back to article Pensioner used live shell as doorstop

Royal Navy bomb disposal experts were called to a house in Paignton, Devon, after a tip-off that 68-year-old Thelma Bonnett was rather ill-advisedly using a live First World War German shell as a doorstop, the Daily Mail reports. The seven-inch-long "squat shell", which Bonnett's grandad Arthur acquired during his Navy days, …


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  1. harreh


    you've missed a good pun

    it's amazing how these things happen!

  2. Adrian Jones

    Forget al-Qaeda

    It's pensioners that are the biggest risk to our safety!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time after Time

    "There is a time delay on these type of shells. A brass ring could be turned on top which gave them enough time to fire it to go off in the air or on the ground."

    This almost implies that the fuse had a high setting of almost a hundred years. Perhaps the shell is a relic of Britain's Edwardian space programme, and was intended to attack German positions on the moon.

  4. Nick L


    Clearly this is the work of al-qaeda and this fundamentalist OAP should be detained indefinitely without trial.

    Please, won't someone think of the children????

  5. Jan Buys


    Talk about a family of lucky bastards. :-/

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    I wonder

    After the positively chilling accounts made of the antics of the Al Qeida Circus Squad, I wonder how breathtaking the account would have been if the "doorstop" had activated its primary function.

    I also wonder how the media would go about justifying the "bombing" of a private property. Most assuredly, though, they would take advantage of the almost certain casualties to bang the Drum of Fear and go on and on about how nobody is safe anymore if the Terrorists are bombing regular houses.

    I'm just happy that the worst did not come to pass. Does seem a bit lunatic to bring back a live, non-detonated shell though. Did someone have a fantasy about Russian Roulette ?

  7. BossHog


    This is so cool - shame they had to blow it up!

    Ashley Pomeroy - your idea of an Edwardian Space Programme is great:

    "News from the Front!

    The brave and glorious soldiers of Great Britain have secured positions throughout the Sea of Tranquility, forcing the Combined Imperial Powers to make a haphazard retreat into the Sea of Nectar.

    British Electric Semaphore operators sent word of the successful manoeuvre to London during the early hours of the morning. At 10 o'clock, the British High Command confirmed that 30,000 Combined Imperial Troops have been taken prisoner, and negotiations have resumed with Vienna.

    Significantly, three undamaged Imperial Steam-tanks have also been captured, and are currently being studied by the Royal Lunar Engineers. Previous attempts to understand these enemy vehicles had been marred by the extensive damage caused by British Phlogiston Bombardments."

  8. Fenwar


    Another bomb story on the Reg... you're just giving the terrorists what they wa- oh, hang on...

    Why wasn't this story covered by Lewis Page, who could have explained how miniscule the threat actually was and regaled us with an anecdote about how he was trained to defuse this type of shell in his shirt and slacks using nothing but a toothpick?

  9. Clovis

    compare and contrast

    "it could have gone off at any time" v "it hasn't gone off in ninety years"

    'They' really do like to keep us anxious, don't 'they'?

  10. david wilson

    Have any ever gone off?

    Stories like this one don't seem very rare, (ornament turns out to be live shell, live shell/grenade handed in during gun amnesty, etc), but I don't recall hearing of any houses being mysteriously blown up in what later turns out to be an ordnance-related accident.

    Have there been any UK instances of such things actually going off years later, under anything less than conditions of extreme provocation?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Royal Lunar Engineers

    "And on the Martian front, the Right Royal Corps of the Flaming Lips are approaching Pavonis Mons by balloon"

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who says old people are stupid?

    "Would you like another cup of alzheimers, dear?"

  13. jubtastic1

    I suspect

    It's less about these old bombs finally going off (never heard of that happening), and more that they just don't like the idea of people keeping old bombs which could potentially be rearmed.

  14. Remy Redert


    Some of these weapons are in fact quite unstable and really could go off, in fact, there have been some incidents of these going off, though they're rare and in between.

    But a bomb buried underground for 50 years and then excavated ussually isn't the biggest of risks. We recently had an example in the Netherlands where the bomb squad found an old British 500 pound bomb and decided that attempting to further excavate the bomb and move it to a more remote position to detonate it was too risky, so instead decided to detonate it on the spot.

    Ofcourse that was in the middle of nowhere already, with all of 1 house close enough to potentially be damaged. Makes you wonder how the bomb got there in the first place.

  15. Jan Buys


    "Have there been any UK instances of such things actually going off years later, under anything less than conditions of extreme provocation?"

    Not that I know of. I am not from the UK anyway. But also depends on what you call extreme provocation. Doorstops are known to lead an unhappy life and usually have the same state of mind as Marvin the paranoid android.

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  17. david wilson


    Cheers for that link.

    I wonder what kind of shell it was? Presumably either not very large, or only some part of the charge exploded?

  18. Brendan Sullivan

    Shell or Grenade?

    Since it didn't take the house down and the preliminary story on the incident includes the remark that paramedics believed it to have been a "frenzied shooting" the explosion would have to be fairly small. It could have been a hand grenade, a 2pdr. shell or a similarly sized shell of German manufacture. Chances are the explosive filler had degraded over time due to heat, moisture et cetera. Alot of things can happen to military grade explosives over 70 years, but unlike TNT and similar civilian explosives from that time they typically become less dangerous, not more.

  19. Jon Pick

    Dutch Bomb

    2 possibilities as to how it got there Remy,

    1. We were aiming at Germany and missed. Sorry.

    2. More likely, just, is that it was jettisoned by a badly damaged aircraft struggling to make it back across the cold dark (and wet of course) North Sea - the usual route from bases in Lincolnshire, E.Anglia and Yorkshire. I'm sure your parents or grandparents will remember them flying overhead, and probably risked their lives to help any who baled out - the Dutch did that a LOT.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My children would find a way.

    I've never heard of one of these live shells just going off for no reason; however, the family children had been PLAYING with this live round for decades! Generations! I have 2 very active boys, one of whom LOVES throwing things, bashing and crushing toys and so forth. Surely one of them would find a way to set it off. Keep dangerous things out of the hands of people who will let their kids play with them! In addition, I agree with the poster that said that someone could also re-arm the shell for some deadly purpose, or just leave it somewhere that it would cause devastation (like on a railroad track, heaven forbid).

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