Monday, November 20, 2006

Unexploded ordnance found in London 

These stories surface every few years in London. A maintainance worker in some basement or sewer uncovers an unexploded bombshell left over from the blitz, and it is still live. Given that the German bombing of London took place more than 60 years ago now, it has always amazed me that these shells are still occasionally found but I guess its not that surprising that a handful of the thousands and thousands of shells that fell could get buried and remain undetected in a city the size of London.

Last week the Guardian reported the latest in this periodic series of discoveries, an unexploded shell found in the doorway of a shop on Walthamstow High Street, and apparently the discovery was the cause of some hysteria for the shop owner.

Mr Khan said that if it had been struck hard enough or exposed to heat it could have gone off.

"This sort of thing should not be lying around. It was live, primed and active," he said.

"How can you feel safe when you are finding things like this on the street?”

Of course one can imagine this type of reaction, and the news coverage, had the shell in question actually been one of those unexploded bombs from the Blitz, but it was in fact a single round of .22 calibre ammunition that was considered such a hazard that the police were immediately mobilized.

Police are treating the unattended ammunition as a crime. Mr Khan alerted them at 10.16am, and they arrived at his shop to pick up the bullet at 11.32am.

The bullet has been examined at a Metropolitan Police laboratory and details about it kept for future reference. A police spokesman said: "Recovering firearms and ammunition is a priority for the police. We take the same view of ammunition as we do of a gun.

Churchill would certainly not recognize today’s England.

I guess that for the current generation of Londoners, the memory of the Blitz has faded entirely. How else can you explain the level of excitement caused by a single round of .22 ammo in a city that endured 58 consecutive nights of bombing? The story also highlights a fundamental difference in culture with us here in the US, where this story is laugh-out-loud funny. From where I am sitting now I can drive 6 miles and find at least four stores where I can buy a box of 500 of these bullets for less than US$15, no questions asked. I shot my first .22 at about age 10, and according to family lore my grandfather received a .22 rifle for his 6th birthday.


By Blogger Purple Avenger, at Mon Nov 20, 01:49:00 PM:

What a bunch of pussies.  

By Anonymous BIRD OF PARIDISE, at Mon Nov 20, 02:49:00 PM:

All that fuss over a 22 shell what now will it be a roll of caps?  

By Blogger skipsailing, at Mon Nov 20, 02:55:00 PM:

I bought my son his first 22 when he was 17. He wanted the rifle so he got a job and I bought it for him using his savings.

Now he carries and M4 and maintains that his favorite is the 240 Golf.

I really wonder what has happened to the late lamented great Brittain. Can you imagine these people living in one of America's concealed carry states?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Nov 20, 02:58:00 PM:

With a name of Khan, you could speculate that the owner took it as a warning, or some other message.  

By Blogger Charlottesvillain, at Mon Nov 20, 04:13:00 PM:

Anon, I think a warning worth any salt would have come in a higher caliber.  

By Anonymous quotecritter, at Mon Nov 20, 04:22:00 PM:

Gee whiz , I guess my fully legal, licensed grandfathered in before the Assault Weapon Ban, BAR would just drive him totally wonkers.  

By Blogger GreenmanTim, at Mon Nov 20, 04:30:00 PM:

In my house, there are no functioning firearms, but I do have quivers of (formerly) poisoned Ju/'hoan bushman arrows hanging from the walls and - horrors - the shafts are made from invasive exotic phragmites reed! I once took a quiver of these with my carry-on luggage from Windhoek Namibia to Jo'burg without incident, but the South Africans made me put it with the hunting rifles in the cockpit for the flight to Europe. 1991 was assuredly a different age.  

By Blogger skipsailing, at Mon Nov 20, 04:47:00 PM:

Pragmites reeds make good arrow shafts?

who knew?

I mean, other than the bushmen. do you think the bushmen had a use for all those damned gobies swimming around in lake erie now?  

By Blogger Charlottesvillain, at Mon Nov 20, 05:26:00 PM:

GMT, what about the famous sidearm you acquired for your reenactments? You couldn't have parted with it; could it be you went forth upon the battlefield with an inert weapon?  

By Blogger GreenmanTim, at Mon Nov 20, 11:02:00 PM:

As per parental instructions, it "stayed with the regiment" when I went off to boarding school. Nice piece, that Navy Colt.  

By Blogger GreenmanTim, at Mon Nov 20, 11:06:00 PM:

And Skip, I don't know about the gobies, but one of the absolutely most incongruous development projects I ever saw in the Kalahari was an attempt to diversify food security by raising tilapia in the water reservoirs of community windpumps. Yep, desert fish farming looked like a sure thing on paper, but the elephants really liked the tanks, too and once they were finished it was nothing but a tidal wave of fish flopping on the sand and the bushmen went back to their usual food sources.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Nov 21, 04:49:00 AM:

Wasn't sustainable then? <:-)  

By Blogger GreenmanTim, at Tue Nov 21, 08:59:00 AM:

No, but neither was there much risk of the tilapia naturalizing in the Kalahari and displacing native species.  

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