MoD artillery shell flies over Wiltshire villages making crater near Paddington railway line

This Is Wiltshire: Farmer Andrew Snook where the artillery shell fell in his field at Patney, near Devizes Farmer Andrew Snook where the artillery shell fell in his field at Patney, near Devizes

Military chiefs were investigating today after an artillery round from a firing range went five miles off course - and exploded in a field near a railway line.

The shell flew over a busy main road and an entire village before landing just 300 yards from a mainline train track.

It left a 6ft-wide crater in a field owned by farmer Andrew Snook, 55, and scattered earth and rock up to 40ft.

Mr Snook, who farms on the edge of Salisbury Plain at Patney, near Devizes, said it was lucky that nobody was killed and has demanded an apology.

He said: "There was a lot of heavy firing going on and this one blast did really make me wince.

"I thought, 'that's close' and people in the village said they thought it landed right next to the farm but we couldn't find it anywhere.

"It must have come over a couple of villages to get here - if it would have landed in a village it would have been a very different story."

Salisbury Plain covers 300 square miles and is used extensively by the army for ground, air and tank training.

The rogue shell was fired last Wednesday but Mr Snook did not discover the 2ft deep crater in his maize field until Friday.

He says the round must have travelled at least five miles over the A342 and the village of Chirton, which has a population of 250, before reaching his farm.

It landed near the main Paddington to Penzance railway line, which carries thousands of passengers every day.

Father-of-two Mr Snook said: "We live about three miles from the edge of the firing range and around five miles from where they are usually training, so it's come quite a way.

"We found it on the Friday and we called the MoD. They came out on Saturday and started investigating - what type of shell it was and where it has come from.

"They tried to find out exactly what it was but I don't think they really know - if they did they didn't tell me.

"It's a field that I will soon be putting down to maize, so it hasn't damaged a crop, but I want an apology."

An Army spokesman said: “Following an incident last week in which an artillery shell landed outside the range boundary a thorough investigation was initiated. 

"Live firing will remain suspended until the investigation has reported, local residents have been informed of the outcome and if deemed appropriate, additional safety measures are in place.

"The officer responsible for the safe use of the range has spoken to the land owner where the shell landed and apologised.

"The safety of both our own personnel and of the general public is our priority in all training.”

Comments (9)

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2:10pm Mon 10 Mar 14

frankie007 says...

Who needs the muslim brotherhood when we've got this lot?
Who needs the muslim brotherhood when we've got this lot? frankie007
  • Score: 0

9:17am Tue 11 Mar 14

MyViewsAre says...

Isn't this a big story? This is not a minor health and safety issue surely. Or is this a very common event in this area?
Isn't this a big story? This is not a minor health and safety issue surely. Or is this a very common event in this area? MyViewsAre
  • Score: 5

9:56am Tue 11 Mar 14

p3nnyl says...

I Doubt he will get an apology they don't care! We phoned up when some of the explosions were causing so much vibrations a window cracked and the colonel we spoke to said "well you can complain because it wont change we have been here hundreds of years and I'm assuming you haven't" So basically the government dont care if they ruin your property spending the money they got from your tax pound!
I Doubt he will get an apology they don't care! We phoned up when some of the explosions were causing so much vibrations a window cracked and the colonel we spoke to said "well you can complain because it wont change we have been here hundreds of years and I'm assuming you haven't" So basically the government dont care if they ruin your property spending the money they got from your tax pound! p3nnyl
  • Score: -7

10:24am Tue 11 Mar 14

Paul Tucker says...

Some news reports said they'd suspended firing. They were definitely at it yesterday (Mon 10th March) as you could hear it on the Ridgeway west of Avebury.
Some news reports said they'd suspended firing. They were definitely at it yesterday (Mon 10th March) as you could hear it on the Ridgeway west of Avebury. Paul Tucker
  • Score: 1

11:28am Tue 11 Mar 14

426mountaingoat says...

