News

Bomb’s away! How nerve-shredding operation to retrieve unexploded Nazi warhead from recruitment worker’s back garden unfolded (and left city holding its breath!)


After lying underground for more than 80 years, the dramatic unearthing of an unexploded Second World War bomb has caused chaos in Plymouth.

The Nazi weapon was discovered in the back garden of a terraced house in the Keyham area of the city earlier this week, and since then has forced more than 10,000 people to leave their homes amid fears it could explode.

It has caused a massive military response, with branches of the Army, Royal Navy and the police being called into action to plan a remarkable operation to dispose of it safely.

On Friday people across the world turned their gaze on the Devon port city as the device was painstakingly transported from the hole where it has remained since 1941 onto a boat which took it to sea.

The bomb has since found its resting place at the bottom of the English Channel, after it was detonated in a controlled explosion underwater last night.

But how did it have reach its watery grave? MailOnline has created a moment by moment timeline of the ordnance’s nerve-shredding journey. 

The Second World War German bomb found which was found in the back garden in Plymouth, Devon. Pictured: The bomb after it was first found

The Second World War German bomb found which was found in the back garden in Plymouth, Devon. Pictured: The bomb after it was first found

The bomb was uncovered by Ian Jary while he was digging the foundations for an extension to his daughter's kitchen. Pictured: The bomb after it was uncovered in the back garden

The bomb was uncovered by Ian Jary while he was digging the foundations for an extension to his daughter’s kitchen. Pictured: The bomb after it was uncovered in the back garden 

Thursday, February 15 – the bomb is discovered 

The device which has caused large parts of Plymouth to grind to a halt in recent days was found in the back garden of a home in St Michael Avenue, in the Keyham area of the city.

The bomb, which is believed to have been dropped on the city by the Nazis in 1941, was uncovered by Ian Jary, an undersea drilling expert who was helping dig the foundations for the kitchen extension at his daughter’s home.

Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, Mr Jary revealed he had actually hit the device with his spade, before heavy rain and further excavation revealed its dangerous nature in following days.

He said: ‘We’ve been digging out for the foundations for an extension. Every time we reached what we thought was hard ground the rain would come and we’d find we had to keep digging down.

‘We actually found it about a week ago. It was just outside the building line and the building inspector said we needed trench of around 650mm. I hit something with a spade but we weren’t sure what it was at first.

‘Since then we’ve had so much rain, the bank collapsed, then there was more rain on Friday and it’s been revealed more and more.’

Ian Jary, 57, contacted police at his wife Judy¿s suggestion (pictured together) after more and more of the bomb was exposed over several days while helping dig foundations for a rear extension

Ian Jary, 57, contacted police at his wife Judy’s suggestion (pictured together) after more and more of the bomb was exposed over several days while helping dig foundations for a rear extension

Residents inside the 309-metre cordon were forced to take precious belongings on Thursday, February 22

Residents inside the 309-metre cordon were forced to take precious belongings on Thursday, February 22

Police and bomb disposals experts stand near a cordon during Friday's massive operation in Plymouth

Police and bomb disposals experts stand near a cordon during Friday’s massive operation in Plymouth 

Tuesday, February 20 – the police are called and 1,000 people evacuated

On Tuesday Mr Jary contacted the police and sent them a photo, setting off a chain of events that would thrust the port city into the national limelight.

‘I took photos and sent them off and a sergeant in Exeter rang me in five minutes saying he needed to send them off to EOD,’ he said.

‘Five minutes later there’s a knock on the door and police officers asking to have a look. The next minute they’re suggesting a cordon with a 200m radius.’

This was duly put in place, so while bomb disposal experts from the Army and Royal Navy took a closer look at the device, around 1,000 people in the surrounding area were asked to leave their homes.

Officers told those who were forced to leave to stay with family or friends if they could, but those who had nowhere to go were allowed to stay at a nearby library and local community centres. 

More homes would be evacuated two days later when police extended the cordon to 300m on Thursday morning.

