Rotherwas

A couple walking their dog near Rotherwas Industrial Estate encountered a suspicion object covered in dirt. Aware of the area’s history they assumed it to be potentially hazardous and called the Police.

The object was later identified as a spent mortar round. The army EOD engineers that attended the scene described it as safe to handle. 

Click here for a news article.

The device was said to be expended although it appears to be largely intact. The tail fin is missing, possibly exposing the main cavity. If so, the hazardous fill has likely degraded over time.

Capture 2 The legacy of munitions manufacture: a spent mortar bomb find in Herefordshire
A complete 3 inch mortar bomb. How the UXO would have looked at the time.
British Ordnance ML 3 inch Mortar

This mortar bomb has a teardrop shape, indicating that it was likely of the 3 inch type. The 3 inch bomb came in several different models. As well as high explosive, there were drill (inert), smoke, parachute illumination, and white phosphorus. Each bomb weighed approximately 4.5kg, fill dependent.

The Mark II 3 inch mortar was adopted by the British Army in the early 1930s; and this was the standard British mortar when WW2 broke out in 1939. Experience in the early part of the war showed that, although the Mark II was reliable and sturdy, it did not have sufficient range compared to the German 81 mm s.GW.34 mortar.

Why was UXO found here?

The mortar was found in a field near an old munitions storage shed. This shed dates from WW1 and forms part of a vast munitions factory, now mostly redeveloped as Rotherwas Industrial Estate.

No.4 Royal Ordnance Factory Rotherwas was the only British munitions filling factory active during both WW1 and WW2. It was responsible for the final assembly and filling of numerous different types of ammunition / muniton.

Quality testing of a sample of each product often took place at such factories. It is possible that this mortar bomb was fired and found to be faulty.

235838881.jpg.gallery The legacy of munitions manufacture: a spent mortar bomb find in Herefordshire
The mortar bomb as found. Missing its tail fin.