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Explosive Discovery

WWII artifacts found in backyard

by Katrina Smith

What turned out to be a day of landscaping and cleaning turned into an amazing discovery, not of gold, but war artifacts from WWII.  The Dennis family had contracted a landscaper to clear some debris from their backyard when they unearthed the relics.

“There was once an old shed in the backyard,” said Xavier Dennis. “We had torn it down about five years ago and never did anything else to it. The backyard had become wooded and the landscaper was cleaning it up.”

That is when the discovery was made while raking the backyard and his rake ran across something that was hard.

“The landscaper had picked up the item and tossed it to the side,” said Dennis. “After repeating his action and finding more, he realized something more was there.”

They found mortar and the shell casing for 20mm cannons. These weapons were used during WWII, and one of the explosive devices was still intact and had never been fired.

The war was not fought in Tennessee but there was a lot of World War II prepping in the Middle Tennessee area.  What would make Tennessee prep for war?

According to an online reference, Prentice Cooper, an American politician, met with Adolf Hitler during a Rotary tour of Europe in 1938; upon his return to Tennessee, he convinced Tennesseans that they would not be able to avoid war with Germany. During his administration Cooper encouraged Tennesseans to be ready for war. In 1939, Prentice Cooper was elected governor of Tennessee. Knowing the importance of the National Guard Facilities in Tennessee, Cooper asked for over $3 million for construction of new armories. Over 300,000 troops were established across the state and many defense related facilities were established.  Many training sites were established in the Middle Tennessee area because its terrain resembled Europe and the Cumberland River was similar to the Rhine River in Germany.

After this discovery at the Dennis’ residence, the police were notified.

The family hopes to sell the artifacts to the museums showcasing the artifacts.

During WWII, souvenir taking was practiced among soldiers. They would ship items or war trophies such as pistols, knives, watches, flags, medals and objects from the battlefield. A soldier often took objects as keepsakes to show off to family and friends and to let them be a quiet reminder of the long-lasting events that would stay with them forever.

Knowing souvenir taking was practiced, that could be a reason why WWII artifacts were buried in this backyard by a soldier who may have fought in the war.

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