Bomb disposal experts decided to ship the bomb offshore rather than try and detonate it on land. They plotted a route to get it from the terraced street it was found on, to the English Channel

Bomb disposal experts decided to ship the bomb offshore rather than try and detonate it on land. They plotted a route to get it from the terraced street it was found on, to the English Channel

Friday, February 23 – the operation begins and thousands more are evacuated

After examining the device, bomb disposal experts decided it would cause too much damage to surrounding homes if they performed a controlled explosion on land.

So they decided to move the device, which weighs 500kg and could potentially explode at any moment, out of its resting place and into the sea.

In order to do this, the draw up a route through the city to get the bomb to the waterfront, at which point it would be put on a ship destined for the English Channel.

However, this meant that thousands of more people needed to be evacuated from homes that were within 300m of the roads they would be using.

2pm 

People in the area received a ‘severe alert’ text message ordering them to get out by 2pm before the start of the operation, with photos showing people leaving their homes carrying bags and pulling suitcases.

While some decided to go and stay with family or friends, others took the chance to enjoy themselves by waiting it out at the local pub.

Officials revealed they planned to ‘lift and shift’ the bomb at 3pm with the bomb being detonated outside the Plymouth Breakwater at around 5pm. However, they added that the operation could be delayed if people refused to evacuate quickly.

Meanwhile, patrol boats were seen on the River Tamar ensuring there would be no marine traffic when the bomb was brought onto the water.

A large open-backed military truck containing heavy bags, believed to be packed with sand, is seen near the scene of St Michael Avenue in Plymouth as the bomb is removed

A large open-backed military truck containing heavy bags, believed to be packed with sand, is seen near the scene of St Michael Avenue in Plymouth as the bomb is removed

A crane is used to delicately lift the WW2 device (circled) into the yellow container, while it was en route to being detonated in the waters of the Channel

A crane is used to delicately lift the WW2 device (circled) into the yellow container, while it was en route to being detonated in the waters of the Channel

5.15pm

The bomb began its final journey from St Michael Avenue, with the potentially lethal device being lifted out of the ground and onto the back of an army truck.

On the rear of the vehicle it was surrounded by large bags of sand, designed to reduce the likelihood of it exploding and causing carnage on its journey.

The truck slowly winded its way through the eerily empty streets of Plymouth, its movements being caught on webcams from evacuated flats and photographers stuck behind the cordon.

It took roughly 20 minutes for the bomb to be transported down to the Torpoint Ferry slipway, where the next stage of the operation would begin. 

5.40pm

After reaching the waterfront the bomb was carefully lifted on to a large pontoon resting on the slipway.

Photos captured bomb disposal officers using a crane to take the device from the back of the truck and lowering it gently onto the yellow inflatable.

Using a rope attached to a rhib boat, the unexploded ordnance was then towed through the water out into the River Tamar.

The military dragged the pontoon out to sea, beyond the Plymouth Breakwater where it was sunk to the seabed.

Officials said they hoped it would be at a depth of around 14m and claiming it would be detonated within the next 24 hours.

After the bomb was moved off land officials gave worried residents the all clear to return to their homes. 

Tudor Evans, the leader of Plymouth City Council praised armed forces for their ‘bravery’ in move the device,  and said ‘the last few days will go down in history for Plymouth’. 

Pictured: The bomb is moved into open water off the coast of Plymouth inside a yellow container

Pictured: The bomb is moved into open water off the coast of Plymouth inside a yellow container

9.51pm

Prior to the explosion Lt Colonel Rob Swan, of the 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Search Regiment, claimed those hoping to see a large explosion might be disappointed though.

He said: ‘We are looking to submerge it at least 14m under the ocean and then a diver will go down to the device and place a donor charge. He will then come back to the surface, retreat to a safe location and will detonate it from a safe location.

‘Unfortunately it might not be as Hollywood as people would like to imagine. 14m depth is obviously quite deep so as you might see a jet of water on the surface, it just really depends on the weather, the waves and how sensitive the explosive is.’

The bomb was detonated in the sea beyond the Plymouth Breakwater, four hours after it left land.

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson confirmed the device had been destroyed at 9.51pm, but did not provide further details.



Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button