Shell shock for metal detectors

METAL-detecting teenagers today told of their lucky escape after stumbling across a mortar shell on a popular Felixstowe beauty spot.The boys nearly let their curiosity get the better of them when they started digging up what they thought was an old fence post at Landguard Nature Reserve, which is visited by 400,000 people a year.

METAL-detecting teenagers today told of their lucky escape after stumbling across a mortar shell on a popular Felixstowe beauty spot.

The boys nearly let their curiosity get the better of them when they started digging up what they thought was an old fence post at Landguard Nature Reserve, which is visited by 400,000 people a year.

But after prodding away at it with a trowel and pulling it out of the ground, they realised they had in fact unearthed a wartime mortar.

The stunned friends immediately called the police, who cordoned off the area on the Landguard Nature Reserve. The bomb disposal unit then carried out a controlled explosion on the beach.


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Reflecting on their dangerous encounter, which occurred on Sunday, Deben High School mates Martin Bright and Gareth Skudder said they had learnt their lesson.

Gareth, 13, of Elizabeth Way, said: "We were very lucky. We must have hit it a few times when we were digging it out. If we find another one we will definitely leave it in the ground."

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The 65-acre Landguard Nature Reserve, an internationally-important site of scientific interest, was in 1667 the last place England was invaded by a foreign force as the Dutch attacked Landguard Fort. In the 20th century it was a military shooting range for many years, and wartime defence post and camp.

Today it is visited by hundreds of thousands of people a year who walk their dogs, enjoy birdwatching, and look at the rare plants and butterflies.

For 13-year-old Martin, of nearby Manor Terrace, who has been metal-detecting since he was five, its military history makes it an exciting treasure trove.

Over the years, he has collected a vast array of bullets and once found a hand grenade, but nothing quite prepared him for this latest discovery.

In a bizarre twist, it happened on the same day his dad had bought him a new metal detector after his old once broke.

"The metal detector made a loud high-pitched noise. It usually makes a low sound," said Martin. "We found the top of it and didn't realise what it was. It was about three feet down and we pulled it out."

Gareth added: "Martin thought it was a post, but when I saw the fins on it I knew it was a bomb. We got straight on the phone to the police."

A spokeswoman for Suffolk police said there had been no danger to the public. She said: "Two lads found what appeared to be a 12-inch wartime mortar shell. We cordoned off the area and called the bomb disposal who detonated the shell on the beach."

Martin's grandfather, Ronald, said: "Although the police said there was no danger it must have been a risk because it was still live.

"I have told them just to stick to the beach and find money."

n Have you every found anything unusual at Landguard Nature Reserve? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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