Military Safely Detonates Unexploded WWII Bomb Found Under Plymouth House After Nerve-Wracking Retrieval Mission

In a tense retrieval operation, the Ministry of Defence successfully detonated a World War II bomb discovered under a house in Plymouth.

The unexploded Nazi device was found by a father while digging foundations for his daughter’s extension on February 20.

The delicate military operation involved evacuating hundreds of offices, shops, schools, and houses, marking one of the largest UK peacetime evacuations.

The Retrieval Process:

After the bomb was located, a four-hour operation ensued, culminating in the successful loading of the explosive into a container and transporting it out to sea beyond the breakwater.

This meticulous process involved a nerve-shredding journey through Plymouth’s narrow streets on the back of a lorry, with 10,320 people and 4,300 properties within the cordon advised to either stay indoors or evacuate.

Why the Sea Detonation?

The decision to detonate the bomb underwater was made to minimize potential damage to homes and mitigate the risk to lives.

The explosive, weighing 500kg, posed a significant threat if detonated in Plymouth’s Keyham area.

By transporting it to sea and detonating it underwater, military chiefs aimed to create a controlled explosion, reducing the risk of damage to people and property.

Historical Context:

Believed to have been dropped during the Plymouth Blitz in 1941 by the Nazis, the bomb had been buried for decades. The devastating 1941 attack on the naval city claimed 76 lives, making it the deadliest incident during the Blitz in Plymouth.

The city’s HM Naval Base Devonport, just 800 meters from the bomb’s location, was a prime target for Luftwaffe bombers during World War II.

Community Response and Evacuation:

Residents endured a challenging evacuation, with over 3,250 people forced to leave their homes in an exclusion zone.

The operation disrupted lives, prompting an emotional response from locals, with some expressing concerns about insurance coverage and potential damage to their properties.

Emergency Alert and Evacuation Challenges:

The emergency alert system was utilized to issue a ‘severe’ warning to locals via text, a historic first outside of a test run.

However, challenges arose as some residents resisted leaving their homes, citing multiple pets with additional needs, health issues, or concerns about leaving animals alone.

Successful Operation and Appreciation:

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps praised the bravery and fortitude of personnel involved in the highly complex operation, acknowledging the patience and cooperation of the public.

The bomb was safely detonated underwater, marking the conclusion of a massive logistical challenge that involved the cooperation of various agencies, military, and the public.


The successful detonation of the WWII bomb in Plymouth represents a triumph of careful planning and execution by the Ministry of Defence and emergency responders.

The community’s resilience, despite challenges and uncertainties, underscores the collective effort to ensure public safety and mitigate the potential impact of historical wartime remnants on modern life.

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