An unexploded WWII shell was detonated on Southend beach after it was uncovered by a bait digger at low tide. Described as being between 4 and 5 inches long, the live shell was destroyed in a controlled explosion by an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team later in the day.
It is not infrequent for Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) to be found off Southend’s Esplanade, with the surrounding waters littered with remnant munitions from military coastal batteries and practice ranges stretching back to the 19th century. The proximity of the Shoeburyness ranges on Foulness Island, in particular, has contributed a significant UXO hazard to the marine environment along the South Essex coast, with prevailing tidal patterns often migrating such items towards Southend.
Indeed, in 2013 a bait digger uncovered 32 shells off Southend which had to be destroyed in a controlled explosion on the foreshore. At the time, more than 250 UXO items had been removed or dealt with by EOD teams along the Southend coast in the previous five years and a suggestion was even proffered that a Navy minesweeper should attempt to dispose of all remaining UXO in the area in one huge swoop! Given the potential for marine migration of UXO, however, such an undertaking would have been nugatory.
It seems as if this is one hazard alongside which Southend’s fishermen will continue to ply their trade.