WW2 bomb handed into museum

A PENSIONER sparked a full-scale bomb alert when he handed in an unexploded wartime bomb, found in a tree in Potters Bar, into a museum.

Army bomb disposal experts were called to West Highland Museum in Scotland, on December 2, when former Potters Bar resident Harry Witney turned in the German incendiary device.

The 82-year-old had kept hold of the 1kg bomb since he found it in 1943 near his former family home at the Greyhound Racing Association Hook Kennels in Northaw following a Nazi air raid.

Mr Witney, a father-of-two and grandfather-of-five, said: “I eventually decided to take the bomb to the museum as I didn’t know what to do with it – it was just in my garage.”

Having spent 45 years in the aircraft industry, which included an apprenticeship with de Havilland and British Aerospace in Hatfield, Mr Witney helped build the last of the Mosquitos and worked on the first jet airliner, the Comet.

Too young to join the Home Guard, the widower, who retired to Strontian in 1990, recalls acting as a runner.

“The speciality was in helping to find unexploded incendiaries, which if they fell in soft ground or hit tree branches and landed sideways, failed to explode,” he said.

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It was around this time when Mr Witney and a friend found the device and took it home.

“We knew it was safe.

“It had pride of place on the mantlepiece for a few years and eventually found its way into the garage until I saw a magazine article about World War II artefacts and decided to hand it in.”

Museum curator Mairi Mooney had the 35cm device checked by second warrant officer Iain Martin and corporal Rebecca O’Shaughnessy, of the Royal Logistic Corps.

And, the incendiary, which has a Nazi swastika scratched onto one of its rims, was certified as safe.

Of the device, WO2 Martin said: “They were designed to land on roofs then burn through the roof and set fire to the whole building.

“Normally all that would remain would be the nose cap and a burnt and twisted fin.”

Ms Mooney said: “We’re very grateful to Mr Witney for handing in this device.

“We had to do all the safety checks as a matter of protocol.”

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