Warning over seaside dangers

FAMILIES making sandcastles with buckets and spades on Felixstowe beach could dig up the wrong kind of shell!

FAMILIES making sandcastles with buckets and spades on Felixstowe beach could dig up the wrong kind of shell!

Coastguards say instead of seashells, they could discover something a little unexpected - but the risk of finding an old war-time artillery shell, bullets, grenades or other ordinance is extremely small.

People could easily dig up something just as dangerous in their back gardens, especially as many areas now built on with homes were used as military camps or large homes as army quarters.

Chances of finding live and dangerous ammo would be small but is still possible.

Felixstowe Coastguard Jo Arlow said: “There is always the chance that people will find old ammunition on the beach and will for many years to come.

“This area was fired over, munitions have been dumped at sea by planes trying to flee and make themselves lighter and faster to get back to base, and every tide will bring the chance of something new coming ashore - and every tide could take it away again, not to be seen for another 50 years.

Most Read

“The chances of finding something though are very small.”

At the weekend, part of the beach in Sea Road, not far from Charles Manning's Amusement Park, had to be sealed off after metal detecting enthusiast Peter Baker found an 18-inch Second World War shell buried beneath the shingle.

He also found a number of other items of ordinance - including some which might still have had explosive substances within them.

The shell which caused the drama on Sunday had already been defused and was harmless.

Council chiefs have dismissed suggestions of carrying out a sweep of the beach because such action would not be guaranteed to find every piece of ammo and would have to be carried out daily because of new sand and shingle swept ashore by tides.

Mr Arlow said Mr Baker had done exactly the right thing in contacting the emergency services in case the shell had been live and dangerous.

As well as dialling 999 and asking for the police, people should also ask for the Coastguard to be alerted as they have expertise which can help assess a situation quickly.

Although above the high tide mark is the responsibility of the police, anywhere between low and high tide, or below low tide is the Coastguard's responsibility.

Have you found anything interesting on Suffolk's beaches? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

FASTFACTS: Danger UXB

Experts say there is a huge amount of ordinance on the seabed and around the coast, some buried, other pieces churned up by dredging or moved around by the waves.

There is believed to have been a war-time explosives dump site off Harwich.

German bombers would deliberately shed any bombs they had not dropped on targets over the sea as they hurried home to make them lighter and avoid being caught by British fighter jets.

Over the years there have been many shells found at Felixstowe - rabbits have even dug up shells on Landguard nature reserve, which was a military camp.

Earlier this year hundreds of people were asked to evacuate their homes after a 1,000lb bomb was found on the main holiday beach - it was later towed out to sea and exploded by the Royal Navy.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter