A World War II bouncing bomb which was trialled prior to the Dambusters raid has been discovered on a beach in Kent.

The May 1943 raid is one of the most memorable British war victories - and now a piece of one of the iconic explosives has washed ashore on a picturesque beach.

Beach cafe owner Lisa Clayton has owned her business on Reculver Beach near Herne Bay, Kent, for 11 years, and spotted the bomb on Wednesday morning around 10am.

The 49-year-old said: "We saw the police, coastguard and bomb disposal people on the beach so we went to have a look.

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"We were really surprised - we've been here 11 years and had never seen a bomb here before.

"It's only one end of it but it's quite big, it's a lot bigger than I thought.

"There have been other little mine-type things on the beach before, but nothing like this.

"It's right by the sea wall, it's a busy area, but at that time it's really quiet and there was this sudden commotion.

"Luckily you could see the concrete on the inside from where it was just a practice bomb."

Reculver Beach was used as a testing ground in the build up to Operation Chastise, a daring raid on Nazi Germany's dams in the industrial Ruhr Valley.

Alan Porter, trustee of the Herne Bay seaside museum, said: "It is the end section of a test Bouncing Bomb which was trialled prior to the Dambusters raid in World War II.

"It is an Upkeep, which is a larger type than the complete one we have on display, with plenty of information, at the Seaside Museum."

The dams were heavily fortified and needed the innovative bouncing bomb - which bounced on the water over torpedo nets and sank before detonating.

The raid, orchestrated by Guy Gibson and the RAF's 617 "Dambuster" Squadron, was seen as a major victory for the British, and Wing Commander Gibson is recognised as one of the war's most revered heroes.

Residents of the town where the piece of the bomb was found are calling for it to remain on the beach.

Alan Porter, trustee of the Herne Bay seaside museum, is hoping it will stay on the seafront as a public sculpture.

The 71-year-old has lived in the town in Kent for 22 years, and says he has never seen another bomb wash up on the beach.

He said: "The Environment Agency found the piece of the bomb during routine clearing of the shingle, it was uncovered by a digger.

"We've got a similar one at the museum but it's quite a bit smaller - this one is an Upkeep, which were actually used in the Dambusters raid.

"The army went out in 1997 and retrieved about 10 from the sea, which they gave to different museums, but I've not seen one on the beach before.

"It's quite exciting after all these years for this one to turn up, I'm pretty astounded by it.

"We're not quite sure what to do with it - it's so heavy that we might leave it there, I like the idea of keeping it as a public sculpture.

"I'm getting a sign made up asking people to respect it, someone found a fragment of it which they've already taken home but they're historical artefacts.

"There are no plans at the moment, but we need to decide whether it's kept in a museum or left where it is."