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Was the Dambusters’ bouncing bomb built in Netherton?

By john workman  |  Posted: May 23, 2013

The "Bouncing Bomb" ready for the Dambuster's raid.

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Is there a Black Country connection with the bouncing bomb? That intriguing theory has been put forward by a number of Bugle readers who have contacted our paper this month on the 70th anniversary of the air-raid on the Ruhr Valley in Germany.

Their views have been supported by two renowned historians who said they believe M & W Grazebrook Ltd of Netherton was involved in the manufacture of the bouncing bomb which 617 Squadron, later known as The Dambusters, used so effectively in the daring raid on the night of May 16, 1943.

Alan Hazledine, treasurer of the Dudley Canal Trust, said: “At the time Grazebrooks were perhaps the only place big enough in the country to do the castings for the bomb casing.” Historian and local artist Luke Perry said he had talked to local people who all believed that the famous Barnes Wallis bouncing bomb, which breached the Mohne and Edersee Dams causing catastrophic flooding, had been partly manufactured locally.

Top secret During the design and manufacture of the bomb, officially called The Uptake Mine, details about its use and its very existence were top secret; even the Lancaster bomber crews who flew to Germany that night were kept in the dark about their ultimate target until the last possible moment.

It is therefore not surprising that the location of its manufacture during the war also remained a closely guarded secret. Vickers Armstrong was the company entrusted with its production and completion, but inevitably they would have needed help from several other manufacturing sources.

M & W Grazebrook Ltd based at Netherton, near Dudley, which had been in existence since 1641, was called upon at the outbreak of war to manufacture 8,000lb and 12,000lb bombs, the socalled Blockbusters or cookies, made with especially thin casings, allowing them to contain approximately three-quarters of their weight in explosive.

Can Bugle readers help us unravel this mystery? If you have any information to add to this intriguing story, perhaps you worked at Grazebrooks or had family members employed there, contact John Workman on 01384 567678 or email john.workman@blackcountrybugle.co.uk

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