Off-duty reporter discovers 'smoking' Second World War bomb on South Hams beach

Sunday 3rd November 2019 5:43 pm
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The Second World War bomb was discovered on Sunday afternoon (Credit: Tom Ladds)

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A South Hams reporter discovered an unexploded Second World War bomb at Slapton Sands while walking his dog on his day off.

Tom Ladds, of the Kingsbridge & Salcombe Gazette, was enjoying a day out with family when he stumbled across the "smoking" device.

Tom, 34, said wife Alice, 28, "almost stepped on" the 10-inch ordnance on Torcross Beach at 1.50pm on Sunday.

He said: "As soon as we realised what it was and that it was smoking we called 999 and we started clearing the public off the beach."

PC Sam Smith, of Kingsbridge Police, was first to arrive on the scene at around 2.20pm.

"We instructed PC Smith where the location of the device," Tom said.

"He then proceeded to take pictures of the suspected ordnance and sent them to the army bomb disposal unit."

PC Sam Smith said: "The Army wasn’t immediately concerned about the object until I mentioned it was smoking whereby they made a call to the Naval EOD to take charge of the situation"

"When ordnance starts to smoke it’s very unusual and can mean the device has become activated.

"With old devices, we can’t be certain what’s in them.

"It could be phosphorus gas or just a smoke flare but it’s clear that there is a blasting cap and so it becomes very important to clear the area and make it safe until the disposal unit can correctly identify it."

Tom and his family helped the emergency services clear the area to protect the public.

He said: "My mother-in-law blocked off the entrance to the top end of the beach, my wife took the bottom end near the public car park and I took over blocking off the centre entrance to the beach from first responder Graham Simmons who had to answer another emergency call.

"PC Smith cordoned off the rest of the area and called in additional units from Dartmouth."

Police from Dartmouth and Kingsbridge soon showed up closed off the scene until the bomb disposal unit arrived at 5pm.

The device was detonated at around 5.30pm.

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