Alert as 'bomb' unearthed in town

A SUFFOLK town has been used for target practice by RAF bombers, it has emerged.But residents in Mildenhall have no need to worry – the operation has long since passed into the history books.

A SUFFOLK town has been used for target practice by RAF bombers, it has emerged.

But residents in Mildenhall have no need to worry – the operation has long since passed into the history books.

The news that the town was targeted by bomb crews emerged as workmen, dredging the riverbank near Tollgate Bridge, unearthed a Second World War bomb.

Having immediately downed tools, police and bomb disposal experts were called, and an ammunition technical officer was dispatched from the Royal Logistics Corp at Colchester.


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But the 25lb device was soon identified as a harmless smoke bomb, of the type used by bombing crews during the Second World War.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "These dummy bombs would release smoke when dropped. They were used to test the accuracy of bomb crews, rather than using real bombs."

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Brian Johnson, clerk of works on site for Suffolk County Council, said the discovery had come as a shock.

"There were two diggers clearing the silt in the river, and one of the drivers hooked out a bomb-shaped object by the fin," he said. "The expression on his face was priceless.

"It was around three foot out of the water, so I told him to lower it down gently back into the silt.

"We evacuated the site and called the police, and the bomb disposal team from Colchester came out.

"We were in shock afterwards, as we realised we were so close to it that, had it been a live bomb, it could have been very serious.

"The bomb has now gone back to Colchester to be put in the bomb disposal team's museum."

The bomb was discovered by contractors from May Gurney, who are carrying out a £7.5 million scheme to replace and upgrade bridges across a watercourse known as the Cut Off Channel, on behalf of the council.

RAF Mildenhall was home to a large air force presence throughout the Second World War, and was the base for HQ No3 Group, RAF Bomber Command and Wellington bombers regularly flew on missions over Germany from there.

It was also the base for regular missions in Stirlings and Lancaster bombers, before converting to a US base after the war.

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