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Long-forgotten WWII bomb damage found under rail bridge

Engineers working on the South Esk viaduct at Montrose found bullet holes and bomb damage.

Engineers working on the £4.2m refurbishment of the South Esk viaduct in Montrose have uncovered long-forgotten damage caused by the Luftwaffe in the Second World War.

Montrose was attacked many times due to its coastal location and the fact the railway line supplied nearby RAF bases.

Civilians were killed during the wartime bombing raids, and it is thought the damage uncovered was caused in August 1941.

During the attack a bomb exploded beneath the girders, derailing several wagons of a freight train.

Bridge: Structure was a target for the Luftwaffe.
Bridge: Structure was a target for the Luftwaffe.

Three women and a child were killed on Rossie Island at the south end of the structure during the raid.

Almost 80 years on, railway workers discovered the full extent of the damage, with shrapnel and bullet holes visible.

Some of the damage had been patched over.

Matthew Spence, route delivery director for Network Rail said: "We take seriously our responsibility to maintain and preserve these historic structures, not just for the safe and efficient operation of the railway, but also how they look in their setting for those travelling on the railway or visitors to the area enjoying the beautiful views.

"Uncovering the historic damage to South Esk viaduct has offered an unexpected though fascinating glimpse into the harsh reality of life during the war.

"These structures are solid and built to last and so the power unleashed by the bombs and bullets to mark and pierce the metal in the way that they have must have been ferocious."

He continued: "Seeing the bullet holes close up gives those working on the bridge today a reminder of the contribution made by everyone on the railway to the war effort - often in challenging, tragic and dangerous circumstances.

"While the emphasis then was to patch up the damage and get the railway moving again as quickly as possible, we now take it as our duty to pick up the repairs started by those railway engineers in August 1941 and properly complete the job they started."

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