Bomb disposal teams are among the bravest people in society

Morning View
Morning View

The adjective heroic is often applied to people or actions.

But there is no doubt about the appropriateness of its use with regard to bomb disposal experts.

Yesterday Prince Harry attended a service marking the 75th anniversary of armed forces’ explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) units.

Many brave British soldiers have lost limbs or their lives trying to make safe bombs from conflicts ranging from the Second World War to Korea to the Ulster Troubles to Bosnia to the more recent engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There is something particularly valiant about a person who will approach a device that could explode at any moment, in a bid to prevent it harming other people. It must be quite extraordinarily frightening and stressful work.

In Northern Ireland, the long roll call of bomb atrocities including Bloody Friday, Claudy, La Mon, Enniskillen and Shankill are grim reminders of what was at stake if terrorists were not thwarted.

As any fair minded person will recall, the British security forces prevented civil war in Northern Ireland, and faced daily danger as they did so. Bomb disposal units were at the heart of this good work.

To this very day, explosives experts regularly go to work in the Province examining and trying to make safe devices planted by would-be murderers.

The disposal teams are working in the most honourable traditions of public service, and in the spirit of those who made safe Nazi bombs during the Blitz in cities across Britain including Belfast.

The musician Jools Holland at yesterday’s service at St Paul’s Cathedral summed up the history of disposal teams when he told the congregation that “this story of human courage is set in such contrast to the evil of indiscriminate destruction; and of the danger of unexploded ordnance, improvised explosive devices, and mines that remain such a threat to life and limb”.