A Ministry of Defence investigation is under way after an artillery round went way off course on Army firing ranges, flew over two Wiltshire villages and exploded after thudding into a farmer's field.
The round landed at Patney, near Devizes, 300 metres from the Paddington-Penzance railway line, leaving a crater six feet in diameter and two feet deep. Farmer Andrew Snook told last night how he heard a tremendous bang far louder than the usual sound of distant firing practice on Salisbury Plain.
"There was a lot of heavy firing going on and this one blast did really make me wince," he said. "I thought, that's close and people in the village said they thought it landed right next to the farm."
The incident happened last Wednesday, but Mr Snook and his son did not find the spot until Friday and then alerted the MoD.
"Earth had been thrown 40 feet. It could have been serious if it had landed in the village, and it is only 300 metres from the railway line," he said. "It's a field that I will soon be putting down to maize so it hasn't damaged a crop, but I want an apology."
A spokesman for the MoD confirmed that an investigation was under way.