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Lon More
25th Oct 2013, 13:18
Questions were asked today about the safety of ammunition dumped off the coasts after WW2
http://www.kimointernational.org/WebData/Files/munitions%20map.jpg
The dangers possibly posed by the SS Richard Montgomery (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Richard_Montgomery) are nothing compared to some of this stuff

On the plus side; if it did al go up, the UK would sever all links with Europe and slowly drift away into a UKIP coloured sunset as it slowly sank below the waves.:D

OFSO
25th Oct 2013, 13:41
Funny you should say that.

Yesterday at 13:00 there was a dull thud here, and the kitchen utensils rattled.

Unusual that, when Mrs OFSO is away.

I though it was another fracking earthquake, but on the news they said a 300 kg mine from WW-II had been detonated underwater at a depth of 20m off the Port de la Selva, which is about 10km from where I live across the peninsular (and on the other side of the mountains).

Yes, don't shockwaves travel.

500N
25th Oct 2013, 13:48
OFSO

Which means it was a Large WWII Mine PLUS a fair bit of Modern Explosive as well.

SLFguy
25th Oct 2013, 14:20
German humour..

I was in a clarification meeting in Hamburg with 15 or so dour German gentlemen for an Inter Array Cable Laying job, (windfarm), when the question of the pre-lay survey came up, (part of which is to detect ordnance).

Me: "Obviously we'll identify but you will be liable for removal/disposal"

15 Germans nod in accordance.

Lone German voice: "Vell zis vill depend of course *pause* on vether zey are English bombs or German bombs"

15 Germans dissolve into laughter as if this was the best joke they'd heard all year..

SpringHeeledJack
25th Oct 2013, 14:30
15 Germans dissolve into laughter as if this was the best joke they'd heard all year..

It probably was :)

There is a dedicated team within the Hamburg area who are kept busy locating and disposing of the still plentiful number of WW2 bombs left by the RAF and USAAF unexploded for whatever reason. The lead dive master was from the UK if I remember, and saw his work as unheroic due to the fact if one of the bombs should explode it would be faster than his nervous system would register it and therefore he'd never know......:\

I believe that the SS Richard Montgomery is so dangerous because the shockwave would devastate several towns on the Thames (though some might call this improvements :suspect:) and other refineries/power stations/whatever.



SHJ

beaufort1
25th Oct 2013, 14:32
Since the last 800lb mine was found and detonated earlier this autumn a German depth charge was found and detonated last week.

BBC News - World War II bomb detonated off Guernsey (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-guernsey-24569347)

Funny how these things turn out, I reckon back in the 70's it was estimated one shell a week was being found from WWII. As time moved on, they seemed to get less and less but these last couple of years these seems to be a resurgence again.

500N
25th Oct 2013, 14:36
That Huge bomb they found in a river last year ?

Possibly a Tall Boy or Grand Slam ?

The size of the area they evacuated.

Anyone know when was the last time a large bomb went off unexpectedly ?

500N
25th Oct 2013, 14:38
beaufort

I reckon a lot of it (on land) has to do with development.

And once an area has been rebuilt, I doubt a huge amount of deep earthworks are done.

beaufort1
25th Oct 2013, 14:50
500N yes, that makes sense.

A lot of ordinance was cooked off by gorse fires on the cliffs, especially S-mines and roll mines.

500N
25th Oct 2013, 14:54
beaufort

I remember when the great resurgence of developemt in the 70's / 80's in the UK,
especially around the docks / Thames area, bombs often found.

dazdaz1
25th Oct 2013, 15:09
I will always give Kudos to our boys (UBX WWII) who attempt and sadly in many cases lost their lives defusing bombs. Those guys had balls of steel , no jokes please you know what I mean.

Daz

blue up
25th Oct 2013, 15:31
50,000 lb WWI Bomb Found Under Belgian Farm (http://rense.com/general47/50000lbWW1bomb.htm)

Be verrrrry careful when you dig in the back garden!

Lon More
25th Oct 2013, 15:33
Much of the town of Sheerness lies behind a seawall only a few hundred metres from the Montgomery and would probably be flooded.

When we lived in Luton I remember some of the local farmers had large sheets of boiler plate mounted between the tractor and the plough due to the number of mortar bombs that turned up on an old firing range.

