Two killed in the UK - does anyone know more about this?
DANGEROUS WAR RELICS.
....The Home Office have issued a warning notice relative to dangerous war relics: - Two fatal accidents, it says, having occurred from the bursting of shells brought home from South Africa, it is necessary to call the attention of the public to the danger and illegality of handling war relics of this description. A shell which has been fired and which has failed to explode is usually in a very sensitive condition, and may often be exploded by a light blow or by the operation of screwing out the fuse. The danger is not so great in the case of an unfired shell or cartridge for quick-firing guns, but the opening of such shells and cartridges by unskilled persons is by no means free from risk. Lancashire Daily Post, Thursday December 1901
Every once in a while there are WW2 unexploded bombs and mines that turn up, both UK and Germany.
What size and weight were the unexploded shells that were brought back home? Were there Customs checks back then? I suppose it was more likely to be civilians who brought them, as soldiers would be more aware of the danger.
The "craze" for collecting shells was most highly-developed in Ladysmith during the siege, where people would run to pick up fragments of shells even before they had cooled.
Throughout the South African War there was a brisk trade in 15-pr shrapnel shells, "made up" to look like live shells by re-assembling the components from battlefield pickups. Here's an example, but you'll see them for sale in the UK at regular intervals. The clue is that the copper driving band has been engraved by the barrel of the gun. And in Natal, no respectable mantlepiece would be without a Boer pom-pom shell - "the Devil's bell", the Boers called it - usually, but not invariably, emptied of its explosive.
And if wandering the veld you might have been offered unexploded shells from time to time by Zulu goat-herds... the correct answer of course being "cha ngiyabonga" - no thanks.
The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past.
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