Ben Austin and his son, Finley, were looking for some lost treasures of a metallic nature while magnet fishing in the River Mole in southeastern England’s Dorking last weekend. However, after grabbing a few rusty pieces of metal and a penny, they hooked something a bit more memorable: a small bomb.
"As soon as I pulled it up, I was like 'what is that?' If you said to me what a WW2 bomb looks like I would think a massive car tire; it looked a miniature size. I thought 'this is a bomb,’” Ben told Surrey Live on Thursday.
“My son was trying to grab it and pull it up and I said 'no, this is a real bomb,’” the father said.
Boy, 6, finds unexploded World War Two bomb while magnet fishing https://t.co/QnyF4QlVlm— TotalNews (@TotalNewsUK) July 10, 2020
Telling the outlet he was stumped about whom to notify, the elder Austin said he rang the UK’s emergency number, 999, which asked him to send pictures of the bomb to the police control room.
"As soon as I got confirmation it was a bomb I felt an obligation and went to the end of the bridge warning people off,” Ben said. "Most people were wearing face masks, so were not feeling particularly sociable, but you could see their faces gasp when I told them. It was hair-raising and exhilarating at the same time."
Soon enough, a bomb disposal unit arrived and took the device to a nearby field, where they blew it up.
Southern England was heavily bombed by the German air force during the Second World War, with the heaviest attack, on September 15, 1940, seeing some 500 German bombers drop between 10 and 11 tons of explosives on the London area, just to the north of Dorking.
As a consequence of the war, finding unexploded ordnance dating to that period is a frighteningly common event, not just in the UK, but all across Europe. In February, a 500-kilogram bomb was uncovered in London’s Soho district, for example, and another magnet fisher made a similar discovery to the Austins’ in the same area in May.