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WWII shell found in Wellesley backyard causes scare

Posted by Leslie Anderson  April 14, 2011 09:08 PM

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Wellesley Police Department

A picture of the WWII-era mortar shell that was discovered in the yard of Diane Warren, 9 Framar Road, by local boys Parker Wiegman and Will Dougherty.

An innocent day digging in a Wellesley backyard turned into a visit by the State Police bomb squad tonight, as authorities investigated a piece of World War II ordnance uncovered by neighborhood children.

The device, which was determined to be a 12-inch mortar shell, was not live and posed no danger to residents of Framar Road, where it was discovered.

"We were pretty surprised," said Diane Warren, who lives at 9 Framar Road with her husband, Daniel. "I was inside doing laundry when Daniel told me police were outside, and then I went out to find out they were investigating my own yard."

The incident began at around 6 p.m., when residents of Framar Road contacted police saying local children had uncovered a suspicious device in Warren's yard.

"We don't know why they were in the yard," Warren said. "We've lived in the house for 37 years, and our children never found anything like that when they were small. I can only think that the heavy rains last year might have washed off enough topsoil to uncover it."

The shell was discovered by two young boys.

"It has been a crazy night," said Susan Morris, who lives at 16 Framar Road. It was her son, Parker Wiegman, 9, who found the shell, while playing with his friend Will Dougherty, 8.

"My husband is a big military buff and watches military shows on television, so he was really interested when the boys told them what they found. And of course, when the police showed up, the boys were so excited to tell them all about it. They thought it was great," Morris said. "They're out there every day playing, and I bet this will just increase their enthusiasm for exploring the yard. They thought the whole thing was an adventure."

Morris' husband, Al Wiegman, was the one who reported the incident to the police.

"The kids found the shell, and one of them brought it home," said Wellesley police Lt. Marie Cleary. "The family called the police, who responded, and once the nature of the threat was realized the state bomb squad was called to assist."

Police closed the road briefly while bomb squad officials analyzed the device.

"At first I was chatting with the officers, but then all of a sudden they told us to get back, and put up yellow police tape, which I took a picture of," Warren said. "They asked us to evacuate the house briefly, and Daniel and I went to dinner."

Eventually, bomb squad investigators were able to determine the device was harmless.

"They scanned the item and found that there were no explosives inside it," said police Sgt. Steve Whittemore, who responded at the scene. "We have no idea how long ago it went off or even how long it's been in the ground."

The road was reopened at around 7:30 p.m. Initially, police weren't sure if the device was an original or replication, but Cleary said the bomb squad was of the opinion that it was a genuine World War II mortar shell.

"Sometimes we do hear about incidents like this - veterans will bring home spent shells or other pieces of ordnance as souveniers," Cleary said. "But whenever we hear of one being found we take every precaution."

Whittemore said that state bomb squad officials took the shell. It is unknown if it will be returned to the family.

Warren said that she doesn't know how the shell ended up in her yard - but she has a hunch.

"The gentleman who lived in the house before the people who sold it to us was a soldier in World War II," Warren said. "His name was Major Harry Barton. We still get mail for him sometimes, and I've always been curious about him."

She said neither she nor her husband had ever found anything like this.

"The closest thing we ever found was a silver dollar buried in the yard," Warren said. "But this is a first."

Sarah Thomas can be reached at

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