Digging deep . ... in mud.

User avatar
Saffron
Posts: 603
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2020 7:31 pm
Has thanked: 711 times
Been thanked: 729 times

This is a post for a select few as I accept that I will soon put many off reading it. First of all it relates to beach detecting (there go some readers), secondly it relates to military finds (there go some more) and finally the finds are fairly recent (that has got rid of more potential readers)

So for the elite readers that are left here we go :thumbsup: . Hopefully you will enjoy the read and maybe learn something.

With the lovely sunshine on Saturday I thought before winter hits I would have a day out on the beach for a change, so headed to one of my nearest beaches (still over an hours drive). This beach is not far from a large popular town that attracts a lot of tourists to the beach, and hence is heavily detected, and although finding a few spendables helps towards the petrol its not really my thing. So I had targetted this much quieter beach on purpose as its extremely popular with dog walkers, and I am a big softie where dogs are concerned, but more so because I had found out it was an air to ground range in WWII.

Like most detectorists I have found my share of .303s but I knew this beach contained good condition 20mm cases and they are a bit different so I targetted them. Having detected here a couple of times before I knew that the top of the beach was your normal "beach finds" (including rubbish) and what I wanted was much further out ... in the mud ... so a long walk out into the mud meant I was in the area I wanted to be in and knew that nearly all the targets would be from when the area was used as a range in WWII with no modern trash.

It was actually a fairly short session as firstly I did not want to get totally covered in mud (although I still collected my share); secondly I decided that five 20mm cases and a few .303s (I only dug the "shallow" ones!) would be enough as I only wanted a few; finally as most of the 20mm were 12 to 18 inches deep in stick mud / black sand it was not easy digging!.

Credit to the Nox even with sensitivity at 20 (out of 25) even at 18 inches the 20mm cases gave a clear loud signal and solid TID of 38. I am sure that if I had upped the sensitivity or dug less solid signals that I would have found more at much greater depth but in those conditions digging 18" was enough as well before reaching that depth the holes were starting to fill with water.

Also nice to go out with a specific target in mind and achieve it. Although I have not looked at the headstamps in detail, yet, they are all from 1941 or 1942 - possibly reflecting the change from defence in the early years of the war to more offensive opperations such as ground attack as the war progressed.

I do not know what planes / units used this range (in fact I can not find anything about it online - which is frustrating!), but although we always think of planes like the Spitfire and Hurricane defending the UK in the Battle of Britain, once the allies went on the offensive they also proved effective in attacking ground targets either in direct support of ground forces or targets of opportunity such as enemy convoys. Likewise with fighter bombers such as the Mosquitos, and the American P-51 Mustangs and P-38 Lightnings. Hence the requirement for this type of range for the planes to practice on.

Its only when you see the size of the 20mm that you realise the difference between them and the .303s and realise the damage that a few hits from them would do on an airplane or other target, and the limitations of the .303 bullets.

Here is a bit of background relating to the Spitfire and its armament. Initially the standard gun on the Spitfire was eight .303 calibre (the same calibre as an infantry soldiers rifle) machine guns. Even if the eight Brownings worked perfectly, pilots soon discovered that they were not sufficient to destroy larger aircraft. Combat reports showed that an average of 4,500 rounds were needed to shoot down an enemy aircraft. In November 1938, tests against armoured and unarmoured targets had already indicated that the introduction of a weapon with a calibre of at least 20 mm was urgently needed.

Intial tests with the use of 20mm Hispano cannon had mixed results due to frequent issues with the cannon failing. However, The “b” wing entered service during 1940, 19 Squadron used it during the battle of Britain, but the cannons were still causing problems. Finally in November 1940 92 Squadron was given Spitfires equipped with two 20mm cannon and four 0.303in machine guns. This proved to be a much more effective combination of weapons, and became the standard for the “b” wing.

From October 1941 the universal "C” wing that could take 8 .303 macine guns or four 20mm cannon or two 20mm cannon and four machine guns was introduced. Each cannon now had 120 rounds, compared to the 60 of the earlier versions. This wing was used on the majority of Mk V Spitfires, normally with the combined cannon and machine guns configuration, which was produced in greater numbers than any other single varient of Spitfire and was the main version of the fighter during 1941, replacing the Mk I and II in service in time to take part in the first British counterattacks over France.

Evan
Attachments
DSCN0762.JPG
User avatar
Blackadder43
Posts: 2061
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2020 4:08 pm
Location: Somerset
Has thanked: 1157 times
Been thanked: 1127 times

Great write up, and although you had me down as a non reader of your thread, i still read it as it looked interesting :ugeek:

Were you close to my dwelling again on our beaches?
If so you should have said and i would have come out and said aye up :thumbsup:
I am not known for my ID skills, but i make a cracking brew :thumbsup:
Pete E
Posts: 919
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2020 10:05 pm
Location: North Wales
Has thanked: 1075 times
Been thanked: 652 times

Interesting write up Evan...

