OUR coronavirus-scourged lives can’t be compared with the horrors of war, but we do have some things in common our wartime south Essex counterparts.

This time 80 years ago, people were living with restrictions on their daily lives and they too were facing a silent and often invisible killer. Theirs, however, was being dropped from the sky.

From September 1940 onwards Britain was bombarded with hundreds of thousands of tonnes of high-explosive enemy bombs.

Most detonated upon impact, but many didn’t. So life on the home front back in the autumn of 1940 meant the regular discovery of unexploded shells, bombs and the dreaded parachute mine. Obliteration was often just a few feet away.

Braintree and Witham Times:

Tragedy - eight people were killed in this bombing raid on Campbell Road, Southend

Parachute mines were released from Heinkel III bombers and drifted down to earth by a parachute, detonating either by contact or by a clockwork mechanism.

When the parachute became entangled in buildings they often failed to blow up, leaving those who had to face defusing them with the knowledge the mine could explode at any second if there was a timer attached.

They were capable of decimating entire streets so if one was discovered the whole road had to be evacuated.

Official military log-books from 1940, which are kept at the Essex Records Office in Chelmsford, show that parachute mines were dropped on Laindon in a bombing raid on September 21.

Both were detected the following day. One was lying a field in Dunton Road, some 15 yards from a house.

The hand-written log-book entry describes that Laindon Police attended the scene and that householders had to be evacuated to a nearby school due to concerns over the danger to nearby homes, pylons and overhead cables.

The mine exploded the same day – we don’t know how but the log-book insert reads: “This exploded 15.56 22/9/40 see message 16.30.”

Braintree and Witham Times:

Patching up - damage from an incendiary bomb is fixed in Eastwood Road, Rayleigh

A parachute bomb and mine shells were also dropped north west to Bourne Avenue, Laindon, just 400 yards away from the A127, near to a tool factory and a senior school.

The entry is this log reads: “Mine is buried in ploughed field. Hole is three feet in diameter, parachute still attached and partly buried.”

Again, the bomb exploded – likely in a controlled detonation – causing damage to 21 properties.

The unexploded bombs (UXB) log-books are part of Second World War Air Raid Precautions Records are available for public view.

They contain basic information about UXBs found by police, air raid wardens or military personnel who noted where, when and what types of bombs had fallen during an air raid, then passed this information on to government authorities.

The bomb would then either be defused or detonated as safely as possible.

Other entries in the 1940-1943 books show a cannon shell was found in a farm field in Dowsett Lane, Ramsden Heath, on September 12, 1940.

Wickford police were called and a note was made that the farmer urged for the shell to be dealt with as he needed to plough his field On the same day a high explosive bomb fell on Bradfield Farm in Burt Mills Road, another fell in Rectory Road, Pitsea, while residents in Clay Hill Drive, Vange, had to be evacuated when a bomb was discovered in a hedge.

A few days later, following another air-raid two high explosive bombs were found by Pitsea railway station.

On October 1, 1940 a night-time raid saw 14 bombs explode in a field at Leeches Farm, Canvey – but one failed to go off.

Earlier in 1940, a huge crater occurred on Canvey when a bomb exploded in the back garden of 19 Marine Approach. Fortunately, despite the main house escaped serious damage.

Eighty years on and unexploded bombs are still regularly found.

A high explosive bomb from the Second World War was found this summer near Barge Pier, Shoebury. In September last year, a 1,000kg Second World War German parachute mine had to be been destroyed off the Southend coast by Royal Navy bomb experts after being found at the site of the 17th century shipwreck, The London.