Renault says all residents living near its Boulogne-Billancourt headquarters near Paris are now back in their homes following the discovery of a unexploded World War II bomb during redevelopment of a former factory site.

The 500kg device is thought to have been dropped in a massive 1942 Royal Air Force (RAF) raid on the factory that was believed to be making an estimated 18,000 lorries a year for the occupying German forces.

“There was quite some construction going on and that is how they found it [bomb] – they had to neutralise it,” a Renault spokeswoman at the Boulogne-Billancourt site told just-auto.

“It was very close to our offices…a couple of thousand people were evacuated.” Boulogne-Bilancourt is about 5km south west of Paris.

Renault itself was not affected by the mass evacuation as the bomb was found last weekend (6 February) at 07:00. The all-clear was given at 13:00 the same day following the device’s defusion.

The discovery of the unexploded bomb is not the first time Renault has stumbled across such devices. Last year the automaker also encountered a similar situation while building work was being carried out.

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Information from the RAF indicates it operated the huge raid in March 1942 involving 235 aircraft on its mission to bomb the Renault establishment.

Extraordinarily, the Renault factory did not appear to be protected by flak guns, allowing the aircraft to operate at low level. RAF pictures show huge damage to the site.

Between 412t and 470t of bombs were dropped with the RAF noting: “Unfortunately, French civilian casualties were heavy. There were many blocks of workers’ apartments very close to the factory.”

Renault confirmed to just-auto the site was used to produce lorries for Germany in 1942.