Bomb squad called as boy, 5, finds WWII bomb while fishing in UK canal

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The bomb squad swooped onto a quiet canal-side path when a five-year-old boy pulled a World War Two artillery shell out of the water.

Little Leo Nixon was magnet fishing with dad, William Nixon, 51 and older brother, Riley, seven, and some friends when he unearthed what was believed to be a Second World War era shell.

Police were called a cordon was put in place around the area in Ashton under Lyne yesterday morning, the Manchester Evening News reports.

A few hours later, they were seen rushing away from the area with a full police convoy.

The MEN reported that the artillery shell was being removed to be destroyed in a controlled explosion away from the scene, but had not been unable to confirm it with police.

Mr Nixon, whose group are known online as the Leeds Magneters, said that his party, which included his friend Andrew, 49, were just about to call it quits when his son pulled the shell out.

He added that they don't like to find explosives because of the ensuing mayhem, but, once out, not a lot can be done.

'I've been doing it for nearly three years and I've had a grenade and a shell, Leo actually found a Magnum 38 9mm handgun in Manchester around four weeks ago,' he said.

'When you pull something like that up it just kicks in, not a panic but more of a 'right now, what are we going to do?'.

William said that they decided to call 999, after a four hour wait when he last used the non-emergency number, and their response was "amazing" and made a five-year-old's day.

Mr Nixon, who lives in Leeds, regularly travels to parts of the country to magnet fish, having been out in Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, and Ashton previously.

It's not the first time he or his sons have found weaponry, with the group often coming across knives, several guns, and even a grenade before.

Just four weeks ago Riley found a German SIG Sauer WWII 38H handgun in Lincoln in December 2019, when he was just five.

Older son Reece found a 106-year-old Vickers machine gun in a canal in Rotherham – taking both Reece and his dad's strength to pull it out of the water – which has now been displayed in a museum.

The bodies of water around Greater Manchester are one of Mr Nixon's favourite places to magnet fish, as they "always seem to give the goodies."

Due to the frequency of finding various weaponry, however, Mr Nixon has had to keep up-to-date with the latest legislation to ensure he hands over his finds to the police where necessary, calling officers out to pick up guns, machetes, and serrated blades picked up from the bottom of the water ways.

However, explosives are one of his least favourite finds due to how disruptive they are to people in the local area.

"We don't like to find them, it's a disruption to everybody's day, especially on Father's Day, people do moan and say 'oh they've caused chaos again' but it's not like we're fishing them out every week, that's only the third time in three years for us," he said

"I do feel for the residents though, it's not fair on them but as a hobby for me and my kids it's great."

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