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Duct and Cover – WWII Bomb Gives Openreach Fibre Engineers a Fright

Monday, September 17th, 2018 (2:46 pm) - Score 2,562
openreach mortar bomb

On the list of things that telecoms engineers dread finding, unexploded bombs from World War II must surely feature right at the top. Such munitions are potentially very unstable and the heavy bombing campaigns of the past mean that even today people are still discovering them across the UK.

In the past people dug trenches to hide from bombs but today we’re digging much smaller ones in order to deploy new fibre optic (FTTP / FTTC) broadband ISP cables. This is precisely what Openreach (BT) Supervisor, Russell Keil, was doing in the rural Lincolnshire village of West Pinchbeck when their trench digging machine (Ditch Witch) suddenly unearthed a mysterious object (pictured top).

Sadly the object wasn’t a harmless piece of old metal pipework and instead turned out to be an unexploded two-inch mortar from WWII (even though it looks more like a grease gun), although Russell and his team didn’t know that at the time.

Supervisor Russell Keil said:

“I was using a Ditch Witch to dig a trench when it turned over what I thought was an obsolete joint. I knew something wasn’t quite right so took a closer look and that’s when I realised it looked very much like a bomb from an online simulation game I play in my spare time.

I couldn’t believe it was a bomb and wondered about calling the police because I didn’t want to waste their time. But I’m glad I did. It was also a relief when I got home that evening and got the call to say that the mortar had been fully tested for chemicals and hazardous substances and fortunately we had nothing to worry about.

My advice to anyone in the same situation is trust your gut and call 999.”

Interestingly the two-inch mortar was traditionally more of an infantry weapon used by allied troops (you’d drop the mortar bomb down a metal cylinder – angled in the direction of travel – and then it would shoot upwards towards its target.. hopefully), which to us suggests that it might have been left behind accidentally (any history buffs have an opinion?). The Nazis had a different looking system and munition.

The good news is that Russell and his team were able to resume work shortly after the bomb disposal squad had done their wonderful job to make the area safe again. The regional Onlincolnshire project is currently working toward ensuring that 97% of premises in Lincolnshire can access a “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) network by December 2019 (details).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
11 Responses
  1. Avatar Neb

    Battlefield 1?

  2. Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m

    I bet they ran away SuperFast with a case of the G.Farts. 🙂

  3. Avatar Marty

    Should have given it to Robert Henry Cain (if he was still alive) crazy guy.

  4. Avatar dean

    Should had harvest any copper from it first for their next rollout

  5. Avatar Graham Cox

    It’s a grease gun. Seriously.

  6. Avatar Martin

    It is a grease gun. had one just like that. they were rubbish that’s why he threw it away!

  7. Avatar Broadband Bob

    Everybody’s right. The Home Guard used to make their own 2″ mortar shells out of Tecalemit grease guns. The intention was to make the terrain too slippery for the enemy.

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