Post War To The Present Day 2
The Llanberis Project
The longest post war clearance operation and also the biggest took place in the disused slate quarries at RAF Llanberis in North Wales. Llanberis opened as a storage depot in 1941 under the control of No 31 Maintenance Unit and comprised of a 70-acre site of old quarries and interlinking tunnels. In 1942 a quarry collapsed and buried over 8,000 tons of bombs, not all of which could be removed.
In 1943, the RAF School of Explosives moved in and, as the school curriculum included the destruction of explosives, large quantities were sent to Llanberis for demolition or burning. Over 250,000 incendiary bombs alone arrived over the next 18 months. By the time of the final closure in 1956, every type of explosive had been sent to Llanberis but not all had been destroyed. A great deal of the dumping had been indiscriminate and a lot ended up on ledges and slate outcrops. A large quantity was also submerged in the lakes, which had formed in the quarries after the war.
By 1969 it was realised that the situation could no longer be ignored so a massive clean up operation was instigated by No 71 EOD Flight (Later to become No 2 EOD Unit). The task went on for six and a half years. Because of the inherent risk associated with such a task, a casualty plan had to be established between Llanberis and RAF Valley so that a helicopter could be used to evacuate any casualty to medical aid immediately it was requested. The RAF Valley Mountain Rescue Team organised rock climbing training for the EOD operators and trained the EOD teams in rescue techniques so that the ledges could be cleared of explosives and the cliff sides inspected for signs of imminent rock falls.
One of the final tasks was to tackle pit 3C (see Photo) in which was found a 90 ft high pile of explosives and incendiary magnesium slag liberally interspersed with live detonators, fuzes and other unmentionables. The estimated weight of this pile was 3,000 tons. Awesome! Naval frogmen dived into the flooded pit 2C and found large quantities of derelict explosives and bombs. By April 1973 pit 2C was emptied of water and clearing the pit took a further 2 years.
Over the period of the project and using picks, shovels and muscle, dumper trucks and mechanical diggers, the teams had pumped out 20 million gallons of lake water, from pit 2C, shifted 85.000 tons of slate and debris, recovered and disposed of 352 tons, or 121,420 items of explosives together with 1,420 tons or 213,881 items of ordnance debris. The Llanberis project finally ended in October 1975.
The Second World War is not the only source of unexploded ordnance which has occupied the personnel of the RAF Bomb Disposal Units. This photo illustrates the unusual rather than the typical situation that an EOD operator may find himself in during his career. This particular bomb was one of many UXB's left over from the Turkish invasion of Northern Cyprus in July 1974. It was dropped by the Turkish Air Force and was found laid across two beds on the sixth floor of the Venus Beach Hotel in Famagusta.
It is an American 750lb bomb and the fuze was susceptible to jarring! It was successfully defuzed by Flt Lt Ted Costick and Fred Knox using the fuze Extractor Mk V, colloquially known as *IGOL. For his action in the rendering safe of this bomb, Costick received the Queen's Gallantry medal in January 1975. *I Go On Living*
Falklands The Gulf & Afghanistan
AF Bomb Disposal Unit Deployment to the Falkland Islands as part of Operation
The Falklands Bomb 2003
On Thursday 16th October 2003 at 1115am, EOD received a report
of a suspicious metal object (possibly a bomb) situated 50m to the East of the
FIGAS Workshop at
MAJOR INCIDENT 16th
& 17th OCTOBER 2003 – 1000Ib BOMB AT
1,000 Pound Bomb in Situ
On Thursday 16th October
2003 at 1115am, EOD received a report of a suspicious metal object (possibly a
bomb) situated 50m to the East of the FIGAS Workshop at
QMSI Mines, WO2 ‘
OC JSEOD Flt Lt ‘Nick’
Lynskey BEM RAF and QMSI Mines WO2 ‘Tay’ Taylor RE were conducting
‘casualty extraction from a minefield’ training on the morning of the
incident along with Bomb Disposal Officers from the Royal Engineers and Royal
Air Force, this proved to be quite useful as this enabled a bi-service RAF and
RE team to be immediately established to deal with the incident. A bi-service
team offered greater experience and effectiveness for the task. A Joint Service
team was established as follows:
Flt Lt ‘Nick’ Lynskey BEM
RAF EOD Incident Commander.
