07 Jun 2008

1000kg WWII Bomb Found and Defused in London

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The East London Advertiser story recounts some moments of excitement for the British Army bomb disposal team.

A loud triple bang was heard and vibration felt in a wide area of East London tonight as ‘Hermann the stubborn German’ Second World War bomb was detonated by the British Army.

The massive 2,200lb (1000 kg.) unexploded wartime device discovered by marine engineers dredging the River Lea at Bromley-by-Bow on Monday was finally defused tonight and the explosives packed inside burned off with a controlled explosion.

But the amount of explosives the 6ft by 2ft ‘Hermann’ was packing surprised most experienced Army engineers.

It would have torn a hole in the East End up to a-quarter-of-a-mile wide if it had exploded—64 years to the day after Allied Forces landed at Normandy on D-Day 1944. This was Big Hermann’s revenge.

There was still half-a-ton of high explosives left burning at 7pm, an hour after it was detonated.

Bob disposal experts have been describing ‘Hermann’ as “proven to be very stubborn” and having developed “a personality of its own, almost like a petulant child.”

‘Hermann’ was stubborn from the outset, booby-trapped to thwart any daring Army sapper.

It had remained dormant for 67 years, buried in the muddy riverbed until it was unearthed at low tide by a mechanical digger.

But it didn’t remain silent for long. It started ticking again on Wednesday, after nearly seven decades, following four failed attempts to defuse it by Army experts.

Tonight’s controlled explosion displaced 400 tonnes of sand which had formed a protective ‘igloo’ around the bomb.

The officer in charge, Major Matt Davies, told the East London Advertiser: “We were not exactly sure what to expect. The sand managed to contain the blast, which is what we wanted it to do.

“There are so many different ways these bombs were made in the 1940s that you can never tell exactly how long it would take.”

He added: “If it had gone off in wartime there would have been large fragments up to a mile away which could have destroyed buildings and sewers.

“This is the biggest unexploded bomb we have found in central London.”

The sappers used a laser-guided water jet to cut two circles in the thick metal casing to run steam hoses to liquefy the high explosives packed tightly inside.

One Army engineer was sent back repeatedly to the ticking device to pour a salt solution into it, then used a powerful magnet to stop the timer.

Police Commander Simon O’Brien said: “The engineer is a hero and has done Londoners a great service. It was a serious situation.” …

Pol Supt Phil Morgan said: “They spent 12 hours neutralising the fuse which was booby trapped and had ‘tamper’ devices fitted.

“If it had gone off, the blast would have reached more than 40,000ft in all directions, from Bow as far as Stratford.”

The bomb was just a few hundred yards from the huge Bromley gasworks, a prime target for the Luftwaffe when Britain was at war.

It was a team of marine engineers widening the riverbank to take barges for London’s 2012 Olympics construction who unwittingly found ‘Hermann.’

“Our mechanical digger suddenly hit this large metal object about 6ft long on the riverbed,” engineer Andrew Cowie told the Advertiser on Monday, less than an hour after the discovery.

“We had waited for the tide to go out and were working against time. We couldn’t believe what we found. It was massive.

“We called the foreman over and he quickly evacuated the site. We were taking no chances.”

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4 Feedbacks on "1000kg WWII Bomb Found and Defused in London"

pakyaw

If this was not found and it had exploded during the olympics or at the latter stages of construction, who would have been blamed? Yes! you are right! and the west would have had another chance to rape the muslim world! But who knows if there are more of these in them thar banks!



Bill

Pakyaw,

I see it didn’t take someone long to get in a few proactive words for the enemy. It is rather dangerous to make the speculation that you did. It’s as if you are doing your best to assist the enemy.

And make no doubt about it, they are the enemy. To think otherwise is pure foolishness.

Sincerely,

Bill



Paul

I agree with Bill, besides, things are not taken so lightly as Pakyaw thinks, any serious investigation would be able to identify the sort of explosive used, the material of the casing, type of fuse etc… and identifying the whole device as such before blaming the muslim world. (Yes they are the enemy)



ken

My Dad was a LAC (armourer) in the RCAF or RAF in Johnnie Johnson’s squadron and he had the experience of having to go out and hook onto a 500 lb. bomb that had dropped off a plane on to the runway. They went out, two of them in a jeep and the other guy hopped out with a cable, hooked on and they dragged it off the field. I think he said it was a long cable. I guess that got the heart rate up a bit.
He also saw a US Superfort attempting an emergency landing veer off because a small fighter was on the field. It dropped out of the sky, landing on an ammo dump, then blew up killing all of the crew. Horror!
He had other experiences that left some bad memories.
So seeing what this bomb could do is really something. Glad they know how to handle them There must be a lot of unexploded, hidden stuff still around Europe.



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