Barn Sale Bomb Rendered Safe and Returned

Lyon Township, Michigan Kathryn Bowring and her family were hosting a sale at her late stepfather Jim Birckelbaw's barn when a customer discovered a WWI artillery shell in the corner. After her son-in-law, an Army veteran, carefully moved the 30-lb ordnance out of sight, she notified police.

"A deputy from Lyon Township came out and seemed a little freaked out about the whole thing," she said. "He went to the car and called his boss and an hour later four police officers from different agencies showed up, and they were curious."

Officers responding then called the Michigan State Police (MSP) Bomb Squad who responded to remove the device. Oakland County Sheriff's Office Lt. Leslie Whitfield told the township board at a meeting that Bowring did the right thing as it "was, in fact, a live shell."

Lt. Whitfield said, " We called out the MSP bomb squad and they were able to deactivate the fuse and took possession of the ordnance, which appeared to be WWI or WWII era."

According to Bowring said, the bomb squad took the British 84mm artillery shell to a back barn and X-rayed it. Still unable to determine whether it was live, they took it to a field on the property to remove the fuse. It was then transported to a stone quarry in Graylen for disposal.

Bowring believes the customer found a war souvenir that had belonged to her grandfather, Lloyd Birckelbaw, who served in the Army during WWI, and built ambulance bodies in Detroit and California that were shipped to France.

The disarmed shell was later returned to Bowring to keep, likely to be a physical reminder of a very interesting day at the barn sale.

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