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Otters Oddities

Looks like the Road Runner escaped again....

Meep Meep!

Explosions. Who doesn't like them? Well, the people at the center of them, mostly.


Actually, the people at the center usually don't even know there's been an explosion. They just cease to exist. Immediate death, if the explosion is big enough. So, I guess it's the people at the periphery of the explosion that don't like it. The 'survivors' we might say.

The explosion I have pictured is from World War I. It's the detonation of 14 tons of explosives under German lines on Hawthorne Ridge on July 1, 1916. This explosion marked the beginning of the Battle of the Somme.

That particular explosion wasn't the best attempt made by the British. It ended with a crater only 50-60 meters across, and 30 meters deep. And it 'only' killed about 50 Germans. Also, since the general leading the initial charge for the British wanted to wait after the explosion, the attack was not a success. (they paused 10 minutes after the explosion to begin the charge, instead of the originally planned 2. Had they gone right away, the Germans wouldn't have been able to recover. As it was, they had 10 minutes to prepare for the attack)

And explosions like Hawthorn Ridge are the subject of todays oddity. But it's kind of morbid. So I guess that makes this a Morbid Made Up Monday! By now, you should know how this works. I tell you something, you decide if it's true or false.


That explosion was the result of military mining. Mining during combat was the job of sappers. And it goes back a lot farther than a lot of people think.

Most have heard about the tunnel explosions from WWI, or even the American Civil War. (Vicksburg and Petersburg being the two major ones). Some even know that the practice goes as far back as the 'Warring Dynasties' in China. (480 BCE to 220 BCE).


Bt it goes farther back than that. The first documented use of mines, (or tunnels), in war is attributed to the Greeks in the 7th century BCE at the siege of Ambracia. (this is also the first documented use of poison gas in warfare)

The idea was, sappers would tunnel under the walls of an enemy city, and then pop up behind their lines. Or just to undermine their walls and collapse their defenses. And, it usually worked. As long as they weren't discovered.


Sometimes the tunnels were detected. And when they were, counter tunnels were dug to intercept the attackers and fall on them unexpectedly. Or in the case of the Chinese, they would build large fires, and using the large bellows used for iron forges, would pump smoke into the tunnel, suffocating the attackers.

In the middle ages castles were built with counter mining efforts in mind. One way to stop them was to build a moat. Deep moats made tunneling under them difficult. Castles were also built on solid rock, or on wet, soggy ground.


It wasn't until the Civil War that explosives began being used. Instead of just popping up behind the enemy, they decided it would be more efficient to just blow them up. So they did.

In WWI, the trench warfare made tunneling a sensible thing. Both lines were (mostly) static, so you could build tunnels and load them with explosives, and the enemy would still be there when you were ready to make them go boom.


That's your background. Now for the fun part. I toss out a fact, you decide if I'm lying or truthing.

The largest use of tunnel explosives in WWI was at the Battle of Messines in 1917. (this was one battle in the larger Battle of Flanders Fields). The British dug 21 mines under German lines and packed them with a total of 450 tons of explosives. At 3:10 am on June 4th 1917, the explosions began. 10,000 Germans were killed in the 19 explosions.


Now, you may notice I said 21 mines, but only 19 explosions. The British didn't detonate the two outer mines as they were outside of the battle zone and would have killed mostly civilians.

So, after the war, the British dismantled the other two mines, right? Riiight?

Well, no. it seems the British didn't pay very close attention to where they dug the mines. After the battle of Flanders was over, they discovered they lost the two remaining mines.


One, they found. The other, they haven't. And the one they found, they discovered by accident. Or, thunderstorm, really. In 1955, a thunderstorm detonated one of the remaining mines, killing a cow. While they think they might know where the second missing mine is, they haven't actually gone out and checked, so they aren't sure.

Ok Noisers, true of false. Did they lose two explosive filled mines only to have one blow up a cow? Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion to Morbid Made Up Monday tomorrow! Same Made Up Time, same Made Up Channel!

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