Bomb disposal/EOD before WW2

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Sir Rowley Birkin QC, Oct 5, 2004.

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  1. I'm doing some research into what we now call EOD before 1939-40. I know the main facts, but have some difficulty in finding reliable detailed sources. I'm particularly interested in AOC/RAOC activity, but welcome anything about RN, RAF and RE.

    There also seems to be little written down about RAOC EOD activity between 1940 and 1950, at home and abroad. Can anyone help?
     
  2. Have you read ' The Longest Walk' by Peter Birchall?
    That has some good background info.

    Sua Tela Tonanti
     
  3. I have. Not a very good book IMHO. Most of his material on this period is dirrectly lifted from ' The History of the RAOC 1945-82' by Phelps. I've just got hold of some older books on RE in WW2, and some of the material also re-appears in other people's later books.

    I'm especially intersted in any original sources. Might be a trip to the Public Records Office at Kew at some point.
     
  4. Rowley , i know you're opinion of the RE is somewhat dim , but you could do worse than try our corps library at chatham , they've got records going back to year dot , the corps museum are very very helpful people aswell , their number can be found on the website , i know it's not strictly RAOC but they might be able to point you in the right direction.
    good hunting.
     
  5. Shortfuse, Thanks. You musn't confuse my political rantings with an antipathy towards you blokes. I like you. Honest! :) In fact I happen to have a stack of books in front of me about RE BD. They were mostly published in the 1950s, so should have a bit more 'freshness' and personal experience and perhaps less cap-badging, which I think developed later.

    I may well take your advice, as I'll be heading down that way soon. I spent four years in that neck of the woods and never got around to visiting. I'm also on good terms with the custodians of EODTIC at Chattenden. One is ex RE, the other ex RAOC (you probably know who I mean) and they are the most knowledgeable people I have ever met, so I'll be popping in for a brew and a nose around.

    What I'm aiming to do is to produce a history of how we all fit together. Unfortunately, most books on the subject start the story at 1939, which I think neglects the earlier aspects of our calling. I'm sure you know what that means to me! :wink: Thanks for the support.
     
  6. 'The Longest Walk' just fills in a few gaps in the subject, not much pre 1939 however.

    Yes I have to admit that a lot of re-cycling goes on. I use quotes on my own Ordnance Insignia History Site, which is based more on the badges worn than an in depth history.

    Best of luck on your research.
     
  7. There is a book called "Designed to Kill", which is mainly about WW 2 . However, at the beginning it mentions that during WW1 there were 500 reported UXB's in London for the whole of the four years. It then states that they were dealt with by the RAOC as a matter of course and that there was no specific bomb disposal organization existed, or indeed was needed.
    So from this book it seems the RAOC were the Daddies.
     
  8. Yes
    'Designed to Kill'
    Bomb Disposal from World War I to the Falklands
    by Major Arthur Hogben RE
    is the book I meant to recommend in previous post, but of the top of my head could not remember at the time!
    First 50 or so pages detail the birth of 'Aerial' Bomb Disposal from WWI onwards.
     
  9. Further it will mention about why it went RE responsibility, more about engineering ( shafts etc) rather than ammo tech. BUT you still seem to be the Daddies. PM me if you want more info on the book.
     
  10. Thanks chaps. I have a copy of 'Designed to Kill' on my desk! I know I'm getting a bit **** on this, but Maj Arthur Hogben (former custodian of EODTIC - I've met him!) is quoting Maj AB Hartley's 'Unexploded Bomb', published in 1958.

    'Unexploded Bomb' is an excellent book on RE BD in WW2, probably the best I've come across so far. My only criticism of it are some slight technical details. Maj Hartley, a very experienced BDO, seems to to think that TNT has nitroglycerine in it (it hasn't) & has a Velocity of Detonation of 20,000 metres per second (try 6900 mps). He mentions (but doesn't acknowledge as RAOC led) some EOD ops in WW2 (Malta & Gibraltar 1939-41). Also talks about the Luftwaffe EOD, who approximated the RAOC & RAF model of using technicians/armourers and doesn't rate it highly, but then he wouldn't. :wink: All minor stuff in an otherwise very good book. I suggest the sappers among you dig it out and have a read. You'll like it!

    Amended as I was thrown off the computer before I had finished typing earlier :roll:
     
  11. Look forward to reading your efforts when completed Rowley old chap. As you so rightly say, very little is recorded in the RAOC Corps History or books listed here.

    I have a list of RAOC & related books listed on my Ordnance Insignia Pages I would be greatfull if you or any other ex-RAOC types would inform me of any gaps or indeed any missing information.


    Also come and join us on RAOC On-Line as well - A forum for ex-RAOC Serving or Retired of any rank or trade - Distinct lack of Ammo Techs!

    Sua Tela Tonanti