WW2 Shell Detecting in the Royal Bay of Grouville

Shane Boschat, current bunker team leader for Battery Moltke, writes in with an interesting tale of his day going metal detecting in the Royal Bay of Grouville.

Myself and my good friend Tony went metal detecting. Tony is an avid detectorist, I am a casual onlooker, but I had to give it a go too. We went to a part of the beach that Tony and many other detectorists know very well. This part of the bay was used as targeting for all the weapons based in the bay of Grouville and beyond. The Germans took practice shots at landmarks to check their range and direction, these were noted in case any invasion took place in the bay. Often some of the rounds, mostly mortars and 3.7cm anti-tank rounds would miss their target and land in soft sand, failing to detonate.

Shell as it first appeared
Shell after debris removed

They would stay there until local detectorists dig them up. Digging these items up isn’t too easy either, the sand behaves like wet concrete, the sides of the hole you are digging soon collapse and fill in…hard work! The rounds are not always that easy to recognise as over the years a covering of crud (a technical term I’m told) forms on the outside of the piece. After a few taps with a hammer to the side the crud breaks off to reveal the live round. NEVER try to defuse any live rounds you may find, they are over 70 years old and very unstable. ALWAYS call the Police on 612612 when you find anything suspicious, they will contact Stuart Elliot our local EDO (Explosives Disposal Officer) who will remove the rounds. Also be aware of the rising tide, its easy to get cut off out there.

Tail fins visible on a recovered mortar shell
The crater after safely detonating the shells

We had arranged to meet Stuart before hand to hand over any pieces found today, these were added to some found before (see top photo), the live rounds were all put together with charges and safely disposed of…BOOM!!

This shell was simply too dangerous to handle - we left it alone

Shane Boschat