Have you ever tried to find any German bullet casings? Before I started detecting myself, I was walking my dog along the banks of the River Dee near Queensferry here in North Wales and got talking to someone detecting...

He showed me several cases with strange metric designations (I don't remember what exactly now) plus some lead butters he had found in the tidal mud on the river bank...He said the hot spots for these were near a couple of railway and road bridges...The local lore was that German planes would straffe these after attacking targets in Liverpool...he said bullet strikes were still visible on the railway bridge concerned...

I am not sure if this was a frequent occurrence (seems unlikely) but there was enough German cases in the area to indicate something did happen at least once...

Regards

Peter
Last edited by Pete E on Mon Oct 11, 2021 10:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Saffron
Posts: 603
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2020 7:31 pm
Has thanked: 711 times
Been thanked: 729 times

Blackadder43 wrote:
Mon Oct 11, 2021 9:25 am
Great write up, and although you had me down as a non reader of your thread, i still read it as it looked interesting :ugeek:

Were you close to my dwelling again on our beaches?
If so you should have said and i would have come out and said aye up :thumbsup:
Subject says "In Mud" so yes it was your direction.

It was a late decision to go your way else would have been good to meet up. But I only found £1.02 so could not have bought you a cup of tea.

Evan
Last edited by Saffron on Tue Oct 12, 2021 2:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Saffron
Posts: 603
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2020 7:31 pm
Has thanked: 711 times
Been thanked: 729 times

Pete E wrote:
Mon Oct 11, 2021 10:04 am
Interesting write up Evan...

Have you ever tried to find any German bullet casings? Before I started detecting myself, I was walking my dog along the banks of the River Dee near Queensferry here in North Wales and got talking to someone detecting...

He showed me several cases with strange metric designations (I don't remember what exactly now) plus some lead butters he had found in the tidal mud on the river bank...He said the hot spots for these were near a couple of railway and road bridges...The local lore was that German planes would straffe these after attacking targets in Liverpool...he said bullet strikes were still visible on the railway bridge concerned...

I am not if this was a frequent occurrence (seems unlikely) but there was enough German cases in the area to indicate something did happen at least once...

Regards

Peter
Glad you liked the write up.

That is interesting what you said about the "German planes would straffe these (railway and road bridges) after attacking targets in Liverpool" they were basically doing what the British planes were practising on the rage where I was detecting. Once a target had been bombed on the return to base when the risk of being intercepted by fighters was reduced it was not uncommon for some of the escorting fighters, (Allies or German), to swoop low and attack targets such as road and railway bridges as a "target of opportunity". Imagine the distruption it would cause if they forced a train to derail on a bridge. So I am sure that this did happen in the case you mention and its a fact rather than just "local lore", and the German bullets prove it.

I have never found any German bullets myself, but then I have never detected near potential targets for straffing, such as railway bridges. ..... :idea: :idea: There is a large railway bridge viaduct only a couple of miles from me maybe I should have a word with the adjoining land owner.

It would be interesting to know if other detectorists have found German bullets in these kind of locations.

Evan
Pete E
Posts: 919
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2020 10:05 pm
Location: North Wales
Has thanked: 1075 times
Been thanked: 652 times

Hi Evan,

I am not sure what the German fighters would have been armed, but I had it my mind they used cannon rather than MG? I say this because the cases I was shown were definately rimmed German MG cases rather than the larger cannon cases.

Also, I wasn't even sure German fighters had the range to reach Liverpool, but I suppose prior to D Day, they would have been flying from France...

Not far from the bridge in question there was also a decoy site built in the Dee marshes to lure German aircraft away from Liverpool..I am not sure how effective it was or how long it was operational, but it could be another reason there was cases in the area...
User avatar
shaggybfc
Posts: 829
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2020 8:46 pm
Location: Warwick
Has thanked: 697 times
Been thanked: 785 times

Nice write up. :thumbsup:
I once told an ex-colleague, who was suffering from poorly ankles that he should visit the muds of the Bristol Channel as it’s therapeutic and worked for horses. Needless to say, he ventured too far out and got stuck needing to be rescued 🤣
Always carefully proof-read what you've typed to see if you've any words out.
Deus with 11" X35 and 9" HF coils. MI 6 pinpointer.
User avatar
Oxgirl
Posts: 3382
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2020 4:21 pm
Location: Oxfordshire
Has thanked: 1973 times
Been thanked: 2516 times

