3 January 2008

Bomb bagged

Has an old World War II bomb ever gone off in peacetime?

I ask this because in an East Yorkshire village, the police and council have closed off a semi-major thoroughfare after the discovery of a device on New Year's Eve and may even extend to the M62. It will continue to keep nearby roads closed until at least Friday while they try to dispose safely of the bomb.

While I don't wish any ill-cheer on the good folk of the villages near Goole and Howden, I do wonder whether chances could be taken. After all, if it failed to go off upon landing in 1944, and has remained untouched and below earth for six decades since, what are the chances of it deciding to explode now, just because some unfortunate with a metal detector had nothing better to do on the final day of 2007? It has had all this time to rust, be enveloped in mud and other natural substances, and therefore maybe have its potential effect dulled.

But I'm no scientist. And yes, I don't think any person reading this is in doubt about that revelation... so educate me.

We don't do bomb scares in this part of the world very much. Hull was badly hit in the war - my grandma was bombed out three days before my mum was due to appear, hence her eventual birth in bloody Lincolnshire - but in peacetime there's been nothing. I don't wish to even remotely make light of the dangers and circumstances of finding bombs of any type in your locality, but I do wonder just how devastating an effect a bomb of this particular vintage could have if it did detonate.

A decade ago, Eddie Izzard made the point that in London, a bomb scare would not be a scare at all, just an inconvenient re-organisation of one's journey on the Underground ("A bomb? Oh drat, well, there's another Boots the chemist on Tottenham Court Road...").

World War II bombs always seem to follow the same line to me; bomb is found, entire county is brought to a standstill, disposal experts (wouldn't do their job, ever) come in and exercise a controlled explosion or take the bomb out of commission. Everyone says well done, rightly. But I'd be interested to learn just how potentially hazardous these ancient bombs are.

It's a British device, which landed in its resting place after two Halifax bombers collided in mid-air above this area of East Yorkshire during the war. A memorial stands in Eastrington, one of the affected villages.

Here's hoping for a safe and straightforward removal of the bomb.

1 comment:

Steve said...

It's a well known fact that in this age of Health & Safety legislation and Risk Assessments a bomb is much more dangerous and prone to go off once it has been discovered and responsibility for it placed into the hands of a bespectacled man with a clipboard and clip-on tie...