The Summer Holidays ended memorably for an eleven-year old from Cambridge with a visit to 5131 Bomb Disposal Squadron at Royal Air Force Wittering yesterday.
Monty Greenway was magnet fishing in the River Cam near Jesus Green earlier in August, hoping to find old coins or metal that he could sell to a scrap dealer, when he unexpectedly landed an old mortar. Explosive ordnance technicians from 5131 Bomb Disposal Squadron at RAF Wittering were called to the scene and removed the device to a field where it was destroyed in a controlled demolition.
Monty told the Cambridge News: “I had already pulled out some stuff, some scrap metal and I threw it [the magnet] in the middle of the river, I felt something on the end I slowly pulled it out the water. I looked at it and told Daddy I have a mortar shell on the end of the magnet. He told me to put it down gently and back off."
Guy Greenway, Monty’s dad, contacted Royal Air Force Wittering and asked if his history-keen son could come to the Cambridgeshire Station to find out more about 5131 Bomb Disposal Squadron. The Squadron’s headquarters are normally a very busy place but, under the circumstances, it was felt the request could be granted.
Sergeant Tim Latchford welcomed Monty and Guy to the compound and they were shown many of the items 5131’s technicians must make safe. During his visit, Monty also had a look at the famous Cutlass robot.
First formed in 1943, 5131 Bomb Disposal Squadron is the Royal Air Force’s explosive ordnance disposal capability and is now in its 75th year. Today its highly skilled technicians are trained to deal with conventional munitions and improvised explosives. The Squadron also responds to aircraft crashes; clearing the area of explosive risks and making the ejection seats, flares and countermeasures safe.
Guy said: “Monty’s had an amazing morning, he loves history and today’s been a real education. We had no idea when he went magnet fishing that day just where it would lead, least of all a visit to RAF Wittering. 5131 is a remarkable squadron and we’ve been very lucky, thank you.”
As a memento of his visit, Monty was presented with a squadron crest on a wooden plaque. Monty said: “Yes, it’s definitely been a good time. I’ve seen some really interesting stuff and it’s been great that they’ve let me look around, thank you so much.”
Sergeant Latchford said: “Monty and his dad put safety first and did exactly the right thing, they called the police and left the item well alone. So, it’s been our pleasure to welcome Monty and his dad, he’ll have so much to tell his friends when he gets back to school. Always though, if you find something like this, please don’t touch it and call the police straight away.”