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  #1  
Old 07-01-14, 14:27
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Default War salvage in Europe

Something I've been meaning to post for some time.

How did the wreckage of war get cleared at the end of the Second World War?

Did the different nationals recover their own equipment, vehicles, bodies?

If so, then what happened?

Was there a program to refurbish some items or to just outright scrap others?

If scrappable, by whom, where?

Was there a Canadian agency who oversaw this process as regards our detritus?

Was this process part of the duties of the Occupation Force?

So many questions.
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Old 07-01-14, 16:22
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Default Salvage

In the 1980's a local veteran told me one of his army buddies stayed in France after WW2 and purchased the salvage rights to a stretch of the Normandy beaches. Sorry I can't be more specific and recognize it is at best anecdotal infornation. ... Brian
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  #3  
Old 07-01-14, 16:56
Eric B Eric B is offline
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Default vehicle dumps

Each country had vehicle dumps.

Canada shared some dumps with the British. We decided on what we wanted to keep, then turned some over to Allied Countries as aid. What was left over we turned over to the British.

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  #4  
Old 07-01-14, 18:16
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Default Salvage

Hi Jon, I know from my trips to France that many areas were not cleared of wrecks into the 70's, if you go to the Brit Mullberry site the museum has photos from the mid to late 50's showing much of the treadway bridge still there , farmers in the area also collected all manner of metal items , everything from beach obstacles to vehicles , there is also treadway on display at Omaha , every time I go I see new items that have come out of the country side, last time the other truck traveling with us found a Ben Hur trailer still with all it's US markings on one of the farms,
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Old 07-01-14, 19:21
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One of the interesting salvage stories is told at the underwater or undersea museum near Port En Bessin in Normandy where a large range of materiel recovered from the offshore sea bed is on display including a couple of DD tanks.
The salvers operated for many years after the war and worked in conjunction with a local smelter or foundry. From memory everything had to be cut up so as to pass through a one metre hole. Unfortunately not knowing French I couldn't glean all of the information presented but suspect that all the Mulberry block ships and much more went through such a hole.

Not far out of Lae in New Guinea sitting in the jungle there was a pile of aircraft debris almost the size of a house. The debris consisted of what parts of the aircraft that were of no interest to the salvers who had brought in a smelting plant to recover the aluminium. I have no idea how many aircraft they processed.
Today they call it recycling. It went on all over. Wherever there was a dollar or few cents to be made from it there were the entrepreneurs, the opportunists, the unemployed, the destitute.
After WW1 there were enormous quantities of shells laying all over the battlefields and people were employed to remove the copper drive bands with hammer and chisel. Every now and then one went off. No problem, plenty of others looking for work. The human detritus of war.

David
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  #6  
Old 07-01-14, 19:32
Michael R. Michael R. is offline
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Brit post wartime use carriers and trucks in Germany (?) heading for the razor blade factory.
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  #7  
Old 07-01-14, 19:54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael R. View Post
Brit post wartime use carriers and trucks in Germany (?) heading for the razor blade factory.
Hi Michael,
That photo and some others was taken in the 1950's after we had squeezed a bit more use out of them. Note the later numbering system which did not come in until c.1949. So not exactly clearing up war debris.
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  #8  
Old 07-01-14, 21:09
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Jon,

Fascinating subject; read up on this in the following Wheels & Tracks magazine issues:

Quote:
ISSUE No. 55 (April 1996)
Canadian Disposals and Returns - Canada-Europe; some vehicles did it twice.
The Dutch Inheritance (1) - Deelen Demob Vehicle Park.
The Dutch Inheritance (2) - The Enschede Dump.
Holland's Vehicle Parks - Soesterberg: 1 VP, Stroe: 2 VP.

ISSUE No. 56 (July 1996)
Surplus MVs for UNRRA - Part 1: Transport for Albania, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Germany.

ISSUE No. 57 (October 1996)
Surplus MVs for UNRRA- Part 2: Transport for Greece, Italy, Poland, Eastern Europe and China.
For the full listing of CMP and related subjects in W&T see this thread.

HTH,
Hanno
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  #9  
Old 15-01-14, 01:47
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Michael and Richard...whether war stuff or later.. that photo still hurts... oooooohhh

Years ago, my GF father was a german heavy machine gunner.. surrendered against the Americans... said everytime his unit took out a tank three more would come. As he was being placed aboard a prisoner ship for the US he said the docks were full of brand new equipment from typewriters to appliances to jeeps...all being bulldozed into a huge pile of scrap.

