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Ww2 RAF ordnance disposal question.

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Ww2 RAF ordnance disposal question.

Old 27th Oct 2019, 18:22
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BSD
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Ww2 RAF ordnance disposal question.

Research for a possible book project has brought up a question which I'm hoping someone here might answer.

After the war ended, at least one squadron spent time dropping surplus bombs into the sea.

Would those bombs have been dropped live, to explode on contact? Or, would they have been dropped say, with holes in their casings to allow the water to enter and render them inert? Indeed, would it have just been the filling that was being dropped, as I wonder if the metal of the casing might have been useful. Swords into ploughshares as it were.

Google isn't my friend in this case, it seems to latch onto the work of the bomb disposal branches.

Hopefully someone here might know. However, a trip to national archives is coming up, which may shed light.

Now, back to puzzling over the excellent "what cockpit" thread!
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Old 27th Oct 2019, 19:34
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Trying to think logically about this...

The aim of the exercise was to get the job done quickly. Dropping them live would have meant fitting fuzes, which would slow things down and increase the risk of accidental explosions.

Drilling holes in the casings would, again, be slow and have risks. Steaming out the explosive would take even longer. Why recover the metal from bomb casings in such a laborious way, when there were plenty of tanks to cut up?

There seems to have been an overarching feeling that the sooner such jobs were done, the sooner everyone could be demobbed and get on with their lives...
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Old 27th Oct 2019, 21:19
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At least they saved some rocket casings and used them for the chassis rails on early Dellows..
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Old 27th Oct 2019, 22:52
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There seems to have been an overarching feeling that the sooner such jobs were done, the sooner everyone could be demobbed and get on with their lives...
That was probably the case here:

SUNSHINE COAST, QUEENSLAND - AIRCRAFT DUMPED OFFSHORE
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Old 28th Oct 2019, 11:51
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I was a schoolboy in Twickenham in 1947 when the headmaster told the assembled pupils that we would be hearing a big bang as thousands of tons of unexploded ammunition were exploded on the island of Heligoland off the German coast. ISTR we did hear a bang (of sorts) at the appointed time, but it was certainly not loud.

Heligoland Operation Big Bang 1947
More here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-39590752
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Old 28th Oct 2019, 17:43
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Hi I have been told that a lot of explosives (they include RAF) was dumped in the Beaufort Channel in the Irish Sea the channel is between Scotland and N Ireland.
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Old 28th Oct 2019, 17:58
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Spit - apparently so - hence the potential problem if another of Johnson's fertile imagination projects was attempted ... the bridge between NI and Scotland. Sinking caissons into a large explosive dump could be exciting!
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Old 28th Oct 2019, 20:37
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Gentlemen, many thanks for your replies.

innomimate - good point about tanks. Indeed there must have been stacks of scrap metal more freely available at the end of hostilities.

Holes in the casings I was thinking would be where fuses, timers etc., would have been inserted. Leaving them open to allow the sea water in would I guess have rendered them inert. And yes, who would want to arm the things and then load them. Risky or what? Not warranted in peacetime.

Marine charts IIRC do have ďmunitions dumping groundĒ perhaps thatís where they dropped them.

Beaufort channel? Werenít lots of u-boats scuttled post-war off Northern Ireland too? Perhaps BoJo is hoping they donít call his bluff and force him to build that bridge!

if I turn anything interesting up at Kew, Iíll share it here.

Once again, thanks to all.



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Old 28th Oct 2019, 21:23
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Weren’t lots of u-boats scuttled post-war off Northern Ireland too?
Use them as infill for the concrete. That's what they used the old Spitfires for in Liverpool.

Last edited by Fareastdriver; 29th Oct 2019 at 09:17.
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Old 30th Oct 2019, 15:38
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I'm lead to believe this dumping carried on for a lot longer, probably the 1970's.
A contact (ex V Force) told me of endless hours he spent on race tracks over the North Sea, dropping one at a time. The reason being that they were worried
that if one 'cooked off' sympathetic detonation would walk the big bangs up the stick to the carrier aircraft.

Fast forward 20+ years and I spent a fairly tense weekend in the company emergency control centre. A bottom survey had found a 1,000 lb bomb
very close to one of our major gas trunk lines. The Royal Navy came out, moved it away a mile or so and let it off. Quite and impressive bang. I always
wondered if this was a WW2 souvenir, or something more recent...Ö.
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Old 3rd Nov 2019, 07:16
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East of Cleethorpes, just south of the Blue 1 airway from Otringham was the Wash Jettison area. This was a 5 mile radius circle danger area and in use certainly in the 60s. I know we occasionally jettisoned bombs there. Details should still be available from the Hydrographic Office. It may have been established during the war and in use thereafter.

In Cyprus in early 1970s old stocks were categorised as disposable by dropping and too dangerous to drop. I know there was no demolition range and don't know how they got rid of the dangerous one. We had fun dropping the live ones, fuzed with 10 msec delay fuses. They made a satisfying splash 😀. I remember the water would pool with magenta and some bombs would explode with less than a full bang. These bombs were from the late 50s.
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Old 3rd Nov 2019, 07:33
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Originally Posted by Cornish Jack View Post
Spit - apparently so - hence the potential problem if another of Johnson's fertile imagination projects was attempted ... the bridge between NI and Scotland. Sinking caissons into a large explosive dump could be exciting!
These munitions in Beaufort's Dyke are occasionally washed up on the north coast of the Isle of Man. The undersea cables get disturbed when the undersea currents are heavy and dislodge the shells which are usually WW1 vintage. Nice day out for the bomb disposal people!
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Old 5th Nov 2019, 18:53
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During regular visits to West Freugh the subject of the sea dumping was often discussed. According to the 'locals' the vessels loaded at Cainryan with munitions intended for dumping in Beaufort's Dyke often didn't make it that far, but dumping as soon as they could. That probably accounts for the munitions that wash up on the coast.
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Old 5th Nov 2019, 20:01
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Hello BSD
My father's log book (635 squadron pilot) shows him and crew on the 21Jul45, 24Jul45 and 25Jul45 flying route 11 (21Jul) Bomb Disposal 18SBC 7200lbs incendiary 3:50 hrs flight time. 24Jul and 25Jul Bomb Disposal 18SBC 7200lbs incendiary with no route mention and both flight time 1:45.
Station at the time was Downham Market.
Most of the time around then they were flying ops post mortem, Cook's tours and repatriation from Germany and Italy.
Hope this helps
Peter
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Old 6th Nov 2019, 10:35
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I believe that during the 1970s the Bomb Disposal Unit from 71MU Bicester was engaged in emptying a mine in North Wales of thousands of WW2 bombs. What happened to them?

Aaron.
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Old 6th Nov 2019, 14:33
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Originally Posted by AARON O'DICKYDIDO View Post
I believe that during the 1970s the Bomb Disposal Unit from 71MU Bicester was engaged in emptying a mine in North Wales of thousands of WW2 bombs. What happened to them?

Aaron.
That would have been Llanberis. The explosive content of the various weapons was destroyed on site by burning. https://www.subbrit.org.uk/sites/llanberis-bomb-store/
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