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23-pound armor-piercing round, meant to destroy tanks, found on NC beach after Florence

Some of the military weaponry discovered on a Topsail Island beach this weekend.
Some of the military weaponry discovered on a Topsail Island beach this weekend.

Multiple World War II armor-piercing projectiles, bullets and piles of shrapnel were found lodged in the sand at Topsail Island over the weekend, according to a Facebook post by a North Carolina volunteer firefighter.

Bradley Thomas Dixon, who owns property on the island, told the Charlotte Observer he made the discoveries with a metal detector, while searching for items that may have been exposed by Hurricane Florence.

The weaponry has been examined by an explosives expert and The Topsail Online Gazette reports the armor-piercing projectiles were not in danger of exploding. However, “everybody is urged to use caution if on Topsail Island ... lots of debris still being recovered and cleaned up,” said the Gazette on Facebook.

The list of finds included a 40 mm projectile, 90 mm anti-tank round, piles of shrapnel from detonated incendiary rounds and .50 caliber machine gun rounds, Dixon posted on Facebook.

“These rounds would have been used during World War II as training for fighter pilots and ship-to-beach firing range training,” said Dixon in a Facebook post.

His plan is to offer the non-lethal projectiles to the Topsail Island Missiles And More Museum for public display, he said in the post.

Hurricane Florence’s high winds and storm surge are believed to have pushed all manner of things onto Carolinas beaches, including a dead whale at Caswell Beach and loads of plastic bottles from Haiti that appeared on Topsail Island beaches. Some beaches remain closed to tourists as they are cleared of debris.

Reports of explosives washing ashore date back decades in the Carolinas, which were prowled by German U-boats during World War II.

On Sept. 20, North Topsail Beach posted a photo of “an old live military ordnance” that appeared on the beach and warned the community to be wary after the hurricane.

In September 2017, two suspected naval mines were discovered in Currituck County, reported TV station WITN. And in July 2017, a live “drop bomb” washed up on Hatteras Island, reported the Raleigh News & Observer.

In most cases, such discoveries result in beaches being closed to the public as explosives teams investigate the level of danger.

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Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs
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