Gawd you know how to put me off reading your posts don’t you :lol: Despite that (or maybe because of it) I read it anyway - well half of it. I scrolled down till the photos became visible and got all stressed cause it was ammunition. Think I am allergic to the stuff cause it makes me feel a bit queasy :sick:

Glad you had fun in the mud though :thumbsup:
chill…karma will fix it

Yes I really don’t like Roman coins, I’m not joking
User avatar
Easylife
Posts: 2510
Joined: Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:47 am
Location: Valhalla
Has thanked: 1941 times
Been thanked: 1890 times

This reminded me of the 20mm casing I found on pasture. It had some timber rammed into it! :Thinking:
IMG_20211011_193450.jpg
IMG_20211011_193527.jpg
User avatar
Steve_JT
Posts: 453
Joined: Sun Jul 19, 2020 8:10 am
Location: Salisbury
Has thanked: 380 times
Been thanked: 585 times

A great write up and info on what you found, I found these today, 5 of them, not at great depth as yours were Saffron but around 8 inches and on arable, not that far apart either, nice bit of brass for the scrap bin

Found this site to see what they were http://www.nebraskaaircrash.com/50caliber.html


Head is just over 20mm in width
Image

Image

Regards Steve
A foolish faith in authority, is the worst enemy of truth." Albert Einstein
User avatar
Saffron
Posts: 603
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2020 7:31 pm
Has thanked: 711 times
Been thanked: 729 times

Pete E wrote:
Mon Oct 11, 2021 11:05 am
Hi Evan,

I am not sure what the German fighters would have been armed, but I had it my mind they used cannon rather than MG? I say this because the cases I was shown were definately rimmed German MG cases rather than the larger cannon cases.

Also, I wasn't even sure German fighters had the range to reach Liverpool, but I suppose prior to D Day, they would have been flying from France...

Not far from the bridge in question there was also a decoy site built in the Dee marshes to lure German aircraft away from Liverpool..I am not sure how effective it was or how long it was operational, but it could be another reason there was cases in the area...
The ME 109 (the main German fighter) started with two synchronized machine guns mounted in the cowling, although an alternative arrangement was also designed, consisting of a single autocannon, known as a Motorkanone mount in German. As the war progressed various combinations of MG and cannon were produced. So like the Spitfire it depended on the exact model if it had machine guns, cannon or both.

What I said about the fighters straffing railways and bridges is correct. But in your case its academic as I had a "Doh moment" :oops: :oops: The German fighters could not reach Liverpool. (My feeble defence is that they could reach where I am and I just did not consider the extra distance).

So in your case the bridges had to be shot up by bombers. Looking at Wiki the HE 111 (the main German bomber) was only armed with machine guns, so this fits with what you saw being dug up from the Dee by the bridges.

Some of those Starfish decoy sites used as decoys to divert the German bombers away from cities were very effective (but I do not know about the Liverpool one). They saved many lives, and factories / infrastructure from destruction. The "Buildings that fought Hitler" program on the Yesterday TV channel had an excellent item about them a few weeks back, its well worth watching.

Here is a random fact about the Liverpool blitz. The last German air raid on Liverpool took place on 10 January 1942, destroying several houses on Upper Stanhope Street. By a quirk of fate one of the houses destroyed was number 102, which had been the home of Alois Hitler, Jr, half brother of Adolf Hitler and the birthplace of Hitler's nephew, William Patrick Hitler. .... Its amazing what you can find out on Wiki!.

Evan
User avatar
Saffron
Posts: 603
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2020 7:31 pm
Has thanked: 711 times
Been thanked: 729 times

shaggybfc wrote:
Mon Oct 11, 2021 11:56 am
Nice write up. :thumbsup:
I once told an ex-colleague, who was suffering from poorly ankles that he should visit the muds of the Bristol Channel as it’s therapeutic and worked for horses. Needless to say, he ventured too far out and got stuck needing to be rescued 🤣
Shaggy thanks for highlighting that.

He was not the first, nor last, to get stuck in the mud on the Bristol Channel. He was lucky to be rescued, as sadly lives have been lost due to people getting stuck in the mud and being caught be the incoming tide before they can be rescued.

The North Somerset coast, especially the Bridgewater Bay to Weston-Super-Mare area, has large expanses of what often is little more than mud, and in a lot of places with spots that can very easily trap people. Areas like the Wash and Morecombe Bay can be equally dangerous, and I am sure that there are other areas.

Going out as far as I did had a certain amount of risk, but I was being VERY careful and was fully aware of the tides.

Should anybody consider detecting in these kind of locations they need to be fully aware of the risks and take suitable precautions, and most importantly be aware of the the tides - they come in very quickly!.

