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Reidi Road work yields more WW2 ordnance finds

World War Two shells excavated during work on the Reidi Road in central Tallinn.
World War Two shells excavated during work on the Reidi Road in central Tallinn. Source: Demineerijate foto/ERR

Tallinn Road construction has thrown up another substantial cache of World War Two-era live ammunition, according to Tuesday's report on ETV's Aktuaalne kaamera (AK).

Workers building the new Reidi Road, which will link the neglected east harbour area of the city centre with the residential Kadriorg district, uncovered over 600 37-mm German Flak anti-aircraft shells, nearly 20 hand grenades and over 3,000 rounds of small arms ammunition, also of German origin.

Reidi road construction has already yielded several finds, including close to 300 anti-aircraft projectiles and around 20 grenades from the same era in September, followed by 340 shells in early November, as well as the much earlier remains of a Crimean War era shore battery found in late summer. The latter was expected based on existing town plans, but the latest dump was not; had it been, greater safety measures would have been taken.

Potential danger

Bomb disposal experts from the Rescue Board (Päästeamet) had defused the ordnance by Tuesday evening, it is reported.

Raido Taalman, bomb disposal chief for North Estonia, said the ordnance was in bad condition, and presented no immediate danger to the public when left alone, though tampering with items would be extremely dangerous.

Moreover, it was a minor miracle that no ordnance was struck by road building machinery, which could have triggered an explosion and the ensuing, deadly shrapnel, experts said.

Not the end of the story

The ordnance was most likely left behind in the wake of the German retreat from Estonia in late summer 1944, said Siim Õismaa of the Estonian War Museum. When the Germans left Tallinn in late September, much of their ammunition was simply left behind, apparently remaining undiscovered by advancing Soviet forces.

There are probably several similar ammo dumps in the vicinity, Mr Õismaa said.

Building work this summer in the Kalamaja district, west of the ferry harbour, revealed a large hoard of items dating from the late 15th-early 16th centuries.

The original AK report (in Estonian) is here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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