Plymouth bomb on the move: Convoy carefully navigates city streets before huge WWII explosive is detonated at sea

23 February 2024, 12:57 | Updated: 23 February 2024, 17:43

A truck packed with sandbags carefully takes the WW2 bomb towards the coast
A truck packed with sandbags carefully takes the WW2 bomb towards the coast. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

A tense operation is under way to remove an unexploded Nazi bomb from a Plymouth garden so it can be 'disposed' at sea.

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Police were called on Tuesday morning to St Michael Avenue in the Keyham area after the unexploded bomb was discovered in someone's back garden.

Bomb disposal experts from the Army and Royal Navy arrived to assess the device and determine the best approach to deal with the object.

They found that there was too high a risk of significant damage if the bomb was detonated in the garden, including the potential destruction of a number of houses.

The planned route for the military convoy
The planned route for the military convoy. Picture: Handout

The bomb is now being taken by military convoy to the Torpoint Ferry slipway to be disposed of at sea.

Residents living within 300 metres of the route the bomb were given until 2pm on Friday to evacuate from their homes. It is the biggest evacuation since World War II.

They were told they will be able to return by 5pm.

Read more: More than 1,000 evacuated after WW2-era bomb discovered at Plymouth home during garden building work

Read more: Vladimir Putin 'has Parkinson's and there is something fundamentally wrong with him', ex-MI6 boss tells LBC

Members of HM Coastguard Search and Rescue gather after homes were evacuated when a suspected Second World War explosive device was discovere
Members of HM Coastguard Search and Rescue gather after homes were evacuated when a suspected Second World War explosive device was discovere. Picture: Alamy

The Ministry of Defence said: "One of the largest UK peacetime evacuation operations since WW2 is underway in Plymouth, where the British Army and Royal Navy have been working round the clock to make safe a 500kg unexploded bomb.

"Personnel are working with Plymouth City Council & emergency services to evacuate residents."

In a statement, the Plymouth City Council said: "Following more information about the device and after considering all options, including a controlled detonation on site, partners have agreed that the safest and least impactful option is to remove the device from St Michael Avenue and travel to the Torpoint Ferry slipway - for the bomb to be disposed of at sea.

A police cordon at the scene near St Michael Avenue, Plymouth, where residents have been evacuated
A police cordon at the scene near St Michael Avenue, Plymouth, where residents have been evacuated. Picture: Alamy
Residents were sent an emergency 'severe' alert to their phones
Residents were sent an emergency 'severe' alert to their phones. Picture: Alamy

"Highly trained bomb disposal experts will carefully remove the device from the property and it will be transported by road in a military convoy, west along Parkside and Royal Navy Avenue, joining at the junction on Saltash Road to continue south joining Albert Road, turning right along Park Avenue and heading down Ferry Road to the Torpoint Ferry terminal.

"However, in order for this to happen, we need support from residents in the area along the route.

"Anyone who lives within 300 metres of the route will need to leave their homes today for about three hours."

Authorities work after Second World War explosive device is discovered in a garden in Keyham

The main trainline has been closed as it runs through the cordoned off area. Meanwhile ferries have been suspended and buses diverted.

Schools and nurseries in the area have also been closed while the operation is carried out and businesses within the cordon have been told to evacuate.

The Army are removing the unexploded bomb
The Army are removing the unexploded bomb. Picture: Alamy
A military vehicle at the scene near St Michael Avenue
A military vehicle at the scene near St Michael Avenue. Picture: Alamy

"Once the operation is complete, the police will begin to reopen the roads," the council said.

"Everyone must avoid the area during this period.

"We are very grateful for the patience of residents at this difficult time and all agencies are doing everything they can to minimise any ongoing disruption. We will aim to keep residents informed throughout the operation."

Police officers at a cordon after homes were evacuated when a suspected Second World War explosive device was discovered
Police officers at a cordon after homes were evacuated when a suspected Second World War explosive device was discovered. Picture: Alamy

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