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Home   Folkestone   News   Article

Bomb disposal alert in Hawkinge after schoolboys Kane Byrne and Alex Taylor dig up unexploded Second World War rocket heads

15 January 2014
by Sam Lennon

Army bomb experts had to be called out after two boys brought home unexploded Second World War weapons they found in a field.

The anti-tank rocket heads were dug up by Kane Byrne and his friend Alex Taylor, who had been out looking for objects with a metal detector.

Kane, 12, from Hawkinge, said: "The bomb squad told me they could vaporise anything within six feet."

Kane Byrne, 12, with his metal detector and his friend Alex Taylor who was with him when the explosives were found

Kane Byrne, 12, with friend Alex Taylor who was with him when the first explosives were found

His father, Karl Byrne, said: "When I saw those warheads in the house my face said it all."

The warheads were next to the kitchen a few inches from his wife Alison, 43, who did not know what they were.

Mr Byrne said: "When I saw them I felt panic-stricken. But I kept calm for the children. I knew what those objects were."

The 12-year-olds had their hair-raising adventure when they went metal detecting on Thursday, using for the first time a machine Kane had been given for Christmas.

They explored a field a few hundred yards from Kane's home in Curlew Place and found the first rocket head.

The two muddied wartime rocket heads found in Hawkinge

The two muddied wartime rocket heads found in Hawkinge

Alex, of Paxton Avenue, said: "We dug it out and it looked like a large bottle. It was about 1ft deep in the ground.

"We took it back to Kane's house and cleaned it and decided to go back to see if there were more. We found the second one had been right next to the first and brought that back, too."

The 10in to 12in-long shells had been found after 1pm and stayed in the house until Mr Byrne returned home at 6.30pm.

His two other children - nine-year-old twins Amelia and Imogen - eagerly dragged him to the kitchen show him their big brother's discovery.

The warheads were next to the kitchen, a few inches from his 43-year-old wife Alison who also did not know what they were.

Mr Byrne said: "They wanted to show me the treasures that Kane had brought back."

The weapons have been identified as British anti-tank rocket warheads from the Second World War

The weapons have been identified as British anti-tank rocket warheads from the Second World War

He contacted Kane's grandfather, Mike Woodland, in Plymouth, sending photographs of the weapons by mobile phone to get full identification and advice.

Mr Woodland, 60, who was in a bomb disposal team with the Royal Engineers in the 1980s, said the weapons were defused but the police needed to be called.

Alex had safely left the house by then and Mr Byrne took his children to karate classes at Folkestone's Pent Valley Technology College to get them out of harm's way.

"The bomb squad told me they could vaporise anything within six feet..." - schoolboy Kane Byrne

He also placed the warheads in a bag and left them at the end of the back garden until the bomb experts arrived. This was to keep them cool to prevent the central heating overheating them.

Police first arrived at the house followed by a bomb disposal team from Folkestone's Sir John Moore Barracks.

The soldiers took away the weapons for them to be X-rayed and destroyed by controlled explosion.

The boys had gone exploring with the metal detector when they had a day off from Dover Grammar School for Boys after it had been flooded.

The metal detector had been a Christmas present to Kane from Mr Woodland.

Mrs Byrne, a beautician, had been at the family home when the weapons were brought back but had been preoccupied serving a client in an outbuilding.

Mr Byrne, an area manager for Lidl, said: "She ended up totally bewildered by everything that had happened."

Kane said: "It's not put me off metal detecting but the police told me that next time I find something I'm not sure about to tell my dad first."

A Hawker Tempest fighter

A Hawker Tempest fighter

The Byrne family live on the Turlingham Village estate, which is build on the original Hawkinge Aerodrome, a vital airfield during the Battle of Britain as it was close to Nazi-occupied France.

Mr Byrne's colleague, ex-soldier Paul Jefferies, said they would have been fired at enemy tanks and bunkers by Hawker Tempest planes.

The 42-year-old, who was in the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment until 2002, said: "They were disarmed to keep them safe until they were loaded on a plane."

Mr Jefferies had also been contacted by Mr Byrne when the weapons were first found.

He warned they could still explode and told the family to get out of the house and call the police and bomb squad.

The boys had begun to suspect the objects were shells and tried to research them on the internet, but could find no images to match what they had.

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