Bomb scare a case of mistaken identity - it was a rusty pipe
- Credit: Archant
Bomb dispersal experts spent only minutes in March tonight determining that a suspected explosive device was in fact a rusty pipe.
It’s discovery earlier in the day prompted a massive emergency scare with part of Norwood Road closed off between the Costcutter convenience store and the junction with Hundred Road.
Throughout the evening some residents were alerted to a possible evacuation as police sealed off the area to passing traffic whilst awaiting the bomb disposal unit.
The ‘device’ was discovered earlier today in a back garden near to the Whitemoor marshalling yards.
Police closed the area off from late afternoon and with bomb disposal experts some distance away, they began, evacuation became likely.
Cllr Jan French said she had been contacted and was helping to co-ordinate the possible opening of the George Campbell leisure centre for evacuees.
She said they were also trying to get key holders so that the GER Club and the Braza Club could temporarily open for residents.
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“We have no idea of the nature of the device but every precaution is being taken,” she said.
In the end the bomb disposal team spent only 10 minutes at the scene before declaring the area safe.
It is thought the suspicious item was unearthed whilst a workman was looking for a water leak.
The area has always been on high alert for suspect devices: between 1940 and 1944, there were 137 incidents involving aerial bombing which occurred in the former isle of Ely, mostly around March and Wisbech.
Several hundred high explosive and thousands of incendiary bombs also a few oil bombs, also a few oil bombs and land mines were dropped by the Luftwaffe. .
Five high explosive bombs fell on Norwood Road, destroying six homes and killing five people.
Local historian Trevor Bevis recalled in an article for the Cambs Times six years ago that the bombing targeted railway lines a few miles from Whitemoor railway marshalling yards at March, the object to disrupt rail traffic in and out of March.
“This had little effect and damaged lines were quickly repaired by specialised gangs,” he said.
Thousands of tonnes of war materials passed through Whitemoor, the largest bidirectional rail yard in the country, partly equipped by German firms.
“The Luftwaffe were ordered to leave Whitemoor intact though they went near to it and machine gunned the crossing at Wisbech Road, March, and strafed trains at Murrow and Wimblington and bombed lines at Manea,” he said.
It was planned to use Whitemoor when, as was expected, the enemy invaded Britain. March streets were strafed.
Railway decoys were bombed and the worst incidents occurred at March and Wisbech.
Thirty were injured and houses were bombed at Wisbech and at least one person was killed.
Mr Bevis recalled: “I moved from one of the houses a month beforehand.
“Five Luftwaffe crew baled out over March and I saw them waiting to be picked up on March bridge.
“They were out of the war and as happy as sandboys!”
He said a Wellington bomber crashed in a pit at Whitemoor killing all crew.
Twenty allied and enemy aircraft crashed in the Fens during World War II.