US military documents have revealed that the 2,000 pound WWII bomb uncovered in Happy Valley and dismantled yesterday was dropped by planes during a massive day-long raid on Japanese military positions in Hong Kong in 1945.
Amateur military historian Craig Mitchell said in a South China Morning Post report that the explosive, labeled US Navy AN-M66, was likely one of 11 such bombs dropped on the city during WWII, and the second of its kind found there since the war. The attack occurred on January 16, 1945.
Mitchell, who has spent years researching the legacy of Hong Kong’s wartime past, said the bombers in the January 16 raid came under fierce anti-aircraft fire and attack by fighter planes, which might explain why the bomb landed wide of its target – Taikoo Dockyard. He said there were 12 US aircraft carriers close to Hong Kong at that time, but only two carried that type of bomb.
On that day, two TBM- Avenger bombers carried the payload of 11 2,000-pound bombs over the city. Four were dropped on Taikoo Dockyard, another on Aberdeen docks and one on Kowloon docks, according to US military documents provided by Mitchell. The other five targeted ships.
One narrative on the Taikoo docks attack in the documents said: “Five planes dove [sic] from south to north, releasing their bombs between 3,000 and 3,500 feet, and all bombs were observed to hit in the dry dock area … It is considered that serious damage was done to these ships, as well as to the dry docks themselves.”
Mitchell believes the bomb landed in Happy Valley after the bomber strayed off course, and has estimated that some 25 to 30 percent of bombs dropped on Hong Kong in WWII never exploded upon hitting ground.
The AN-M66 contained 450kg of explosives which were successfully defused yesterday by Hong Kong’s police bomb disposal team. The bomb was found plunged vertically into the ground, measuring around 1.7 meters long with a diameter of .61 meters.
Yuen Hongwing, senior bomb disposal officer of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau, said that it had likely landed on soft ground in 1945 and failed to detonate.
[Image via Xinhua]