Mine detection

Discussion in 'Royal Engineers' started by Paulamorgan, Jan 14, 2011.

  1. Paulamorgan

    Paulamorgan Member

    Hi,

    I wonder if you can help me?

    I have seen a photo of a sapper in the process of mine detecting with a very large amount of white tape on a stick (looks like a large candy floss for want of a better description)

    My question is when you detected the mine(s) in a field did you lay out a path with this white tape and how was it laid out.

    1. Was it attached to sticks to keep it off the ground or 2. Just laid on the ground and held in place with stones?

    I hope you understand what I’m trying to say?

    The American and German? had metal flag type affair I believe.

    Thank you for any help.

    Paul
     
  2. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Mine tape was used exclusively to mark the safe area, there was no reason to put it on sticks, other than to make it easier to see...Simple as that.....Sometimes the mines would be marked for lifting later, if there was a damn great big hurry. Little Cones placed on top the mine, you can bet your bottom dollar that some bloody great lumbering tank would somehow or other managed to get outside the tape, and get a track blown off blocking the mine free path.

    My experience was a team of three, I swept for mines another Sapper made it safe and another marked the clean area......That's fine until one blows up in your face

    Sadly I still carry around a steel ball in my skull, never had it removed At 85/6 I shall not bother!
    Sapper
     
  3. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Sapper -
    well sometimes your candy floss white tapes got dirty - that's why we lumbered off the track - didn't want to blow up your mines as both driver and co-driver had their ankles broken and that would have meant that I would have had to drive the thingi and probably blown up even more of your silly mines - if you couldn't be bothered to lift the damn things ! Come on be fair .....

    Cheers Brian- love to HM Shiela
     
  4. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Wednesday 11th. April 1945
    Woken at 4 am to go into Lugo area with Recce party. Stood at X roads for a couple of hours. Area lousy with mines. Late breakfast when tanks arrived.

     

    A much belated but a no less sincere "Hats off !" to Brian and all his Sapper mates who located and defused all those bloody mines for us !



    Ron
     
  5. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    You big ugly tank blokes used to call us "Our little friends" On Sword a flaming flail ran over the tapes and ran over a "Teller"
    Sheila says " Hi Tom and Ron"
     
  6. KevinC

    KevinC Slightly wierd

    Mine tape was used exclusively to mark the safe area, there was no reason to put it on sticks, other than to make it easier to see...Simple as that.....Sometimes the mines would be marked for lifting later, if there was a damn great big hurry. Little Cones placed on top the mine, you can bet your bottom dollar that some bloody great lumbering tank would somehow or other managed to get outside the tape, and get a track blown off blocking the mine free path.

    My experience was a team of three, I swept for mines another Sapper made it safe and another marked the clean area......That's fine until one blows up in your face

    Sadly I still carry around a steel ball in my skull, never had it removed At 85/6 I shall not bother!
    Sapper
    looks like nothing changed in the 80's when we were doing mine clearing. Tanks never got the entry point correct and all hell broke loose :D
     
  7. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

  8. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Glad to see another "GENTLEMAN" of the Royal Engineers here. What a handsome lot we are to be sure,Virile Energetic! What was exciting (If you like that sort of thing)
    was laying mines at night, out in front of our infantry and under the enemy's eyes.

    We got it off to a fine art, and the dumb buggers never knew we were there. But they did sweep the area with several bursts of Spandau fire.

    In the effiing ditch at speed Lads!
     
  9. Groundhugger

    Groundhugger Senior Member

    I lso read somewhere that when they marked lanes through minefields and theyed ran out of tape , toilet paper was used ... I'm sure that would be very handy Too :)
     
  10. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    No never had to resort to that.... At the same time, there were times when no marking was possible. Yiou just made your way through as best you can.

    There are no hard and fast rules...War does not obey the rules of man....
     
  11. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Every mine presents a different problem be they Tellers, Schu mines, S mines, or Regal BAR mines!

    The Teller had an anti handling device underneath, so if it was armed it meant tunneling under "Carefully"! to ensure it could be lifted. Schu mines cannot be detected and have to be "Prodded for" S mines are devastating they can be set off by push pull and I have head by "tremblers" that detect near movement. It was the S Mine that got me...... the bastards!
    Sapper
     
  12. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    Mines are the devils geraniums - even hazardous to those who planed them in the first place - during the Rhodesian War some bright spark had the idea of setting up cordon sanitaires using minefields along the Eastern Border with Mozambique and around the resort of Victoria Falls - when the rains came the mines moved with the damp soil so each time we needed to cross the field they had to be prodded for resulting in casualties to our Engineers, also many were detonated by wild game such as Elephant and Buffalo on migration routes - nothing sadder than seeing a mine damaged Elephant that had to be put out of it's misery by the reaction patrol.
     
  13. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Groundhugger - toilet paper was usually too scarce to use as a marker - we ere allowed three small sheets per day - and that was in the better days !

    There has been a suggestion recently that some toilet papar should carry the EU symbol ...that would be apropos...considering the stupidity of that organisation in wasting money on calendars which have omitted Christmas and Easter - but listing all the other religious holidays - I would buy a years supply of that paper.....for posterity - I mean for posterior use only
    Cheers
     
  14. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    Brian
    As the son of a Sapper 8th Army variety I always wonder how any sapper managed to work in such conditions, knowing that death was sat upon their shoulder
    or lurking close by.