I have also detected at Lavernock point on the north of the Bristol Channel, here there is no mud but its a different danger - there is only one small access point to the beach in several miles of shore (due to steep cliffs) so it would be easy to get trapped by the incoming tinde and unable to get off the beach.

If at all unsure be on the safe side and stay closer to the top of the beach and an easy exit point. Its NEVER worth taking a risk to try "a bit further out just in case" or to "Just dig this last target before the tide comes in".

Beach detecting on the dry sand at the top of a "tourist beach" is normally perfectly safe and I would not put anybody off it (although it would not appeal to everybody), but in other situations such as going further out or in more isolated spots it can be dangerous so be careful and always check the tide times.

Evan
User avatar
Saffron
Posts: 603
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2020 7:31 pm
Has thanked: 711 times
Been thanked: 729 times

Oxgirl wrote:
Mon Oct 11, 2021 1:52 pm
Gawd you know how to put me off reading your posts don’t you :lol: Despite that (or maybe because of it) I read it anyway - well half of it. I scrolled down till the photos became visible and got all stressed cause it was ammunition. Think I am allergic to the stuff cause it makes me feel a bit queasy :sick:

Glad you had fun in the mud though :thumbsup:
What are you doing reading this Oxgirl ? Actually as I wrote the initial post I thought Cath will not read this as it contains every thing she hates (I forgot the grotty Roman), so you are the last person I expected a comment from.

There are only 4 ways to stop you reading a post -
First of all beach detecting .... tick
Secondly military finds ..... tick
Third the finds are fairly recent .... tick
Fourth grotty Roman ... (failed to include)

But I challenge anybody to have a find on the beach that is both recent military and also grotty Roman.

As for it being ammunition I do not know why you got worried because these cases were only full of mud.
Unlike my last post on ammunition which was cordite :oops: :oops:

Evan
User avatar
Saffron
Posts: 603
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2020 7:31 pm
Has thanked: 711 times
Been thanked: 729 times

Easylife wrote:
Mon Oct 11, 2021 8:36 pm
This reminded me of the 20mm casing I found on pasture. It had some timber rammed into it! :Thinking:
Stating the obvious the brass is waterproof. If in the war a farmer found the 20mm case on his land he probably picked it up and then just recylced it at some point, maybe the bit of timber was a walking stick, or marker pole. Farmers do not like spending money unless they have to and its surprising what "random bits of scrap" can be used for to save money and this sounds like one of those instances.

Evan
User avatar
Saffron
Posts: 603
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2020 7:31 pm
Has thanked: 711 times
Been thanked: 729 times

Steve_JT wrote:
Mon Oct 11, 2021 9:39 pm
A great write up and info on what you found, I found these today, 5 of them, not at great depth as yours were Saffron but around 8 inches and on arable, not that far apart either, nice bit of brass for the scrap bin

Found this site to see what they were http://www.nebraskaaircrash.com/50caliber.html


Head is just over 20mm in width
(images removed)

Regards Steve
Steve, nice finds :thumbsup: . I bet they gave a belter of a signal. I am still looking for my first 50 calibre.

There are several great sites that enable you to find out so much about a case from the headstamps.

As I suspect Steve either knew, or found out today, there is a skill (I prefer that term to trick) to finding these kind of items.
The few .303s I bothered to dig, my 20mm cases and Steve's 50 calibre were all fired from aircraft and found fairly close together.
Think about it (these are general rules there will be exceptions!, eg dogfights)
1) Aircraft fly in a fairly straight line.
2) Aircraft fly at a fairly constant speed.
3) The guns / cannons fire at a fixed rate
4) The guns / cannons fire in bursts of a few seconds (not 1 shot at a time)

So once you find one you then work out in a circle, until you find the second .... this then gives the direction the aircraft is flying.
As the aircraft is flying at a constant speed and the guns / cannons fire at a fixed rate all you have to do is line up the first two cases and follow that line the same distance as between the first two and you will find the third and so on :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Well that would be the case if the aircraft only had one gun / cannon and in the 80 years since WWII the cases had never moved. :lol: :lol:

Sods law says that instead of the two cases being from the same gun, and hence showing the direction the aircraft is flying, that they are from the opposite wings and you will start off on a line 90 degrees out from where you should go; or one of the cases is out of the main line; or you found the first / last two in the line and there are no more and you should have gone the opposite direction.

But once you have found a few cases to confirm you are going in the right direction the above holds true. I have actually done this on an air-ground range and been more or less able to predict where the next case will be. It can be quite ammusing when you look back at the row of holes you have dug (allowing that you do not worry about the one you missed!)

Evan
Post Reply