Dud, unexploded ordnance, maybe something else?

Dud, unexploded ordnance, maybe something else?

In Poland, safety issues related to the use of metal detectors have always been neglected. The Polish Army does not conduct advanced training in the identification and classification of hazardous materials from world wars. Unfortunately, civilian sapper companies do the same, responsible for performing site clearance. However, this is a very broad topic and deserves a separate article. Here I would like to raise an issue so banal, and remarkable at the same time - whether the found object is an unexploded object, a misfire, or maybe neither of them?

Among the seekers focused on the numismatic side of the hobby, the terms misfire and unexploded bomb are used interchangeably. This basic error translates into a usually completely incorrect risk assessment, and the seeker is often terrified of completely safe things, when dealing with dangerous objects in a risky manner. In this article, there will be some definitions and some practical developments.

We talk about a misfire in the event of a failure of a component of the cartridge, which did not allow the shot to be properly fired (the bullet did not leave the chamber). This very common term refers to a fairly narrow group of objects and the statistical Kowalski excavator will encounter misfires mainly in relation to small-scale ammunition. Anyone who wandered along forest paths or fields near water reservoirs must have stumbled upon some misfire in the form of a discarded hunting cartridge. Artillery ammunition misfires are quite rare, especially that for separate loading ammunition, this term does not actually exist for us (for a simple reason, that such a misfire was supplemented "on the spot" with the necessary element). Hence, to speak of misfires as shells is simply incorrect.

Another popular term is unexploded ordnance. The definition is much wider, because it concerns ammunition, which, as a result of the failure of one or more elements, did not work after leaving the barrel. Unexploded blasts are generally regarded as very dangerous. In the case of artillery shells, the characteristic feature of an unexploded ordnance is the trace of the shell passing through the barrel on the lead ring. With mortar shells, it is difficult to tell a misfire from an unexploded ordnance, that it is based on identification based on the context of finding the find. Hence, all mortar shells are treated as high-risk unexploded ordnance. As far as these missiles are concerned, the matter is simple, because we have to assume in advance, that the fuse is in the combat position and the object is an immediate hazard, that's a bit more complicated with grenades. That's why, similar to mortar shells, pomegranates are regarded as immediately life-threatening, because usually the term, is the grenade an unexploded ordnance, or not, is impossible. So what if the found item is not an explosion, nor a misfire?

Paradoxically, the vast majority of dangerous finds in our country do not belong to the above-mentioned groups. Due to the poor substantive background, the term abandoned ammunition was developed (functioning in civil sappering). It concerns items, which are not unexploded ordnance and misfires, they are also ammunition remains. The basin of such facilities are, for example, ammunition destruction sites, where, as a result of the mistakes of sappers, thousands of missiles are still in storage after the war warehouses, which never used, they lie in our forests. The risk assessment in the case of abandoned munitions is unfortunately quite ambiguous and, unfortunately, the context of the finds is not always helpful, and often confusing. In the case of abandoned ammunition blown up, we have to assume, that great forces were exerted on the fuse of the projectile (during detonation), thus the arming status of the fuse is unknown, which in practice amounts to considering it as immediately dangerous. Theoretically, ammunition abandoned at a combat site could be considered potentially dangerous, although, unfortunately, we cannot assume at the same time, that the orderly handy storage is not the result of the post-war ammunition collection in the surrounding fields and forests. Such "storage areas" are a common element of the landscape of fields and forests directly adjacent to the sites of ammunition destruction - in the years 50. i 60. in this way, the hazard was "utilized" on the spot.

So is it necessary to assume, that everything, what just showed in the dimple, is a lethal threat? Well no. There have not been many reports of an accident involving military-grade hazardous materials during detector exploration in recent years, and so far these accidents have been caused by shameful errors. The most serious mistake made by seekers is manipulating an item unnecessarily. It's worth taking the trouble and getting to know the basic types of ammunition before exploring the battlefields, to see, what we may be dealing with (I guess, that there will be a lot of entries on the blog describing dangerous collectibles). We don't need precise identification, only the principle of operation of a specific object. After detecting the object, we minimize its manipulation to a minimum and leave it in such a state until the arrival of the relevant services. It is common practice in our country to bury such things deeper. This custom is well-grounded, and the reasons for it are well understood (also formal), however, it is worth remembering, in order not to change its position when such an object is moved (usually horizontal) and avoid sudden movements. Remember, that you are doing it at your own risk and despite everything, However, I recommend that you report the find to the services.

Another mistake, which last year I would have had a serious body mutilation for a young guy working on clearing the site, is to ignore the risk of the dangerous object being agitated by a spade. Modern detectors allow you to effectively track the target and determine its position in the ground, so on the grounds, where there is a risk of encountering a dangerous object (that is, basically all over Poland), I recommend digging in a civilized way and not "straight into the signal". Not enough, that you avoid the risk of destroying the phantom, then you certainly won't detonate any of the charges. Believe me, both man and spade do not look very complete after detonating even a small charge in the well.

Of course, all this is a defining outline of the problem of determining dangerous finds during searches. Please remember the elementary safety rules and train yourself, to minimize all risks associated with this beautiful hobby. Not only in forests, but also on seemingly "clean" plots from the rusty death of death.