    I raise my hat to one and all they were and are gentlemen of the first order.
     
  15. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Fancied another little browse of IWM Collections:
    Imperial War Museum Collections Online Database

    Very neat bit of work by Brian's chaps:
    [​IMG]
    A Cromwell tank and infantry advance along a lane cleared of mines and marked with tape, near Le Beny Bocage, 1 August 1944.


    Making the men that planted 'em tidy up:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Clearing Mines on Jutland:
    Mine clearance work was undertaken by German prisoners of war under supervision of British personnel from a Mobile Disarmament Unit. Many of the mines were blown up in-situ as it proved too dangerous to have them lifted. The Mobile Disarmament Wing was also responsible for the collection of all German military equipment left in Norway. Much of this proved to be intact and included aircraft, tanks, lorries, one-man submarines, artillery pieces, small arms and radar equipment.

    ...

    Under the direction of Major Holland of the Royal Engineers and troops of the Danish Army, German sappers were put to work clearing the minefields laid during the German occupation of Denmark. The prisoners of war engaged in this work were organised as 'Minenkommando Danemark'. It was estimated that the Germans laid some 2 million landmines in Denmark, the majority of them along the west coast of Jutland.

    We became mildly fascinated by the automatic system on the Churchill Toad that Jaques Littlefield displayed (statically) at beltring - fired markers downward into the ground to either side once the flail had passed - not a new idea, there were other automatic vehicle mounted systems, but I did like the slightly Heath-Robinson nature of the Toad's device.
    Some views of the system here, but hard to make it out:
    SVSM Gallery :: FV3902 Churchill Flail "Toad", Jacques Littlefield Collection, by Vladimir Yakubov
    And Capt. Sensible's more general shots from when we saw it - (the oval box sticking up & out at the back):
    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=9116&d=1216643763
    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=9115&d=1216643763
     
  16. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    In early 1967, Brigadier Stuart Graham, the new Australian Task Force Commander, drew up plans for a barrier minefield which he believed would sever a vital Viet Cong supply route, preventing their movement from their mountain bases to the rice-growing areas in the west and protecting local villagers from communist influence. It would contain approximately 20,000 ‘jumping jack’ mines between two wire fences for a length of 10 kilometres, from the Horseshoe near Dat Do to the coast. Sappers of the Royal Australian Engineers would lay the mines, fitted with anti-lift devices, and the completed minefield would be guarded by Task Force and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) troops.
    There were a number of injuries and deaths during the mine-laying operation and casualties continued after its completion.
    The minefield’s security was ineffective and the Viet Cong breached the barrier fences, lifted the mines and re-used them against the Australian and ARVN troops.
    In August 1969, during Operation Esso, a 5RAR attack in the Long Hai mountains, fifty-eight Australians were wounded and nine killed. Most of the casualties were the result of jumping jack mines.
    Details of the minefield had been kept from the Australian public but the continuous stream of minefield casualties prompted public controversy and some difficult questions in Parliament.
    In 1968, Australian engineers began the dangerous task of sweeping and clearing the ‘barrier minefield’. Their success was limited until late 1969 when Major Rex Rowe, the commanding officer of 1st Field Squadron, Royal Australian Engineers and his colleagues devised a solution. Attaching large steel-plated rollers to the rear of an armoured personnel carrier (APC), they were able to trigger mines more safely.

    It took nearly two years to clear the mines from the field. By then, the Australian mines had contributed significantly to the Australian casualty rate in Vietnam.



    Australia and the Vietnam War
     
  17. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    The enemy was a clever bugger.He knew exactly where they had sown the minefields and had zeroed in their artillery on the area POP ON! They knew that we would have to lift the mines, so he could bring down fire right over the place with deadly accuracy......

    But its not only mines it was Booby traps to watch out for. Even their own dead!
    Sapper
     
  18. leccy

    leccy Senior Member

    Using minefields to channel you into pre-prepared killing zones and to break up the advance.
    Spent a while clearing mines and improvised explosives in and around Bosnia until the civy De-mining teams were set up. Similar to the ones laid in the Falklands in that there was little if any indication of where they were, the extent or composition of them. Made for some interesting moments.
     
  19. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Sometimes you come across Human mines...Specially where we saw action against the SS..something like this true account..

    Spud and myself, We both decided that a door over our hole would improve our creature comforts, and set off for a farm a short distance away, when we got there, all seemed safe and quiet, no sign of the Enemy, we started to look for our door, no sign of civilians, they had long departed for safer areas, while looking for our door we found the farm cattle in an enclosed yard, all suffering from wounds that had been sustained by setting off booby traps, this had an immediate effect of making us a great deal more cautious.

    Still in search of our door for the night we came to a farm outhouse, this was one of those typical Normandy outhouses where they kept the great cider barrels up on racks at the back and on the cobble stone floor.

    Spread-eagled on the cobbled floor was a dead German officer, resplendent in full uniform with sword and Nazi dagger, his medals pinned on his chest, including the iron cross. Knowing the Germans and their dirty tricks, we were only too aware that moving him would set off a booby trap of some description.

    Spud and I talked about "making him safe" by putting a rope round his feet and giving him a pull from a safe distance, to set off the very loud bang we knew would follow, in the end we decided against it, some else could do it, it would be far to messy. Not uncommon!
    Sapper
     
  20. Ben Blackwell

    Ben Blackwell Member

    Did all Sappers have to know about clearing minefields or were there a few in every unit who did it?
     

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