Finding old unexploded WWII era bombs: preferred to defuse it in place or move it first?

Wow. And that was just one bomb dropped in the area. Can you imagine several of those being dropped on the town in one raid?

What a hell it must have been to live through the Blitz and the Allied bombing of Germany.

As Winston Churchill wrote in “The Second World War”, the blitz would have been much more damaging if it had happened later in the war – the German bombs from '40-'41 were much smaller than what the Allies were later dropping on Germany.

Most “cannonballs” were what were called round shot/solid shot. They were solid iron balls in a specific weight- usually a multiple of four, IIRC. So a 12-pounder was a gun that fired a 12 lb round shot. Which also means that the shot was right around 4.5" in diameter.

Not coincidentally, that’s where the track and field event “shot put” comes from. While the ancient Greeks did something similar with stones of various sizes, at some point cannonballs were used for the competition, which is likely why traditionally 8, 12 and 16 lb shot have been used.

In one of Len Deighton’s nonfiction books about WWII (probably “Blood, Tears and Folly”) he describes an older couple in a London neighborhood who during the Blitz found a large metal object in their back garden. Rather than trouble the authorities, the husband built an elaborate wooden platform with steps over the object (which was of course an unexploded bomb) so that they could clamber over it to get to their shed.

Apparently this story did end well.

Just don’t be this guy (or his father):
https://darwinawards.com/darwin/darwin2010-05.html

Wow, this old thread popped up outta nowhere on my feed. I’ve had a few years to sleep on another post, and reiterate the main thoughts.

There are two main principles with removing the threat of a UXO: render safe* procedures, and then ultimtae disposal. The goal is the safest remediation of the threat. Depending on the local area, if you can dispose of the UXO in situ, without any extra measures, then skip the RSPs, and dispose of it in place (lots of times it’s a BIP (or Blow-in-Place). Retention for evidence may come into play too. * Note: British EOD may use slightly different acronyms.

For example,

  • A 155mm HE round on former-gunnery ranges, with no immediate structures in the vicinity? “The area can withstand a high-order detonation.” Skip RSP, and proceed directly to disposal. One of my calls.
  • Jettisoned, fused, presumed-armed Mk82 that lands next to the Command Post? RSP the bomb, so it can be safely moved to a safe site for eventual disposal (normally destruction).
  • Teenager making pipe bombs for his pals in Mom’s basement? Police will RSP the device, remove any potential explosives (disposal) and retain the non-explosive device for investigation.

Bottom line: the root cause of danger in UXOs is the explosives, not necessarily the firing train. Even if you RSP the UXO, you still have to eventually dispose of them.

There are differences between Military EOD and Bomb Squads, normally nomenclature only, but in EOD, I was not overly concerned with evidence. Police Bomb Squads are interested in retaining components for evidence in investigations. Given situations like this, with munitions, military EOD is called out because we have the training and equipment to handle things (here in the US, suspected military munitions are always called to the nearest military EOD unit, regardless of it’s type). Things get a little “Posse Comitatus-ey” with EOD responding to criminal explosive devices though. Here in the US, military resources cannot be used for law enforcement. However, if law enforcement called in a suspect military munition, we’d respond. This varies according to nations’ policies.

Long story short, and to the OP: My preference is to dispose of a UXO in place when possible–less steps, less “time on the ‘X’” to get hurt. Site conditions may force RSP and transportation to disposal.

This reminds me of some DIY-ers that try to handle UXOs. Things get “real stupid, real quick,” when it’s amateur hour.

Tripler
I have mad props for HRM ATOs.

As well as the firebombing of Japanese cities.

I heard firsthand accounts of those.

My grandmother’s father (died in the mid-1960s) used to use dynamite to clear rocks in his jobs digging wells and graves. My grandmother used to tell me that he buried a jar of dynamite at a certain spot in the yard. I live in his old house, and I’m around 50 feet from the spot right now. I sometimes wonder if it is really down there.

This concerns me. The nitroglycerin tends to exude over time out of its stabilizer, making it more sensitive to shock. Be careful if/where you dig.

Tripler
I don’t know how far you wanna go in remediating a rumor. . .

I actually have yucca planted on the spot. Started off as a 6-inch pup and now is a big cluster of 6-foot plants. Nobody is going to be digging there any time soon.

The standard farming use for dynamite was removing stumps…

Wouldn’t work on yucca.

I’ll see if I have a leftover, red-triangular sign marked “MINES” that you can hang on that yucca.

That way, you’ll never have any problem as long as you own the property.

Tripler
'Cause that yucca is “YOURS”.

My former brother-in-law (local Deputy Sheriff - also on the SWAT team) owned a small cabin that used to belong to his grandparents. He was cleaning it out when he discovered a CASE of dynamite tucked in a corner. The cabin was near the house his aunt and uncle had built on the property, so BIP was not an option. The dynamite was determined to have been purchased in the '40s or '50s IIRC (I know it was REALLY old).

Several years later, I was at a party where the local EOD guy was a guest and mentioned the story, he had worked the “situation”. He said that job was the most nervous he’d ever been in 20+ years of EOD work. I forget the details, but they did something to stabilize it while they moved it into the armored-thingy they used for transport, held their breath all the way to the range, then blew it up. He said the explosion was spectacular.