"Unexploded bomb!" That dreaded cry would send shivers down the spine of the bravest man. Yet, for Lieutenant Bill Seddon of the Bomb Disposal Company, it was all in the line of duty. Every day he faced the task of defusing these devilish devices with the same outward coolness.
But now the strain was beginning to show. Bill's hands were trembling as he lifted the fuse mechanism from the dull-grey 250kg bomb which lay before him. His nerves had been stretched to their limit, and death now stared him in the face. All it would take was…
One False Move…
Colonel Mike Brooke OBE, former Commanding Officer 33 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal)
2015 is a special year for Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal as it is exactly 75 years since the original Bomb Disposal Teams were formed in 1940 in response to a terrible threat facing the United Kingdom from Nazi Germany. There are commemorations in the Bomb Disposal Regiments culminating in a Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral in October. St Paul's Cathedral has a special place in our hearts since it could well have been destroyed by a German aerial delivered bomb which penetrated 30 feet into the road just outside the Cathedral but failed to detonate. Lieutenant Robert Davies RE and his team were immediately deployed to tackle it. At huge risk to themselves, the bomb was made safe and removed by Lance Corporal George Wylie. Their incredible bravery in the face of certain death earned them each the George Cross, Britain's highest award for gallantry not in the face of the enemy! It's hard to imagine that the average life expectancy of Bomb Disposal Officers and their Number 2s was just 7-9 weeks in Central London at the height of the Blitz! The Nation owes them a lot…and you can read about their heroism inside this graphic Commando comic.
But the story of Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal doesn't stop at World War II. Each year since 1945, Explosive Ordnance Teams have been busy dealing with every type of bomb, shell or missile wherever the threat to military and/or civilian personnel occurred. In the aftermath of the 1st Gulf War in 1991, some 5 million items were safely dealt with once Sadam Hussein had been booted out of Kuwait…equally, ex-members of the 33/101 Engineer Regiments (EOD) have been employed in lots of civilian explosive ordnance disposal companies helping to make safe civilian populations all over the world, particularly in Africa and the Far East in places like Vietnam.
So, as you dip into this comic, which I thoroughly recommend, please remember the 'unsung heroes' of Royal Engineer Bomb/Explosive Ordnance Disposal Units, some of whom paid the ultimate price to make our world a safer place.
Note: Originally published as Commando No 1329 (June 1979) and was re-issued as No 2635 (February 1993).