By the way, the guy became a master cabinetmaker -genius work
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Old 15-01-14, 02:03
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I spoke with an old fellow several years ago that emigrated to Canada from England a few years after the War's end. He had worked for a salvage company. He told me stories of his employer being paid to haul goods to the docks to be put onto scows headed out to the channel. The scows were dumped into the channel. When I asked why they did this he had an interesting reply. His reply was that the Government of the time was worried that surplus goods would be harmful to the economy. Why sell surplus wrenches and tools when there were factories in Sheffield and other places looking to produce new goods for the country to buy. Many industries would not be able to employ a workforce without orders. Considering the influx of workers coming back into the workforce after their military duty, scrapping commodities was seen as key to stimulating growth.
I suppose they were worried that many unscrupulous scrappers would re-sell and that surplus goods would work their way back into the economy.
Probably the same reason why the Canadian Government left so much gear overseas. It was more humanitarian to give it away to desparate nations trying to rebuild and cheaper than shipping it back home.
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  #11  
Old 15-01-14, 02:19
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ACtually chris I think you may be right on both counts

leave some stuff there to save shipping costs.. and dump the rest...exactly because Canada and the US didnt want used MVs flooding the market..... farmers buying used jeeps and trucks for $100 to plough the fields and drive around, or small firms to buy used MVs cheap for delivery and haulage when the Ford and Gm and Chrysler were desperate to sell new cars trucks and tractors

someone once told me they say a Cousteau show about the ST Lawrence and at one point they dove on a bunch of dumped WWII vehicles... plausible BUT, I have never managed to get any confirmation about that... never seen the show, nor has anyone I know.
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Old 15-01-14, 03:45
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Default Chris and Marc

I have heard similar stories about concerns the influx of returning vehicles to the USA in particular was not in the best interests of the auto makers of the day. In Canada, the story morphs a bit because the vast majority of what we sent over was RHD which raised it's own issues.

As for the Cousteau show, Marc, I believe the artifacts they dove to were from the freighter torpedoed in the river during the war with a full load of Valentine Tanks on board. Still there to this day apparently.


David
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  #13  
Old 15-01-14, 04:31
Gordon Yeo Gordon Yeo is offline
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Default Post war economy

The reason farmers and industry bought surplus military vehicle was, there wasn't an alternative. Post war manufacturing took a while too return to a consumer economy. My father went to buy a new tractor in 1947 and the strategy was order a tractor from John Deere, Massy Ferguson and International. The when the first dealer called you went and got what ever model he had. If you didn't want what he had, your name went back on the bottom of the list.
Gravel contractors and forestry contractors scooped up surplus truck for work trucks and even just the engines. It was not uncommon for field artillery tractors to be used as municipal snow ploughs. Most of the 15 cwt trucks I scouted out had The Municipality of " " on the doors. County and Township municipalities were given first chance on military surplus vehicles and buildings before public sales.
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  #14  
Old 15-01-14, 18:49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Dunlop View Post
I have heard similar stories about concerns the influx of returning vehicles to the USA in particular was not in the best interests of the auto makers of the day.
Correct, they lobbied until legislation was put in place to prevent an influx of surplussed army vehicles. Re-importing AFVs back into the US is still a big hassle today because of this. Ever heard of the dreaded Form 6?

H.
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Old 16-01-14, 04:23
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My great grandfather had a transport firm in Sydney (FW Johnston, now Johnston's Transport) early in the war most of his trucks were commandeered for the military, after the war you couldn't get a new truck for love nor money.

They ran the business for a number of years after the War by purchasing CMP kits still unassembled from war surplus sales. They were then reassembled, mostly without the front diff centres because they didn't need 4WD and to use as spares.
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Old 16-01-14, 13:15
Bill Murray Bill Murray is offline
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A truly fascinating subject to be sure.

I am not making a political statement here, but this aspect of history really brings out the truly staggering costs of modern warfare.

WWII is a particularly good example of this, where almost the entire GNP of the major combatants was devoted to making things, training troops which meant building bases, transporting said troops and things sometimes halfway around the world which meant a need for trucks, railroad equipment and ships and so on and so on.

And, in the case of the Allies at least, we way over produced these things in the sense that we never truly knew when the war would end and we did not want to get caught short handed.

So, here are some photos I snatched in the last days to illustrate the magnitude of this phenomenon. I should also add to something several others pointed out, in the case of soft skin vehicles, the US manufacturers did lobby fiercely against bringing back said vehicles but there were some clever folks that still managed as I will show in a photo.



First three are a salvage sale in the US in the late 1930's as we were changing to the generation just before the first "real WWII softskins". Second photo is a bike park in the UK selling off conscripted bikes and the third is a salvage yard in Italy postwar.
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war surplus 1930's 0114.jpeg   war surplus 1 0114.jpg   war surplus italy 0114.jpg  
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Old 16-01-14, 13:31
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Next batch are not from the ETO but would be typical of dumps found there.
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war surplus jeeps korea 0114.jpg   war surplus trailers okinawa 0114.jpg   war surplus tyres okinawa 0114.jpg   war surplus jeeps okinawa 0114.jpg  
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Old 16-01-14, 13:33
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Switching now to the US and a photo of a breakers yard in Ohio.
This man finagled a way to import surplus vehicles from various SE Pacific countries primarily to break up for parts. The photo is modern unfortunately but in any case they are still in that business.
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war surplus sam winer motors 0114.jpg  
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Old 16-01-14, 13:37
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Next, I am switching to aircraft which I hope is OK on this Forum.
They make for very impressive photos
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war surplus aircraft arkansas 1945 0114.jpg  
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Old 16-01-14, 13:39
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And, now, what happened to these aircraft.
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war surplus aircraft the axe 0114.jpg   war surplus aircraft the smelter 0114.jpg   war surplus aircraft the result  ingots 0114.jpg  
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Old 16-01-14, 13:44
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And lastly, a shot of B-32 bombers awaiting scrapping.

