Bexhill woman’s calls to honour wartime bomb disposal unit

Dep. Lt Julian Avery, WO Barry Smith and Sgt Sims from 101 City of London EOD with Pat Strickson SUS-180829-125740001
Dep. Lt Julian Avery, WO Barry Smith and Sgt Sims from 101 City of London EOD with Pat Strickson SUS-180829-125740001

A petition has been launched calling for those who helped defuse bombs during the Second World War to be honoured.

Pat Strickson was moved to set up the online petition after writing a book dedicated to a local bomb disposal hero.

Her book, Time Stood Still in a Muddy Hole, was published in June and tells the story of Captain John Hannaford.

With the support of John’s daughters, Jill Burch and Jackie Medley, Pat set about researching the life of Captain Hannaford, who died aged 98 in 2015.

A percentage of each book’s sale goes to the bomb disposal charity, The Felix Fund.

Pat, a retired primary school headteacher, said: “Captain Hannaford had been told at his first training session that it was ‘10 weeks life expectancy’.

“He survived two years defusing bombs, up to seven in a day, finally becoming ill with a duodenal ulcer.

“He told a friend he’d had a mental breakdown but was expected to carry on his duties.

“From his story and Captain Hannaford’s notes, I learned that there was no official award nor recognition given, which still amazes me.

“A total of 350 soldiers from all ranks and across the services were killed defusing and clearing more than 50,000 UXBs in the UK.

“Many were killed on our beaches clearing our own mines, laid there earlier in the war to deter a possible invasion.

“They never chose their job. They always knew each job might be their last.

“I am passionate about getting the recognition for them.

“I have good support from present-day bomb disposal soldiers who speak highly of those pioneers from the Second World War.

“They dug down to uncover huge enemy bombs they knew little about.

“One in six were booby trapped set to kill those same men and cause as much disruption as possible to our infrastructure and undermine our morale.”

Pat launched the petition earlier this month and by Wednesday (August 29) almost 160 had signed it.

She wants members of the bomb disposal unit from the war to be awarded a service medal.

To sign the petition click here.

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