Unexploded shells discovered in Bicester scrapyard

One of the unexploded shells. Picture: Gareth Hughes

One of the unexploded shells. Picture: Gareth Hughes

First published in Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Bicester and Banbury. Call me on (01865) 425426

UNEXPLODED shells, thought to be from the Second World War, were detonated yesterday after being unearthed in a scrapyard.

They were discovered in a container at the LC Hughes scrap metal yard in London Road, Bicester, by John Clayton who was collecting scrap for a charity challenge.

The 38-year-old rally driver, who is a Flight Lieutenant in the RAF and deals with branch operation support, initially came across one of the shells on Tuesday afternoon before going on to find about 20 others.

He said: “I was pretty shocked to see the shell – I knew there was nothing else it could be.

“I knew that if it was unstable it could blow us all sky high. It was unbelievable.”

The Bicester resident added: “I was there with the Round Table for a scrapheap challenge-type thing, and we had to make a catapult.

“We decided it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to practise with a shell.”

They then informed Gareth Hughes, the co-owner of the family-run yard, who called the police.

Thames Valley Police yesterday said they had informed the Army’s bomb disposal squad who detonated the shells yesterday afternoon.

Mr Hughes said: “John found one and then we had a look around and found a load more.

“They were in some pallets – I don’t know how long they have been there, since my grandad’s time I would guess.

“We used to have a contract with the MoD to scrap their stuff years ago, so it may have come from them.”

The 34-year-old from Bicester added: “I’m not sure what kind of bombs they are, maybe IEDs (improvised explosive devices). They looked like a funnel.

“I don’t think they were live, I think they were blowing them up as a precaution.”

He said the bomb disposal unit had removed the devices and then blown them up in a controlled explosion yesterday.

Oxford Mail:

LC Hughes’ yard manager Tony Hughes next to the hole created by the controlled explosion

The area was cordoned off overnight on Tuesday but the area was not cleared.

A police spokeswoman said: “We were called just after 4pm on Tuesday after reports of suspected explosive devices found at a scrapyard in London Road. It is thought these may be Second World War devices.

“We secured the scene and put up a cordon and called the Army’s bomb disposal squad.

“A detonation site was arranged in a nearby field.”

The police were unable to say why they were left overnight instead saying it was a matter for the Army.

The Ministry of Defence referred the Oxford Mail back to the police.

An unexploded Second World War shell was found in a garden in Green Road, Kidlington, in January.

Janet Moores discovered the device when she was planting an apricot tree.

The 71-year-old initially threw it to one side before realising it was something more dangerous.

It was later blown up in a controlled explosion by an RAF bomb disposal unit from RAF Northolt, near London.

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