Faye Hatcher explores the history of the Birdlip bombs
By Faye Hatcher
BBC Radio Gloucestershire
A number of WWII bombs were discovered on a housing development
The quiet village of Birdlip, Gloucestershire, came to a standstill on 7 July, 2010, when a cluster of 20 World War II phosphorous bombs were unearthed on a housing development.
Bomb disposal officers were called to the site after a digger hit one of the incendiary bombs which then caught fire.
The site is now safe, but who buried the bombs in the first place and why?
Bob Townsend, now in his 80s, has lived in Cold Slad near Birdlip all of his life. He believes he was part of the story behind the bombs.
As a 14 year old, on the same day as leaving Birdlip School, Bob was offered his first job:
When this thing about the bombs came up in the news the other week, I thought - 'I knew what that is' - especially when they said it was over in the corner.
"Mr Partridge, who was the local builder up the lane, was a governor and he stopped me in the street and said - 'you've left school today Bobby haven't you?' - and I said yes- 'well you be at my yard at 7.15 on Monday morning, and I'll give you a job'- and that's how it started.
"It was sometime between 1944-45 that I was working in the yard one day, and this chap was over in the far corner of the yard digging a hole.
"I happened to say to him [Mr Partridge] when we had our break - 'what was he digging the hole for?' - and he said - 'oh it's surplus stuff belonging to the Home Guard. I've had orders to bury it.'"
Were the Birdlip bombs buried by one of Churchill's secret Auxilliary Units?
"Being 14, I wasn't that interested, and so I didn't know what it was at the time.
"The chap, his name was Ivor James, was in his early 30s.
"He was in the Home Guard and he was the Home Guard dispatch rider when the war was on."
'Blown ourselves up'
So, was Bob surprised when he heard about the bombs being discovered?
"When this thing about the bombs came up in the news the other week, I thought - 'yeah, I knew what that is' - especially, when they said it was over in the corner.
"Funny I worked there all those years and we used to keep building materials over there, we walked over the hundreds of times, perhaps thousands of times.
"We never thought any more about it - we could have blown ourselves up for all we knew!"
Listen to Bob's full story on BBC Radio Gloucestershire withChris Baxter, from 9am on Friday, 23rd July, 2010. Plus hear from a man who believes the bombs were in fact buried by a member of Churchill's top secret Auxilliary Unit.
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