Bomb disposal hero dies days after his wife

John Hannaford SUS-151116-104126001
John Hannaford SUS-151116-104126001

A World War 2 veteran who risked his life diffusing bombs has died aged 98 just days after losing his beloved wife.

John Hannaford was interviewed in the October 23 Observer

Because of his beloved wife Joyce’s ill health he had turned down the invitation to take part in “BD 75” the commemoration of the founding of the first Royal

Engineers bomb disposal companies in 1940 including a service in St Paul’s Cathedral on 22.

Sadly, Joyce died on November 6. Heartbroken John died in the Conquest Hospital on Wednesday – Armistice Day – following a fall.

The couple’s joint funeral will be at Eastbourne crematorium at 2.30pm on Thursday, December 3. They leave daughters Jill and Jacquie.

John told last month how out of 300 officers who led Britain’s war-time bomb disposal units half were killed and that he was then: “The only man left standing.”

He said: “Some 50,000 unexploded bombs were excavated, de-fused and made safe by men of the Royal Engineers. Sadly, this vital part of the war effort seems mostly to have been written out of history.”

John Hannaford, an architect by profession, was conscripted into the Royal Engineers as a Sapper. After being commissioned he was sent to a bomb disposal unit in Cardiff at the age of 22.

During his war service he defused hundreds of explosive devices ranging from Luftwaffe bombs and aerial mines – many with delayed-action timers and tricky anti-handling devices - to unexploded anti-aircraft shells and other British munitions.

Pre-war he had been involved in the design of Britain’s biggest bomb-making factory. Post-war he worked on the design of Aldermaston nuclear airbase.

John’s last words in his Observer interview were: “I’m the only man left standing now. I’ve had a wonderful life and I have a wonderful wife. I’m just a lucky man…”

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