A World War II bomb is probably the last thing you’d expect to unearth when preparing a patch of impoverished soil for a new chicken run, but that’s exactly what Kelly Gilbert discovered to her amazement last weekend at her home in Belstone, near Okehampton.
“My husband Lee and I were digging over this old dumping ground which was full of tin cans, bottles even old fireplaces when I hit something quite hard with my garden fork,” explained Kelly.
“I couldn’t work out what it was at first and kept on tapping it with my fork which is quite scary when you think about it as it was only later that I discovered it was still live and fused.
‘I can laugh about it now but anything could have happened!
‘After we’d dug it out Lee recognised it as a shell and moved it into the middle of the field so we could carry on digging the plot.”
Local Police were called and cordoned off the area before the Royal Navy bomb disposal squad arrived and destroyed the UXB in a controlled explosion.
“They were amazing,” exclaimed Kelly.
“They confirmed it was live and it needed to be blown up so very carefully they moved it well away from property and us for safety. It sounded just like a big firework going off and hardly left a mark in the ground.”
But where did it come from and how did the shell end up in Belstone?
Some locals thought it might have been dropped from a wartime German bomber that jettisoned its payload to conserve fuel after blitzing Plymouth before returning home. That seemed to be the most plausible answer until one of the RN disposal team identified the UXB as BRITISH!
“It turned out it was not an armed shell, or German at all, but it was fused,” continued Kelly. “We now think it was brought home by a serviceman as a trophy, possibly from nearby Oke camp.”