Bombs destroyed after weekend of drama

AN army major last night hailed the success of a “unique operation” to detonate two Second World War bombs found near to a Suffolk school.The unexploded shells, found on Friday in Kesgrave High School, near Ipswich, were blown up in Orford Ness yesterday.

AN army major last night hailed the success of a “unique operation” to detonate two Second World War bombs found near to a Suffolk school.

The unexploded shells, found on Friday in Kesgrave High School, near Ipswich, were blown up in Orford Ness yesterday.

More than 150 homes were evacuated and a 400-metre exclusion zone set up as the explosives were moved from the school and taken to the Suffolk coast.

Army experts worked throughout Saturday and into yesterday morning to make the devices safe, before detonating them in controlled explosions at 3.10pm and 4.10pm.


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Major Keith Lowerson, based at Saffron Walden, said: “This operation has been unique, particularly to find two unexploded bombs side by side and facing the same way.

“Both were detonated successfully. We were well looked after by the National Trust, who allowed us to get rid of the explosives on their land.”

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A second bomb was found late on Saturday night buried three metres into the ground.

The first device had been found the previous day during an archaeological dig looking for Bronze Age artefacts on land recently purchased by the school.

Excavation of the two devices continued until 2am on Sunday, before they were removed later in the morning.

Major Lowerson, who led the investigation, codenamed Operation Zenith, said another sweep of the area is likely to be carried out next week to ensure no further undiscovered devices are in existence.

Chief superintendent Carl Puiy, of Suffolk police, praised householders in the area.

He said: “We would like to thank all local residents for their co-operation and patience, especially those people required to evacuate their homes.”

Mike Topliss, emergency planning officer at Suffolk Coastal District Council, who led the authority's response to the incident, believed it was one of the biggest evacuations carried out in Suffolk in recent years.

Jason Gillingham, of East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust, said a team of paramedics remained on standby throughout the day.

He said they helped evacuate five people and a cat as part of their role.

The bombs, which weighed a combined 2,000lbs and measured 1.5metres (4ft) long, were surrounded by an eight-metre high mound of earth to absorb the potential impact of a blast.

It is thought they would have been unloaded by Nazi bombers as they returned back to base during the Second World War.

Their discovery in Kesgrave was the second time in the space of two days that unexploded devices have been found, with another unearthed on Thursday in Lowestoft.

But Major Lowerson said it is rare for two bombs to be found in the same county within such a short space of time, saying his officers only usually deal with such incidents every six weeks.

Timeline: How events unfolded.

2.40pm Friday: Device found. Explosives experts called out and seal off the area.

Saturday morning: Work begins to excavate the devices and continues into the night.

Late Saturday night: A second device is found buried a further three metres into the ground.

9am, Sunday: Residents in the immediate area evacuated from their homes, eventually returning about noon.

11am, Sunday: Works begins to dig out the bombs.

12.15pm, Sunday: The devices are placed on to a low-loader and taken via a police escort to Orford Ness, via Aldeburgh.

3.10pm, Sunday: The first bomb is detonated, followed by the second about an hour later.

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