A PENSIONER has had a lucky escape after digging up an unexploded bomb and tossing it onto a pile of dirt as he thought it was an old vacuum flask.

Don Hammond, 74, unearthed the First World War device while excavating the foundations for an extension on his bungalow home.

He threw the one ft long object to one side and carried on working in his garden unaware of the potential danger.

It was only when Don, a retired builder, showed a photograph of it to friends four days later and they suspected it might be a live shell that the alarm was raised.

A team from the Army's Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) descended on Don and wife Marie's home in Woodside Road, Ferndown, to inspect the cylindrical device on Monday night.

They took it to an isolated location where they carried out a controlled explosion.

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It is thought the shell dated back to the First World War as it was pre-1939. The bungalow was built in the 1930s.

Marie, 72, said: “Don was digging the foundations in the garden last Thursday as we are putting an extension on the house.

“He was using a shovel and dug this thing up that looked a bit like a vacuum flask, threw it on the dirt, and carried on digging.

“He really didn't think it was anything important.

“Afterwards, we took a photo of it. It was about 30 centimetres long and we had no idea what it was.

“We went up to a 40th wedding anniversary event at the weekend and showed the picture to people.

“My son, who found an old shell in his garden in 2002, said it looked like a mustard bomb and I said ‘don’t be ridiculous’. But I then thought about ringing the police to be on the safe side.”

A spokeswoman for the EOD said: “I can confirm that a shell was found and a controlled explosion took place.

“At no point was there any danger to the public regarding the explosion.

“Should any member of the public come across an unusual object they should always contact the police.”