ACHTUNG MINEN! – REMOVING GERMAN LAND MINES FROM THE BATTLEFIELD

From YANK Magazine

In no other war have land mines been of such importance as in this one. Since mines are purely defensive in character, the have been used more generally by the Germans than by the Allies, taking the place of the vast barbed-wire entanglements of the First World War. Tanks have nullified the value of such entanglements, but a large mine field is still impassable for tanks until it has been laboriously dug up. This work was done by hand in the early tank battles like El Alamein, now mechanical sweepers are used that clear paths in hours where formerly days of dangerous digging by hand required.



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A lieutenant with detector goes through a German-marked mine field where one GI has already been killed, to pick up any mines that may be been passed by. Note stack of concrete antipersonnel mines.

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Jeep-riding American soldiers make a detour in a town in France. The town has been mined by the retreating Germans. Behind the mine marker rests a U.S. tank which found out about the mines too late.

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Soldier removes detonator from a Teller mine. The Teller mine is the most common type of German antivehicle and antipersonnel mine. They are often laid in open fields with narrow lanes known only to retreating Germans, leading a safe pathway through them for Nazi patrols.

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Soldiers hold a German concrete mine and another wooden box mine. Mines like these, containing very little metal, have been developed to fool the sensitive Allied mine detectors. When there is so little metal, it may not disturb the magnetic field enough to cause the change of tone.



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1. The first step in clearing an area of mines is to go over it with a mine detector. When the flat disk on the bottom of the detector is passed over a mine, the metal of the mine disturbs a magnetic field, which changes the toe of the hum in the operator’s headphones.

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2. After the mine has been spotted by the detector, a soldier starts to dig it out. Other men in the detection squad should not really stay so close to the mine digger as they are in this picture. They should lie flat, hugging the ground as closely as possible, in case the mine is jarred into exploding.

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3. After uncovering the mine, a pin is inserted in the pressure-type igniter. The pin renders the igniter inoperative and it may be removed in safety by the mine digger.



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4. Here a soldier is removing an S mine with pull-type igniters. The “Bouncing Betty” jumps in the air before exploding with a waist-high spray of shrapnel.

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5. After the igniters are rendered safe, the mine may be removed, but not until you’re sure there is no antipersonnel booby trap concealed beneath it.

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6. This is an S mine after being dug out completely. Note the three prongs on the igniter and the pin inserted in order to make it safe.



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