ALL live firing on Salisbury Plain has been suspended after a shell, most likely from a 105mm gun, landed in a civilian area just yards from a mainline train service.

The exercise range, which stretches for more than 30 miles from Ludgershall in the east to Westbury in the west, is the UK’s biggest training area and often hosts the powerful AS90 gun, which has a range of 22 miles.

An Army spokesman said: “Following an incident last week in which an artillery shell landed outside the range boundary, a thorough investigation was initiated.

“Live firing will remain suspended until the investigation has reported, local residents have been informed of the outcome and, if deemed appropriate, additional safety measures are in place.

“The officer responsible for the safe use of the range has spoken to the landowner where the shell landed and apologised.

“The safety of both our own personnel and of the general public is our priority in all training serials.”

The shell flew about five miles off course and after passing low over two villages, it blew a large hole in the field just 300 yards from the railway at Patney.

Among the troops using the ranges on Wednesday were Tidworth-based King’s Royal Hussars, who were involved in a number of live firing exercises.