500 First World War mortar rounds found near Ypres


A storage spot for mortar rounds from the First World War was uncovered in Ypres yesterday, the largest find of war munitions in more than a year

Size of find unusual

Workers on a construction site in the Ypres district of Dikkebus uncovered a cache of about 500 mortar rounds yesterday dating from the First World War. The rounds were never used, meaning there was a danger they might still explode.

The works were suspended and the army’s bomb disposal unit DOVO attended the site from their base in nearby Poelkapelle. Such munitions finds are commonplace in the area of West Flanders known as the Westhoek, where – often uncovered by farmer ploughing fields – they are referred to as the “iron harvest”. The size of the latest find, however, is unusual.

The most recent find of similar size was in Langemark-Poelkapelle, to the north of Ypres, in February last year, where a farmer had collected thousands of unexploded shells in his barn after turning them up one by one. 

First World War

Claiming the lives of more than nine million people and destroying entire cities and villages in Europe, the Great War was one of the most dramatic armed conflicts in human history. It lasted from 1914 to 1918.
Flanders Field - For four years, a tiny corner of Flanders known as the Westhoek became one of the war’s major battlefields.
Untouched - Poperinge, near Ypres, was one of the few towns in Flanders that remained unoccupied for most of the war.
Cemetery - The Tyne Cot graveyard in Passchendaele is the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world.
550 000

lives lost in West Flanders

368 000

annual visitors to the Westhoek

1 914

First Battle of Ypres