Doofus Of The Day #757

Today’s award goes to the British Army.

The Army has suspended all live firing on Salisbury Plain after a stray shell was fired over two Wiltshire villages and exploded in a cornfield just yards away from a busy railway line.

A Ministry of Defence investigation is under way into how the artillery round was fired five miles off course by soldiers on a military exercise.

. . .

The shell flew five miles off course and after whizzing low over two villages, it blew a large hole in the cornfield just 980 feet from the main Paddington to Penzance railway line, used by inter-city expresses often carrying hundreds of passengers.

It left a 6ft-wide crater in the field and scattered earth and rock up to 40ft.

Mr Snook, who farms on the edge of Salisbury Plain at Patney, near Devizes, said it was lucky that nobody was killed.

He says the “friendly fire” rogue shell must have travelled at least five miles over the A342 and the village of Chirton, which has a population of 250, before reaching his farm.

There’s more at the link.

Five miles off target?  That’s a bit extreme, surely?  When I was running around Lohatla Battle School, even five hundred yards off target was enough to earn the errant artillery piece’s crew a round of punishment PT.  Perhaps the gun-layer didn’t like someone aboard a passing train?



  1. There is a scene in the film "Stripes" when the dozy Lieutenant says to a mortar crew something like "Don't worry about the bearing, just fire the thing."
    Great big Whoops!

  2. …And there was a persistent legend of a hapless tank crew at Fort Knox, KY letting a round go with the tube at maximum elevation – much to the discomfiture of the citizens of the city of Shepherdsville, some 20 miles away…

  3. Was it a range error or a deflection error? If a range error, it would not be hard to do. Either (or both) or a quadrant error or a charge error would do the trick nicely – though five miles does seem like one heckuva error!

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