The Chicago Sun-Times

TSA Seizes WWI Artillery Rounds at O’Hare Airport

On Tuesday 8 April, several news outlets in Chicago reported that the Transportation Security Administration seized two World War I-era artillery rounds from baggage that was aboard a flight from London.

Two artillery rounds seized by the TSA around 8 April 2014 in O'Hare Airport, Chicago.

Two artillery rounds seized by the TSA around 8 April 2014 in O’Hare Airport, Chicago.

It turns out that two teenage travelers got the rounds at a French WWI artillery range during a school field trip. Unfortunately, it does not say exactly where the teens found the rounds, or whether they bought the rounds or simply found them and walked away with them. Fox News reports that “TSA explosives experts believe they are French 77 mm shells.” This seems like a typographical error, as the Chicago Sun-Times writes that a TSA spokesman described the rounds as 75mm in caliber. The most common French field gun of the Great War was the “French 75.” Furthermore, it was the German army, not the French, which used a 77mm cannon, called the 7.7cm Feldkanon (with models 96 & 16, denoting the years those versions came out). This is based on a brief amount of research I have done online, so Great War enthusiasts and experts, please correct me if I have it wrong.

"Our Glorious 75," a WWI French postcard featuring the 75mm cannon. Note the rounds at the soldier's feet.

“Our Glorious 75,” a WWI French postcard featuring the 75mm cannon. Note the rounds at the soldier’s feet.

Thankfully, no one was hurt or even in danger: it was determined that the rounds were inert and could not have caused any harm. The teenagers were not charged.

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