Chestnuts by Eric Vast

Few people know that a very great effort was made during Hitler’s war to make Horse Chestnuts (Donnikers or Conkers). edible at least for cattle and poultry. Such was the effort that the report of the investigation came to my notice when I was in Egypt.

It used to be my custom on Saturdays if things were quiet to go down to the garrison entrance and then proceed by public transport to visit the larger commercial electrical establishments where I had friends. One of my units jobs was to keep a supply of uncommon valves for the very diverse radios scraped together from God knows where These companies used to get a steady supply of bits and pieces from occupied Europe via Turkey. They were more than ready to supply us at a price. Indeed I am pretty sure that when Montgomery wanted more telephone lines for Alamein that was where the sixty miles of sixty pair cable came from. It could not have possibly been Britisih

When I had completed my rounds I would head for a rather rundown Club in a backstreet frequented by such luminaries as Goldie Dunn and Tobby Dunk of Marconies, of whom I have previously written. Actually the great attraction of the place was that it still displayed a good supply of Technical Literature. I happened to pick up ‘Nature ‘and there I found the epic struggle with the Horse Chestnuts

Somebody had noticed that Conkers covered the landscape and boy, had they gone to town. They had estimated the thousands of tons of nuts available. Done a marvelous analysis of both the sweet and horse chestnut protein and compared them. Found out what the nasty taste of the Horse Chestnut was and extracted it, etc. etc. Then for good measure they had designed pellets and meal to supply the fortunate animals. The cost and effort must have been enormous. However, as you turned the last of many pages you learnt that no animals or fowls could be induced to touch any of the goodies provided. The project had been abandoned.

Well, at least may have saved the Germans similar trouble when they got hungry later. But on my return to the UK I was among many Sweet and Horse Chestnuts, and there is not the slightest doubt that if you leave a carpet of nuts on the ground something will eat holes in them, including the Horse Chestnuts. The holes are in the form of deep regular pits about 2mm across. Slugs perhaps?

For the record Botanists put the two sorts of chestnuts into different families of plant. The leaves, flower shape of the tree and burnabillity of the wood are very different. Of the hundreds of Sweet Chestnut trees in Coghurst wood, and despite scouring the area, my lads only ever found one tree which gave nuts as good as those imported at Christmas from Southern Europe,

Eric Vast. October 1999.

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Get your amateur radio licence - Find out more about amateur radio licence training.
Month on the Air - G3MGQ's popular monthly DX contest/expedition list.
Wilf Gaye Memorial Cup - The clubs annual operating event in the memory of Wilf Gaye M0GYE.
St. Richard's College Buildathon/STEM/ARISS - HERC attends St. Richard's Catholic College for their various events surrounding the Tim Peake ARISS contact.
G3BDQ - John Hey's Rare QSL Cards.
Sussex Electronics Radio Fair - SERF Sussex Electronics Radio Fair 2016.
Vital Spark - A selection of articles re-published from the Vital Spark.
RSGB News - Find out how to get RSGB news on your mobile or PC.
Experimenters Corner - A selection of Proteus projects by Bob Gornal (G7DME)
BBADL - Bath Based Distance Learning Course.
Conquest Hospital Radio - Presented by HERC member Antony (G4CUS).
Radio Rallies 2016 - An up to date list of radio rallies scheduled for 2016.
Club QSL Cards - A selection of QSL cards the club has received over the years.
Other Newsletters - Excellent newsletters and magazines from other clubs.
TX Factor episodes - Take a look at the TX Factors YouTube videos.
John Taplin - A bio of the late John Taplin.

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