Unexploded World War II-Era Bomb Found In British Woman’s Garden

Photo Credit: Ben Birchall / PA Images / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Ben Birchall / PA Images / Getty Images

Thousands of residents were forced to evacuate after a father working in his daughter’s garden in Plymouth uncovered a bomb dating back to World War II. The unexploded munition was safely removed and detonated at sea, leaving those from the town with an interesting tale to tell their friends and relatives.

Bomb disposal experts standing near vehicles and a "POLICE ROAD CLOSED" sign
Emergency workers gathered on Albert Road, near the Torpoint Ferry crossing in Plymouth, where a suspected World War II-era bomb, discovered in a garden on St. Michael Avenue in Keyham, was taken by a military convoy, February 2024. (Photo Credit: Ben Birchall / PA Images / Getty Images)

The World War II-era bomb, which weighed approximately 500 kg, was uncovered while Ian Jary was digging in his daughter’s back garden on St. Michael Avenue, in Plymouth. Speaking with The Daily Mail, the 57-year-old recalled the moment he hit the munition “with his spade” while he was digging for hard ground during work on a house extension.

“We actually found it about a week ago. It was just outside the building line and the building inspector said we needed [a] trench of around 650mm,” he told the publication. “I hit something with a spade but we weren’t sure what it was at first.

“Since then we’ve had so much rain, the bank collapsed, then there was way more rain on Friday and it’s been revealed more and more,” he continued. “It’s about one metre long and half a metre in diameter. We’ve found a cap and a round circle threat sheared off or broke off.

“By this point my wife said we really should just call the police and alert them.”

Upon being alerted, a vast perimeter was set up, with Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) experts from the British Army and Royal Navy arriving shortly after.

They then worked to determine the World War II-era bomb’s condition and whether it could be safely moved from its location in the garden. When it was determined moving the explosive would be a low-risk endeavor, a convoy was assembled to transport it to a slipway near HMNB Davenport.

It was then towed out to sea, just past the breakwater, and submerged to a safe depth, after which a diver was sent into the water to attach an explosive charge.

British Royal Navy Bomb Disposal team members riding in a small boat off the coast of Plymouth
British Royal Navy Bomb Disposal Team leaving the slip to Torpoint Ferry as they dispose of the World War II-era bomb discovered in a Keyham garden, February 2024. (Photo Credit: UK Ministry of Defence / Press Release)

Around 10,000 locals were forced to leave their residences in what the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence called “one of the largest evacuation operations since the end of the Second World War.” A message was sent to all cellphones, warning people to avoid the area on February 23, 2024.

Residents were offered shelter at the local library and in community centers. By late afternoon, the removal operation had been completed and everyone was allowed to return home.

Defense Secretary Grant Shapps expressed his gratitude to all involved, saying in a statement, “I would like to express my thanks to all our personnel involved in this highly complex operation, who worked both night and day this week to keep the public safe and minimise the risk of damage, as well as the public for their patience and cooperation.

“The success of this operation is testament to the level of skill and expertise across our armed forces, as well as the bravery and fortitude of our personnel when faced with high-risk situations and working under extreme pressure.”

Tudor Evans, the leader of Plymouth City Council, added, “I think it is fair to say that the last few days will go down in history for Plymouth. This war-time bomb has really brought out war-time spirit, people coming together to really support each other and whilst it has been really tough – we got through it.”

Military vehicle driving through an intersection in a residential neighborhood
Bomb disposal experts remove a World War II-era bomb near St. Michael Avenue in Plymouth, February 2024. (Photo Credit: Matt Keeble / PA Images / Getty Images)

It was later determined that the World War II-era bomb found in the Jary’s garden was an SC 500, an air-dropped Sprengbombe Cylindrish munition equipped by the Luftwaffe throughout the conflict. It typically contained a mixture of 60 percent Trotyl and 40 percent amatol, but could be filled with other chemicals, should the need arise.

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Once the dust had settled on the entire situation, Natalie Jary, who owns the residence where the explosive was found, apologized to the residents of Plymouth and thanked those involved in the bomb’s removal.

Clare Fitzgerald

Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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