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A Field Full of B52 Bomb Craters in Laos

Pattaya One

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Inside a B52 bomb crater, still deep, over forty years after the bomb fell.

This morning we did our first war-sights trip using Phonsavan in northern Laos as our base.


On the way to Ban Khai

We drove though some stunning rice-growing countryside east of the town, near to the village of Ban Khai, where we planned to see a field littered with craters from bombs dropped by B52s and other aircraft, from the period of the Vietnam War when Laos was a free-fire zone for US planes returning from bombing missions over Vietnam.


Two of a string of bomb craters in the field

It is sometimes difficult to get an idea of how things looked in wartime Laos, because what is now a bare field might have been dense triple-canopy Jungle full of Viet Cong firing anti-aircraft guns back then. I had to remember that as I stood on top of an incline in the crater field looking at a trail of bombs wondering “what the hell would they waste ordnance on here for?”

ANother bomb crater

Another bomb crater

From that vantage point I could clearly see the pattern of bombs, leading in lines from the direction of the Vietnamese border, eastwards into Laos.

  B52 bomb crater tracks from the air during the Vietnam War

B52 bomb crater tracks from the air during the Vietnam War

The surrounding hillsides and farmland were also littered with bomb craters, as was the main road heading out of Phonsavan, which was heavily targeted, as it led to the Vietnamese border.

Cross my palm with a piece of, er, shrapnel.

Cross my palm with a piece of, er, shrapnel.

I walked around the field and found some metal, which I showed to the guide, who said it was bomb shrapnel. He also said the field had only recently been declared safe by UXO teams (I had noticed shallow holes dug all over it, which usually indicate the removal of cluster bommies).


Is this what I think it is?...

Then I saw a live, unexploded cluster bomblet, half embedded in the ground, the only warning signs of which were two stones placed around it, to hopefully prevent walkers from standing on it, a mistake which can often be fatal.

Yes it is – a very dangerous, unstable and unexploded BLU-26 cluster sub-munition lying around in the field...

...Yes it is – a very dangerous, unstable and unexploded BLU-26 cluster sub-munition lying around in the field

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InPattayaNow?d=yIl2AUoC8zA InPattayaNow?d=qj6IDK7rITs

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  • 2 weeks later...

There are not bomb craters, that is where the aliens landed......


Hang on the nurse is having a go at me for being out of bed again and for not taking my medicine......

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