WW2 Bomb ‘unexpectedly’ Exploded in Great Yarmouth

  • A contractor discovered a World War Two bomb while working near the River Yare.
  • Following the discovery, authorities cordoned off an area of 400m around the bomb.
  • The police evacuated as many as 230 properties in a 200m inner cordon.
  • Several unforeseen circumstances delayed the bomb disposal.
  • Still, the 250kg bomb detonated unexpectedly. Luckily, no casualties were reported. 

It has been decades since the end of World War Two. Still, it is not uncommon to hear something that takes us back to its horrors. The little glimpse of war that we see today used to be an everyday reality back then. Not so long ago, the people of Great Yarmouth in the UK, experienced something similar – something that shook the whole town.

The bomb
The bomb, circled, lies where it was discovered. Two Army personnel stand nearby.

A construction contractor came across a WW2 bomb on the River Yare, Great Yarmouth. On 10 February, the bomb detonated in an unexpected turn of events. The device measured about one meter (3.2ft) long and weighed about 250kg (39.5 lbs). 

Read More: The Greatest Surprise Attacks and Victories in Military History

On Friday afternoon, Norfolk’s constabulary confirmed that there had been an “unplanned” blast, but no one was hurt. Before this, on Tuesday, emergency services had declared the find a ‘major incident’ and assured that the bomb disposal squad was working to disarm it.

The Painstakingly Long Process’

Army specialists set out to disarm the bomb using a slow burn: a technique that burns off the material inside. However, the operation itself was not without risk. The officers warned of the probability of an unintended detonation. And that is precisely what happened.

An Explosion Ordnance Device team was present in the area. For public safety, roads were closed. A no-fly zone was established. And the immediate area was evacuated. The evacuation notice read, “Two rest centres have been set up for people who have been asked to evacuate their homes following the discovery of an unexploded ordnance device in the river in Great Yarmouth.”

The authorities established the rest centres at the following locations:

  1. St Georges Theatre – King’s Street, Great Yarmouth
  2. Mesh – Shrublands Youth and Adult Centre, Magdalen Way, Gorleston

The disarming began on Thursday, 9 February. The operation was delayed for several reasons. Firstly, the Army’s Explosive Ord Disposal noticed that the detonation could damage two main gas pipes. Secondly, water in the vicinity reduced the integrity of the sand barrier built around the bomb.

The whole ordeal significantly stalled the disposal. 

Read More: Civil War Cannonball Found in River & it Was Live

In a news release, officials explained that the protective sandbox was in place around the bomb in case of an unexpected detonation. That sandbox effectively prevented injuries. On Twitter, officials confirmed that “no one was injured” in the day’s events. 

The sandbox
A special protective sandbox in place around the bomb prevented some of the blast.

Assistant Chief Constable Nick Davison said: “This has been a painstakingly long process. But, public safety and that of the people involved has been at the heart of decision making.”

“This was the final phase of a delicate operation that has caused much disruption in the town. We hope this will be resolved soon and that cordons can be lifted if everything goes as planned.”

No Damage Done

Cadent’s spokesperson, the person in charge of the local gas network, said: “Our team has carried out a close inspection of our pipes in the vicinity. There is no indication that the blast has caused damage to our assets, and gas continues to flow safely.”

Read More: WWII Ammunition Dump Explodes in Berlin’s Grunewald Forest

After the explosion, the force said on Twitter: “We can confirm the unexploded World War Two bomb in Great Yarmouth has detonated.”

“This was not a planned detonation and happened during slow burn work to disarm the explosives.”

“All army and emergency service personnel are in the account. We will bring you further info when we have it.”

Yarmouth WW2
This was not the first time Yarmouth had seen action. Some of the bombs dropped during WW2 did their job.

Evacuation After-Effects

Evacuation orders have been lifted. Great Yarmouth Borough Council Chief Executive Sheila Oxtoby expressed her gratitude towards the community members for their patience and understanding throughout the multi-day process. 

Council Chief Executive said, “… I’d like to thank everyone involved for bringing this to a safe conclusion, and we will continue to help those residents displaced.” Residents have returned to their homes, but it remains unclear how many were displaced in the first place. 

It was an unsettling event for many, especially for those who had to leave their homes. However, thanks to public safety protocols, no one was hurt. It was a slow process, but the accident shows why public safety measures are essential.