Beachcombing Safety in Sandwich Bay


Up until the end of the Second World War, Sandwich Bay has had a military presence for military training and defensive training purposes going back to the late 1700s.


The tangible evidence being the finds of unexploded ordnance in the inter tidal zone since the end of the Second World War. Many of these finds are live and dangerous that have to be disposed of by the army. The history of ordnance finds in Sandwich Bay does go back decades. The more recent finds are well covered by local media with the back history easily Googled on the internet. This by far is the best reference to the type of finds found in the bay that have been dealt with by the army.


Should someone come across an item they might think to be unexploded ordnance, the guidelines are do not touch and call the coastguard service. The coastguard will ask for an image and location in the bay. I have found the coastguard very efficient dealing with these matters. If identified as suspect, the army or navy are quick to attend to detonate the item. Many of us are familiar with loud bangs coming from the bay.


Beneath the sand in areas of the bay there is an abundance of bullets, shrapnel, and spent cartridges to be found. It is not unusual for cannon balls to be found either. Since the 1980s I have collected inert ordnance from all around the coastline. Some I have donated to museums.


I do not deliberately set out to find any of the unexploded artillery shells that remain buried in the bay. Like everyone else, I find them by chance. My last find was a 25-pound high explosive artillery shell with the fuse intact. It does not really look much until witnessed being detonated from a safe distance. The explosion and crater left in the sand is a reminder of just how dangerous ordnance can be after nearly 80 years in the sand.


by Tony Ovenden

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