Wartime hand grenades made safe in controlled explosion in Edinburgh
ARMY bomb disposal experts carried out a controlled explosion in the Edinburgh city centre yesterday after four Second World War hand grenades, thought to have belonged to a member of the Home Guard, were discovered in the back garden of a Georgian townhouse.
The first grenade was found by a workman using a mini- digger at the rear of a property in Melville Street, one of the most prestigious business districts in the west end, which includes the Danish, Russian and Italian consulates. He had a lucky escape in narrowly avoiding hitting one of the devices.
Specialists from the explosive ordnance disposal unit, who were called to the scene shortly after 4:30pm on Thursday, found a further two live grenades and one used for training purposes. They carried out a controlled explosion at 10:30am yesterday at the site.
On Monday, there had been an earlier scare when 100 live bullets were found in the garden. Yesterday, neighbours in adjoining properties were told to evacuate their homes just before 9am and office workers were asked to remain indoors until given the all-clear.
The workman who spotted the first grenade described how he discovered it at the rear of a property being converted to luxury flats.
The Sundial Properties employee said: “I was digging about a couple of feet down when I saw it. I got a bit of a shock. It was still in good condition and still had its pattern on the metal.”
Police stood guard overnight until the grenades could be safely dealt with.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence in Scotland said an explosives disposal crew from the 11 EOD Regiment, the Royal Logistic Corp, based at Craigiehall barracks in Edinburgh, had carried out the explosion. He said: “The property in question was under renovation when the first grenade, which was live, was found. Three more were found, two live and one ‘drill’, which is used for training. From their condition, they are thought to be World War Two M36 grenades. They were destroyed in situ, surrounded by sandbags. The team then checked as much of the surrounding area as they could for further explosives.”
Sundial Properties managing director William Gray Muir, which owns the site, said the find had been “highly unusual”.
Prior to its renovation, the property was leased to an insurance company and before that to a number of private tenants.
Brian Cormack, managing director of 23 Melville Street, a business centre two doors from the site, said staff were told to stay indoors and open windows. Mr Cormack said there had been “a loud bang accompanied by desks shaking”.
A potentially fatal find
Standard hand grenade for British forces during WWII
Weight – 765g (1lb 11oz)
Height – 95.2mm
Diameter – 61mm (2.4 ins)
Fuse delay time – Four seconds
Explosive – TNT
Original model made in 1915 by William Mills, hand grenade designer from Sunderland. Various modifications over the years
Special feature – The M36 had a classic, grooved cast-iron “pineapple” shape and was specially designed and waterproofed with shellac. The ‘panels’ were designed to shatter for maximum shrapnel
Numbers manufactured – Millions
Throwing distance – Around 30 yards
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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