Biggest WW2 Bomb Explodes in River As Divers Try To Defuse It

Biggest WW2 Bomb Explodes in River As Divers Try To Defuse It
Credit: BBC News

In an extraordinary event that sounds like it’s straight out of a blockbuster war movie, the largest World War Two bomb ever discovered underwater unexpectedly detonated while bomb disposal experts attempted to defuse it. The incident occurred in a channel leading to the port of Szczecin in northwest Poland, involving a massive “Tallboy” bomb weighing a staggering 5.4 tons.

The Tallboy bomb, uncovered in September 2019, was a relic from a bygone era that still harbored enough explosive power to pose a significant threat nearly 80 years after the end of World War II. The bomb disposal operation, carried out in October 2020, was a tense affair from the start. Naval experts aimed to neutralize the explosive through a method known as remote deflagration, intending to burn the explosive charge without triggering an actual detonation. However, in a twist of fate, the process escalated into a full-blown explosion.

The scene was tense and fraught with danger, as the experts realized the enormity of the task at hand. With 2,400 kg of explosives packed inside, the bomb’s detonation was not only a loud declaration of its lingering potency but also a reminder of the lasting scars of war buried beneath the surface.

Remarkably, no one was injured during the unexpected detonation. Over 750 residents had been evacuated, and a 2.4-kilometer exclusion zone had been established as precautions. The Navy spokesperson, Lieutenant Commander Grzegorz Lewandowski, confirmed the safety of all involved, noting that divers were well outside the danger zone when the bomb went off.

The explosion not only neutralized the bomb, rendering it no longer a threat to the shipping channel, but also sent shockwaves—both literal and metaphorical—through the town of Swinoujscie, where residents felt the blast’s impact. This town, part of Germany during World War II, was the location where the RAF had dropped the bomb in an attempt to sink the Lützow warship in 1945.

Lt. Cmdr. Lewandowski had previously described the mission as a world first, emphasizing the unprecedented nature of defusing such a well-preserved, large-scale ordnance underwater. The bomb’s dangerous potential was underscored by the fact that any vibration or pressure change could trigger an explosion—a risk that ultimately became a reality.

This incident highlights the enduring legacy of wartime ordnance and the continued risks they pose decades after the last shots were fired. As the world moves further away from those turbulent times, the unexpected detonation of the Tallboy bomb serves as a potent reminder of the past’s ability to resurface in the most dramatic ways.