Holy Shih Tzu: bombs as dog toys!


In this week’s BombRisk update we’re focussing on canals, gardening, Shih Tzus, and wheelie bins … now, if those sound like a random list of unrelated keywords to you, you’re wrong – they are all tied together by unexploded ordnance (UXO)!

Fishing for trouble

What might you expect to find in an Edinburgh canal? 

Water … obviously – and perhaps some fish, boats, shopping trollies (sometimes) and maybe a duck or two … but what about unexploded ordnance (UXO)?

On the 31st of October 2021, Edinburgh’s Gibson Terrace was cordoned off due to the discovery of unexploded ordnance in the nearby Union Canal.  Bomb disposal experts and local police arrived on the scene with a bomb disposal van, after which they transported the UXO to Gypsy Brae on the north coast of Scotland.  The item was then safely detonated.

This is not the first time UXO has been found in a canal – in fact, it is quite a common occurrence!  For example, in February 2020, two magnet fishers (those curious individuals who use magnets to find metal objects in water bodies – yes, it’s a thing) found a grenade in the River Soar near the De Montfort University (DMU).  This caused the surrounding roads to close for several hours whilst the bomb squad safely dealt with the ordnance – causing big disruptions to an open day DMU was hosting!

Magnet fisher-folk frequently discover unexploded ordnance, such as mortar shells and live ammunition – so much so that the Ministry of Defence issued a warning about magnet fishing in 2018.  It is not just magnet fishers either, regular fisher-folk also happen upon bombs occasionally.

In Leicestershire, the discovery of unexploded ordnance in canals is particularly commonplace – over a dozen calls were made in 2020 alone.  Apparently, these finds are common due to ammunition being brought back from the war as souvenirs by soldiers, the dumping of duds by factory workers, and the general transport of ordnance through Leicester after WWII ended.

Holy Shih Tzu!

Oh, the joys of gardening… the warm air, buzzing bees, and blooming flowers.  Well, perhaps not in November – but anyway.  What you would not expect to find in your garden, no matter the time of year, is a World War 2 era bomb.

But in Swinton on the 31st of October, local residents were evacuated from Moss Lane after a WW2 bomb was discovered in a local resident’s garden – how’s that for a Halloween scare?  An explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team was called in to investigate the bomb, which was later declared safe.

A bomb really is the last thing you expect to find in your garden – but it is more common than you might think.  Earlier this week, (the 7th of November 2021), another bomb was found in a garden in Ashford.

Now, if you do find an unusual item in your garden, please do not give it to your dog as a toy.  Is that oddly specific advice?  Yes.  But wait, let us explain!

A woman in Weymouth was digging in her garden with a shovel recently when she too happened upon a World War 2 bomb, mistaking it for a large stone.  After cleaning it with a Brillo pad in her sink, she then thought her Shih Tzu might enjoy playing with it… that is until her Facebook friends identified it as a bomb. 

An EOD team came and collected the bomb, after which they detonated it on Weymouth Beach.

Mortar-fying discovery by the bins

Picture this – you find a bomb in your shed, what do you do?

Option A: Call 999.

Option B: Call SafeLane.

Option C: Give it to your dog to play with – (please do not).

Option D: Put it out on bin collection day.

If you chose ‘Option A’ or ‘Option B’ – congratulations, you are smart!  If you chose ‘Option C,’ you clearly have not read the rest of this article, or you’re a canicidal [HW1] maniac?

And if you chose ‘Option D’… please re-evaluate your decision-making skills.  At least, however, you are not alone if you made this choice.  A resident of Salford found a WW2 mortar in her shed and left it by her wheelie bins (hopefully by the recycling bin, at least)?  A neighbour spotted it, and the emergency services were called.

The mortar was initially discovered in the woman’s shed in a bin bag full of concrete which had been left by the previous owner.  Personally, we like to keep shovels, shears, and other gardening tools in our shed – but to each his own.


So – the moral of the story is, be careful whilst magnet fishing, do not give your Shih Tzu a bomb as a toy, and do not leave a mortar shell as a gift for the bin men.  If those are too specific for you – sorry, you will just have to use your imagination!

Oh, alright, you win.  Here is a more general, important piece of advice: unexploded ordnance is everywhere!  Up to 10% of the bombs dropped in the UK during World War II did not explode.  Do not take any risks – get a BombRisk report today.

Our reports can tell you the likelihood of your site being contaminated with UXO, and what actions may be necessary to counter this risk.  If there is no risk, our report will satisfy your obligations according to the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CMDR2007).  If there is a risk, your BombRisk report will explain next steps.

Contact us today to learn more.

Published by SafeLane Global on