Blast from the past

The German WWI ammunition presented at Hillarys Police Station.
The German WWI ammunition presented at Hillarys Police Station.

But a rare local offering could have had violent consequences.

Military explosive technicians were needed at Hillarys Police Station amid fears a decaying round of ammunition, almost a century old, could detonate.

District police boss Charlie Carver said an Ocean Reef man had surrendered the German 1918 WWI ammo, classified as a high explosive, as part of the gun amnesty.

He carried it into the station on August 14 hoping police could take it off his hands.

Hillarys Senior Constable Tim Wheel said the projectile was still fitted with a detonator, leading tactical response officers to deem it unstable.

The cartridge could have caused severe injury or death, with the ammunition capable of piercing aircraft armour in The Great War (1914-1918).

War history expert Mike Etzel, an assistant curator at the Australian War Memorial, said live ammunition of its kind was uncommon.

Police contacted technicians from HMAS Stirling, at Garden Island, to dispose of the round, which Sen Const Wheel said was about 15cm in length and weighed about 450g.

‘It was secured and isolated,’ he said.

‘It was found to be a World War I, high explosive, armour piercing round in a potentially volatile state, as can be seen by the condition of the projectile.’

He advised anyone wishing to dispose of wartime munitions to contact police immediately.

Supt Carver accepted the resident’s good intentions, but stressed the dangers of his actions.

‘It could have had catastrophic consequences had it gone off,’ he said. ‘If you have got explosives, contact us, but do not handle them.’

The WA Police gun amnesty will continue until October 31.