Some 10 years ago I bought a house built on the airfield at Hawkinge. I was advised to dig no deeper than a metre due to possible explosives from both sides of WW2 still being there. One danger mentioned was pipe bombs laid to destroy the runways in case of invasion.

500N
25th Oct 2013, 15:35
daz

My grandmother held the same people in great esteem.

They lived in Croydon during the war :rolleyes:

Had a 1000 lber UXB either next door or in the street that was defused.

Lon More
25th Oct 2013, 15:36
Old news, Blue Up. There was recently a series on UK tv about these.
It would save a lot of ploughing if it went up though

500N
25th Oct 2013, 15:38
blue up

I like this description.

"The mine is beneath a barn, next to the farmhouse ."

As though it's location is going to make any difference to
anything within xx kms !!!

VP959
25th Oct 2013, 16:50
Many years ago I ran a weapons range that covered around 140 square miles of the Irish Sea, under which had been dumped around 1.25 million tones of WWII ordnance in the late 40's/early 50's.

A fair bit of it was made up of wooden crates of German incendiary bombs, which had a thin steel casing, a hollow petroleum jelly core and an internal phosphorus initiator. As long as the phosphorous remained sealed from air all was well.

Unfortunately the wooden crates broke up on the sea bed after around 40 years or so and the thin steel casings around the incendiary bombs corroded away. One weekend, after some really rough weather, hundreds of these bombs floated to the surface, as minus their steel cases they were buoyant, being mainly petroleum jelly. Many of them washed up along the Scottish and Irish coastline, where they tended to spontaneously ignite when the phosphorous became exposed to air. Unfortunately some people were burnt when they picked these things up off the beach.

The snag was that there's not much anyone can do about the problem, as any attempt to recover the stuff from the sea bed would be far too risky.

Another consequence of this incident was that there was a survey done of the area and an full investigation into what had been dumped in the area. Because of the "out of sight, out of mind" mentality that prevailed immediately after WWII, no regard had been given to the future problems, either safety related or environmentally related, this dumping policy would cause. Finding large amounts of mustard gas and nerve agents had been dumped there, along with thousands of tons of ammunition, shells, bombs, mortars and even a few barrels of radiative waste from what was then called Windscale didn't make the PR job of handling this incident easier. It also meant having an unpleasant encounter with Kirsty Wark.

Krystal n chips
25th Oct 2013, 17:32
" It also meant having an unpleasant encounter with Kirsty Wark"

I would have thought an encounter with Kirsty Wark would have been very enjoyable, unless, of course, you have an aversion to intelligent and articulate ladies....which I don't.

I see there are a couple of red spots off the coast of Pembrokeshire....we can only hope that Vee-tail is aware of the location in case, heaven forbid, some of this should explode and he calls his valiant Offa's Dyke Defence Force to arms under the impression the, er, "invasion" has begun !

chuks
25th Oct 2013, 18:50
Dealing with UXB is routine here in northern Germany, but a bomb went off prematurely and killed three (I think it was) technicians, not so long ago. I think it's so that the older the bombs are, the less stable they are.

There's a big wind park offshore from Borkum that still hasn't been hooked up to the grid, and one reason for the delay was given as the large amount of UXB on the sea bed there, just dumped, post-war.

racedo
25th Oct 2013, 19:24
Approx 40 tonnes of WW1 UXBs are recovered annually in France..............Farmers just dump at side of a field beside road and call up army to collect.

In 1955 lightning along Messines ridge caused a 26000 lb mine to explode, killing 1 cow.

Reportedly another 3-4 mines still buried.

air pig
25th Oct 2013, 19:49
As well as conventional explosives many thousands of tons of chemical weapons were dumped off shore post WW2.

500N
25th Oct 2013, 19:58
Can you imagine what lies around some of the Pacific Islands, or on them.

VP959
25th Oct 2013, 19:58
I would have thought an encounter with Kirsty Wark would have been very enjoyable, unless, of course, you have an aversion to intelligent and articulate ladies....which I don't.

Depends. I was under orders to stick to an official line (which I didn't happen to agree with, but orders are orders).

