The children spent hours building their own sea wall and then defending it from the incoming tide during an annual event on Saturday. But they may have uncovered more than just sand, seaweed and the remains of marine molluscs, because less than 24 hours later a live French mortar shell was found mysteriously washed up yards away on the beach.
Now many residents of Rozel believe that the youngsters may have unwittingly uncovered the shell, which could have exploded if smashed against a hard surface.
The youngsters dug the trench during the annual boat owners’ barbecue at the harbour. The following evening Islander John Deans found the shell as he walked along Rozel beach with his 12-year-old daughter and dog.
Mr Deans phoned the police, who then called bomb disposal officer Stuart Elliott, who identified the device as a 6cm French mortar shell which was used by the Germans during the Occupation.
Mr Elliott, who destroyed the shell during a controlled explosion the following day, said: ‘The shell would have been fine if left alone, but it could have gone off if someone had started to poke around with it. They were designed to kill and injure, and they still can.’