Any Danger UXB?

Graham alerted me to this utterly fascinating document a couple of weeks ago, but it’s taken me a while to get through it as it’s just so interesting. It’s an in-depth report, commissioned to find out the likelyhood of there being unexploded WWI and WWII bombs knocking around Greenwich Park while the Olympics are on.

Amazingly it concludes that there is a medium to high risk, which stretched my imagination a little to start with. It felt a bit like the consultants were covering their asses.  But, reading the report, I can see why they have come to that conclusion.  At least BACTEC will be able to say ‘I told you so’ if anything happens.

But, oh boy, the detail. I’m sure Stephen of Blitzwalkers knows all this already but for the rest of us, there’s all kinds of what I would call  goodies (if they weren’t about direct hits on Greenwich) in there – little windows into a world we can only imagine.

“As many ambulances as possible requested’ for the hit on the Maze Hill Searchlight Battery (which I didn’t even know existed.) “Fire at Vicarage” 19th April, 1941. Bomb fell thirty yards from back of house in King William Walk, 8th November 1940. Oddly, the direct hit on the Observatory is only mentioned as damage.

But it’s not just historical records – geographical conditions are taken into account, as well as the angle bombs might have fallen at which makes them harder to detect.

Apparently, it’s not just enemy bombs we need to take into consideration. Bits of Allied anti aircraft artillery rock up from time to time across the country – and the flower garden up by the deer was used for a covert anti-aircraft installation, though it’s hard to tell whether it was a defensive minefield, somewhere to store or make explosives  or just somewhere the Home Guard did a bit of drilling. If it’s the first, it’s possible there’s some contamination (perhaps that’s the reason why the flower garden isn’t being used for the events?)

BACTEC seems to think that the real risk of coming across any UXBs is in heavy drilling or digging, which we are assured will not happen, but they also say there’s a smaller risk of discovering one in much shallower work.  They say that they were unable to do a more detailed assessment because they were not party to the plans at the time.

If you take a peek at this fascinating document, don’t miss the appendices at the end – lots of maps, RAF and Luftwaffe aerial surveys, pictures and bomb-site info.

7 Comments to “Any Danger UXB?”

  1. I think the good people at BACTEC will have done the same as me – spent days on end trawling through the Civil Defence records at Greenwich Heritage Centre. The incidents mentioned are all detailed in the Incident Log. The version that I transcribed myself shows the basic details but the actual documents at the Archives go into a lot more detail. They’ve also got the bomb maps plus the aerial photos which make fascinating reading (or viewing).

  2. pat says:

    This sounds facinating just the sort of thing I keep meaning to go to the Local History Library to view.
    BUT how do I access it from your blog? The link takes me to the home page ok…but I can’t sseem to find the particular info about Greenwich.
    Help please

  3. Ah – I had exactly the same problem when Graham sent it to me. Here’s the raw address:

  4. gary the skinhead says:

    great blog, got any idea about the film adrian messenger filmed in greenwich?

  5. Anon says:

    Yes, the List of Adrian Messenger has got some wonderful shots of East Greenwich in the early 60s. Should be compulsory viewing for developers to see what has been lost – oh no, they don’t care. Too sad for the rest of us. Spoiler alert: not all the Hollywood stars in it are thought to have trodden Greenwich streets.

  6. pat says:

    Thanks Phantom….got it now!

  7. Nick Martin says:

    There also must be a few UXBs that the authorities know about, but can’t recover. I used to know a chap who lived in Bexleyheath, and he had a UXB under his house ! The thing had fallen between two walls of adjacent houses, and because the houses were built on gravel, the more they tried to dig the bomb out, the deeper it went. So it was left there, and is probably still there to this day. I know the geology of Greenwich is a little different to Bexleyheath, but what about all the bombs that landed in the soft mud of the Thames riverbed ?