Interesting story here. The B-32 was a backup to the B-29 as a superbomber in case the B-29 didn't work out. It was in development from 1939 to late spring 1945 and only made a couple of photo recon sorties over Japan as the war was ending. It had tremendous teething problems such as a non functioning pressurization system, the tail assembly was changed several times, the remote weapons stations didn't work and several crashed.

In the end, out of about 1200 ordered only 118 ever entered service and every last one of them was scrapped by 1948. Even the one scheduled to be given to the Air Force Museum!!

Hope you enjoy the photos

Bill
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war surplus b32 dominator 0114.jpg  
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Old 16-01-14, 13:54
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Sorry, here is a more dramatic photo of the B-32 graveyard.
Bill
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  #23  
Old 08-02-14, 04:15
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Default tanks

December, 1943. North Africa awaiting breakers for scrap metal. Credit IWM E26958.
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Armoured vehicles near El Alamein wait to be broken up for scrap metal, December 1943. E26958 IW.jpg  
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Old 08-02-14, 04:30
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I wonder how much of that equipment ended up bypassing the scrappies and being refurbished. Wasn't there a lot of ex-German equipment still in service in the Middle East into the 1960's, and possibly somewhere in Scandinavia? Probably a very good spare parts market running for that time as well.

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Old 08-02-14, 15:13
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Diverting the course of this thread a little, but what to extent did recycling occur during the war? We have heard stories of scrap metal drives to feed war production, but how much scrap returned from the Front to be re-used in the factories? Presumably all those convoy ships crossing the Atlantic returned with nearly empty cargo holds, just as Road Transport supplying dumps near the front would have been "light" going back to the beachhead. I think of the amount of small arms and artillery brass cartridge case that would be measured in the tons, that today would be highly sought and valuable scrap. Perhaps rifle brass would have been uneconomic to retrieve in all circumstances, but artillery is generally at a fixed point at one end of an established line of supply. How much spent brass would have been stacked by the guns following the massive barrage of El Alamein? In both senses of the word, I would say thousands of Pounds worth!
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Old 08-02-14, 15:43
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Hi Tony:

I would like to expand on my answer but have a bit of stuff to do right now but in the meantime, the following link will answer a little bit of your question about returning convoy ships.

Bill

http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question...6062830AAsmlgq
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Old 08-02-14, 16:52
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Tony.

I am not sure about other countries, but I ran across a book here in Canada a number of years ago that had been published by some federal gov't department in the late 1940's, which alluded to Canada not at all being interested in returning scrap of any kind for processing. They had very rapidly downsized the RCN and Merchant fleets within two or three years of the war's end and probably could not have brought much back even if they had wanted to. One only has to take a tour of western coastal communities in British Columbia today to see how many harbours were built from the sunken hulks of our wartime naval fleet. I suspect the focus for the government of the day was to maximize jobs on the home front for all the demobbed vets and you can hire far more at the raw material level than at some midpoint in the manufacturing process for recycling.

There was probably also the added benefit of leaving the junk in situ to help the recovering economies in Europe and elsewhere. A far more progressive concept than what the Allies came up with at the end of the First War, thank God.

David
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Old 09-02-14, 14:40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Smith View Post
Diverting the course of this thread a little, but what to extent did recycling occur during the war?
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Dunlop
I ran across a book here in Canada......... which alluded to Canada not at all being interested in returning scrap of any kind for processing. They had very rapidly downsized the RCN and Merchant fleets within two or three years of the war's end and probably could not have brought much back even if they had wanted to.
My question relates to Wartime, when Armament and Munitions production would have required huge inputs of ferrous and non-ferrous metals. If recycling of available in-theatre scrap was not happening, where did the metals come from? (I'd expect that mining and refining of metals would have been affected by manpower, and Britain in particular would have had limited to imports of raw material.)
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Old 09-02-14, 15:55
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Recycling during wartime? Naturally. Use prisoner labour too. A few carrier bits spotted there!
Images credit of IWM collection.
Attached Thumbnails
Scrap metal being loaded aboard ships at Antwerp docks for shipment to Great Britain Copyright I.jpg   Ammunition dumping ground off Scotland, Royal Army Ordnace Corps place shells on gravity rollers.jpg    IWM (BU 7881).jpg   German prisoners in Caen stripping  axels of salvageable parts..jpg  

Last edited by Michael R.; 09-02-14 at 21:26.
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Old 09-02-14, 17:12
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Where do you want this one Sarge...?

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