Unpacking A WWI Grenade In A Potato Factory

Samuel Reason | February 5th, 2019

Workers at one factory in Hong Kong were in for a major shock when they discovered a World War I hand grenade in a packet of potatoes imported from France. The round grenade was found on February 2nd, 2019 at the Calbee Four Seas Company factory in Hong Kong, China.


Weighing around 2 pounds and 3 inches wide, this hand grenade could have caused trouble by blowing up the whole factory, in fact, it would have been a true attack of the snacks. And the scariest part was Hong Kong police believed the grenade to be in an unstable condition, potentially exploding at any moment.

Bomb specialists were called to the scene and quickly identified the grenade as being German made from WWI. Covered in the soil it camouflaged in perfectly with the potatoes, most likely it had been sitting in a potato field that had once been a World War I battlefield. Luckily the Hong Kong Police Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau was able to neutralize the threat and detonate the hand grenade in a safe zone.

This was done by placing the grenade in a hole and causing it to detonate with high-pressure water guns from a safe distance. It sounds like a strange practice but detonating live explosives with water guns has been practiced by the Navy for quite some time. In fact, it is a procedure which has been used since the 1990s. Another method that military bomb specialists may use is to send in a robot. Robots are able to cut wires while everyone is a safe distance away, therefore, removing any risk of someone dying.

The high water pressure method attempts to simply dislodge wires by spraying them with water. This way the bomb is likely to lose power and not be able to explode.

Infantry soldiers used hundreds of these types of grenades during WWI, though German soldiers did favor the stick grenade usually as it allowed them to throw it further. Finding World War I or World War II relics in French farmland is nothing really new and does happen quite regularly just due to the thousands of bombs that landed during that era.

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