Plymouth Blitz - Bomb Disposal - Lt John Henry Havelock Gray. George Medal

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by ChrisR, Jul 22, 2011.

  1. ChrisR

    ChrisR Senior Member

    I was recently sent some copies of photos that once belonged to 146273 Lt John Henry Havelock Gray. GM. of 7 Bomb Disposal Company. Not having ever seen a photo of him before, I thought I share them in case anyone on here is interested.
    I don't know the locations, or indeed if they were all taken in Plymouth.
    His George Medal was awarded for an incident at Efford Road, Plymouth, Devon on the 12 August 1943.During a raid on the night of 11 Aug 43, a 500kg bomb fell on the corner of Efford Road, this was the main route between Exeter and Plymouth and had to be closed. The rest of the roads from the East into Plymouth were also closed due to bombs either being cratered or unexploded.The Efford Road bomb was found to have entered the ground tail first, it had penentrated a concrete path, of a building which had been hit and was partially demolished. The bomb was partly uncovered and one investigation it was found that it was fuzed with a 17 which was ticking. To make matters more dangerous, the partially demolished house was overhanging the bomb, right above it was a concrete slab wieghing about a hundredweight, only held by a few strands of metal reinforcement. This was so unstable that it could not be shore it up. Gas was also escaping from a nearby fractured main. As this bomb was on the surface it was and all othere routes blocked it was decided that it was to be dealt with. Lt Gray was given the task, another bomb from this stick had exploded earlier in the morning 06.00. Gray with Sgt William Bailey, spent four hours between them clearing the debris around the bomb. When cleared they were able to uncover both fuses the 50 was immunised . The 17 was still ticking when the bomb was loaded onto a truck and taken to a bomb cemetery, where it exploded shortly afterwards. Both Lt Gray and Sgt Bailey were awarded the GM for this action. Lt Gray dealt with a further nine bombs fitted with 17 and 50 fuses after this raid.
    Do any researchers of wartime Plymouth know the spot where the bomb landed? - Would be great to have a photo of the place as it looks today.
    S54 and nicks like this.
  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Chris thank you for posting,most interesting
  3. Mathsmal

    Mathsmal Senior Member

    Hi Chris

    I think I may have identified the location, but it is at the junction of Efford Lane and Old Laira Road (previously the main road into Plymouth). This area has been extensively built on since the war, and roads may have changed their names.

    Plymouth - Google Maps
    From checking the Plymouth bomb map, a bomb certainly landed here during the war, and the house opposite the junction appears to have been rebuilt in a different style to the rest of the terrace.

    I don't know if the photos were all taken in Plymouth. There are a couple of well published ones (Brave men of the Bomb Disposal Squad, Plymouth 1940s | Flickr - Photo Sharing!) which I am sure you've seen before.

    They are still digging up bombs in Plymouth. A 70kg SD70 bomb was found when the old NAAFI building near the Hoe was demolished earlier this year: This is Devon | Naafi building | WW2 bomb | Plymouth | Devon | Plymouth city centre was locked down again last night after another unexploded World War Two bomb was found at the former Naafi site.
    CL1 likes this.
  4. nicks

    nicks Very Senior Member


    Thanks for posting.
  5. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    His GM citation.

  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Clive, anything in ATB's Blitz?
  7. ChrisR

    ChrisR Senior Member

    Thanks for the responses. That Google 'street view' is excellent for picturing the scene as it was. I have a photo obvoiusly taken at the same time as that Flickr photo -
  8. Paul Morrell

    Paul Morrell Junior Member

    Hi Chris, just found this while surfing the net. Fascinating, thank you. To come across anything to do with No 7 Bomb Disposal is great. I`ve looked for my grandad in the pictures but can`t see him. It was either after his time, or he was making the tea, more likely

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