ww1 shell

UK Woman Uses Live WW1 Shell As A Vase For 30 Years

A UK woman found a WW1 shell so attractive, she has been using it as a vase for the last 30 years. The only problem is, the shell is still live.

It seems Kathryn Rawlins, 45, has been extremely lucky, having a piece of live ammo decorating her home. She reportedly found it as a teenager when playing in the fields close to her school and has been using it as a vase ever since.

According to the Tamworth Herald, when Rawlins spotted the WW1 shell, she thought it would make an attractive and unique vase, and ever since then has been regularly adding fresh flowers to the artillery shell. However, while watching a recently televised documentary about the First World War, she realized she may have been sitting just a few feet from an unexploded piece of ordnance for the last thirty years.

Rawlins contacted the local police and told them about the WW1 shell. Shortly after, Ministry of Defense experts were brought in to take the vase away from her home and safely remove the explosives. Once this was done, the shell was returned to Rawlins and is now a much safer way to display fresh flowers.

She told the media, the officials explained to her that the WW1 shell “had the potential to have killed anybody within about 20 meters of it” and that it could have taken the entire house down in an explosion.

“It’s funny to think that I had it on my mantelpiece the entire time – it’s just become a part of my family now.”

Rawlins continued by explaining that the WW1 shell had been on her mantelpiece or coffee table for three decades and that she even took it with her to university, adding that she “used to stick plastic roses out of the top of it when I was dancing around to Madonna.”

“Luckily my husband Chris just thought it was funny.”

According to Rawlins, it was by sheer coincidence that she found out she might have an unexploded ordnance sitting in her living room. She had apparently taken a day’s sick leave and was relaxing by watching a daytime documentary film about the unexploded wartime artillery shells that were dropped on Coventry by the German zeppelins during the First World War. It suddenly dawned on her what she had sitting on her coffee table, filled with flowers, right at that moment.

“I made the strangest call to the police non-emergency hot line. I started off the conversation by telling them not to panic and attempted to describe the shell that I had.”

She described the WW1 shell as being 12 inches in length, around three inches across the base and featured a conical tip that could be unscrewed, which is exactly what she did when using it to hold fresh flowers. Rawlins said the shell was really heavy and had some writing on it that looked to be German.

Eventually, she sent a photo of the shell to the police and once they saw it, an officer arrived at her home within the hour. Upon seeing the WW1 shell up front and in person, the police said they would have to take it to the Chetwyn Barracks in Nottingham where the Ministry of Defense specialize in bomb disposal, so they could examine it in more detail.

According to authorities there, the artillery shell was from the First World War and was possibly of Egyptian origin.

While the experience as a whole was very worrying, Rawlins said the police eventually brought it back to her and assured her the shell had been made safe so she could continue to use it as an unusual vase. No doubt, Rawlins breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Police have since warned anyone who finds similar world war ammunition to immediately contact the authorities, just in case.

While it may sound a little unusual to use a WW1 shell as a vase, a Twitter search reveals it to be a relatively common thing.

[Photo by Tom Parnell CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

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