BOMB disposal experts and the emergency services broke the peace of a quiet suburban Halesowen street when a homeowner dug up a cache of potentially lethal Second World War chemical grenades in his back garden.
The discovery by Ian Cooke sparked a major incident response as police, fire and paramedics descended on Belbroughton Road in the Huntlands area of the town on Saturday afternoon.
Police cordoned off part of the road and nearby residents were advised to stay indoors with windows closed while a fire crew and chemical experts examined the substance which was at first thought to be garden chemicals.
Army officers from the Explosives Ordnance Division were called in when it emerged he had uncovered 24 chemical grenades, believed to be a type issued to the Home Guard in case of a Nazi invasion.
Mr Cooke, who had only recently bought the house, called the non-emergency police number, was stunned by the response.
“It was not exactly what we expected to find when we started to dig the garden up, but it’s turned into quite a surreal afternoon,” he said.
Mr Cook and his grilfriend Katie Harvey had been planning to lay decking in their back garden when the drama began.
He said when his spade hit one of the glass cannisters it released a “terrible smell” and he raised the alarm.
Bomb squad officers dug the devices out, but with darkness falling, left it until Sunday before removing them into a skip filled with water, brought to the house by Dudley Council.
The explosives experts smashed the devices in the skip which made the chemical mixture of phosphine and benzine safe as it mixed with the water.
Mr Cooke said and two police officers stayed on guard overnight and the road remained cordoned off.
This week evironmental experts were due to take away a 2m by 4m by 1m section of earth from the garden to remove any possible contamination.
Next door neighbour Adelle Atkiss and her family were evacuated on Sunday while the removal was completed.
“The police called on Sunday about 10am and said we would have to evacuate. We went out for the day and we could have come back at 4pm, but we came back later,” she said.
Inspector Steve Grange from Halesowen Police said: "I'm told the fumes disperse quickly in the air and that any ill effects would have been apparent within 30 minutes. We had no reports of anyone having suffered any ill health or injuries connected with this incident.”