'Hundreds' of bombs buried in region

HUNDREDS of unexploded Second World War bombs are probably still buried across Suffolk and north Essex, according to new research.

Russell Claydon

HUNDREDS of unexploded Second World War bombs are probably still buried across Suffolk and north Essex, according to new research.

Particular danger spots for developers drilling into the ground have been highlighted as Lowestoft, where official figures estimate 528 highly explosive devices were dropped, Ipswich (316) and the Frinton and Walton area (205).

It is thought at least 300 of the bombs dropped over the two areas have never exploded.

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A team of five researchers trawled through Ministry of Defence papers and national and local authority archives, taking more than two years to compile maps for the whole UK.

Mike Sainsbury, managing director for Oxfordshire-based site investigation firm Zetica, which has just finished the painstaking mapping exercise, said it was known that at least 10% of the plotted bombs were likely not to have detonated.

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He said: “We also know these figures were always understated, partly deliberately - to protect morale at the time - and partly because there were many bombs dropped that were not seen. We can probably increase the official figures by at least 30%, and in some cases by 50%.

“They are only a risk if someone is say, developing a site. Bombs left in the ground will do no more than decompose. It is only when someone starts drilling bore holes that they could detonate.”

The maps are now available to download off the internet as part of the underground-hazard plotting company's services to contractors.

Mr Sainsbury added the East Anglian coast was an area that they had expected to find a high amount of bombs, but the actual number did surprise them.

“The Suffolk and Essex coastline contained some important targets and was an easy area for the Germans to get to.

“Our bomb risk maps are the first port of call for anyone interested in evaluating the risk of unexploded ordnance on their sites.”

The maps reveal that nearly 1,450 bombs were dropped in Suffolk, while 1,800 were officially reported across the border in Norfolk.

A 1,000lb German SC type shell from 1942 that washed up on Felixstowe beach in April was the last major device to be found in the region.

It caused more than 1,000 residents to be temporarily evacuated from their seaside homes, with experts from the Royal Navy's Bomb Disposal Unit declaring it as one of the largest ever to be found on Britiain's coastline. It was towed out to sea and exploded in an operation that lasted more than a week, shooting a 150ft plume of water into the air.

Density of bombs per borough

Borough High explosive Anti-personnel Incendiary

Aldeburgh 122 0 1

Bungay 31 0 0

Bury St Edmunds 32 0 1

Felixstowe 181 0 0

Ipswich 316 2 24

Leiston cum Sizewell 83 0 0

Lowestoft 528 6 15

Newmarket 72 0 1

Southwold 51 2 7

Woodbridge 34 0 0

Chelmsford 198 10 105

Frinton & Walton 205 8 13

*on average, 10% of high explosive and 50% of anti-personnel and incendiary failed to explode.

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