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When Was The Last Case Of Someone Being Injured By A Leftover Ww2 Bomb?

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Here is a totally uncontroversial question, just needs a factual answer!!!

Does anyone know the last occasion when anyone in Britain was killed or injured by a buried bomb, mine or grenade left over from World War 2. I'm old enough to remember being told not to play with any metal objects found buried in the ground, but I don't remember hearing of any cases of actual injuries.

Presumably there are still loads of unexploded bombs around and some of them would still be potentially lethal. How many of us are having a lucky escape every day, perhaps on the walk to work, without even realising it?

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Here is a totally uncontroversial question, just needs a factual answer!!!

Does anyone know the last occasion when anyone in Britain was killed or injured by a buried bomb, mine or grenade left over from World War 2. I'm old enough to remember being told not to play with any metal objects found buried in the ground, but I don't remember hearing of any cases of actual injuries.

Presumably there are still loads of unexploded bombs around and some of them would still be potentially lethal. How many of us are having a lucky escape every day, perhaps on the walk to work, without even realising it?

There will be a few around but not many by now I don't reckon. We have a densely populated country that is pretty heavily built upon and most that were likely to be found will have been by now. Most of what is left to turn up is probably stuff in stores that have been forgotten about and may never be found for years, if at all. I wouldn't be surprised if the odd auxiliary unit store turns up from time to time. These things were turning up as recently as the late 80's/early 90's so it's a fair bet some still will. A chap I know told me that he came across a belt fed machine gun (with the belt still in) in some old boy's loft that had been pointing down upon the same high-street for over 40 years!!

Also, this country, although bombed, wasn't heavily shelled like parts of Europe such as the Somme. Aircraft dropped unexploded bombs are easier to spot by using aerial photography of bombed cities and looking for the voids in the patterns which means that most have been found years ago. Unlike artillary fire where hundreds of thousands of shells were pounded into the same, usually sift ground.

Doesn't really answer your question though.

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Client and acquaintance of mine, used to work with his late father-in-law as a two man disposal team, rendering safe all sorts of ordanance all over Britain. Only stopped a few years back.

There are stores of munitions, explosives, grenades, ammunition, dotted all over Great Britain in secret bunkers: these were set up in the early dark days when German invasion (Operation Sealion) seemed inevitable, and the only defence, the Home Guard would simply act as a delaying and expendable force.

People from Civvy Street possessed of various skill sets (Blasters in quarries e.g.) and competitive pistol and rifle shooters, were very quietley recruited, trained and remained on instant call. They would form Britain's covert resistance to the occupying German army and administrators.

With the euphoria of victory and urgent peacetime problems post 1945, most of these secret bunkers were forgotten!

BBC TV did visit on some years back with one of the men involved; it was in Kent. He dug it out and demonstrated some explosives for the camera!

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Client and acquaintance of mine, used to work with his late father-in-law as a two man disposal team, rendering safe all sorts of ordanance all over Britain. Only stopped a few years back.

There are stores of munitions, explosives, grenades, ammunition, dotted all over Great Britain in secret bunkers: these were set up in the early dark days when German invasion (Operation Sealion) seemed inevitable, and the only defence, the Home Guard would simply act as a delaying and expendable force.

People from Civvy Street possessed of various skill sets (Blasters in quarries e.g.) and competitive pistol and rifle shooters, were very quietley recruited, trained and remained on instant call. They would form Britain's covert resistance to the occupying German army and administrators.

With the euphoria of victory and urgent peacetime problems post 1945, most of these secret bunkers were forgotten!

BBC TV did visit on some years back with one of the men involved; it was in Kent. He dug it out and demonstrated some explosives for the camera!

As a teenager I regularly visited the site of a crashed B17 (It was the one featured on Channel 4 Time Team) and we brought back all manner of stuff.There were loads of live .5" maching gun shells and for a time I kept one in my desk at school.Great fun when the nosey deputy head went snooping!

