UK — Army and Navy bomb specialists tackle V2 rocket

Roy­al Navy and Army bomb dis­pos­al experts have suc­cess­ful­ly removed the rem­nants of a Ger­man V2 rock­et lodged in an Essex riv­er bed since the Sec­ond World War.

British ser­vice­men at work retriev­ing the V2 rock­et sec­tion at Har­wich [Pic­ture: Pet­ty Offi­cer Air­man (Pho­tog­ra­ph­er) Gaz Armes, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

A four-foot-long (1.2‑metre) sec­tion of the Ger­man Sec­ond World War mis­sile was pulled from mud­flats at low tide on the Riv­er Stour between Har­wich and Felixs­towe on Sat­ur­day, 31 March 2012. 

The six-man Navy team from South­ern Div­ing Unit 2 (SDU 2) in Portsmouth worked with the British Army’s 101 Engi­neer Reg­i­ment bomb dis­pos­al team to lift the sec­tion of weapon from the mud onto a barge. 

They had first exca­vat­ed around the low­est part of the V2 to dis­cov­er that the war­head sec­tion was not there — mean­ing there was no safe­ty risk to the local population. 

The Ven­turi sec­tion of the rock­et, named after a sci­en­tif­ic reac­tion that hap­pens when flu­id pass­es through a nar­row pipe, could now be donat­ed to the near­by sail­ing club who have passed it in the mud for decades. 

Lieu­tenant Dan Her­ridge, Offi­cer-in-Com­mand of SDU 2, said: 

“This was a suc­cess­ful result to the oper­a­tion and means peo­ple using the water­ways and liv­ing local­ly can have con­fi­dence that this was not a dan­ger­ous piece of ordnance. 

“We are grate­ful for the sup­port of our col­leagues from 101 Engi­neer Reg­i­ment for help­ing remove this sec­tion of the rocket.” 

At first the Roy­al Navy team was scep­ti­cal it was a V2 rock­et because the mis­siles plunged to earth at more than twice the speed of sound hav­ing reached heights of up to 128 miles (206 kilo­me­tres) above the earth’s sur­face – so nor­mal­ly there was noth­ing left of them. 

On clos­er inspec­tion the rock­et was indeed iden­ti­fied as a V2

The rock­et was sub­merged nose down and is pro­ject­ing about two feet out of the mud, around 300 feet (90 metres) from the Har­wich shoreline. 

The V2 rock­et was devel­oped by pio­neer­ing sci­en­tist Wern­er von Braun – who went on to be a key fig­ure behind the Amer­i­can effort to put a man on the moon. 

Built by con­cen­tra­tion camp pris­on­ers, more than 3,000 V2s were launched from the con­ti­nent at Lon­don, south-east Eng­land and the Bel­gian port of Antwerp – with the aim of demor­al­is­ing the civil­ian populace. 

The mis­sile attacks result­ed in the death of an esti­mat­ed 7,250 peo­ple, most­ly civil­ians. Of these, more than 2,750 were killed in Lon­don – and anoth­er 6,523 injured. 

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK 

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