A FATHER and son are recovering from a drama-filled night after a routine yard clean-up unearthed a Second World War hand grenade.
Rockhampton's Mervyn Martin was helping clear an overgrown garden at his son's Alice St home on Tuesday when he accidentally picked up the rusted device.
Shaking and wondering "how do I put it down without it going off?", Mr Martin gently placed it on the grass and ran inside to call 000.
An exclusion zone was set up as bomb experts from the Enoggera army base headed for Maryborough.
Mr Martin was dragging out handfuls of grass and dirt from alongside the back shed when he came across something "shaped like a giant turkey egg with grooves running around it and a ring on the end".
At first he was puzzled but as memories of stories told to him by a good friend and former digger came to mind, Mr Martin began to panic.
"I started to shake and grabbed the hand that was holding it with my other hand," Mr Martin said
"I thought, 'I don't want to hold on to it...this looks like the real thing so I put it down and hoped it wouldn't go off.
"When I got as far away as the clothesline, I knew I was safe".
The alarm was raised about 6pm on Tuesday.
One high-ranking officer, who had previously served in the army, confirmed the grenade's authenticity and asked for the Defence Force to be notified.
Police guarded the house, just metres away from the Sunbury State School, until two members of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team arrived about 11pm.
After about 45 minutes the grenade, which was found to be without a detonator, was deemed stable and taken back to Brisbane to be destroyed.
Mr Martin said he had heard several stories about wartime grenades being discovered around his home town but never expected to come across one in a normal backyard.
Describing the experience as "a bit of an ordeal I could have done without" - a troublesome week had seen two of his cars call it quits on the highway - Mr Martin said he was headed to check his lotto numbers in the hope the close call was a sign his luck had changed.
A Defence representative confirmed the device was a Second World War-era No 36M hand grenade which was likely used in "practice throwing drills before trainees then progressed to using live grenades".
The representative said while the grenade found in Maryborough was not explosive, any suspicious item "should be considered dangerous" and reported.
More details can be found at http://www.defence.gov.au/uxo/.
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