Most have been barred from travelling to the windswept coasts of Normandy.

The lack of a big international crowd was palpable.

In the afternoon, a flyover of French fighter jets leaving a trail of the national colours was reminiscent of the one U.S. President Donald Trump and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron watched from Colleville last year. This time, though, only a sparse crowd craned necks upward.

At the American cemetery on a bluff overseeing Omaha Beach, Shay went to pay his respects to over 9,000 servicemen, and again was the lone U.S. veteran at an intimate ceremony.

President Harry Truman's quote, "America will never forget their sacrifices," is etched into the cemetery's Orientation Pavilion.

With Americans unable to come over to Normandy this year, the French proved to be trustworthy alternates in fulfilling Truman's vow.

Ivan Thierry, 62, a local fisherman who catches sea bass around the wrecks that still litter the seabed nearby, was holding an American flag in tribute even before dawn.

"There is not nobody here. Even if we are only a dozen, we are here to commemorate," he said.

https://www.ctvnews.ca/mobile/world/pandemic-makes-for-a-lonely-d-day-observance-in-normandy-1.4972440

 

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Colin Parkinson

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Thanks very neat, I like the reminder that in a 100 million years our foot print won't be much.
 

mariomike

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"Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely."

General Dwight D. Eisenhower
 

Oldgateboatdriver

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BeyondTheNow said:


BeyondTheNow:

I've been out on mine warfare exercises with the French Navy in the mid-90's as a NATO observer. In that "exercise", we found a whole bunch of the training mines that had been set up, but also two real mines left over from WWI and WWII which the French navy then proceeded to detonate. When the UK about four years ago started to dredge Portsmouth harbour so the new QUEEN ELIZABETH class aircraft carriers could be based there, they found an unexploded 500 pound bomb from the Blitz that had to be blown in place. In Germany, they regularly find unexploded ordinance under their streets when doing roadwork.

There are tons of unexploded and discarded ordinance all over Europe. Those things are the legacy of having been at the epicentre of the two largest modern/mechanized wars the world has ever seen. 
 

BeyondTheNow

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Oldgateboatdriver said:
BeyondTheNow:

I've been out on mine warfare exercises with the French Navy in the mid-90's as a NATO observer. In that "exercise", we found a whole bunch of the training mines that had been set up, but also two real mines left over from WWI and WWII which the French navy then proceeded to detonate. When the UK about four years ago started to dredge Portsmouth harbour so the new QUEEN ELIZABETH class aircraft carriers could be based there, they found an unexploded 500 pound bomb from the Blitz that had to be blown in place. In Germany, they regularly find unexploded ordinance under their streets when doing roadwork.

There are tons of unexploded and discarded ordinance all over Europe. Those things are the legacy of having been at the epicentre of the two largest modern/mechanized wars the world has ever seen.

Thank you for sharing OGBD. It must have been quite a sight.

I’ve read a lot of articles about D-Day, and have a decent little collection of books on WWI & II at home. I’ve always been interested in, and intrigued by, reports which still circulate quite often about remnants found from battle(s) all over Europe—some still live like what you experienced. I’d never seen a photo of the sand in terms of what this article described though, so thought I’d post it.

I’d like to get there one day.
 

mariomike

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BeyondTheNow said:
I’d like to get there one day.

I have been to Eastern France regarding, "The war on the rails."

Not likely to get the Hollywood treatment, but I found it interesting nonetheless.

Halt US and British bomber attacks on German strategic targets. … Divert these airplanes to strike railways and bridges in occupied but allied France. … Accept in the process up to 160,000 French casualties. … That, in the spring of 1944, was what Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe, chose to do.

Eisenhower’s verdict was epic in its consequences. Except for Truman’s resolve to strike Hiroshima, no World War II air war decision was more complex or caused more bitterness than Ike’s move to attack the French railway system in advance of the June 6, 1944 Allied landings in Normandy.

Top Allied leaders called it simply “the transportation plan.” Because both attacker and defender were in a race against time, the outcome of the Normandy invasion hinged upon it.

Contrary to popular belief, Eisenhower saw no problem in getting his forces ashore.

The real test would come with Rommel’s counterattack, and Eisenhower wanted to stop it before it even got started.

The best evidence of success once again emerged from the deteriorating Wehrmacht. Air attacks on the German transport system led to a 40 percent drop in marshaling capacity by the end of 1944. The effect was profound: German factories manufactured 2,199 tanks from September to November 1944. Less than half ever reached German forces.

Eisenhower had said he’d judge the rail plan worthwhile if it delayed even one division. Instead, the combined effects of the campaign delayed them all in the crucial days after June 6, 1944. The results reverberated throughout the remainder of World War II in Europe, and, indeed, still do.

