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Sunday Life

Soldiers consider legal action over live grenade left in Belfast barracks

Queen's University Officers' Training Corps, Tyrone House, 83 Malone Road
Queen's University Officers' Training Corps, Tyrone House, 83 Malone Road
Ciaran Barnes

By Ciaran Barnes

The Ministry of Defence could face legal action from soldiers whose lives were endangered by a live First World War grenade being left on the table of a Belfast barracks for a month.

Young cadets who used the room where the deadly weapon was discovered are understood to have spoken to their solicitors about possible compensation payouts.

Sunday Life previously revealed how the bomb squad was called to Queen's University Officers' Training Corp last year to defuse the historic grenade that was found on a battlefield trip to the Somme.

A subsequent army investigation has resulted in the office who sneaked it back being discliplined.

An MoD spokesperson said: "The ordinance was brought back from the Somme area approximately three to four weeks prior to its discovery and dealt with at that time by Ammunition Technical Officers (ATO).

"The individual concerned accepted that their actions were irresponsible and not in line with the Army's value and standards. They were subsequently disciplined under Service Law."

The live grenade as found buried in the ground during an August 2018 visit by cadets and officers to the Somme.

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It was transported back to the Malone Road base from France via minibus and ferry risking dozens of lives, before being put on display on top of a table in a store used by soldiers. After realising the century-old grenade could still explode, panicked Army chiefs called in the bomb squad which spent more than four hours making it safe.

The embarrassing episode led to the daft Somme soldier being compared to Captain Mainwaring - the bungling officer from classic TV comedy Dad's Army.

Army sources told Sunday Life that he has since been fined £180, which is the equivalent of two days' pay. Explaining how the grenade made its way from the Somme to Belfast, one said: "The unexploded grenade was found near the Ulster tower during a 12-day trip.

"It was taken back from France in a minibus via a ferry crossing to hull, and then on a second minibus across England a ferry from Stranraer to Belfast.

"The grenade was hidden in a soldier's bag, it was extremely volatile due to being more than 100 years old."

Our source added: "If the grenade had exploded, anyone nearby would have been killed. It is utterly reckless for a trained soldier to find an old grenade at a battlefield and then put it into a room used by his unsuspecting colleagues."

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