Bomb squad disposes of WW1 explosive shell

A couple who recently moved to Horncliffe were shocked when they dug up an unexploded First World War bomb in their garden.

Thursday, 25th August 2016, 8:43 am
The bomb disposal unit in Horncliffe

Mike Martin was digging up the garden to put a base in for a new shed last Wednesday when he struck something hard and metal.

His wife Pauline said: “He started digging a bit more and realised it was a funny shape and then, once he got all the excess mud off it, thought it looked like a shell.

The unexploded shell dug up in Horncliffe.

“We looked it up on the internet and the advice we saw was that it could still be live so we called the police on 101 because we didn’t really think it was that urgent.

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“Later on, two officers came around to have a look and asked us to step inside while they did so. They discussed it and spoke to a few people including the MoD (Ministry of Defence).

“A decision was made to leave it until the next day when the bomb disposal unit came up from Catterick.

“They wondered about using a farmer’s field nearby but there wasn’t enough room so they took it down to Goswick and carried out a controlled explosion.

The unexploded shell dug up in Horncliffe.

“One of the men said that the detonation end of it was badly corroded so wasn’t likely to go off but there was still live munition inside so that’s why they took it down to Goswick where there used to be a bomb disposal team.”

She added: “It’s a World War One HE shell, standing for high explosive, but we’re not sure how it got here or even whether it’s British or German. It’s probably about 8”-10” long.

“It had clearly been there a long time given that it must also have been underneath an old corrugated shed.

“One of the police officers told us that the airfield at Winfield on the other side of the river was used during the war so it might have been something related to that but we don’t know for sure.”

Their discovery has been the talk of the village in recent days.

“We went along to the recently-reopened pub one night and everyone was talking about it,” said Pauline.

The pair only moved to the village from Cheshire six weeks ago.

Pauline said: “We certainly never expected to find anything like this.”