Army Tackles World War Poison Gas Shells; Explosives Transferred to Army Base

Article excerpt

A CONVOY carrying lethal phosgene and mustard gas shells from World War One has arrived at a French army base after being transferred from a depot that was in danger of exploding.

Nearly 500 soldiers, police and ambulances accompanied the seven-lorry convoy on an overnight journey from Vimy, near Lille in northern France, where 12,000 people had been evacuated as the army moved in to make the depot safe.

Unloaded

The local government office said the five-hour trip to an army base in Suippes, southeast of Vimy, had gone off without a hitch and the cargo would later be unloaded into concrete underground silos formerly used to stock nuclear warheads.

No chances were taken as the army commandeered a motorway for the slow-rolling convoy, which included dozens of jeeps, police cars, fire brigades and ambulances and was escorted by Puma helicopters. The munitions were carried in freezer trucks to make sure the gases inside remained inert.

Vimy Ridge was the site of a bloody Canadian assault on German trenches in Easter 1917. The area has served for more than 25 years as a depot for the many bombs and munitions still found frequently in the fields and beaches of northern France. …