Pre-interview (with a very young Kirsty Wark, long before she hit national TV etc) we went through the questions and the areas I couldn't comment on, (because of security-related issues) and we agreed a scope of questioning where I'd do my best to be open and honest, as far as I was able. The silly cow went off piste with question number one, which meant I had to go "no comment" and she got no story. If she'd had the wit to play the game she'd have had a great story, without me breaking the rules. More importantly, she'd have had a moral victory, as by reading between the lines and using a modicum of intelligence the silly woman could have done the country at large a favour.

VP959
25th Oct 2013, 20:05
As well as conventional explosives many thousands of tons of chemical weapons were dumped off shore post WW2.

Very true. The Irish Sea has a big dump in St Georges Channel that includes hundreds of tons of mustard and sarin, plus a significant quantity of unknown chemical and binary agents that were confiscated from Germany at the end of WWII.

Yamagata ken
26th Oct 2013, 03:45
In the 1970s, I used to help out on my landlord's farm in Norfolk. It had an ex-USAAF airfield built on it (RAF Denton I think). Ploughing we were constantly turning up live 0.5 inch ammunition, all nicely colour coded. I believe is was standard practice to offload any unused ammunition immediately prior to landing. Anyone confirm or deny?

RJM
26th Oct 2013, 04:17
You'd think anywhere on enemy territory would be a preferrred place for dumping bombs. If they were hung up or whatever and needed work to get rid of, the Channel would be a better place than around your airfield.As to machine gun rounds, why not land with them? In any case, while bomber crews could access their gun rounds, fighter pilots, for example, couldn't.

I have the same question as the last poster - does anyone know the protocols around this?

How's the snow shovelling going Ken? :ok:

bosnich71
26th Oct 2013, 05:08
At Bassingbourn in the mid sixties the RAF decided to build / lay a new patch of concrete near to the existing aircraft hard standing to accommodate extra aircraft. Some months later 0.5 inch shells started coming up to the surface of the adjacent grass due to soil being removed by the wash from Canberra engines. Seems the Septics had buried what they didn't want when they returned back to the States.

Windy Militant
26th Oct 2013, 09:17
A secret Atomic research centre just over the fence from where I work was an airfield before and during the war. The local primary school was built next to what was the bomb dump, which has now been developed into an estate of houses. During the building of which last year they found a couple more which we heard being safely disposed of. I can't remember off hand what they call the estate but around our place we call it bomb alley!
When a few years ago they started to redevelop the site into a science park, they started by pulling down a number of timber framed buildings. As it was this time of year and they normally have a bonfire and fireworks display the wood was used to build the bonfire. Fortunately for them a couple of days before the event someone spotted a number of live .303 rounds come rolling out of the dumped wood. The bonfire was then sifted through and a number of rounds were found and removed for safe disposal. That would have been a night to remember had they not been spotted.:uhoh:

Rail Engineer
26th Oct 2013, 09:30
You'd think anywhere on enemy territory would be a preferrred place for dumping bombs. If they were hung up or whatever and needed work to get rid of, the Channel would be a better place than around your airfield.As to machine gun rounds, why not land with them? In any case, while bomber crews could access their gun rounds, fighter pilots, for example, couldn't.

I have the same question as the last poster - does anyone know the protocols around this?This may help.

RAF Standing Orders were that bombs not released over the target should be released on the return leg under the criteria and order as follows :

Over Germany
1) On any military facility
2) Failing (1) over any identified factory or manufacturing area

Over Occupied Europe*
1) On any military facility

En route home
1) over the sea
2) at one of the defined unloading areas in the North sea

Hang ups were of course a different problem, and the rule was first the safety of the crew and second the aircraft.

Whilst some crews did bring back hang ups, the risk was that landing would release them with potential fatal results. Guidance was to fly to the nearest airfield, bale out the crew, then set the autopilot back towards Germany and the pilot then baled out.


Incidents on the outward leg required unloading within designated areas at sea. In the event that the a/c could not release then the crew baled out over land and the a/c was set on autopilot towards Germany.

* release in other circumstances was strictly forbidden (because Occupied Europe was an Ally) unless the safety of the a/c was at risk, then unloading would have been in open country.

RJM
26th Oct 2013, 09:32
That did help. Thanks RE.

