*** war and social upheaval: World War II air campaign -- Battle of Britain the Blitz

World War II unexpoded bombs
Figure 1.-- Here we see a scene in London during the Blitz, probably about Novvember 1940--notice the woman's heavy coat. The London City Police have posted unexploded bomb signs. The boy does not seem too concerned. He must have lived nearby. His parents are allowing him to play right at the perimter of the blast zone. It is a good exanple how very quickly Londoners came to take a nonchalant attitude toward the UXBs. Click on theimage to see a 'controlled' explosion of a UXB in Exeter (March 2021).

Battle of Britain: Unexploded Bombs (UXBs)

The Luftwaffe dropped hundreds of thousands of bombs were dropped on Britain during World War II. Most of them were dropped during the Blitz, but there was more limited bombung in 1942-43. London was the main target, but all the major and most snaller cities were hit. Most of course exoloded, but some did not. Most of them of course exploded upon contact, but some did not. We are not talking about small numbers. One estimate suggests that 10 percent of the bombs did not explode, but as the War progressed, we suspect that the Germans imorived their bombs. We are not sure how accurate that was--it sounds very high. During the Blitz in World War II an unexploded bomb was referred to as a UXB. With the advent of the War, Air Raid Precautions (ARP) was responsible for dealing with the unexploded bombs (UXB) The first was found only 2 months after the start of the War (November 1939). Really large numbers did not occur until the Blitz. When an unexploded bomb was discovered, an ARP warden would arrange evcuatioins and closed the roads within a 600 yard radius. ARP would inform the Bomb Disposal Unit (BDU). Specially trained men from the Royal Engineers, always men, would be sent to remove the fuse. This was the pocedure because traporting a still fusedbomb through a city was too dngerous. At the climax of the Battle of Britain there were 3,759 UXBs in London (September 1940). At first the UXBs had faulty detentanors, but then the Germans began dropping bombs with delayed fuses. This was to increase the daangers to the BDU teams. It also caused continuing problems in the city as the area had to be cordoned off and streets closed. The Goverment set up an Unexploded Bomb Committee (UXBC) so scientists and other experts could pick up all new fuses and other mechanisms the Hermans were developing auch as anti-handling fuze. The UXBC developoed an effective method of handling this develish devised. The British public soon got used to even the UXB danger. They refused to let their lives be permanerntly interrupted by unexploded bombs. There are all kinds of photographs of children playing next to UXB warning sites. Given the number of bombs dropped, it is not surprising that not the UXBs have been found. Given the height from which the bombs were dropped and weight, many bore deep into the ground. And with all the debris and shattered bulings, not all these unexploded were discovered. Buildings have been build on top of are around undiscivered UXBs. And they are still being discovered. This is not just a British problem. In fact, it is a much greater problem in Germany. The Blitz was a terrible orderal for the British, but the Allied strategic Bombing Campaign (1942-45) was longer and dropped farn more bombs on Gernany than the Germans dropped on Britain. And the bombs being found now can no longer be defused.


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Created: 5:06 PM 6/1/2021
Last updated: 5:06 PM 6/1/2021