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Military shell lands just yards from Cornwall to London railway line

By DaveCDM  |  Posted: March 10, 2014

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Military chiefs are investigating after an artillery round from a firing range went five miles off course - and exploded in a field just yards from the Penzance to Paddington 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 in Wiltshire, says it is 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 (5/3) but Mr Snook did not discover the 2ft deep crater in his maize field until the Friday.

He says the explosive must have travelled at least five miles over the A342 and the village of Chirton - population 250 - before reaching his farm in Patney near Devizes.

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."

The Army suspended all live firing on Salisbury Plain while the investigation takes place.

A spokesman said: "We can confirm that during live firing on Salisbury Plain Training Area last week an artillery shell landed outside the range boundary.

"No one was injured and no property was damaged but all live firing has been suspended while this is investigated."

It is not yet known where the shot was fired from but several units were scheduled to be training in the area last week.

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  • JeremyBadger  |  March 11 2014, 12:59PM

    What Cornwall to London railway line is this? We don't currently have an interconnecting railway line.

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