Going through my archives of the time we filmed Battlefield Recovery, I found some pictures that I've never published, nor were featured on video. A couple of them are rather interesting, and really highlight the dangerous environment we were digging in. Now I have a few more Metal Detecting years under my belt, I'm not entirely sure I'd be happy doing something like this again without some new pants.
This first picture was 'Schwab's' mess tin, shovel and perhaps Kar98. We can't be sure if all these items belonged to him, but they were found together in a small swamp. Frustratingly, I had another good signal down there, but we just couldn't get down deep enough to fetch it. These items are now sitting in the Latvia War Museum in Riga. I think some of these finds featured in episode 4?
Big scary sign in Latvia, which basically says 'don't dig anything up, as it'll probably blow you up. Especially stuff that looks like this.' Ah, signs, eh? Signs are for wimps. I think.
Finding these coins was brilliant! We had literally just settled down for a break, when Stephen noticed a wallet under the tree that we were sitting under. Inside were these three German coins. Considering where we were (it was the first time the Germans and the Russians came across each other) and the huge battle that went on there, the Swastikas on the coins were a cold reminder of what would eventually manifest. War, eh? What a load of fun.
See that? That's an MG42 which has seen better days. That's an MG42 that has taken one hell of a beating. That's a rusty old git.
A bunch of still volatile grenades. It's interesting, as there are a lot of 'experts' in the military field that claim that explosives no longer pack any punch, as they've been in the ground for 80 years. This, is tosh. I found a few German rounds with the cordite presenting, and we lit it (perfectly legal in Latvia, the realm of freedom) and trust me, it's still as potent as the day it was dropped. Transpose that to other explosives in old bombs and grenades, and I can safely say that this stuff isn't to be messed around with. Especially after 80 years of the metals weakening in the ground.
Another bomb. Howitzer shell, I believe. The red and white tape tied to the twigs is there for our protection. It doesn't matter that the JCB driver literally scrapped the bomb with the digger. The tape will save us.
Me being a bit of a redneck on a jeep. That's one thing I really enjoyed about Latvia. Although dangerous, the lack of 'red tape' makes it a fun place to be. Dangerous, but fun. They say it's culturally a lot like Britain in the 50's, and I'd probably agree with that if I was born then. A slower way of life. A lot more freedom. You want to chew on an old bomb, and blow your head off - you go for it old chap. Drink vodka for breakfast, and smoke 80 cigarettes a day? That's your choice. No-one is going to stop you. I think I could run a child over in this Jeep and no-one would be bothered. That's real freedom.
I believe that this is a Russian medics badge? I'm not 100% sure as I was more focused on getting the poor blighter out of the hole and buried properly. This is what gets me about the Archaeologists opinion of the show. This is already a grave? Oh, Ok. How would you like to be left in a cold, rotten hole, with a boulder on top of you that literally split you in half? That's how you would like to remain buried? Or, would you prefer that your remains and effects be exhumed with respect, and re-buried alongside your country-men, and comrades in offical graves? Hey, Archaeologists. Ask any currently serving soldier what they would prefer, why don't you? Ya petals.
Myself with some of my Latvian friends from Legenda. This was 7AM in the morning, and they'd already downed 8 cocktails and smoked 10 cigars each at this point. Real men. Life expectancy of the average Latvian male is only 19 and a half, but they sure pack a lot of freedom into those 19 and half years. I'm going to miss them.