A camping trip to the Mourne Mountains turned into a wartime adventure for a Portadown Scout troop when they stumbled upon a half-buried artillery shell.
Leaders and members of 5th Portadown (St Columba’s) had gone to Cranfield for the weekend, and were just two hours into their trek on Saturday when one of the young Scouts spotted the metal object.
The police confirmed it was an artillery shellCaroline Dawson
Group Scout leader Caroline Dawson said, “One of the other leaders, Stephen McAllen, knew it was an artillery shell. He was aware there were old bombs in the Mournes.”
Putting their Scout motto, ‘Be Prepared’, into action, the leaders got the group of children, aged 10-14, as far away from the shell as possible, taking them back down the mountain via a different route.
They then phoned the police and guided them to the site of the find, on Slieve Lamagan, close to Lower Cove.
Said Caroline, “The police confirmed it was an artillery shell. They said that about eight months ago, at the time of the bush fires, they had a number of sightings of bombs.
“The bombs have been there from World War Two. They were fired from Allied boats in Carlingford Lough that were practising for the D-Day landings.”
On Sunday, the shell, which measured between eight and nine inches, was examined by ammunition technical officers who found it wasn’t live.
Caroline added, “Some of the children were initially a wee bit scared when they realised it was a bomb but the leaders took all the right precautions in getting them out of the way and back down the mountain. The priority was to keep everyone safe.”
St Columba’s is now hoping to use the experience to learn more about the Second World War. “We are going to do a project and get some people in to talk to the children,” said Caroline.
The troop, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, has members aged from 4-18, with Squirrels, Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Explorers. Some also go on to become young leaders within the troop.