HISTORY OF WW2 BOMB DISPOSAL
More than 30,000 tonnes of bombs were dropped on the UK during Germany’s bombing campaign, targeting Britain during the war and killing over 40,000 people. During this time the men of the BD teams across Britain showed incredible feats of bravery.
Targeted aerial attacks across towns and cities throughout Britain, began on the 6th of September 1939 when Chatham Docks were targeted and continued throughout the war until the end of March 1945.
Around 235 Officers and men of the Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Companies, were killed during the 6 years of bomb disposal work on the British Mainland alone.
But the Army's Royal Engineers were not the only part of the armed forces with bomb disposal sections, both the RAF and the Royal Navy had specialist teams set up to deal with the impact of the air raids.
As a result of the courage during the air raids on civilians in 1940, a new gallantry medal was created. King George VI instituted the George Cross (GC) on 24 September 1940, to reward outstanding bravery displayed away from the heat of battle. It was intended to be an equivalent to the Victoria Cross, which was earned by committing an act of extreme bravery under enemy fire.
The majority of the initial awards of the GC were for rescue work and bomb disposal. When explosive devices failed to detonate, the bomb disposal teams that went to make them safe did so knowing that they could be killed at any moment. People who were trapped under the rubble of bomb-hit homes were saved by men who knew the remnants of the buildings could collapse on them as they tunnelled through the debris.