Yamagata ken
26th Oct 2013, 12:20
hahaha

RJM How's the snow shovelling going Ken?This post is coming to you from a small island off the SW coast of Thailand. I'm thinking about it. Actually after 10 years practice, my winter prep is pretty slick. Shuttering up, winter tyres on (four vehicles), and fire up the Yukios will take me a week. Bring it on, though I'm hoping for a little less than last winter's 16 metres. On topic, some of those 0.5 inch rounds were incendiaries and tracers. Not nice in close proximity if things go titsup.

VP959
26th Oct 2013, 13:11
Hang ups were of course a different problem, and the rule was first the safety of the crew and second the aircraft.

I well recall a hang up (during trials) where we tried to release the thing three times, then just closed the bomb bay doors and flew back, declaring that we'd had a hang up and could the bomb heads be ready to deal with it as soon as we touched down. The protocol then was to land long and shut down at the far end of the runway, with the fire crews racing alongside as we rolled to a halt.

We were supposed to shut everything down and evacuate ASAP, with the last action being to open the bomb bay doors so the bomb heads could climb up and sort out the problem. As I opened them there was a loud "thunk", as the errant weapon fell down on to the tarmac, right next to where two bomb heads were waiting to sort the thing out. Neither of them so much as flinched, apparently. The weapon must have come off the EMRU at some point on the return flight, or may be the landing, and was just resting on the bomb bay doors.

'Twas one of two incidents that gave me the very greatest respect for armourers. Nothing on this planet would have convinced me to do their job.

OFSO
26th Oct 2013, 14:07
A secret Atomic research centre just over the fence from where I work

Have the black helicopters arrived yet, Windy ?

tony draper
26th Oct 2013, 14:38
I understand there are a few unexploded nukes at the bottom of very deep holes bored in the Nevada Desert.
They must tiptoe very carefully around them.
:uhoh:

Lon More
26th Oct 2013, 15:56
If Ibby or Wodrick ever start to complain about lack of sunshine there might still be a couple of bucketsful down their way (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18689132)

hval
26th Oct 2013, 21:56
Knc,
would have thought an encounter with Kirsty Wark would have been very enjoyable, unless, of course, you have an aversion to intelligent and articulate ladies....which I don't.

You obviously have never met Kirsty Wark, nor know her.

Solar
27th Oct 2013, 05:06
Met a chap few years ago at St Angelo (Enniskillen airport) who's father was in the RUC ( NI police) during the war and he told the story of how his dad was tasked on a stake out to observe who was emptying discarded bombs of explosive. Apparently there was a local bog area that was designated a dumping area for returning B17's. What was supposed to happen was that the bombers would dump the unused bombs and the squadies would come out the next day and plant flags to mark them until the disposal lads could dig them up make them safe and remove them.
What was happening was that they would find that someone was beating them to it and removing the explosive. At the time the natural assumption was it was the IRA . Anywho this RUC Sargent and a constable were observing a known house when sure enough the lad arrives back about 04:00 with the horse and cart and it loaded down with something, the police observed the laddo carrying something into the house and waited until he had a nice fire going in the hope of catching several gang members. When they eventually did burst in the laddo was at the fire having his tea and the sargent who knew him said in the time honoured way, looks like we have you now Paddy. Paddy was not overly concerned and it turned out he was indeed emptying the occasional bomb case but using the gell on his fire as it burned a lot better than turf.
Not sure of the validity of the story but it's a nice story.

Krystal n chips
27th Oct 2013, 05:19
VP959......thanks for the explanation. To be fair, we all make mistakes when young and at the start of our working lives do we not ?. An interesting story nevertheless.

" You obviously have never met Kirsty Wark, nor know her "

That's a very astute observation....well done !. No, I haven't met her, but presumably you have and do not have a high opinion of her. On the other hand, I don't have an aversion to intelligent and articulate ladies, as many on here do, so I may well have a different opinion if I ever did meet her.

As for the original topic, in 1975, I helped recover a Phantom which had departed from Bruggen and arrived at a village called Maasbree...both the crew got out safely...and thereafter, the recovery turned into a farce.

However, when we were recovering the engines, the engines being the causal factor due to an uncontained failure, and which had embedded themselves into a swamp like copse, we started to find .303 ammunition, quite a lot of ammunition in fact, and then we found.... webbing.

