First World War hand grenade found in load of potatoes

The grenade was found in Hong Kong in a shipment from France.  |  Hong Kong police photo

Spare a thought for workers in a Hong Kong potato chip factory after they found an unexploded hand grenade in a shipment of potatoes just imported from France.

The German grenade, thought to be from the First World War, was found in the potatoes while staff at the factory were unloading them.

It is believed the bomb had been left in a trench during the war and had managed to be harvested with the potatoes 100 years later.

The Hong Kong authorities took no chances and called in the bomb squad and police to deal with the unexploded device, who safely detonated the grenade at the Calbee snacks factory.

“It was in an unstable condition because it had been previously discharged but failed to detonate,” said Hong Kong police superintendent Wilfred Wong Ho-hon.

Bomb disposal officers packed the grenade, which measured eight centimetres in width and weighed one kilogram, in a drainage channel before exploding it.

“All the information to date suggested that the grenade was imported from France together with the other potatoes,” Wong added.

Dave Macri, a military historian at Hong Kong University, said it could have been easily mistaken for a potato.

“If it was covered in mud, the grenade was likely to have been left behind, dropped by soldiers there during the war or left there after it was thrown.

“The ditch was then filled up and used as a growing field, and the explosive was tossed into the mix of harvested potatoes and sent to Hong Kong,” he told the South China Morning Post.

Hong Kong police are used to dealing with old munitions, though more usually U.S. bombs dropped on the city after it fell to the invading Japanese during the Second World War.

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