A groundskeeper at the Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site in Colwood was working to clear away some underbrush June 28 when they noticed a cylindrical metal object sticking out of the earth.
Members of the military police unit were quickly called and cordoned off the area. Soon after, Petty Officer 2nd Class Benoit Leonard and Sailor 1st Class Andy O’Brien of the military explosive disposal unit arrived on scene to investigate.
|Members of the military bomb disposal unit were called to Fort Rodd Hill June 28 to remove an undetonated two-inch WWII mortar. (Courtesy Canadian Armed Forces)|
The object was rusty and half-buried in the ground making it difficult to identify, Leonard said, but they determined it was an undetonated two-inch Second World War mortar. It had no fuse attached, making it a low risk of being set off, but was filled with highly explosive material.
“When it’s that old you don’t know what kind of decay has happened inside,” Leonard said, noting that depending on what’s happened over the years it could become more or less dangerous. “Sometimes some of these chemicals can become highly explosive over time.”
He can’t be sure, but Leonard said he thinks the mortar was dropped during a training exercise back when Fort Rodd Hill served as a coastal defence system during the First and Second World Wars.
It’s unlikely anyone visiting the area would have stumbled upon the explosive since it was off the path, but Leonard said if anyone ever does, it’s important they report it to police right away.
Identifying the mortar, Leonard and O’Brien were able to place it into a frag bag – a bomb containment enclosure – and transport it to the Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot where it was safely detonated.
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