Danger UXB

News & SocietyNews

  • Author Krizzy Sean
  • Published June 23, 2009
  • Word count 582

On Sunday, I went for a quiet walk with my family at the seaside town of Felixstowe. It was an uneventful afternoon and there was a lot of work being down to strengthen the sea defences there.

The next morning, I took a break from work to catch up with the local news and was amazed to see the headline on the local newspapers website reported an unexploded German bomb had been unearthed by workman. The worker had scooped the device up in his digger bucket which not surprisingly gave him a bit of a shock. He still had the fore-thought to take a couple of pictures of it before departing the area and calling the authorities.

It turns out the device is a 500kg German bomb (an SC type shell, to be precise) dating from 1942 during World War II. There is no telling how unstable the bomb was so the bomb disposal experts had to treat it as if it could still cause the maximum damage. As a result, a huge area of the Felixstowe sea front was cordoned off and 1,200 local residents were evacuated.

The bomb disposal squad came up with the plan to tow the bomb offshore, sink it to the sea bed and then blow it up from a safe distance at around 2pm on Tuesday. The North Sea isn’t particularly deep, probably no more than 15m in the area of the proposed explosion so there was still a lot of scope of a large explosion.

So off I went to Felixstowe at about 1pm. After all, its not every day you get to see a World War II bomb detonated. I found a good vantage point and not surprisingly, a number of people were already there. There was a good mix of people; a young mother with her son, an old man (we had a good chat about Shingle Street and World War II) and some passing shoppers.

The local radio were also providing regular updates and soon we had the news that the detonation had been delayed until 2.30pm. As the time approached, we had more news that strong currents had prevented the divers from completing their work which meant there would be no explosion for us to witness.

On Wednesday, I got up and tuned into the local radio to get the latest news and again there would be no explosion to witness as the bomb had gone missing. On the face of it, this sounds like the bomb squad have been a bit useless but unless you’ve dived in a strong current, its quite difficult to appreciate the problems they have encountered. These guys are professional divers and if they can’t work in the water, it means the current is very strong and will easily move a 500kg bomb.

Hopefully, this story will come to a conclusion soon with the safe detonation of the bomb but what it does highlight is the fact that although there has been no air raids for more than 60 years, there are still dangerous, undiscovered weapons out there. If you ever come across any old items on an old battlefield, it is so important that you do not take them home as a souvenir. These things were designed to mame and kill. In the fields of Flanders, the farmers regularly unearth various items dating back to World War I. These are left by the side of the road and taken away by local bomb disposal experts.

If you are interested in visiting battlefields from years gone by, please visit our website to see the range of tours we are able to offer.

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