An 85-year-old woman cleaned and polished two military shells she borrowed for a village show – without realising they were still live.

June Hilll, from Somerset, had no idea the anti-aircraft ammunition she had borrowed for her WWI exhibition had not been decommissioned.

Instead, she was meerly thrilled with how well the 37mm Pom Pom shells shined after they were buffed for her display.

She said: ‘I was organising an event at Berrow Village Hall for the Berrow and Brean Residents Association World War One exhibition.

‘After calling round local members to ask if they had something we could display, a friend offered two shells from their garage.’

When June took the shells to a show meeting, other members questioned their authenticity and if they had been decommissioned.

Erring on the side of caution, some called 999 who inspected the shells – before referring to the Army’s Bomb Disposal team.

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June, from Somerset, was shocked when she learned the shells were still live, and “disappointed” as it left a hole in her exhibition into World War One.

Officers from Avon and Somerset Police arrived after 15 minutes and sent some photos to the the Army Bomb Disposal Team.


June continued: ‘Police officers sent pictures to the Army, with one officer remarking how “hollow” the shells looked, after tapping on them.

‘The bomb squad said “don’t touch that”, and arrived later that evening.’

Army officers took the two shells away for safe disposal.

‘The exhibition will continue, but I’m disappointed they can’t be used as a centrepiece now,’ she added.

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