An unexploded Mills grenade has been discovered at the Battle of Britain Memorial in Kent. Contractors uncovered the suspicious device while installing new gates at the site of a WWII artillery battery.

The alarm was raised, and the army were contacted. Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) engineers attended the scene and destroyed the grenade in a controlled explosion.

Mills grenade
An example of a Mills grenade and how it would have looked during WWII.

Why was UXO found here?

The Battle of Britain Memorial was constructed on the site of a coastal artillery battery. Capel Battery was built in 1941 in the early years of WWII.

With the collapse of France in June 1940, Britain faced the prospect of invasion. Therefore, there was an urgent need for long range guns to defend the coast. The area around Dover, only 22 miles from German occupied France, was especially vulnerable.

In July 1940 Winston Churchill ordered the Admiralty to release six fifteen-inch and six eight-inch guns to boost coastal defences. Three of the latter were sent to the vantage point that would become Capel Battery.

The battery featured three gun concrete emplacements, underground ammunition storage and a nearby camp for the army personnel. The battery was also defended by two 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns.

Battery at the battle of britain memorial
One of the battery’s original observation bunkers survives to this day.

During the period of anticipated enemy invasion, weapons and ammunition would have been stored on site. In the event of airborne or amphibious attack, Royal Artillery soldiers camped near the battery would have defended their position.

During WWII, British troops defending the coastline buried caches of ammunition in tactical positions. The idea being to utilise it in the event of invasion.

Understanding the UXO risk on your site

Unexploded ammunition finds, such as this, highlight the hazardous legacy of historic military activity. The only way to ensure the greatest chance of identifying historic military activity is by commissioning a risk assessment.

At Brimstone we offer Preliminary and Detailed UXO risk assessments which place your site in its military context, analysing the impacts of allied and enemy action alongside any post-war developments.

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