Computing lecturer helps raise "bouncing bomb" from Scottish Loch

Highball bomb

21 July 2017

A Dundee lecturer has helped to successfully raise two World War 2 bombs from the bottom of Loch Striven. Dr. Iain Murray from Computing@Dundee has researched the work of Sir Barnes Wallis, who invented the famous “bouncing bomb” which was tested on the loch in 1943-44. His research revealed that over 200 of the bombs were tested on the loch, and that there was thus a good chance that many were still there. As there were none of the Highball bombs in museums, he thus hoped to recover one to place in a museum.

Highball is a smaller version of the Upkeep bomb used by the RAF’s 617 Squadron to successfully destroy two German dams in May 1943. Highball was for use against enemy battleships, but operated on the same principle - dropping from an aircraft, it would skip along the water in a series of “bounces” like a skipping stone, then sink beneath the hull of the target ship before exploding.

The first bomb breaks the surface [Iain Murray]

An preliminary dive in 2010 found a small number of Highballs, and this week has seen a team of twelve divers from the East Cheshire Sub-Aqua Club (part of BSAC), aided by a team from the Royal Navy’s Northern Diving Group, dive on the site and successfully recover two of the bombs. These will be sent to two museums for preservation - Brooklands Museum in Surrey (home to a collection of Barnes Wallis artifacts) and the de Havilland Aircraft Museum in Hertfordshire (de Havilland Mosquito aircraft carried the Highballs).

A sonar survey of the loch has also been taking place this week, and around 100 Highballs have been located, as well as dummy charges dropped by X-craft midget submarines, which also trained in the loch - although within 30 miles of Glasgow, Loch Striven is very isolated, and so made an excellent secret testing site.

Dr. Murray is a trustee of the Barnes Wallis Foundation, whose other trustees include Mary Stopes-Roe, Sir Barnes Wallis's elder daughter, who had given her backing to the project.

One of the BSAC team, Lindsay Brown, is a former student of Dundee's Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, and she specialises in underwater film-making.

Divers remove some of the loch silt to reveal a bomb in excellent condition [Iain Murray]

Read the story from BBC News in which Dr. Murray describes how Highball would have worked.

Read the story from the Royal Navy website.

Read the story from the British Sub-Aqua Club website.


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