Research maps out unexploded bomb locations

ALMOST 30 unexploded bombs from the Second World War could still be posing a threat to developers in Huntingdonshire. Maps released by site investigation firm Zetica suggest that there could be at least 29 unexploded bombs in Huntingdon and St Neots alone

ALMOST 30 unexploded bombs from the Second World War could still be posing a threat to developers in Huntingdonshire.

Maps released by site investigation firm Zetica suggest that there could be at least 29 unexploded bombs in Huntingdon and St Neots alone - although the actual figure could be much higher.

Zetica uses local authority records, Ministry of Defence figures and the national archives, among other methods, to calculate the risk of unexploded bombs across most of the United Kingdom.

Records state that 156 bombs were dropped on St Neots and 135 on Huntingdon.


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However, Mike Sainsbury, the firm's managing director, told The Hunts Post that the figures are unreliable and are likely to be much higher.

"It's to be expected, considering the time the records were kept. Unfortunately a number of archives were also bombed."

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Mr Sainsbury said officials also kept the numbers low to boost morale and make the enemy believe that their raids were less successful. He said that an officer in charge of collating the information at the time once described the figures as "tales and fairytales".

Bob Burn-Murdoch, curator of the Norris Museum in St Ives, believes the railway lines and Little Barford power station, near St Neots, were potential targets for German bombers.

"If the bomber got lost, they'd see a railway line and bomb it," he said.

Several significant air raids took place in Huntingdonshire during the war.

On November 6, 1940, 13 high explosive bombs were dropped on Great Paxton, leaving a burst water main but, fortunately, no casualties.

It is unclear why Great Paxton became a target, but Mr Burn-Murdoch believes the German pilot must have been aiming for the nearby railway line.

On September 27, 1940, 25 high explosive and 50 incendiary bombs were dropped on St Neots, and an army camp on St Neots common was hit in January 1941. No one hurt in both raids.

Huntingdon was hit by 47 'butterfly bombs' - notoriously difficult to defuse - on August 12, 1941, also with no casualties. However, on August 22, 1942, seven people were killed when German planes dropped four bombs on Ramsey.

Mr Sainsbury said that towns were occasionally bombed by mistake when bombs missed their intended targets and when planes dropped their load on the way home.

He added that some pilots used a 'tip and run' tactic, bombing areas to avoid travelling further towards a more dangerous target, although Mr Burn-Murdoch believes that it was likely to be "failures of navigation, rather than failure of morale".

Around 10 per cent of bombs dropped during the war remain unexploded. With resources stretched during the war, one unexploded bomb that hit the Woolpack roundabout, near Swavesey, in 1940 was left for two years before it was defused.

INFORMATION: Visit the Zetica website at www.zetica.com

nCan you remember the bombing raids in Huntingdonshire? Or can you recall the targets? Write with your memories to The Hunts Post, 30 High Street, Huntingdon PE29 3TB or e-mail editor@huntspost.co.uk

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