It's a big problem in the city to this day, especially with all the building work that's still being done.
In Berlin, an average of 900 explosive cleanup operations take place each year. Of these, about 100 unexploded bombs are deemed too dangerous for removal _ a job for "sprengmeister," explosives experts like Mehlhorn and Neumann, who blow them up on site.
Just after lunch one day about 1984-85 I had barely got back to my office in Mercer Barracks from my quarter in Dodesheide to be informed that my wife and two nippers had been evacuated to the Skins' (or had 4RTR moved in by then - probably) NAAFI in Imphal barracks because they had found an unexploded RAF bomb at the end of our street.
They spent the whole afternoon there and barely got home before I did.
A couple of weeks later, another was found outside the Estate Office. (There were questions asked whether this bomb had been dropped by the RAF or planted by one of the myriad of discontented pads.) They story goes that they couldn't handle the ire of all the kinfolk again so they just lifted this one and threw it in the bin (it was VERY delapidated).
Hitler woman - I mean Mother in law (did you spot the anagram?) - who had been a teenager during the war, suggested that RAF bombs were always found in threes. We all hoped that the third one would sort out the Dodesheide pads but satellite imagery suggests not.
Worthy of comment. The first time they found one, they sent round a vehicle with a loud-hailer instructing the dependents to evacuate. The woman upstairs from us, married to a newly posted in REME-attached I am sure it was 4RTR, heard, saw and assumed it was a politician touting for votes so she went back to bed. I dunno where her husband was at the time.
There is some suggestion that the esteemed Mr Hassell was a walt first class, that his books were written by his wife and that he wouldn't recognise a penal battalion if it was marching up and down his hallway. Any similarity between the Hassell truth and reality is probably therefore simply a coincidence.
Some interesting reading Here for Hassell fans. (I believe that this was the subject of an earlier thread.)
Unlikely that penal Bn inmates would replace ATOs though - whilst the said inmates might have been expendable, I imagine that the collateral damage factor would be unacceptably high.
Reminds me of an interviewee from the series 'The World at War', who said,on the subject of whether the war was worth it "To me personally the war was a total waste...because there are still 60 million of the boxheaded b*stards still alive"