Bomb under the kitchen sink - woman finds live mortar shell in late brother’s home

Yvonne Clay, who found a second world war shell in her dead brother's belongings (Richard Holt).
Yvonne Clay, who found a second world war shell in her dead brother's belongings (Richard Holt).

BOMB experts were rushed in after a woman found a live mortar shell in her late brother’s home.

Yvonne Clay was clearing ex-RAF engineer Richard Holt’s belongings from his flat in New Lane, Skircoat Green, Halifax, when she found the unexploded bomb under the kitchen sink.

Sean Connery lookalike and ex-RAF engineer Richard Holt kept a live mortar shell under his kitchen sink for years. He died on July 22, 2011, and the bomb was found by his sister Yvonne Clay when clearing out his belongings.

Sean Connery lookalike and ex-RAF engineer Richard Holt kept a live mortar shell under his kitchen sink for years. He died on July 22, 2011, and the bomb was found by his sister Yvonne Clay when clearing out his belongings.

The retired nurse, 64, said: “He must have had it for years. It was just wrapped up in an old yellow duster.

“It is scary to think it has been hanging around all these years. It’s a good job I didn’t drop it.”

She and husband Bill took it back to their home in Abbey Walk South, Halifax, and stored it in a nearby garage at St Alban’s Catholic Church while they pondered what to do with it.

Mr Clay, 69, said: “After a while we realised it could be dangerous, even though the detonator was removed as far as we knew, but obviously it was a job for the experts.”

The live mortar which was found under Richard Holt's sink after he died. A Ministry of Defence spokesman said it was a type used from the Second World War to the 1970s and could have gone off if dropped or hit.

The live mortar which was found under Richard Holt's sink after he died. A Ministry of Defence spokesman said it was a type used from the Second World War to the 1970s and could have gone off if dropped or hit.

The couple called police at 1.50pm on Monday, who then sent for a bomb squad from the Royal Logistics Corp at Catterick Garrison.

They examined the shell and took it to a field in Norland where they carried out a controlled explosion.

A spokesman for the North Yorkshire army base said the type of mortar was used from the Second World War until the 1970s, and could have exploded if dropped or hit.

“It was a three-inch high explosive mortar that was still live, hence the team weren’t happy about taking it any great distance,” he said.

“They were fortunate enough to find an open space close by, which was big enough to carry out a controlled explosion.”

Nick Davis, 42, and his 11-year-old son spotted the bomb squad digging in a field off Norland Road, just south of the junction with Turbury Lane, at 5.30pm and heard the bang half an hour later.

“It wasn’t big, but enough to know it wasn’t a farmer with a shotgun,” said Mr Davis, who is a friend of Mr and Mrs Clay.

The couple said they knew Mr Holt had the shell, but had no idea it was live. It is believed he took it as a souvenir when he left the RAF.

He joined as a boy entrant aged 15 in 1954, then trained and served as an electrical engineer, based at Kinloss, Scotland, until the age of 30.

In later life he was a familiar face in and around Calderdale in more ways than one - as a pub landlord at the Martin’s Nest, Elland, and the Pineberry Inn, Queensbury, and as a Sean Connery impersonator.

He attended dozens of events in his 007 getup, including a fund-raising gala in aid of the Yorkshire Cancer Centre at St James’s Hospital, Leeds.

He had radiotherapy treatment for lung cancer there, but sadly died at Overgate Hospice on July 19, aged 71.

Mrs Clay said: “At his funeral he had the Bond theme played - he had that sort of humour. He’ll have been up there laughing his socks off about all this.”