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Client and acquaintance of mine, used to work with his late father-in-law as a two man disposal team, rendering safe all sorts of ordanance all over Britain. Only stopped a few years back.

There are stores of munitions, explosives, grenades, ammunition, dotted all over Great Britain in secret bunkers: these were set up in the early dark days when German invasion (Operation Sealion) seemed inevitable, and the only defence, the Home Guard would simply act as a delaying and expendable force.

People from Civvy Street possessed of various skill sets (Blasters in quarries e.g.) and competitive pistol and rifle shooters, were very quietley recruited, trained and remained on instant call. They would form Britain's covert resistance to the occupying German army and administrators.

With the euphoria of victory and urgent peacetime problems post 1945, most of these secret bunkers were forgotten!

BBC TV did visit on some years back with one of the men involved; it was in Kent. He dug it out and demonstrated some explosives for the camera!

The auxilliary units are a fascinating piece of war-time history. There's a very good book out about the Northumberland and Tyne units (which were organised and commanded by Anthony Quail, the actor) and were made up mostly of miners and poachers. They were even used as undercover night-time guards at Balmoral.

The reason why quite a few of the stores were never decommissioned was that they were never centrally recorded to begin with. Often their existence would only be known about by four or five people who were all sworn to secrecy.

Will see if I can find a link to the book.

Book link:

http://catalog.sixtownships.org.uk/index.p...7ae727e7c8ac98a

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Living close to the shores of the end of the Thames Estuary, the place was awash with scattered ordanance from sunk ships and crashed aircraft etc.

Back in the early 1950s, a big new fad was for colouring White Weed, as an ornament which was dredged up from local mud banks.

Many of the older chaps at school worked on the white weeders part time at weekends: and were always bringing into school ammo and bits.

One insane guy even made a hole in the red brick wall (Underneath the Head's Study!), pushed a round in and hit it with a hammer or somesuch!

Luckily it was ball rather than a cannon shell. he lived to tell the tale, however.

About two 1/2 miles from where I am sitting now, is the remains of an American Liberty Ship, sunk in 1944 by aircraft; and it is stuffed full of RDX Explosive, shells, unfused bombs and all sorts of rounds from field howitzers to .303 machine gun!

The ship sits on a mudbank and is exposed much of the time, even at high tide.

Experts concluded it was best to leave it rotting as the RDX degrades and becomes hugely unstable: apparently, the seawater gradually washes it away.

Nice theory! Hope it's right! 'Cos if not, then the damage from the huge blast wave front in a heavily populated area would be catastrophic!

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Admittedly this doesn't answer the specific question about the last injury, but Wikipedia has the following:

According to the Construction Industry Research and Information Industry (CIRIA), from 2006 to 2009, over 15,000 items of ordnance were found in construction sites in the UK. [8] Most notably, 1000 homes were evacuated in Plymouth in April 2009 when a Second World War bomb was discovered, and in June 2008 a 1000kg bomb was found in Bow in East London.

Incidentally, the article begins with the somewhat bizarre claim that 'unexploded ordinance from the American Civil War still poses a hazard worldwide'. Outside America I naively thought that the chances of being obliterated by the rotting remains of one of General Lee's shells were relatively low, but you live and learn I guess...

There was a case reported a couple of years back (tried Googling just now but couldn't find anything), in which two 500lb tank shells from World War I had been retrieved from the front, polished and placed as ornaments either side of the owner's fireplace. They were handed down through about two generations, until the great grandchild decided that he didn't like them, and donated them to the Imperial War Museum. Everyone involved had naturally assumed that they'd been made safe during the process of converting them from live shells to ornaments. They hadn't - IWM technicians discovered that the charges were still in them! Had they detonated (and the fact that they'd spent 80 years in close proximity to an open fire, night after night, increased the chances of that somewhat) inside the house of their last private owner, the resulting explosion would have levelled three or four houses either side.

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Admittedly this doesn't answer the specific question about the last injury, but Wikipedia has the following:

Incidentally, the article begins with the somewhat bizarre claim that 'unexploded ordinance from the American Civil War still poses a hazard worldwide'. Outside America I naively thought that the chances of being obliterated by the rotting remains of one of General Lee's shells were relatively low, but you live and learn I guess...