We stopped digging and the engines were dragged clear.

500N
27th Oct 2013, 05:21
Solar

Quite a few explosive make great fire starters or burners for cooking a cuppa on.
Plastic being one of the best.

Solid Rust Twotter
27th Oct 2013, 07:10
Yup. Doesn't smell as strong as hexie when you burn it either - PE4 that is.

500N
27th Oct 2013, 07:12
Agreed.

I was thinking of PE4 when I wrote the above.

Lovely stuff, as long as you don't hit it hard !!!

Solid Rust Twotter
27th Oct 2013, 07:28
Never tried it, but was told NP10 is pretty rank when burned.

radeng
27th Oct 2013, 09:17
When disposing of the gas munitions at the end of WW2, they were worked to Cairn Ryan down the somewhat lumpy track laid at the beginning of the war in trains of 32 wagons. Authority decided that was inefficient so brought up an Austerity 2-10-0 to work trains of 64 wagons. With no continuous brake, the train ran away.......

Drivers refused to work that size train again - probably thought that 64 wagons of poison gas and you can't stop is a bit TOO exciting!

But weren't we told on Pprune in another thread that sarin decomposes in a few weeks?

VP959
27th Oct 2013, 09:58
But weren't we told on Pprune in another thread that sarin decomposes in a few weeks?

Yes and no.

If ready to fire in weapon dispensers, then yes, it does tend to decompose, especially in the sort of summer temperatures in Syria. If still in storage in well sealed storage vessels and kept at low temperature is will keep for decades. The stuff at the bottom of the Beaufort Dyke is in around 1000 to 1100ft of water that will be pretty damned cold, and it's not in weapons, as far as I know, but in the rather stout and well made German storage vessels.

The weapon dispensers are very thin walled (so they can be easily fragmented to get good dispersal at ground level) and as a consequence are not good for long term storage.

radeng
27th Oct 2013, 10:12
What happens if they start leaking? How does the sea water affect things? My assumption is that any leaks will be caused by corrosion and thus be pretty slow.

VP959
27th Oct 2013, 10:22
Hydrolysis will break down sarin in seawater pretty quickly, so it doesn't present much of a hazard, especially at that depth where there's not a great deal of higher order marine life.

The mustard might be a bigger problem, as I think there may well be more of it and it takes longer to break down in seawater, I think. The other stuff down there will probably also break down via hydrolysis (I think there's probably some Lewisite and maybe Tabun down there as well), and since the mind-90's there's been a monitoring programme in place, as far as I know.

Capot
27th Oct 2013, 13:23
Some 15 years ago, or more, I was working on a development plan for a large international airport in the Ruhr valley, as a sub-contractor to a team working on a "semi-privatisation" project.

There were extensive works in progress on the apron and terminals, but these were becoming more and more behind schedule. So that I could set a timescale to future development, I needed to know why this was, and what the eventual completion date might be.

At meeting after meeting with the project managers for the works, this question was evaded in different ways. In the end, I insisted that they must provide an answer.

They looked at each other, and something in their expressions told me that I was walking into a planned ambush, that they had been building up to for a long time. Sure enough, they sprung it.

"Well, you see, we didn't want to tell you, because we don't like embarrassing our British colleagues".

By now, they were struggling to contain the laughter.

"You see, we have had to deal with a large number of bombs that we found buried there."

Some were now openly heaving with mirth, tears coming down their cheeks.

"The thing is, you see, that not one of them worked properly...............", he too started to laugh, ..."because they were British bombs!!"

It was their best joke for years.

Fareastdriver
27th Oct 2013, 13:43
Drive around the roads near Ypres and there are regular little piles of rusty artillery shells that have been ploughed up. The Belgian Army come aound to pick them up with a similar schedule to dustbin collecters.

Airborne Aircrew
27th Oct 2013, 13:51
Drive around the roads near Ypres and there are regular little piles of rusty artillery shells that have been ploughed up. The Belgian Army come aound to pick them up with a similar schedule to dustbin collecters.

One wonders what percentage were German... :E

Lon More
27th Oct 2013, 14:04
There was a lot of fighting round Maasbree towards the end of WW2. Unsurprising that a lot of human remains were never recovered