We asked a further question of the MOD related to others we had asked of the HPA and them concerning AW bombs.
WHAT DID WE ASK AND WHAT DID THEY KNOW?
“Can you confirm if you still hold any publications concerning these second world war artefacts issued to the Home Guard? Can you give a list of such publications that you hold in order for me to assess which of these may be most relevant to my research.”
The British army again responded to this request.
“The Ministry of Defence does hold some information dating back to this time its archives. Regrettably there is no computerised record of exactly what is held, so in order to identify whether or not the information you have asked for is there would require a manual search of many hundreds of boxes – possibly more. To undertake this task would breach the appropriate cost limit which is specified in regulations and for central government is set at £600.”
We found this response disappointing. There were loose ends which did not tally with other requests made to both the MOD and the HPA. We therefore submitted the follow up clarification to seek the answers we were looking for.
- I wish to clarify that I am not seeking ONLY publications dating back to the conflict of WW2.
You have indicated that you DO hold information relating to this subject, but have not been able to look for all publications due to the cost limitations.
This puzzles me for the following reasons.
In a request answered by yourself Ref. Request for Information – 04-03-2010-113146-001 – Destruction of Military Weapons at Rattlechain Tip you stated:
“We believe that the particular items to which you refer are in fact Grenades Incendiary Hand or Projector Anti Tank No76 (Self Igniting Phosphorous (SIP)), a diagram of which is attached”
This diagram contained the caption “plate 7” above the diagram– thus indicating that this drawing had been copied from a publiction containing more information. Consequently I have to ask is this not a publication, at least in part, relating to the SIP NO 76 grenades?
Could you therefore supply me with the full publiction to which this extract was taken, which you do hold AND were able to find without an exhaustive search of boxes?
- In a request to the HPA concerning a publication which relates to the discovery of some of these grenades in Wiltshire, HPA Published Document “Chemical Hazards and Poisons Report From the Chemical Hazards and Poisons Division September 2007 Issue 10“ – “Discovery of World War II Special Incendiary Phosphorous (SIP) Grenades in a Wiltshire garden” see pages 9-10 of this document 1194947352137
“We have consulted with the author of the above report regarding the source of the statement you have quoted, and they have confirmed that the source was a publication loaned to the author by the Ministry of Defence, which was subsequently returned. I can therefore confirm for the purposes of the Environmental Information Regulations, the information is not held by the Health Protection Agency (HPA).”
Can I therefore ask you as to what this publication was, and given that you were able to both find and loan it to the author of the report, can you not release this document to myself?
3 Concerning your subject matter experts refered to previously, is there not some publiction that EOD teams receive regarding identification of these weapons which you are able to find nd release to me?
4. Finally could you confirm that in another FOI request ref FOI REQUEST PF 12-05-2010-160551-002 you stated
“I have contacted my subject matter experts who are responsible for the disposal of ordnance. They confirm that they do not have any archived information of this sort held at the Joint Service Explosive Ordnance Disposal Operations Centre, and would be very surprised if anyone has retained that information, if it ever existed in the first place. While we cannot begin to guess at the disposition of the 7.25 million bottles you refer to it seems plain that not all of them were properly recovered and disposed of following WW2.”
Could you confirm that there MAY be information of this sort held in the uncatologued boxes to which you refered in my latest request, but that this would imply the cost limits to which you previously refered?”
The British Army responded again
“The diagram of the SIP NO 76 grenade which I sent to you in March 2010 was in fact obtained through Google! However, you are correct in that it obviously came from a publication which I have managed to identify – Ammunition and Explosives Regulations (Land Service), Volume 4 – Identification of Unexploded Explosive Ordnance, Pamphlet 13 – British Service Grenades. I have a copy of this pamphlet which includes the diagram which you already have, along with a short paragraph. I can release this section to you if you wish.
I am afraid that I cannot identify which document was loaned to the Health Protection Agency, or who loaned it to them. Having discussed this with the EOD experts they suspect that it may have been the document mentioned above.”
You ask whether there is an overarching publication used by EOD teams to identify devices. These days this is done through a computer system which holds information on munitions. This is classified Secret as it contains information of a sensitive nature, some of which concerns other nations’ munitions. I have asked whether it would contain information about SIP No 76 grenades and am advised that it would only be the information currently contained in the pamphlet mentioned above, since this grenade is not in actual use with British Forces today – we just deal with any ‘finds’.
Your final question was whether the Kineton archive might contain more information on SIP No 76 grenades. I have asked this question of the Defence Explosives and Munitions School (South) who ‘own’ Kineton. They cannot positively say that there is no information held and agree that there may be a copy of the original 1940 publication in the archive, however there is not a detailed catalogue system for the library and to search for the existence of this particular publication would take a considerable amount of man-hours and breach the cost limit laid down.
I hope that this response is better suited to your needs. Please let me know if you would like me to forward copies of the relevant pages from the Ammunition and Explosives Regulations (Land Service), Volume 4 – Identification of Unexploded Explosive Ordnance, Pamphlet 13 – British Service Grenades.”
We did ask for this publication and received it from The British Army. Read it HERE.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
The mystery of what happened to the Albright and Wilson phosphorus bombs is one of the great unsolved mysteries of the twentieth century. Their production during war celebrated by numerous publications; their disposal shrouded in mystery in the fog of peace. We hope one day that the MOD and the powers that be admit to where they were disposed of them in bulk- and it wasn’t Beaufort’s Dyke! We know. Until then a few of them will turn up here and there in building developments, but the archive of what happened to them officially appears to be something stored away for a long long time.