On Oct 27th, Air Raid message “Red” was received at 16:40 hrs and a few minutes later a small high explosive bomb was dropped in a field about 35 yards from the Westerfield – Felixstowe railway line, making a small crater. It was thought to have been dropped by a Messerschmitt, one of several that had made an attack in the vicinity of Wattisham aerodrome.
A further attack followed at about 18:20 hrs when three bombers flew very low over the southern part of the town. Reports at first suggested a small high explosive bomb was used, that made very small craters and only caused damage to tiles and windows. Reports also claimed that the bombers had used machine guns and possibly cannon.
The first two casualties, an auxiliary fireman and the caretaker of the Trolley Bus depot were stated to have been wounded by machine gun fire, but the wounds were later confirmed as being caused by bomb fragments. Further reports came in of numerous small craters, but no major damage; it was still unclear what type of bomb was being used.
Soon repots began to come in of metal fan like objects with small cylinders attached and that police and wardens were collecting these. These were in fact the first use of the “Butterfly” bomb. A party of three police and one auxiliary policeman were seriously injured, one dying shortly afterwards, while moving one of these bombs in Shakleton Road. Apparently, a member of the public had left one of the bombs in a bucket and the policemen were examining it and trying to unscrew the top when it exploded. The wounds were described a multiple gunshot wounds and it was at first thought that these bombs contained shot until it was later shown that the wounds were caused by the fragmentation of the bomb casing.
Reports suggested that these bombs were distributed over an area of approx one mile by a quarter of a mile. As each area was discovered, they were roped off and guards placed for the night and the public warned not to interfere with the bombs. The following morning, six workers at Messrs Ransome & Rapier’s were killed and two further injured while examining one of these bombs. The factory was temporarily shut as a search was made for further bombs. Examination of the shore of the river close by showed many miniature craters in the mud and three further bombs were found.
Further reports on the morning suggested the actual area affected by the bombs was two miles and reached as far west as Belstead Road. The bombs appeared to have been dropped in clusters and as many were reported to have detonated in the air, it was impossible to provide an accurate number of the total number of bombs dropped although it probably numbered several hundred.
Further casualties resulted on Tuesday 29th when three Naval bomb disposal personnel were killed while clearing bombs from St Clements ship yard. Two children were injured by one of these bombs which they had found in a piece of woodland.
In total, between Oct 28th to Nov 1st, 54 bombs were dealt with by the local bomb disposal squad and the Naval bomb disposal squad. The bombs had little effect on buildings and only minor “first aid” repairs to tiles, slates and windows were required.
Right: Approx area of Raid No 10.
A circular issued by ARP on Oct 29th described the new bomb as follows:
“A number of canister bombs have been dropped. It is understood that when picked up they explode on the slightest jar and are highly lethal up to a radius of 25 or possibly even 50 feet. They must on no account handled and their presence should be immediately reported to the Report Centre and Police and steps should be taken to see that people do not approach them.
In figure “A” - the canisters are corrugated being 3 ½” in depth 3 ¼ inches across, having round hinged and bottom plates; the sides open a spring hinge and form two jointed segments. When the canister is dropped from the ‘plane, apparently it springs open and releases the bomb itself, which looks like a piece of plain solid metal, roughly the same size as the container, perfectly smooth and innocent looking. This is attached in some way to the canister by a length of 6” of twisted wire. The unexploded bomb lies on the ground with its parts joined together, as shown in figure “B. When picked up it explodes on the slightest jar. The crater formed by an exploded bomb measures about 12” across and 9” deep.”
Right: Sketch of the new bomb from the ARP
Circular issued on Oct 29th.