By Jos Weale
Two unsuspecting fishermen had an explosive day out after hooking a live World War II GRENADE – before watching it explode.
Martyn Jones, 24, and 30-year-old Karl McDonald were blown away when they pulled a 36 Mills grenade from the Mersey river in Warrington while searching for coins and artefacts using magnets.
Their peaceful afternoon on Sunday (March 19) turned into a thrilling mission when the pair were forced to carry the live deadly wartime weapon through the Cheshire town before it was detonated in a nearby field.
Plant operator Karl, who is also from Warrington, said: “We must have been there for thirty or forty minutes, we’d already pulled out a knife and then I pulled it up.
“The bottom of it was stuck to the magnet. A couple were there watching us and asked us what we’d got, and, joking, I said it was a grenade.
“It was the shape of it, and it was around the size of a baseball. Straight away it rang alarm bells. I showed it to Martyn and asked him what he thought it was, and he said a grenade.
“At that point I was about seventy per cent sure it was a grenade.
“It was a good walk back to the car but I didn’t want to leave it, and we didn’t have our phones with us because the magnets can damage electrical appliances.
“So I just carried it with my hand and in the bucket. I phoned the police and said ‘we’ve found what looks like a grenade’.
“The car park was a very public area. We took it to the far corner of the car park and I backed the car up so if it had gone off it would have just hit the car.
“When the officer arrived there was no hesitation, he called up for the bomb disposal squad.”
Karl, who is engaged to Martyn’s sister Cara, called the police about their unusual find straight away
The pair did not have their phones with them as the high-strength magnets they use can damage electrical equipment.
They were instead forced to sling the grenade into a bucket and make the five minute walk through Warrington town centre to a pub car park to grab their mobiles and call police.
The bomb was then taken to a nearby field and detonated in a controlled explosion.
Experts said it either came from WWII or from IRA militants, who carried out two bomb attacks in Warrington in 1993.
Martyn, who works in a bar, said: “When we first found it we thought it was just a lump of metal. It was corroded, but you could just make out the shape.
“As soon as the bomb team saw it, they said that it was definitely a grenade.
“It was awesome. We asked if we could watch, and we went with them to the field and just watched them detonate it, it was really cool.
“It was a controlled explosion, but there was still lots of smoke.”
Karl added: “We just felt excitement really. It’s not your average day out. I was a little bit shocked that I had carried it so far.
“Before they detonated they told us it would be a little puff but it was actually quite a big explosion. It was buried in the ground, but it was the actual grenade going off because it was live.
“They told us then that it could either be an IRA grenade from when they were in Warrington or from around World War II.
The pair have been magnet fishing for a couple of months, and had only tried their hand at the hobby a couple of times before making the explosive discovery.
And Martyn and Karl say they were allowed to keep the grenade shrapnel as a souvenir of their banging day out.
Martyn said: “You can find all sorts of stuff, we’ll definitely keep doing it.
“It goes to show there are lots of things you can find magnet fishing, you just never know what you’re going to find.
“I’m definitely going to keep it up as a hobby.”
A spokesman for the Royal Logistics Corps, who handle bomb disposal, said: “We can confirm the object was a 36 Mills grenade and that it was detonated on site, which means it could have been live.”
A spokesman for Cheshire Police said: “On Sunday 19 March shortly before 3pm police were notified of the discovery of what is believed to be a World War 2 hand grenade.
“Members of the public were magnet fishing at the Waterside, Warrington, when they pulled the hand grenade from the river,
“Police attended the scene and set up a cordon as a precaution. The Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) were also notified of the discovery.
“As a precautionary measure the device was moved to a remote field off of Chester Road and a controlled explosion by EOD officers was carried out.”