For the most part, gardening won’t kill you. Bending over for long hours might put a few nasty kinks in your back and facing the hot sun’s rays could give you a serious burn, but the job doesn’t exactly collect hazard pay. Recently, though, a man from England had an experience that proved otherwise!

With the help of his son, a man from Pensford, a village in Somerset, England, spent an afternoon installing a fence in his garden, a fairly straightforward operation. As he dug a post hole, however, he uncovered a piece of long-forgotten history—and realized he and his son might be in serious danger.

In early April 2018, Dom Lowe and his son, Jon, were digging up an unused part of garden in their Pensford, England, backyard. Dom wanted to install a nice fence made of railroad ties, but as he dug, he struck something strange.

Dom Lowe / Facebook

Rather, it might be more accurate to say Dom didn’t strike anything. As he dug a post hole, his shovel found a hidden underground chamber. Curiosity took over. The men had to see what was inside…

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Dom and Jon uncovered a massive haul in what would thrill history buffs and what he dubbed a “cesspit”: bottles, colanders, an OXO gravy tin, and all kinds of artifacts from the 1940s and 1950s. One item in particular, though, caught Jon’s attention.

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Jon grabbed a rusted metal tube, maybe about six inches tall. He didn’t know what it was at first, Dom recalled. But once Dom realized what it was, Jon “handed it over straight away.” What had his son been holding?

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Dom believed the metal tube to be the end of an unexploded incendiary bomb from the World War II. When he found the rest of the bomb—the piece seen as a silver cylinder in this photo—his theory was confirmed. Yikes!

Of course, Dom might have been surprised to find an unexploded incendiary bomb in his garden, but Bristol—a town not far from Pensford—was actually a major target for Luftwaffe bombs during World War II…

British Pathé / YouTube

Most of the bombings in Bristol ended by 1941, but smaller bombing raids continued until the end of the war. In other words, the area was no stranger to explosive devices—and maybe that informed Dom’s next action.

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In an act of either sheer bravery, confidence, or complete foolishness, Dom pretty much entered a state of zen. “To be honest,” he said, “there was no panic. I just put [the bomb] on the fence.” But then?

Dom Lowe / Facebook

The unexploded incendiary bomb didn’t stay put! It rolled from its spot on the fence and onto the garden ground. That’s when Dom and Jon panicked a little. “When it hit the ground,” Dom recalled, “I have to admit we did both run for cover.”

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Thankfully, in the passing seconds that surely felt much longer to Dom and his son, the bomb didn’t explode. But that didn’t mean they were in the clear. Was this bomb truly defunct? Could there be other bombs hiding in the garden? They needed answers.

Dom called the authorities. Two police officers showed up t0 wait with the father-son duo until the bomb squad arrived. In the meantime, the police gave Dom and Jon some pretty sound advise: stay away from the unexploded bomb.

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Just a short while later, a bomb disposal team from Royal Logistic Corps showed up to Dom’s garden. If anyone could uncover the explosive capabilities—or explosive futility—of Dom’s garden discovery, it was going to be these guys.

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The bomb disposal officer examined the artifact but didn’t sweat the situation much. He didn’t wear the insulated suit or employ the help of a remote-controlled robot. He even posed for a picture. He did have some interesting information for Dom, though…

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German planes regularly dropped incendiary bombs like the one Dom and Jon found in their garden, he explained, but not all of them were actually meant to explode to begin with…

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Sometimes, aircrafts dropped bomb casings just to lighten their loads after a bombing raid. And because war is anything but compassionate, “they dropped empty ones amongst the live ones to hinder clean-up operations,” the bomb expert explained to Dom.

So the question remained: had Dom and Jon found an unexploded bomb in their garden? Or had they merely found an empty shell, dumped so an aircraft could save a bit of fuel? The bomb expert X-rayed the shell and had the answers…

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 “It has been confirmed as a German World War II incendiary bomb,” Dom explained, “but X-rayed and rendered ‘harmless.'” And that came with additional good news for Dom and his son.

“After X-rays showed it was empty,” Dom said, “they’ve allowed me to keep it.” Not a bad gift for suffering just a little bit of a bomb scare, no? At the end of the day, Dom had a pretty big list of victories…

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His house and garden didn’t explode, he got to explore a historical “cesspit,” and he had a few dozen mid-century artifacts to keep or sell. The most amazing part of it all? Dom certainly wouldn’t be the last person to have this experience…

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Some speculate that thousands of tons of unexploded bombs still lie hidden all across the continent—including some hiding in quite a few more gardens out there. It was a scary, yet intriguing, thought!

What a tense moment that must have been when the unexploded bomb sat on the floor of Dom’s garden. For sure, it was it bit scarier than a bad sunburn!

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