There was a case reported a couple of years back (tried Googling just now but couldn't find anything), in which two 500lb tank shells from World War I had been retrieved from the front, polished and placed as ornaments either side of the owner's fireplace. They were handed down through about two generations, until the great grandchild decided that he didn't like them, and donated them to the Imperial War Museum. Everyone involved had naturally assumed that they'd been made safe during the process of converting them from live shells to ornaments. They hadn't - IWM technicians discovered that the charges were still in them! Had they detonated (and the fact that they'd spent 80 years in close proximity to an open fire, night after night, increased the chances of that somewhat) inside the house of their last private owner, the resulting explosion would have levelled three or four houses either side.

The link to the report you posted was interesting. However, the report did point out that only 5% of those 15K items were live and still capable of functioning. It would be interesting to see specifically what those numbers relate to. 5% of 15K is 750, which is a pretty large number if you are talking about air-dropped bombs, then again, half or more of those 750 could be from a couple of cases of rifle ammo which basically poses no danger to speak of.

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About two 1/2 miles from where I am sitting now, is the remains of an American Liberty Ship, sunk in 1944 by aircraft; and it is stuffed full of RDX Explosive, shells, unfused bombs and all sorts of rounds from field howitzers to .303 machine gun!

The ship sits on a mudbank and is exposed much of the time, even at high tide.

Experts concluded it was best to leave it rotting as the RDX degrades and becomes hugely unstable: apparently, the seawater gradually washes it away.

Nice theory! Hope it's right! 'Cos if not, then the damage from the huge blast wave front in a heavily populated area would be catastrophic!

I've heard about this - apparently it's got some unbelievable amount of high explosive in it - enough to level most of east London or something - surely it's a terrorist risk?

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I've heard about this - apparently it's got some unbelievable amount of high explosive in it - enough to level most of east London or something - surely it's a terrorist risk?

The wave front (Blast Wave propogation: interesting area) wouldn't reach East London.

It would however, created much devestation both sides of the Thames Estuary, both Kent and Essex.

Unfortunately, there is a very high risk that if the ship (Richard Montgomery; q.v.), did explode, then a sympathetic detonation could be triggered to the Methane Terminal on Canvey Island and associated plants.

Which would make the Flixborough Disaster and the Buncefield fire look like the Teddy Bears Picnic.

In the late 1970s, the IRA bomber Gerard Tuit and an another, mined the Canvey Methane terminal: luckily, their IED failed to detonate.

I was involved in certain security activities back in the early 1980s of sensitive facilities in this area.

It is potentially a very worrying scenario.

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Classic listening - Hancock's Half Hour: The Unexploded Bomb

Fast forward to 1'57" for the start of the actual programme.

Sid: 'It's a big metal thing with fins on it, and 'Gott strafe England - Heil Hitler!' painted on the side. I tried giving it a few good hard whacks with a hammer, but it still wouldn't budge...'

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Several years ago, on a warm summer's evening, I decided to run up and down Caswell Bay in the dark shouting at God, the Universe and marvelling in the cool feel of the moist sand beneath my feet, the sound of crashing waves nearby and the beautiful stars above.

The tide was out but coming in. I ran up and down the beach.

Some say I did it naked. Some say I did not. I know neither as I was alone with myself, my thoughts and the Universe.

The following day the beach was closed off after a WW2 mine was found on it and the army was called in to blow it up!

:blink:

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I've heard about this - apparently it's got some unbelievable amount of high explosive in it - enough to level most of east London or something - surely it's a terrorist risk?

I think that's the Richard Montgomery, located off Sheppey island.

Boom!

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A few years ago I took the young "p" on a tour of the Western Front,largely in response to Blackadder.At one point we went into a wood and there were neat little piles of shells at intervals just as they had been left 80+ years before.Amongst the debris was a cooking pot with distinctive shrapnel holes in it and strewn around were several pieces of bone that had presumably been those around the pot at the time.Away from the more visited areas there is a lot of WW1 stuff remaining and apparently there have been numerous injuries in recent times to farmers.

