Stephen Taylor's Second World War relics fill entire room at Ellistown home
It started with the chance discovery of three bullet cartridge cases on a Normandy landing beach thanks to a toy metal detector.
Now, Stephen Taylor's collection of thousands of Second World War relics fills an entire room at his Ellistown home.
Cartridge cases, magazines, helmets, grenade fragments, ammunition boxes and even the clock face from a Spitfire's instrument panel, are stored in display cases – in a collection a small museum would envy.
The 44-year-old, who has found all the items using a metal detector, is chairman of the World War Two Relic Retrieval and Preservation Group, which aims to recover as many wartime relics as possible before they corrode away to nothing and are lost forever.
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Stephen said: "We were visiting the Normandy landing beaches when my son discovered the cartridge cases and I got bitten by the bug.
"The collection of relics I have recovered over the years has now grown to a very large scale, to the extent that an entire room in my house is now devoted to it. It is like having a Second World War museum in my house.
"I've recovered every single item from the ground, usually with the aid of a metal detector, by myself and I think about the tonnage of earth I must have shifted over the years."
Stephen, a self-employed pharmacy design consultant, spends hours on the internet researching former British and US Air Force and Army bases to make sure the sites he is about to explore are likely to contain relics.
Then it is the case of checking with the landowner and that there are no byelaws banning the removal of the relics.
"I don't just turn up at a site and hope for the best," said Stephen. "I do the research to make sure I'm likely to find things. I generally come away with a bag-full of stuff.
"The places I go for need to be redundant military bases, some distance from the nearest town or village and which has undergone no modern development."
Two years ago he discovered a gold watch lost by an American serviceman at a former US Air Force base in Cambridgeshire.
But this one did not remain in a display case in his house.
He was able to return the watch to the serviceman's family in the US – after it had lain in a field for more than 65 years.
Some of his discoveries have surprised him. Stephen said: "I found two German 20mm magazines in England, but I still haven't worked out why they were there."
He is currently working with other members of the group to recover relics from a site the size of a football pitch at a former military base.
The group has about 25 members in Britain, three in Russia, three in France and one in Estonia.
They display many of their discoveries at military memorabilia shows around the country and will be at the Victory Show, a Second World War reenactment and air show at Cosby in September.