An 83 year old Putney resident has warned of the possibility of unexploded wartime munitions metres below the surface of some Putney homes.

Retired electrician and former Ryde councillor Max Lowe had a visit from the bomb squad on Sunday, February 22 when a World War One explosive  – suspected of being a Mills bomb – was found when a plumber was digging his Frances Street backyard.

“It was about a metre down and had been deliberately cased in concrete,” he said.

“I called the police and a young officer came out and the next thing the whole street was sealed off and these blokes from the bomb squad with huge yellow suits were walking around my home.”

Mr Lowe has since been told the find is likely to be grenade “of some description” which he dates from World War One.

“I bought this land 58 years ago and there was a property on it and this whole area was once market gardens,” he said.

The former alderman (1971-77) has not discounted the idea that a substantial amount of abandon wartime munitions were dumped at the market garden site after the war ended in 1918 or that his find could be one of the many ‘souvenirs’ brought back after the war and cased in concrete in the mistaken belief it couldn’t explode.

“This was common and I remember being quite young when a soldier came back from the last war with a hand grenade and I helped bury it at a tip,” he said.

He also has some sobering advice for his neighbours.

“I couldn’t sleep because of the fear that thing could have gone off and the message I want to get out to people in Putney is to call the police if you are dig up something you suspect could be a wartime explosive,” he said.

“You should also be careful in and around the bay if you find wartime aircraft parts, because they are likely to contain traces of inflammable magnesium.”


Max Lowe of Putney at the site where the explosive was found. TWT on-the-spot PHOTO