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Guest X-QUORK
A few years ago I took the young "p" on a tour of the Western Front,largely in response to Blackadder.At one point we went into a wood and there were neat little piles of shells at intervals just as they had been left 80+ years before.Amongst the debris was a cooking pot with distinctive shrapnel holes in it and strewn around were several pieces of bone that had presumably been those around the pot at the time.Away from the more visited areas there is a lot of WW1 stuff remaining and apparently there have been numerous injuries in recent times to farmers.

Crikey. Did you tell anyone?

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I've heard about this - apparently it's got some unbelievable amount of high explosive in it - enough to level most of east London or something - surely it's a terrorist risk?

I came across this site by accident, which is what is bound to happen to the wreck of the liberty ship SS Richard Montgomery. It sank on 20th august 1944 (65 years tomorrow!) and is just as dangerous now (even more so) as it was then.

For up to date information and links about the wreck have a look at my website http://www.ssrichardmontgomery.com The Richard Montgomery matter.

Noting the name of this site makes me wonder how people get house insurance on the isle of sheppey as the wreck is 3Km from sheerness. when it explodes stuff including armed cluster mines & unarmed (500Lb bombs) will come crashing through the roofs of houses on the island.

I have come across unexploded ordinance myself about 25 years ago some friends who were divers took home some!

I noticed a live timer detonator assembly from a WWII shell on a mantelpiece of a none used fireplace in a workshop. pointing out to them it was live I asked where is the rest of the bomb.casually pointing to a carrier bag he said the explosive is in there... about 2Ib of Amatol... Not wanting to call the bomb squad about that & the OTHER items lying about because probably would have inconvenienced all the people in a busy London area for about half a mile stopped traffic ect. I decided as I knew a bit about these things... (offered a job in Israeli bomb squad 1982 ) & trained for underwater demolitions for oil rigs) to dispose of it myself (anyway much more fun) I thought it was wiser to wait a few weeks to guy Fawkes night because very loud bangs seem to upset people & who would believe a nice old lady that called the police on 5th Nov and said she heard a very loud bang.... My friends who were much more sensible than me would not let me blow up the main charge not even on a local common. I therefore had to make do with the detonator & primer assembly. needless to say it made a very load bang and did not do the roof & walls of an out house much good. but no complaints, & just for safety we were 2 brick walls away firing electrical wearing motorcycle crash helmets with fire extinguishers close by!

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Crikey. Did you tell anyone?

There wasn't anyone to tell really and although I am fairly useful with maps I didn't actually pin point it as we were stopping here and there looking at sites of interest.The Western Front was quite fixed in some places and much more mobile in others where smaller attacks and counter-attacks gained and lost ground.The areas are quite distinctively pock marked by shells even after almost a hundred years and I suppose when it all ended everyone just sort of went home and left the locals to clear up,or not,as the case might be.

I think the problem with the war of attrition of 14-18 was that incredible amounts of ordnance got used.These shells,which I still have video film of,lay in piles of a dozen or so,around about 2.5inch calibre I would have guessed,maybe weighing 12 pounds or so each.It would have been easy to identify by looking at them closely but for obvious reasons I did not do that.I just have a feeling this was a German position,it was common for a single shell burst to kill several men if it fell amongst them.I had a friend who was the sole survivor amongst 18 from a single 88mm shell at Nijmeigen in 1944.

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There wasn't anyone to tell really and although I am fairly useful with maps I didn't actually pin point it as we were stopping here and there looking at sites of interest.The Western Front was quite fixed in some places and much more mobile in others where smaller attacks and counter-attacks gained and lost ground.The areas are quite distinctively pock marked by shells even after almost a hundred years and I suppose when it all ended everyone just sort of went home and left the locals to clear up,or not,as the case might be.

Haunting stuff, thanks for sharing.

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