More at link,
https://www.airforcemag.com/article/0807rails/



 

my72jeep

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Oldgateboatdriver said:
BeyondTheNow:

I've been out on mine warfare exercises with the French Navy in the mid-90's as a NATO observer. In that "exercise", we found a whole bunch of the training mines that had been set up, but also two real mines left over from WWI and WWII which the French navy then proceeded to detonate. When the UK about four years ago started to dredge Portsmouth harbour so the new QUEEN ELIZABETH class aircraft carriers could be based there, they found an unexploded 500 pound bomb from the Blitz that had to be blown in place. In Germany, they regularly find unexploded ordinance under their streets when doing roadwork.

There are tons of unexploded and discarded ordinance all over Europe. Those things are the legacy of having been at the epicentre of the two largest modern/mechanized wars the world has ever seen.
I worked for a Canadian company in Berlin building wood house’s before we could dig we had to have the ground checked by the German army for UX. We were always finding mortar tails spent and live ammo. The area we were in had some fierce fighting between the Russians and German’s across the  Teltow canal. During my stay a Brit crew in the city hit a 500 lb with a back hoe the bucket was all that was found and it was 3 blocks away.
 

BeyondTheNow

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my72jeep said:
I worked for a Canadian company in Berlin building wood house’s before we could dig we had to have the ground checked by the German army for UX. We were always finding mortar tails spent and live ammo. The area we were in had some fierce fighting between the Russians and German’s across the  Teltow canal. During my stay a Brit crew in the city hit a 500 lb with a back hoe the bucket was all that was found and it was 3 blocks away.

Out of curiosity, I’m not sure if anyone would know this, but are there any areas anywhere (meaning the overall geography where fighting took place—even if comparatively minor) where crews no longer have to worry about finding anything—even if only smaller rounds and/or debris not likely to cause any injury or complications at all with construction?

 

daftandbarmy

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BeyondTheNow said:
Out of curiosity, I’m not sure if anyone would know this, but are there any areas anywhere (meaning the overall geography where fighting took place—even if comparatively minor) where crews no longer have to worry about finding anything—even if only smaller rounds and/or debris not likely to cause any injury or complications at all with construction?

Given the heavy bombing campaign over years, by both sides, I'm guessing that you could find something nasty just about anywhere.

The WW1 western front is also still riddled with UXBs, that's for sure. I used to hike around there alot and there were always piles of shells stacked like cordwood for the UXB guys to take away:

The Iron Harvest

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_harvest
 

Kat Stevens

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If I lived in Eastern France, Western parts of Germany, or Belgium, I wouldn't dig a potato patch without running a metal detector over the ground.
 

garb811

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Iron harvest
The iron harvest is the annual "harvest" of unexploded ordnance, barbed wire, shrapnel, bullets and congruent trench supports collected by Belgian and French farmers after ploughing their fields. The harvest generally applies to the material from the First World War, which is still found in large quantities across the former Western Front.
...
 

Colin Parkinson

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BeyondTheNow said:
Out of curiosity, I’m not sure if anyone would know this, but are there any areas anywhere (meaning the overall geography where fighting took place—even if comparatively minor) where crews no longer have to worry about finding anything—even if only smaller rounds and/or debris not likely to cause any injury or complications at all with construction?

Part of the problem is that planes in trouble jettisoned their bomb load pretty much anywhere and there were abandoned positions and dumps that went unaccounted for. One can be reasonably sure you won't find something, but you never know for sure.
 

BeyondTheNow

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Thank you everyone, I appreciate the feedback. I’m familiar with some of the points mentioned, but had never heard about whether or not any specific areas where regular excavations, searches and scans taking place had sufficiently cleared an area beyond the point of concern.

I’ve taken my son to the War Museum in Ottawa a few times over the years, and we’ve recently watched some war movies together also. He’s a rather inquisitive kid, and some of the questions he’s asked about things sparked some thoughts of my own when I couldn’t give him an answer.

We’ve also been looking at our Military Atlas of WWII (Chris Bishop) together a lot recently, and I’ve been thinking of the areas that were less affected.
 

Brad Sallows

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You probably have to stick to established trails in most areas that had any military use, if you want to completely stack the odds in your favour.  Even in the remote Norwegian hamlets/towns that were also host to German marine coastal batteries (WWII), not all the (land) mines in the wire-and-mine belts around installations were cleared.  A few sheep have lost their lives.
 

SeaKingTacco

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In France, there are still large areas known as “red zones”. They are too polluted with UXOs from World War 1 to be safe for anyone to traverse them, much less live in them. Also, the soil is dangerously contaminated with lead and arsenic from explosives residue. These red zones are are expected to stay in place for anywhere from between 1-5 more centuries.

Think about that. The physical legacy of World War 1 will last well into the 25th century.
 
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