West Bengal village yields WWII bombs

KOLKATA/KALYANI: How did two 500-pound bombs of World War II land up under the ground in a village in Kalyani’s nearly 100 km from Kolkata? Military historians believe they could have been part of the arsenal stored at Roosevelt Town or . Till 1945, was called Roosevelt Nagar.
On Saturday, while digging in the Chhoto Chutria village in Hanskhali, workers came across the two cylinders, each 50-inch long and nearly 38 inches in diameter. After cleaning them, it was realised they were bombs. Army experts have taken charge of the bombs.

“Roosevelt Town used to be a large base encompassing nearly 45 villages. Some say the town was also used by the US Army Air Force (USAAF) for Over the Hump Operations and the China-Burma-India () theatre. In fact, it was US president Franklin D Roosevelt who ordered troops to provide logistics support to China’s Chiang Kai-Shek to help in the war against the entrenched Japanese in the Burma theatre. These operations went on between 1942 and 1945, after which the US troops left India. In the early 50s, the government under chief minister Bidhan Chandra Roy decided to set up a satellite township at Kalyani. Even today, some of the structures built by the US Army can be found in Kalyani,” a serving officer noted.

While little is known of what kind of aircraft did operate, if they did, from Roosevelt Town, it is recorded that the USAAF flew on a regular basis from the Ropyal Air Force (RAF) air base at , only a few km from Kalyani. The USAAF used B-25 Mitchell aircraft from this base that was quite capable of carrying 500-pound bombs.

“We can’t be sure how the base layout was in 1942-45. Maybe bombs used to be stored where they were recovered from on Saturday. It is also possible these are duds used for practice runs,” another officer said.

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