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A blast from the past



By JAMES CLENCH


HMS Daedalus, Hampshire.

A GIANT pipe bomb has been found beneath a Battle of Britain runway — 60 years after it was buried there.

Experts say the 60ft device could have gone off at any moment — wrecking houses up to a mile away.

The bomb was planted at the Royal Navy’s airbase at Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire, during World War Two.

It would have been detonated if the Germans had invaded Britain, to stop them using the runway.

The base, known by the Navy as HMS Daedalus, has now been sold to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to house a new search and rescue helicopter.

Stunned surveyors stumbled across the bomb during routine checks.

Bomb disposal experts raced to the airbase — but it will take them until JUNE to make the device safe.

Residents will then be evacuated while a series of controlled explosions are carried out.

During the 1940 Battle of Britain the airbase was home to Sea Hurricanes and Seafire — the Navy’s version of the Spitfire.

But the south coast airfield would have become a key base for German planes if the Luftwaffe had won the battle of the skies.

The plan was for the last British serviceman fleeing the base to remotely detonate a series of pipe bombs — some up to 100ft long — planted across the entire airfield.

Canadian quarrymen were used to place the devices, which they burrowed deep into the ground at an angle.

The bombs were marked on maps and should all have been removed after the war — but some slipped through the net.

An MoD spokesman said: “These things happen during the fog of war.”

The Portsmouth Naval Gliding Club has been ordered to stay off the site.

Chief flying instructor Tony World said: “We were told not to continue gliding — we were warned to not even walk on the grass.”

There was a similar scare 15 years ago at the base, once earmarked as a holding centre for asylum seekers.

Worried neighbour Kay Newsom, who was evacuated for a week back then, said: “If one bomb slipped through, then how many more have? This isn’t a happy situation.”

thesun.co.uk