Highball “bouncing bombs” recovered from Loch Striven

The first Highball breaks the surface

A trustee of the Barnes Wallis Foundation has helped to successfully raise two World War 2 bombs from the bottom of Loch Striven. Dr. Iain Murray, who works as a Computing lecturer at the University of 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. Mary Stopes-Roe, Sir Barnes Wallis’s elder daughter, had given her backing to the project.

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.

A preliminary dive in the summer of 2010 found a small number of Highballs, and in July 2017 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, explored the site the site and successfully recovered 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 was also carried out, 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.

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.

The first  Highball cleaned up
The first Highball cleaned up

One Man, Many Ideas – Exhibition at Barrow-in-Furness

Poster for Barrow exhibition

The Dock Museum (Barrow-in-Furness), in collaboration with the Barnes Wallis Foundation, is hosting an exhibition showing his design and engineering genius. Barnes Wallis started his career in Barrow designing airships for the Royal Navy.

One Man, Many Ideas will run from Saturday 9th September to Wednesday 22nd November 2017 – admission is free.  The Heritage Lottery Fund has given £16,000 which will pay for creation of the exhibition, an exciting education programme, family fun weekend, film night and much more. We’re especially looking forward to the arrival of a flight simulator in the exhibition so that visitors can get a feel for flying an airship and also a Wellington bomber aircraft (used extensively throughout the Second World War and with structural elements designed by Barnes Wallis).

Commenting on the award, Sabine Skae, the project spokesperson said: “We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and are proud to be showcasing the engineering genius of Barnes Wallis here in Barrow. He started his career in Barrow on airships and the tradition of engineering innovation continues today with enormously complex submarines built just across the road from the museum at Devonshire Dock Hall (BAE Systems).

More details can be found on the Dock Museum website.

Annual Meeting 2017

The Barnes Wallis Foundation’s Annual Meeting will be held at Howden School on Thursday 29th June 2017 at 7pm. This meeting is open to all members of the public and admission is free (there will be a collection in aid of Howden School and the Barnes Wallis Foundation).

There will be two presentations:

  • Wallis at Home by Professor Richard Morris
  • Mathematics with Love by Dr Mary Stopes-Roe (née Wallis)

Further information, please contact: Gerry Carroll  (01757) 638498

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