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A FARMYARD ON THE SOMME

This photograph shows a selection of ammunition collected by a French farmer during recent ploughing on his land close to where Blunden was in action in 1916. It awaits collection by the French Army.

Every year both in the Ypres Salient and on the battlefields of France, when farmers are tending their fields, shells, grenades and mortar bombs such as those seen in the picture regularly come to the surface. On occasion the remains of soldiers both British and German are discovered and are given over to the German or British Graves Authorities for interment.

At the end of the Great War it was an urgent necessity to clear the battlefields as quickly as possible so that the land could again be cultivated. Contractors were employed on a piece-work basis which encouraged speedy but not necessarily satisfactory work. In many cases the reinstatement was not well done. Deep dugouts were not always properly filled in. For instance, in 1916 the ground below the farmyard in this picture was made into a very deep dug-out being utilised as a Regimental HQ. The farmer says that in the early 1930’s a depression appeared in the yard as the inadequately filled in dug-out below ground slowly collapsed. The same thing happens today and in course of time no doubt there will be a wholesale collapse in the ground, probably caused when the passage of a heavy tractor over the yard finds the weakness, as was the case recently at Hooge in the Ypres Salient.

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