British reporters are calling it a “bomb,” but it is clearly a small Naval artillery shell. Too bad no one bothers to identify it more specifically.
When a friend out diving found a foot-long lump of metal on the seabed, printing firm boss Jeff Hayes decided it would make an ideal paperweight.
For the next two years it sat on his desk as he chatted to his 150 employees – blissfully unaware that it was an unexploded bomb from the First World War.
It was only after the firm went into administration that the office landlord arrived with a friend who is a weapons expert and they realised the truth.
The pair gingerly carried the bomb out of the building and placed it in a flower bed before calling 999. ..
After inspecting the device, two soldiers from the Army bomb disposal unit placed it in the back of a truck and drove it to their base in Powick Hams, Worcestershire, where it is understood a controlled explosion took place.
The landlord, Clive Parks, had been touring the empty building with his friend Jon Williamson.
‘I saw the bomb on the desk and thought, “That looks dangerous”,’ said Mr Williamson. ‘I shoot so I know about firearms, it still had a live detonator and the explosive TNT was exposed.
‘We phoned the managing director and told him and he said, “I cannot believe it is dangerous, it was given to me by a friend of mine”.’
Mr Hayes, 42, refused to comment yesterday about his potentially deadly paperweight which was found on the seabed in the Solent.
But a close friend, Jon Parvin, said: ‘Jeff’s had it on his desk for ages and never realised it could go off.
‘You’d expect a shell that had been submerged under water for the last 90 years or so to be defunct but apparently this one still had a bit of bite to it.’
A fire brigade spokesman said: ‘There was TNT still left in it. If the managing director had put his feet on the desk after a hard day and accidentally knocked the shell on to the floor with a big thud, who knows, it may well have gone off.’