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Italian mortar shells close the Woden cop shop

By johnboy - 12 July 2013 6

mortars

Woden Police had cause to summon the Bomb Response Team earlier today (Friday, July 12) after a man attended the station with two mortar shells.

The elderly man told police that the shells had been in his possession since 1975, and had been part of a collection of World War II “souvenirs” belonging to his late father, an ex-serviceman.

One of the shells still had the pin attached while the other one had a missing pin and was potentially “live”.

Station Sergeant Steve Hogarth closed off the station’s carpark to store the shells and contacted the Bomb Response Team.

“If you come across live ammunition, or if you are unsure of its status, we would urge you to contact ACT Policing,” said Sergeant Steve Hogarth.

“Transporting of live ammunition is dangerous and fortunately in this instance no one was harmed. We will attend your location, assess the situation and call out the appropriate response, as required.”

The shells are believed to be Italian mortars, many of these brought home by ‘The Rats’ of Tobruk.

If you have any old munitions, please contact ACT Policing on 131-444 to have them safely disposed of.

[Courtesy ACT Policing]

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6 Responses to
Italian mortar shells close the Woden cop shop
dungfungus 8:35 pm 12 Jul 13

dungfungus said :

They are not mortar shells – no visible sign of a percussion cartridge where the fins are.
I believe they are hand grenades that are thrown so they spin (like a grid iron football) which gives them superior accuracy and distance.
No doubt an ordanace expert will prove me wrong.

I was wrong. Wikepedia says:
The Brixia light mortar is a 45 mm calibre light mortar mounted on a legged base and designed for operation by two crew. The rear legs are fitted with a pad for the gunner to lay forward on behind the mortar, or sit upon when the situation allowed. A lever allowed for operating the breech and firing the weapon, while ammunition was fed in by the loader. Well trained teams could reach up to 18 rounds per minute, although operational rate of fire was less intense to avoid damage to the firing tube. One interesting feature which set the Brixia mortar apart from comparable WW2 weapons was that it was trigger fired with the help of separate ignition cartridges to be fed into a special magazine, making the weapon more similar to modern cannon-mortars that conventional parabolic grenade launchers of the time.

The Brixia was a complicated weapon and it was costly and lengthy to produce, but, in the hand of skilled operators was superior to other WW2 mortars and could lay down very precise and intense curtains of fire. One lacking feature, however was in the shells, which fragmented poorly and, due to the limited calibre had a very light and low-yield warhead. The weapon, however served on every front where Italian troops were involved (North Africa, Balkans, East Africa, Southern Russia) and was also employed during defence of the homeland against invading allied troops and during clashes between RSI formations and Italian partisans, on both sides, due to many Italian partisans having a former military background it was one of the few support weapons which could be found in the hands of the local Resistance.
Good pics on Google Images for The Brixia light mortar is a 45 mm calibre light mortar mounted on a legged base and designed for operation by two crew. The rear legs are fitted with a pad for the gunner to lay forward on behind the mortar, or sit upon when the situation allowed. A lever allowed for operating the breech and firing the weapon, while ammunition was fed in by the loader. Well trained teams could reach up to 18 rounds per minute, although operational rate of fire was less intense to avoid damage to the firing tube. One interesting feature which set the Brixia mortar apart from comparable WW2 weapons was that it was trigger fired with the help of separate ignition cartridges to be fed into a special magazine, making the weapon more similar to modern cannon-mortars that conventional parabolic grenade launchers of the time.

The Brixia was a complicated weapon and it was costly and lengthy to produce, but, in the hand of skilled operators was superior to other WW2 mortars and could lay down very precise and intense curtains of fire. One lacking feature, however was in the shells, which fragmented poorly and, due to the limited calibre had a very light and low-yield warhead. The weapon, however served on every front where Italian troops were involved (North Africa, Balkans, East Africa, Southern Russia) and was also employed during defence of the homeland against invading allied troops and during clashes between RSI formations and Italian partisans, on both sides, due to many Italian partisans having a former military background it was one of the few support weapons which could be found in the hands of the local Resistance.

Google Images have good pics of the M39 Brixia (Breda) mortar.

Sandman 7:59 pm 12 Jul 13

If Italian Mortars are anything like Italian cars, then the risk of them working properly is minimal. More chance of the car blowing up.

dungfungus 7:18 pm 12 Jul 13

They are not mortar shells – no visible sign of a percussion cartridge where the fins are.
I believe they are hand grenades that are thrown so they spin (like a grid iron football) which gives them superior accuracy and distance.
No doubt an ordanace expert will prove me wrong.

Aeek 6:36 pm 12 Jul 13

c_c™ said :

What an absolute idiot. Who in their right mind would carry these around? Guy is lucky he didn’t blow himself up much less the cops on the front desk.

In fairness, he’s lived with these for all his life (70 years ago)

Deref 5:40 pm 12 Jul 13

“Only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. And I’m not so sure about the unverse.”
Albert Einstein

c_c™ 4:22 pm 12 Jul 13

What an absolute idiot. Who in their right mind would carry these around? Guy is lucky he didn’t blow himself up much less the cops on the front desk.

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