I’m eternally grateful to an anonymous reader who’s been trawling through old newspapers looking for the report of an event he recalls from his childhood. Occurring just up the road in Walsall Wood, this find caused no small controversy at the time – one can only imagine the destruction should the device have actually exploded. I bet it made the guy driving the excavator sweat a bit.
I just love the apparently laconic nature of both Captain Moore and Superintendent Mann, who address the issue as if it were no more than a tiny disruption to their day. I hope one or both of them were pipe smokers – I could just imagine these seemingly unflappable gents pulling on a bowl of Erinmore while musing on those damned Luftwaffe pilots.
I’m interested in the mention of an ‘Underground munitions store in Linley Wood, Aldridge’ – does anyone have any more info about that? Never heard it mentioned before. I’m aware of the postwar scrap operation at the Fox Covey, but this sounds more military in nature.
The contributor speculates that the bombers may have been aiming to cause the pits to collapse. I wonder if they were hoping to hole the canal. Perhaps we’ll never know…
This report is taken from the Walsall Observer of April 11th, 1968. I’ve transcribed it as the original is only barely legible. Thanks again to the reader who supplied this gem, do any of you readers remember the incident?
Bomb experts rendered ‘Hermann’ harmless
Residents of Walsall Wood heaved a sigh of relief on Tuesday evening as the 2,240lb. unexploded bomb found in a quarry off Boatmans Lane was pronounced “dead.”
Named a “Hermann” after the 20 stone Luftwaffe chief, Hermann Goering, it was discovered by an excavator driver on Monday morning some 20ft down a face. It was 7ft in length. As soon as the workmen realised what they had discovered the police were called and the area was sealed off to await the arrival of Army experts.
A preliminary inspection by ordnance officers revealed that it was a job for specialists – and No. 1 Army Bomb Disposal Unit was called in from Felixstowe, Norfolk.
Capt. Tom Moore identified the bomb from the yellow-painted band around it and from its construction, and decided that the 2000lbs of high explosive would have to be steamed out.
The circular mechanical fuse was in a dangerous state, he said.
When the special equipment arrived on Tuesday morning, the main Lichfield Road was sealed off from between Shelfield and Walsall Wood, and police operated emergency diversions from 11a.m. until the bomb was removed seven hours later.
It was decided not to evacuate nearby houses – though residents were asked to leave their windows open, since the blast could have caused damage up to half a mile away if the bomb had gone up.
Once Capt. Moore had completed the hazardous operation – the biggest his unit had undertaken in two years – workmen hoisted the huge casing on to a bed of sand bags in a 3-ton truck.
It was taken by road to an isolated Army training ground on moorland near Leek in North Staffordshire and destroyed yesterday (Wednesday) morning.
It is thought that the bomb may have been aimed at the nearby yards of the Aldridge Brick and Tile Company, which were bombed in 1941, or at an underground munitions store in Linley Wood, Aldridge.
Yesterday (Wednesday), Superintendent A. Mann, chief of Aldridge police, said the operation had gone very smoothly. “Obviously we cannot make these diversions without some minor inconveniences,” he said. “However, I do not think there was much of a hold-up while they were in operation.”