The SOE haul!
This was probably the most unexpected day ever, we we're happily digging out an RAF base dump. When I say happy, I mean that 'I was happy', 'Jay was happy' but Alan, not so much. Unlike Alan he was a little lost and not knowing where to dig next. I pointed to an area where we hadn't dug before and advised him to dig there.
We all continued to dig and search for more relics. After a while he called me over and showed me something that I had never seen before. "What the hell is that?" I asked. Alan was excited and I knew it was for a reason. He said they are SOE pencils. I still had on idea, but knew I could figure the details out later. I went back to digging in my spot, a few moments later he called me over again. "they are everywhere!" Alan exclaimed and he also showed me a couple of different types. So I joined help to him dig them all out, he was right. Within a few minutes we had a pile of them mounding up. Jay also came over to join us and the pile just kept on getting bigger and bigger. Alan and Jay took what they wanted, I just loaded what ever else was left into m,y huge black army rucksack until it was full. I soon found a new problem! As these things are brass the
weight soon starts to build fast! I couldn't actually lift my bag off the ground and had to drag it back to the car. It took two of us to lift it into the car boot.
Once home these were piled into fruit crates, a great thing for sorting lots of relics. I later sorted them into types. First of were the number 9 time delay pencil, then the number 10 time delay pencil, number 3 engineers detonator, SOE pressure plate booby traps and a few boxes that some of these came out of.
Aside from lots of Googling to work out exaclty how these work and learning about the all the different types of SOE items there were, the puzzle was reallt "what the hell do I do with all these now?". I started looking about to see if anyone was selling them. At the time I could only see one for sale and that was a mint example up for £80! Ouch.... So I though I would test the water and cleaned one up, placing it in the jaws of a drill vertically and holding some fine sandpaper to it, a quick spin and it was shiny. So it went on EBay, back when EBay was more friendly to sellers of militaria, unlike it is now. It sold for around £40, I can't remember the exact price as this was sooooo long ago now and my memory
struggles with a day to day basis, let alone trying to recal things like that from years past. So I started to drip feed these into EBay and putting the money into other items of militaria into my own collections. Sadly, the police put a stop to this when the moron at Thames Valley Police raid me thinking I was some sort of terrorist/arms dealer/criminal mastermind. They had the bomb squad blow all these up, despite containing no explosives what so ever! Smart huh... so I was left with none for myself, I was then very pleased I had sold lots as the items I purchased where not ordnance realated as I have those insted to remind me of that place. On the plus side, we know there are still lots of items still at the site and we just need to go back. For some reason we still haven't but it gets mentioned lots that "we should go back to ......... soon", although it was probalby 6+ years since we were last there, it will be done soon.
As well as seling those pencils on EBay, I also wrote too all the museums that I thought that might want to display some. However, all the ones that replied, which as per usual when emailing museums wasn't many, started getting weird about them. Asking for evidence they were safe and that I needed to prove that I owned them. Now ask yourself, can you prove you own something that you found. How exactly would this be possible? Is there some agency in existance that verifies you own items that previously nobody knew existed? Bizarre! I think only one of two actually said they wanted some and were sent them. They rest either ignoring me, or just asking so many ludicrous questions that I gave up trying to give things away.
Hopefully we will get back to the SOE dump soon enough and I might have something more interesting to say!