First World War bomb closes cemetery in West Flanders


The municipal cemetery in Avelgem had to be closed at the weekend after a gravedigger came upon an unexploded bomb

Iron harvest

A funeral in Avelgem, West Flanders, had to be postponed at the weekend after an unexploded bomb was found in the newly dug grave, Flanders News reports. The municipal cemetery was shut down and bomb disposal squad Dovo called in to safely remove the munition.

Though it sounds dramatic, munitions are regularly unearthed in West Flanders, leftovers from the First World War. It’s often farmers that dig up munitions – sometimes dozens at a time. Three years ago, 500 mortar rounds were uncovered in a field in West Flanders – the largest cache in years.

There’s even a name for the phenomenon in Flanders: de Ijzeren oogst, or the iron harvest. Some unexploded munitions contain poisonous gas. Dovo, Belgium’s bomb disposal unit, collects and disarms the munitions, adding them to the stockpile in Poelkapelle, West Flanders (pictured).

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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