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Clearing WWII ammunition continues to be an ongoing task

Latest dumping site found near Apeldoorn

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

HOOG-SOEREN, the Netherlands - Almost every week, somewhere in the largely soft soil Netherlands an unexploded WWII bomb is found, dismantled and detonated. Invariably they are 500 or 1000 pound bombs dropped by Allied planes during raids on German troops, strongholds and fortifications as well as on bridges and railways.

The country, its beaches and waterways said to teem with other WWII danger as well. Previously unknown caches of smaller shells and other munitions frequently are found. In the last few years, it was discovered that in the immediate aftermath of the war, munition was assembled for detonation at such places as North Sea beaches. Some of the grenades and bullets never exploded and were merely covered.

It surprised many as well when information was re-leased about large munition ‘pits’ in major Delta waterways, some dating from the 1960s. The Dutch Armed Forces had used the Scheldt River as dumping grounds.

German depot

The latest discovery of munition dumps has been made near Apeldoorn, where the Germans in 1943 had begun building what was to be the largest munitions depot in Europe. It housed not only ordnance for their own war effort, but also was used as a depot of captured and confiscated weapons and munitions.

The site was taken over by Canadian troops who added some of their own surplus munitions to the dump. Eventually, bit by bit, the various pits and dugouts were blown up. However, like at other sites, the demolition work was inadequate, so that many decades after the war, live grenades, landmines, and bullets literally are coming to the surface.

Cleanup work at the former depot Lützow began two years ago. Search teams are combing a 1,000 acres terrain, heavily wooded and crisscrossed by hiking paths. Since then, many thousands of kilograms of bullets, landmines, rockets, grenades and mortar shells have been dug up and detonated. It is estimated that the recovery - the site is uncharted and unknown pits could be as deep as twenty metres - will take another eight years to finish. Recovery experts most likely then will go on to the next munition finds. The legacy of WWII indeed is a long one.