TWO men were pictured strolling through a Dorset beauty spot while each was shouldering a potentially lethal 120 millimetre tank shell.

The unbelievable scene took place between Worbarrow Bay and Tyneham, where hundreds of local people and visitors were out enjoying Monday afternoon’s fine spring weather.

It was captured by a woman on her mobile phone’s camera at around 2.30pm while she and her family were walking from the beach to the car park. The area is used by the Army for firing practice.

“I thought they were carrying rugs, but as they walked past, I saw they were enormous shells.

“I was with somebody who used to be in the Army and he said that because their ends were intact, they were unexploded,” she said.

“I was really scared. As they were walking past, my little girl was alongside them. They could have gone on the Sandbanks Ferry or on the motorway. I just think they’re idiots.”

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defence said it was impossible to tell from the photograph whether the shells were live or practice rounds.

“The men should immediately contact the police who will arrange for bomb disposal experts to examine the shells. There is no guarantee these items are free from explosive and they could therefore be extremely dangerous.

“The MOD takes the safety of the public extremely seriously and all pathways at Lulworth Ranges that are open to the public are cleared of military objects, including shells, before access is permitted.

“The MOD urges members of the public using the ranges to keep to the designated pathways and be advised that it is extremely dangerous to touch any military material they may find.”

South Dorset MP and former soldier Richard Drax said: “Unexploded shells can be very unstable. If they are picked up or dropped, it can set them off.”

The MOD is appealing for the individuals in the photograph, or anybody who knows their identity, to contact the Ministry of Defence Police Central Control Room on 01371 854500 quoting Incident Number 63 10-03-2013, as a matter of urgency.