Mum steps on hand grenade during walk on common

A MUM out for a walk with her family on Chobham Common stepped on a hand grenade – prompting the police to call in a bomb disposal squad when she reported her discovery.

Frances Harding felt the explosive device under her foot on a narrow path in Round Pond Woods.

The hand grenade found sticking out of the ground on Chobham Common

“It was sticking out of the ground,” she said. “It seemed to be in good condition, so we thought we ought to tell the police and called 101.”

Frances was with husband Chris and children Zana, 9, and Aletheia, 6, when they found the grenade at about 12.15pm on Saturday. “The first thing the police operator said was ‘can you see the pin’ but I’m not sure there was one,” she said.

The family, who live at Brick Hill on the common, have been living in Angola, where Chris is working for BP. They have returned temporarily to the UK because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“You expect to take care in the countryside in Angola because of the risk of landmines there,” said Frances, who has helped raise money for the Halo Trust and other charities that clear landmines left over from military conflicts. “You don’t expect to stand on a bomb on Chobham Common.”

The grenade could have been dropped during the Second World War, when hundreds of Canadian troops were camping and training in the Chobham area in the lead-up to the D-Day invasion of France.

It is not known if the device was live, but the Army bomb disposal squad took no chances and blew it up with a controlled explosion at about 3pm. “We heard the bang, which was quite loud, from home,” said Frances.

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