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Uncovering a World War I Mortar Bomb in the Playground of a DC Elementary School

A World War I mortar bomb was unearthed in the playground of an elementary school in DC in 1931. Two 12-year-old boys, James and Bernard, found the bomb and took it to the basement of James' home. Fortunately, the bomb didn't explode and police safely removed it.
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World War I mortar bomb
World War I mortar bomb

Chalk this up to recent GoDC convert Lisa, who dug this up a while ago while looking for information on her grandfather. It’s always great to find a connection to your past, but when the story is as bizarre as this, it’s extra special. Thank you Lisa for sharing with us.

This is a piece from the Washington Post on February 24th, 1931. (By the way, did you know that about a week later — March 3rd — The Star Spangled Banner was officially adopted as our national anthem?)

Two 12-year-old youths, bound in quest of adventure, succeeded in finding it yesterday afternoon in the shape of a 10-pound airplane bomb, which they unearthed on the playground of the Emery School, Lincoln road and Randolph place northeast.

Partially concealed under a pile of dirt, the bomb was discovered by James R. Carroll, jr., of 27 Randolph place northwest, who in company with Bernard Wood, his playmate who lives next door, had gone to the school grounds “to find something to do.” As the two boys were playing near the far end of the lot, young Carroll suddenly discovered the end of the bomb protruding from the dirt.

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It was immediately dug from the ground and carried to the basement of the Carroll home where the boys were trying to “see what was inside” when Jame R. Carroll, sr., the boy’s father, entered and took possession of the bomb.

At the Second Police Precinct, where the bomb was taken, it was declared that the missile was fully loaded, although the fusecap which causes it to explode, had been removed. It was placed in a corner to await the arrival of the homicide squad, who took it to police headquarters.

The bomb is of the type used by the air forces during the World War, and weighs approximately 10 pounds. It is torpedo shaped, with four small “wings” at one end. Police declared it was extremely dangerous to handle and were at a loss to know how it happened to be on the school grounds. Headquarters detectives are investigating.

It is a damn good thing that thing didn’t explode in the basement. Also, bomb scares were certainly handled differently back then. Just ask Officer Sprinkle.

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