Second World War bomb detonated in Exeter leaving hundreds unable to return home

March 01, 2021

Hundreds of residents from properties surrounding the site where a Second World War German bomb was detonated are still not allowed back in their homes.

The device, believed to be a 1,000kg "Hermann" bomb, was discovered on a building site on private land to the west of the University of Exeter campus on Friday.

Initially, a 100m (328ft) cordon was put in place, but this was extended to 400m (1,312ft) on Saturday at the request of the Royal Navy bomb disposal team.

Residents at about 2,600 properties around Glenthorne Road, including 1,400 university students, were evacuated.

The device was destroyed in a controlled explosion on Saturday night with the blast being heard from several miles away.

The original cordon has reduced but several hundred residents remain away from their homes, including 500 students.

Exeter City Council said no decision had yet been made on when the cordon would be lifted.

"The council thanks residents for their patience and will publish updates as soon as they become available," a spokesman said.

"The council is asking those residents who live within the reduced cordon who haven't been put up in hotels to contact the council."

Dr Todd Gray, a historian at the University of Exeter, said the bomb was most likely to have been dropped by the Luftwaffe in April or May 1942 during a series of attacks known as the "Baedeker" raids, which were carried out on several historic cities.

"In total there were 19 air raids on the city but those in the spring of 1942 caused extraordinary damage and a high loss of life," he said.

"In total nearly 300 Exonians lost their lives and 1,734 buildings were destroyed. Another 18,849 properties were damaged.

"Thousands of incendiary bombs and 80 to 100 high-explosive bombs were dropped on Exeter in the final raid. Around 40 high explosive bombs did not detonate."

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