Title: Eric Wakeling 70B Butterfly Bomb Fuze
Author: P. M. Fenwick
Date: July 2016

This 70B butterfly bomb (SD2) anti-disturbance fuze once belonged to Lieutenant-Colonel Eric Wakeling. He held it in his hand when he appeared in a Channel 4 TV film that covered his role during the weeks following the ‘famous’ June 1943 butterfly bomb raid on Grimsby, Cleethorpes and Great Coates.  It’s more than probable that this fuze originates from the raid.

Wakeling, a section commander serving with No 3 Bomb Disposal Company, was drafted in from Nottingham together with every available member of his company when it became clear that Grimsby’s police force was totally overwhelmed by the emergency.  A total of 99 people were killed as a result of this experimental raid by the Luftwaffe. The ordnance dropped included over 3,000 individual butterfly bombs. It took 3 months to dispose of these lethal devices, which had landed on roads and railways and in gardens, trees, hedges, roof spaces etc.  Eric Wakeling and his men risked their lives time and time again to make the area safe.

In 1993, Eric Wakeling received a civic award in Grimsby in appreciation of the time he virtually ruled the town in order to carry out an efficient clean-up operation.  For obvious reasons, the raid was not widely reported at the time.  Eric died on Remembrance Day in 2013, aged 93.

The fuze has been separated into two halves.  Note the inertia block which readily trembles on the end of a spring steel wire and also the mainspring which is mounted to force the driving wheel in a clockwise direction.  One sector of the driving wheel is toothless.

The 70B clockwork mechanism has three periods to the complete cycle.  The spinning butterfly wings rotate and withdraw the arming spindle to allow the activation of period 1 during descent.  This run, to partly arm the fuze, takes half a second.  Period 2 runs for about 5 seconds following impact with the ground and this sets the fuze in a fully armed condition.  Period 3 runs for about 1 second following any subsequent disturbance that displaces the lightly balanced inertia block.  The movement of this block allows the toothless sector of the driving wheel to come into the position where the running speed of the clock is out-of-control and the increased momentum enables the striker to explode the bomb.

The 70B was one of three different fuze types used in the raid which must have added to the devastating effect and confusion caused by the ‘butterfly’ weapons.  An event that will never be forgotten in North East Lincolnshire.

Lt. Col. Eric Wakeling wrote several books including 'The Lonely War'.

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