Back in the mid(?) 1990's as a Police Officer, I was sent one afternoon to reports of an explosion and all electricity cut off at Chirton. A similar sized hole was soon found in a field on the Plain side of the A.342, and a piece of shrapnel from an exploding shell had severed a power cable running overhead on telegraph poles.
The Army officer in charge of the gun responsible knew immediately it had fired that the shell had been 'double-charged' - resulting in it travelling outside of the impact area - and firing was suspended at once.
Who'd want to live in Chirton now!!
Back in the mid(?) 1990's as a Police Officer, I was sent one afternoon to reports of an explosion and all electricity cut off at Chirton. A similar sized hole was soon found in a field on the Plain side of the A.342, and a piece of shrapnel from an exploding shell had severed a power cable running overhead on telegraph poles. The Army officer in charge of the gun responsible knew immediately it had fired that the shell had been 'double-charged' - resulting in it travelling outside of the impact area - and firing was suspended at once. Who'd want to live in Chirton now!! 426mountaingoat
  • Score: 1

1:51pm Tue 11 Mar 14

AndrewM says...

Paul Tucker wrote:
Some news reports said they'd suspended firing. They were definitely at it yesterday (Mon 10th March) as you could hear it on the Ridgeway west of Avebury.
Avebury isn't in the Salisbury Plain Training Area though, is it?
[quote][p][bold]Paul Tucker[/bold] wrote: Some news reports said they'd suspended firing. They were definitely at it yesterday (Mon 10th March) as you could hear it on the Ridgeway west of Avebury.[/p][/quote]Avebury isn't in the Salisbury Plain Training Area though, is it? AndrewM
  • Score: 0

5:29pm Tue 11 Mar 14

saferroads says...

They are firing to day Tuesday 11th march
They are firing to day Tuesday 11th march saferroads
  • Score: 0

5:44pm Tue 11 Mar 14

Martin I Henry says...

At least it saved the farmer some ploughing chores.
Perhaps it could be arranged to for the MoD to finish the field, think of the cost savings. Training our soldiers and fuel free ploughing, it's a win - win situation.

As for cracked windows, well, I'm guessing you were just trying your luck. Compensation culture obviously rules in your mind.

Me, I support our local military personnel. The odd ' flyer' is just something we have to live with.
At least it saved the farmer some ploughing chores. Perhaps it could be arranged to for the MoD to finish the field, think of the cost savings. Training our soldiers and fuel free ploughing, it's a win - win situation. As for cracked windows, well, I'm guessing you were just trying your luck. Compensation culture obviously rules in your mind. Me, I support our local military personnel. The odd ' flyer' is just something we have to live with. Martin I Henry
  • Score: 1

5:40pm Thu 13 Mar 14

allthedecentnameshavegone says...

Martin I Henry wrote:
At least it saved the farmer some ploughing chores.
Perhaps it could be arranged to for the MoD to finish the field, think of the cost savings. Training our soldiers and fuel free ploughing, it's a win - win situation.

As for cracked windows, well, I'm guessing you were just trying your luck. Compensation culture obviously rules in your mind.

Me, I support our local military personnel. The odd ' flyer' is just something we have to live with.
Suppose the shell landed on Chirton Village Primary School instead of in a field, would you still say that it's just an "odd ' flyer' is just something we have to live with."?

It was pure luck that no one was hurt. The MOD should apologise, should investigate thoroughly and should present the findings and explain how they'll never let it happen again to anyone living within 5 miles of a live firing range.
[quote][p][bold]Martin I Henry[/bold] wrote: At least it saved the farmer some ploughing chores. Perhaps it could be arranged to for the MoD to finish the field, think of the cost savings. Training our soldiers and fuel free ploughing, it's a win - win situation. As for cracked windows, well, I'm guessing you were just trying your luck. Compensation culture obviously rules in your mind. Me, I support our local military personnel. The odd ' flyer' is just something we have to live with.[/p][/quote]Suppose the shell landed on Chirton Village Primary School instead of in a field, would you still say that it's just an "odd ' flyer' is just something we have to live with."? It was pure luck that no one was hurt. The MOD should apologise, should investigate thoroughly and should present the findings and explain how they'll never let it happen again to anyone living within 5 miles of a live firing range. allthedecentnameshavegone
  • Score: 4

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