Bomb disposal team detonate anti-tank weapon in sea off Sidmouth

The controlled explosion in the water off the far end of Jacob's Ladder beach

The controlled explosion in the water off the far end of Jacob's Ladder beach - Credit: Beer Coastguard Rescue Team

A WWII anti-tank weapon was detonated safely at sea after being found on Jacob’s Ladder beach in Sidmouth. 

A member of the public reported a suspicious object on the beach in the early afternoon of Monday, July 25. They took photos and sent them to the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre, which asked Beer Coastguard Rescue Team to set up a cordon around the object to keep the public at a safe distance. 

Meanwhile the bomb disposal team in Plymouth had viewed the photos and were immediately sent to the scene. On arrival they confirmed that the object was a spigot mortar, used to fire explosive shells at tanks.  

They moved the mortar to deeper water where it was destroyed in a controlled explosion, with Beer Coastguard Rescue, Sidmouth lifeboat and Sidmouth lifeguards making sure no-one approached on the water. 

All units were stood down and returned to base at 5.30pm, and the people on the beach have been thanked for their co-operation during the incident. 

Simon Fogg is an Exmouth-based expert on WWII weapons and memorabilia. He said: “A weapon like that on Sidmouth beach would have been used for training purposes, and would likely have been a dud that got lost. There are two spigot mortar weapons, that I can think of, which were in use in the Second World War. The PIAT (Projector Infantry Anti-Tank, in use from 1942), was a small ‘man portable’ anti-tank weapon that was fired like a rifle, and fired a bomb roughly 10 inches long and contained 2.5lbs of high explosive. The other would be the Blacker Bombard anti-tank spigot mortar, which was much larger than the PIAT, firing a bomb 26 inches (66cm) long, and containing 20lbs (9kg) of high explosive. The Blacker Bombard was used from 1940 and was reserved for ‘home front’ use by Home Guard units when there was a dire need for anti-tank weapons in case of a German invasion. 

Photo of a Blacker Bombard Anti-Tank gun from a 1944 Home Guard training manual

Photo of a Blacker Bombard Anti-Tank gun from a 1944 Home Guard training manual - Credit: Simon Fogg


“Seeing as Sidmouth had a large Home Guard unit and that the bomb disposal had to take the object out to sea to safely dispose of it, I’m guessing it would probably have been a Blacker Bombard mortar that was found.”