Three wartime grenades have been found in the River Soar in Leicester by a group of magnet fishermen. As a result, two areas to the south of the city centre were cordoned off by Police.

An Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team was called out on two separate occasions. Firstly, to Western Boulevard and then to Liberty Island, off Upperton Road.

Castle Gardens and Castle Park were evacuated and narrowboats were stopped from coming down the river. The EOD engineers transported the devices to a nearby field where they were destroyed in a controlled explosion.

Three magnet fishermen within the police cordon, near the river soar.
Three magnet fishermen within the police cordon, near the river soar.

How common are these finds?

Two of the grenades appear to be examples of the ubiquitous Mills Bomb. This type of fragmentation hand grenade was the most commonly used by the British Army during World War 2. Consequently, Mills grenades are the most commonly encountered type of historic land service ammunition in the UK.

However, the third weapon appears to be a WW1-era rifle grenade; a rarer find. The grenade used a standard rifle as a launcher. This permitted a longer effective range than was possible if the grenade was simply thrown as a hand grenade. The device would have had a long metal rod (missing here) which was inserted in the rifle barrel. This example was also a fragmentation (as opposed to blast) weapon.

A british no. 3 rifle grenade produced during ww1.

How did the grenades come to be in a river?

There are a number of reasons why UXO can end up in a river.

Historically, bodies of water were ideal for disposing of hazardous items that might be a hassle to dispose of through the normal channels. Recent UXO finds and anecdotal evidence confirms that surplus ammunition was simply thrown into ponds, lakes and rivers throughout Britain during WW2. This ‘out of sight out of mind’ attitude appears to have been the norm within the armed forces.

One of the two mills bombs fished up from the river bed.

How to mitigate the risk of UXO

At Brimstone, we provide unsurpassed unexploded ordnance risk management services. Visit our website to explore our services or you can use our handy online tool to find the right UXO support for your project.

Keep up to date with Brimstone UXO by following us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.