WestEndExtra

The independent London newspaper

WW2 bomb find clears the streets of Soho

Schoolchildren among those evacuated after the discovery of ‘historic ordnance’

07 February, 2020 — By Danny Halpin and Tom Foot

The scene in Soho scene after the discovery of an unexploded Second World War bomb

CUSTOMERS at Wacky Barber left with their hair half-cut after builders discovered a half-tonne, unexploded Second World War bomb in Soho.

Thousands of people, businesses and schoolchildren were evacuated from Soho by police following the find in Richmond Mews on Monday.

A second chunk of the device was found on Tuesday leading to another evacuation of roads including Dean Street and Wardour Street.

At Wacky Barber in St Anne’s Court, Amber Wakeford told the Extra: “A police officer came in and said you have two minutes to get out. We had a full shop of clients and they weren’t best pleased.”

 

She said that one woman had wanted her husband’s cut finished, and had asked: “I’m willing to take the risk if you are?”

Ms Wakeford went for a drink during the disruption and said she managed to get two pints in before the police evacuated the area again.

The Luftwaffe dropped 163 high-explosive bombs and four parachute mines on the West End during the Blitz.

Two bombs fell on St Anne’s Church on September 24 1940, burning most of the church to the ground.

Reverend Simon Buckley said: “There is a story that the iron framework of a large stained-glass window, which had been at the east end of the church on Dean Street, was blown down Romilly Street and found in one piece on Charing Cross Road. However other historians suggest the bombs were incendiary devices and the church was largely therefore burnt-out rather than blown apart.

“Either way, I hope a very thorough search of this site for bombs was undertaken when the church was rebuilt and there are no surprises lurking under our basement.”

The day will not be forgotten by Soho Parish Primary School children, said headteacher Louise Ritchie.

“Many of our children were frightened, but once the initial shock wore off, they began to ask lots of questions,” she said.

“We took the opportunity to hold an assembly on the rare phenomenon of the World War Two unexploded bomb, which the children found fascinating.

“One child’s great-grandfather had been an air raid warden. The children learned how bomb damage to a corridor of the school during the Blitz had led to a classroom being unused for 40 years.

“They did ask if there had been any skeletons, which, of course, was the perfect opportunity to reflect that the bombs had only been dropped at night, so pupils were unlikely to have been harmed.”

Private Eye magazine, in Carlisle Street, came out late because of the “historic ordnance”.

The bomb that was taken away and safely destroyed later, the Ministry of Defence said.

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