World War II enthusiast tries to sell LIVE German bomb on eBay

EXCLUSIVE: ‘Mate, that’s not de-activated, it’s live!’ Terrified families are evacuated from their homes as Army sets up 50-metre cordon after metal detectorist tries to sell a LIVE WWII German bomb on eBay

  • Metal detectorist Mark Williams, 51, found the bomb on a grass bank near his brother’s home in Swaythling, Hampshire
  • He took it home and advertised it on eBay as ‘WWII German incendiary bomb – genuine, authentic Southampton Blitz. Condition: Used.’
  •  The advert was spotted by Militaria collector Ralf Sherwin, 46, who immediately contacted Mr Williams to warn him of the danger he was in
  • But he claims his message was ignored by the seller so he contacted the police 
  • Officers tracked down Mr Williams, sealed off the road and bomb disposal expert carried out a controlled explosion
  • Williams was arrested was arrested on suspicion of possessing an explosive substance but later released without charge

Mark Williams (pictured) found the live Luftwaffe incendiary bomb at a playground

Terrified families were evacuated from their homes as the police, fire brigade and the Army bomb squad were called in – after an eBay seller advertised a LIVE Luftwaffe incendiary bomb from WWII on the site.

Metal detectorist Mark Williams listed the deadly weapon – designed to wreak havoc during the Blitz by torching houses and buildings – despite being warned online by an expert that he was, literally, playing with fire.

Police raided the house, arrested Williams and set up a 50m cordon while army experts took the 1kg munition away to be destroyed in a controlled explosion.

Militaria collector Ralf Sherwin raised the alarm after he saw the weapon on eBay and was horrified to see the tell-tale signs that the bomb was still active.

He first saw the explosive listing on Monday night under the heading ‘WWII German incendiary bomb – genuine, authentic Southampton Blitz.’

Beneath, it added: ‘Condition: Used’.

Security consultant Mr Sherwin, 46, immediately messaged Williams, known on eBay as ‘Stick4186’, telling him: ‘Mate, do you realise that’s not de-activated — it’s live!’. 

‘He messaged me back and asked me how I knew,’ Mr Sherwin told MailOnline. ‘He said he was a metal detectorist and had dug it up in a kids’ playground in Southampton. 

Williams, a keen metal detectorist took the bomb home and put it on eBay (above) for £15 under the heading ‘WWII German incendiary bomb – genuine, authentic Southampton Blitz’

After finding the device buried six inches beneath the ground, Williams took it back to his brother Paul’s flat. Police tracked him down and a 50-metre cordon was put around the home

Williams found the 80-year-old bomb on a grass bank that separates the flats where he lives with the back gardens of a row of terraced homes in Swaythling, near Southampton, Hants

Neighbours said Williams (pictured) came back to the property and showed them what he had found – the incendiary device which measured about a foot long

‘I went into great detail about that fact that you could see the iron oxide seeping out of the air holes and the join.

‘In the nose there’s a detonator, and once that dries out, it will go off, and I told him he wouldn’t be able to put it out.

‘After that, I expected him to take it down and call the police, but the idiot completely ignored me and carried on selling it. What was he going to do if someone bought it – cover it in bubble wrap and post if off in a Jiffy bag?’

Militaria collector Ralf Sherwin (above) saw the weapon on eBay and raised the alarm

Half an hour after his message received no reply, Mr Sherwin followed the example of Dad’s Army’s ARP warden Hodges — and contacted the police.

‘I went online and reported him to Hampshire Police. I later found out that they contacted eBay, found his address and pounced. I’d never have forgiven myself if I’d done nothing and then read about a family being wiped out in a house fire.’

On Tuesday, police put a 50-metre cordon in place and evacuated families from their homes around Havenstone Way in Swaythling after Mr Sherwin’s alert was followed up. They were joined by firemen and an Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal team.

Williams’ neighbours spoke of their shock after being evacuated from their homes after the WW2 incendiary device was safely removed.

Williams lives with his brother Paul in a first floor flat overlooking a grass bank where the device was found.

One neighbour said: ‘It was bedlam here with police and fire brigade. We were all told to leave our homes while a cordon was put up. We had to be outside for over two hours.’

Another neighbour added: ‘I think the big problem was Mark brought the bomb back to his flat. He showed me it and it was about a foot long. We had to wait in the rain for a bomb disposal unit to turn up and they took it away. We did not hear any explosion so they must have removed it.’ 

A spokesman for eBay said dangerous weapons such as bombs are not allowed on the site 

Williams, who neighbours say had recently returned from Spain where had been living, found the 80-year-old bomb on a grass bank that separates the flats where he lives with the back gardens of a row of terraced homes.

A neighbour said: ‘We knew he liked going out with his metal detector and he had been searching the grassy area behind his flat.’ 

He said he found the device buried about six inches underground, dug it up and took it into his flat.’

Williams refused to comment when approached by MailOnline.

Mr Sherwin, from Dorset, said he had been collecting wartime items from the age of six, inspired by the stories he was told by a World War One veteran.

The incendiary bomb Mr Sherwin is holding in the photograph is identical to the one found in Southampton, except it has been safely deactivated and was used as a training device.

He added: ‘I’ve spent most of my life working in security and once when I was a community ranger on Studland Beach I found an unexploded bomb and the Navy blew it up, so I know how dangerous these things are.’

Millions of 1kg German incendiary bombs were dropped on Britain during the blitz. 

The cylindrical bodies were made of magnesium alloy and filled with an incendiary compound called thermite. On impact, a needle in the igniter was driven into a small percussion cap, which ignited the thermite and then the casing itself, producing heat sufficient to melt steel.

A Hampshire Police spokesman said: ‘On Tuesday afternoon (18 May) we were called to Havenstone Way, Swaythling, after a piece of unexploded ordnance – reported to be a WW2 incendiary bomb – was discovered.

‘We were made aware of the bomb after it was reported as being advertised for sale on eBay.

‘A 50-metre cordon was put in place and homes within that area were evacuated for the safety of residents.

‘The Explosive Ordnance Disposal team attended and transported the ordnance to the police training centre in Netley, where a controlled explosion was carried out at 4.15pm.

‘A 51-year-old man from Southampton was arrested on suspicion of possessing an explosive substance for an unlawful purpose. He has been released and no further action will be taken against him.’

An eBay spokesperson said: ‘Clearly, dangerous weapons such as unexploded bombs are not allowed to be listed on eBay. We worked closely with Hampshire Police to quickly identify and locate this seller, aiding the successful and safe disposal of the item’.

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