Friday, 13 May 2016
If you need to go up Lansdown Hill in Bath today, forget it. The road's closed until further notice.
They were doing some work to a former girl's school half way up, when they discovered a 500 pound bomb under the playground which has been there for 70 years. There could have been a nasty skipping accident!
They know that there is an unexploded 1000 pound bomb in the river Avon, very near the bus terminal, but so far they have not been able to locate it. A man saw it fall in the river one night of the two-night bombing raids in WW2, and waited for the bang which never came. It must have made a big splash though.
The Lansdown 500 pounder is to be (gingerly) removed to a safer place and destroyed in a controlled explosion. They spent most of last night surrounding it with 250 tons of sand, just in case it decided to get stroppy, having been woken up from its 70 year sleep.
Over 1000 local residents spent last night in two marquees - the ones who were below the bomb went to the Recreation ground, and the ones above went to the Lansdown race course. Rugby versus horse racing.
During the war itself, unexploded bombs had their fuses removed using hydraulic automated spanners, then the explosive was steamed out using a giant kettle, forming a sticky and acidic mess which - although unpleasant - was relatively harmless until it re-solidified. It could just be burned away.
I would imagine that the fuse will be a bit rusted-in by now, so I for one wouldn't like to take a hammer to the spanner to free it up. Sometimes, the Germans would deliberately drop a bomb which had a delayed fuse in it so the the Disposal teams would get caught out when trying to defuse it.
Sometimes they booby-trapped the fuses, and sometimes they made the threads on them go the wrong way so they were tightened when you thought you were unscrewing them. The experienced teams would spend a long time examining the UXB before actually doing anything, and the fact that they were still alive meant that they were experienced.
Notice how the bloke in the picture above has not bothered to don any protective gear. What would be the point?
I'm going to have to spend the rest of the day with my fingers in my ears.
Posted by Tom Stephenson at 01:51