Minefield Clearance Techniques

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Drew5233, Jan 26, 2011.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I'm surprised there is no general thread on this subject - That I could find.

    Anyway my question is:

    Was it common practise for Minefields to be cleared from the air with bombs or with artillery?

    I'm aware of charges on a cable fired into a field then detonated and flail tanks and chaps prodding and or using detectors etc. So no need to mention them ;)

    I was watching Ice Cold in Alex yesterday (I know it's only a film) and a scene showed Stukas clearing a quick path through a minefield for the armour to advance in North Africa. It does seem a rather expensive way to clear a path but I did wonder if any air forces actually did this or artillery barrages ?

    Cheers
    Andy
     
  2. Philip Reinders

    Philip Reinders Very Senior Member

    It would a least the safest way for the infantry, although there is ofcourse a risk that unexploded ones, are blown away, when using bombs or artillery
     
  3. Capt Bill

    Capt Bill wanderin off at a tangent

    or use of Flail/Crab

    [​IMG]
     
  4. kfz

    kfz Very Senior Member

    Never heard of it before. Have to be very accurate bombing with quite large bombs. only haver to be a few yards out and it would miss a chunk. Would it also reliably explode mines?

    plus the added problem that it would churn up the ground so much it could be a bigger problem than the mines.
     
  5. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    I'd say it was artistic license for dramatic purposes.
     
  6. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

  7. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    During my spell in the line with the 4th QOH, I was always amazed (and full of admiration) for the tapes put up by the RE units showing us where the minefields were.

    I now await Brian's comments on the various tactics that were involved in the clearing of minefields and whether or not he ever saw aircraft employed as discussed above.

    In the meantime I once again offer this little piece regarding a time when I faced my own buttock clenching situation :(

    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.

    On April ll th I went with Lt. Walmsley by jeep to Lugo. We stopped the jeep on the outside perimeter and looked across one of these bridges at the town that we could see in front of us.

    The trouble was that the bridge had obviously been hit by shell fire and was in a bit of a mess. It did, however, look as if we could get across on foot through the rubble.

    With its back to us a notice board had been fixed in the centre of the bridge and Walmsley said to me: "Nip over there and see what it says."

    Without any further thought I did this, and after I had reached the spot and read the notice I called across to Walmsley in what I hoped was not too shaky a voice: "It says 'Achtung Minen!'.

    I had, in fact, just walked through a Jerry minefield and was now faced with the unpleasant task of trying to remember exactly where I had placed my feet on the journey in. The fact that 58 years later I am able to write about the incident means, of course, that at the time I must have been blessed with either a good memory or good luck.
     
  8. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    see Andy's 1st post.

    I'm aware of charges on a cable fired into a field then detonated and flail tanks and chaps prodding and or using detectors etc. So no need to mention them
     
  9. KevinC

    KevinC Slightly wierd

  10. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    see Andy's 1st post.





    I did.
    And thought it worth putting a link to an explanation of what he mentioned for those that may not be familiar.

    Though a 'general' thread called 'mine clearance' is a bit weird without 'em, and if we stick to this 'aerial clearance' theory, then it's probably going to be a rather short thread. Retitle maybe?
     
  11. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Though a 'general' thread called 'mine clearance' is a bit weird without 'em, and if we stick to this 'aerial clearance' theory, then it's probably going to be a rather short thread. Retitle maybe?

    Renamed to mirror Andy's specific request.
     
    von Poop likes this.
  12. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Minefield Clearance technique as seen in a film
    :lol:
     
  13. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Cheers :lol:

    Any thoughts on Artillery? A box barrage maybe ?
     
  14. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Mine clearing by artillery or bombs? A bit fanciful isn’t it?
    Bombs and shell explode upwards, mines need a downward pressure to detonate. I have never witnessed such an event, nor have I heard of one?
    Several events come into play when dealing with minefields. One, the enemy will have his artillery zeroed in, exactly on the mine field.. Secondly, mine fields are never laid with just Anti tank mines, they always have a scattering of schu and S mines to make life difficult. One foot outside the cleared zone Bang….Shit, there goes me leg.
    Minefields are more than often cleared at night. And out in front of the leading infantry. I can say quite proudly, we got it off to a fine art. Though the enemy would always sweep the front panorama with bursts of Spandau fire…Down lads!
    Mine clearing at night becomes infinitely more difficult with the presence of schu and S mines, pretty lethal in the dark.
    Flail tanks often failed to detonate Anti Tank mines. If the ground is uneven then the chains would not touch the mine. he chains just did not go into “Hollows”
    Laying mines out in front of everyone was the most scary. Again, we got it off to a fine art, but the greatest danger was that we had to get the mines out in front of our leading troops, that entailed a lot of mines, only transported with a Bedford. That is where the danger lay…… The Bedford’s had a noisy gear box, and that noise carried a long way at night. That immediately made the enemy aware what was going on. “BUGGER”
    Mines took a terrible penalty amongst out troops, every day the schu claimed many casualties. In Holland we lifted a quarter of a million mines. Including the new R mines that claimed the lives of a mine lifting team of my mates, and Platoon Sgt with the officers.
    Unfortunately I fell victim to an S mine. In Normandy.
    Later we used mine dogs to locate schu mines, and their handlers swore by them. Me? I was not going to trust some scruffy canine with my legs or my future love life, and the ability to father children. A rather large Black Labrador by the name of “The Colonel” pulled his handler outside the tapes, and had his leg blown off. But bombs or shells to neutralize a minefield. A bit fanciful to say the least.
    One other thing about mines. If you tread on a schu mine, hope that your legs are in a closed position. Apart? and your may well lose your precious genitalia and with the misery that event would cause….
    Sapper
    PS Mine clearing has changed very little since WW2.
     
  15. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    That'll be a no then - I thought the aircraft scenario was a poetic but I would have thought artillery was a possibility though.

    I must see if I can find some of my pictures of mine clearance in Kosovo-some are a bit X Rated though.
     
  16. KevinC

    KevinC Slightly wierd

    I must see if I can find some of my pictures of mine clearance in Kosovo-some are a bit X Rated though.
    :huh:
    we kept our uniforms on when we cleared mines!
     
  17. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    Post WWII in Rhodesia where boosted landmines were common on dirt and even tarmac roads a strange vehicle called the pookie was utilised as an efective high-speed mine detector.
    Operated by one mine clearance engineer they were very effective. The vehicle would detect the mine, the operator would then stop halt the convoy and disarm the mine.

    Dr JRT Wood: Fire Force: Helicopter Warfare in Rhodesia: 1962-1980
     
  18. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member

    My Father who went to Norway in May 1945 with 1st Airborne Division told me of a very effective method that they used to clear minefields. They made the German prisoners do it and then walk the "cleared" minefield shoulder to shoulder. Crude but apparently very effective with one or two "accidents" in the early days.
    Initially I had some doubts about this but subsequently found confirmation in Otway's book "Airborne Forces" (Page 328 para 20)

    John
     
  19. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    This was a post-hostilities arrangement, before the German surrender it would not have been possible.

    Post war many DPs were involved in mine clearance across Europe
     
  20. skimmod

    skimmod Senior Member

    PS Mine clearing has changed very little since WW2.

    Very true indeed! It's still a case of "look, prod, feel"

    Did a short course not long ago and my mine kit involved 20 6" nails with orange and white mine tape, a wire coat hanger and a tent peg!!

    Can't get more technologically advanced than that :)
     

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