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German Shell Fragment


The object pictured above is probably an interior part of the head of a shell, believed to have been fired from a German vessel in 1918. Artillery of this type could measure around 75cm long and would have been fatal to anyone it made contact with.

The attached label reads:


“Fragment of shell fired from U boat or German submarine, killing Mr R Valanoweth of Camborne when returning from West Coast, Africa. 6 May 1918”.


Perhaps collected by a friend or comrade, this fragment is thought to have been directly responsible for the loss of a Cornish life during the Great War.

There are no available records of a man with that name, which was probably mis-spelled. However, a Reginald Vellanoweth, a market gardener of Perranuthoe, Marazion, is recorded as having served in the War from the age of 19.

His unit manned coastal Howitzer Guns in a regiment which operated around the West African coast.

The fact that there are no available death records associated with the name Valanoweth which can be attached to this item makes the losses of the Great War even more poignant. This shell was the instrument of his death, but sadly also serves to commemorate the very existence of this soldier.


Object chosen by Jeni Woolcock, Citizen Curator.