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Naval bomb team deals with wartime V2 missile found off Harwich

 Naval bomb team deals with wartime V2 missile found off Harwich

29/03/2012

Royal Navy bomb disposal experts are making safe a World War 2 German missile unearthed in the mud off Harwich. A six-strong team from Portsmouth was called out to Essex to deal with the V2 missile – fired at Britain from the continent in 1944 or 1945 as part of Hitler’s revenge for the bombing of Germany.

Our guys have never seen anything like this before and probably never will again. It’s a very unusual beast indeed.
Lt Dan Herridge, Southern Diving Unit 2

This encrusted black and grey lump of metal is one of Hitler’s wonder weapons – a V2 missile, and it’s being rendered safe right now by Royal Navy bomb disposal experts in Essex.

The wartime weapon – fired from the European mainland in 1944 or early 1945 – is submerged nose-down in coastal mud flats on the River Stour between Felixstowe and Harwich.

Local fishermen are understood to have known about the missile for decades and even used to moor their boats to it.

A six-man team from Southern Diving Unit 2, based at Horsea Island, Portsmouth was called out yesterday afternoon. A 40-metre exclusion zone has been set up.

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

“This is not going to be a job that’s done overnight. People don’t think they’ve ever found a V-2 intact like this before but due to the nature of the beast we don’t know whether this one is definitely intact.

“Our guys have never seen anything like this before and probably never will again. It’s a very unusual beast indeed.”

At first the RN team was sceptical because the missiles plunged to earth at more than twice the speed of sound having reached heights of up to 128 miles above the earth’s surface – so normally there was nothing left of them.

But on closer inspection it was identified as a V2. It is submerged nose down and is projecting about two feet out of the mud, around 300ft from the Harwich shoreline. It is not known whether the explosive is still present.

The bomb team led by Lt Herridge is expected to remain at the scene for some time and may need to bring in a barge and dredging gear to get the missile out of the mud.

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 V-2s 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.

By contrast, however, perhaps as many 20,000 prisoners forced to build the weapons died as a result of the inhuman conditions in which the Nazis made them live and work at the Dora-Mittelbau camp in Germany’s Harz mountains.

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