Sgt ‘Dan’ Flood RE Bomb
Sgt ‘Ian’ Reeve RAF Bomb
Cpl ‘Joe’ King Incident
Control Point Controller
Spr ‘Andy’ Kirkcaldy
Operations Room - Coordinator
The RFIP was kept up to date
and briefed by WO2 ‘
Once the security of the area
was under control, Sgt ‘Dan’ Flood and Sgt ‘Ian’ Reeve set out to
identify the fuze type by carrying out further exploitation of the bomb. The
bomb was found to have a single fuze located in the base of the bomb. The fuze
was identified as a 951 Mk 2 fuze that is designed to function on impact. The
condition of the fuze was considered dangerous and unstable. This together with
the position of the bomb, sat in an upright position, precluded the remote
removal of the fuze from the bomb.
of the Double Baldrick
An alternative Render Safe
Procedure was discussed and decided. A ‘Double Baldrick’ attack was the
safest alternative. A Baldrick attack allows a metal slug, in this case two, to
be fired in to the bomb through its casing that causes a lower velocity
explosion to take place and splits open the casing to expose the High Explosive
filling of up to 350Kg.
Whilst there was every
confidence that this technique would work, there is always a slight chance that
the bomb may explode, therefore, a worst-case scenario assessment was carried
out in order to minimize possible damage to the airport complex. Subsequently,
Commander Stangroom RN from HQ BFFI, Chief Executive and Director of Aviation
visited the site to assess the situation. Authorisation for the Low Order
Technique to take place was subsequently granted.
was left of the fuse
At this point EOD was ready
to carry out further action, but it was important that as much protective work
as possible was given to the Airport Complex to prevent any collateral damage in
the event of a large explosion taking place.
Mr Ian Stewart and Mr Iain
Berntsen of Ian Stewart Construction put a protective mound of earth in place.
Utilising Plant machinery on site, the two brave volunteers placed over 400
Tonnes of earth between the bomb and the FIGAS buildings in order to minimize
fragmentation or blast damage to the infrastructure.
An 8ft trench was excavated
between the buildings and the protective mound, this was carried out to protect
the foundations of the FIGAS buildings from distortion or shockwave damage.
Fire Chief ‘
was left of the tail
During the night the RFIP
maintained the cordon and ensured that no one entered the area until the next
morning. The second day saw all hazardous materials removed and the fuel feed to
the heater system isolated. Windows were taped to prevent flying glass hazards
and Stanley Services assisted in the decanting of 5000 litres of fuel from a
nearby fuel tank just 100m from the bomb.
All vehicles were removed
with the help of the Fire Service and Sgt ‘Jonathon’
Aircraft to the end of the lazy runway some 1200m away from the bomb down
towards the Lady Elizabeth. Finally the electricity supply to the buildings was
After all protective measures
were carried out even to the point of checking the horses down by the Lady
Elizabeth and the cordon security being confirmed, OC JSEOD Flt Lt ‘Nick’
Lynskey BEM RAF confirmed that authority was granted to conduct further EOD
action with the use of a ‘Double Baldrick’ Low Order Technique. Having
prepared charges, JSEOD personnel withdrew to a firing point approximately a
1000m to the East of the bombsite and initiated the charges at 1230pm.
Sgt ‘Dan’ Flood having
approached the bomb at 1240pm declared that the Low Order Technique was
successful. The bomb casing had split wide-open exposing large pieces of RDX
explosive fill and leaving the 951 Mk 2 fuze and pocket in an isolated position
with easy access. The fuze and pocket was destroyed in situ using a small amount
of explosives. Large pieces of explosive fill remained, and was placed in
sandbags and secured away from site for disposal on the next demolition range
day. The bomb carcass was recovered from site to the JSEOD compound.
Having made the area safe,
EOD and the Stanley Fire Service personnel carried out a visual check of all
areas to confirm the building structures were safe. Amazingly, there was no
damage to the complex at all, not even a scratch of paint. At this point the
bombsite was cleared of EOD equipment, reinstated and the cordon collapsed with
the area being handed back to FIGAS on
The incident was a great
success with the whole community being both patient and supportive. The Police
and Fire emergency services worked extremely hard along with the FIGAS staff and
Stanley Services, everyone helped EOD wherever possible in order to make the
community safe as soon as possible. In particular, Mr Ian Stewart and Mr Iain
Bernsten are thanked for their hard work with the enormous protective mounds and
trenches put in place close to the bomb.
EOD dealt with the situation
in the most professional manner that resulted in the bomb being made safe with
no injury to personnel or collateral damage to the Airport Complex. Thanks to an
extremely professional Joint Service team:
Flt Lt ‘Nick’ Lynskey BEM
RAF who commanded the JSEOD team and WO2 ‘Tay’ Taylor RE who initially
deployed to the bomb with Spr ‘Jon’ Rouse and controlled the task site
thereafter in support of the two duty Bomb Disposal Officers Sgt ‘Dan’ Flood
and Sgt ‘Ian’ Reeve who dealt with the bomb. With a good support team: Cpl
‘Joe’ King controlling the Incident Control Point and Spr ‘Andy’
Kirkcaldy who coordinated everything through the EOD Operations Centre who
without, such a successful task would not have been possible.
This area will be completed as and when information is forthcoming