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WW2 RAF Bomb Disposal Unit / Royal Engineers


thedawnpatrol
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Can any one fill in the details between the RAF Bomb disposal and the Royal Engineers Bomb disposal ?

 

did the RAF only work on bombs dropped on thier Airfields ?

 

Ideally I want to restore my 1942 Humber FWD as a Bomb Disposal vehicle, linked to RAF. any suggestions of markings, colours etc

 

Cheers

 

 

Jules

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We've got some photos in an album that belonged to an RAF guy who went from air crew into bomb disposal. The photos include some shots of RAF BD vehicles in Germany just post-war. They haven't been scanned yet but I'll pull them out and scan them and post them here. I don't remember seeing any Humbers; I think the vehicles were Ford WOA2s but they'll give you an idea of the markings.

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Here are the photos. There's a picture of a Humber as well as Fords. I guess the overall colour scheme would be SCC15, maybe with red bits on the mudguards.

 

Unfortunately we don't have any detail on the man behind them, Pilot Officer George Wilson, other than what can be gleaned from his photos. He trained as a Bomb Aimer in Canada in 1942. There is a photo of him in a 7-man bomber crew but no evidence to show what aircraft type or squadron. He seems to have been involved in bomb disposal in Germany post-war. There are several carefully-posed photos of V2 rockets and components which I showed to a guy who is an expert in these things and he got very excited, saying that he'd never seen them before. There are also pics of an area of devastation where apparently they have destroyed a lot of ordnance.

 

The markings on the vehicles are 6222 BDF which I guess must be Bomb Disposal Flight. A quick Google leads to this: http://www.rafbdhistory.co.uk/new_page_3.htm which is helpful.

 

I hope this helps.

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I have pictures, but they need digging out.

Aside from Jeeps and Motorcycles for "liaison" duties, I have seen a motley assortment from the Humber Utilities up to Bedford QLs.

They would have been painted, as all RAF were during the war years, in the current scheme in use with the army however at some point (I have yet to find the order) red wings were introduced. Other markings changed so it really depends on the time frame you are looking at.

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Thought for my first posting on this forum I’d bring this old thread back to the top. Not sure if this is the right place, as this post will cover a multitude of types of vehicle, but makes sense to me to have it all in the same place.

So - For years I’ve been collecting, researching and writing about WW2 bomb disposal of all three services. As a result have come across numerous photographs of the vehicles involved. Thought I’d share them here, as this seems to be the best place for anyone looking for reference material.

I have lots of photos, so will break them down into the different services. I’ve also included a few post war ones too, that hopefully will also be of interest. – Moderators – If I’ve over stepped the mark with too many photos, then please do delete the post.

Though many vehicles in the photos are partially obscured by people and bombs, hopefully there are details captured in them, such as camouflage patterns or unit markings, that may help anyone restoring a vehicle, or modellers that may use this site for reference. (To help I’ve included dates where known).

It’s interesting to see that the instructions regarding the bomb disposal markings, stated that ‘BDS’ was to painted on the front ‘other than’ on the windscreens, as this was clearly ignored on occasions by all three services.

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And in answer to Bryan’s question, (of 9 years ago!), mention is made of red wings on an RAF Bomb Disposal Humber car in May 1942 in the book ‘A Cold Blooded Business’ by S/Ldr Haarer, so they must have followed the army’s lead very quickly, as they did when the BD insignia was introduced for the army’s uniform.

When it came to bomb disposal in WW2, all three services helped out each other, this included use of their vehicles.

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For instance the Royal Navy’s ‘Land Incident Section’ that dealt with parachute mines dropped on land, had RASC drivers take them to the site of the unexploded mines in Admiralty staff cars, (I’ve seen mention of Humbers), and the local Royal Engineers unit would provide a suitable vehicle to carry away the ‘hopefully’ disarmed mine’s carcasses.

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Below are photos of Royal Engineers delivering parachute mines to HMS Mirtle (South Downs at Buriton) for the Navy to steam out the explosives.

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Civilian vehicles would also be pressed into service, such as local garage’s tow trucks, or local ‘Corporation’ lorries, etc, often with their regular civilian drivers behind the wheel.

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Anyway, here are the photos of the military vehicles.

First the RAF, starting with a rather unusual one.  This French tank had been captured by the Germans, then in 1944/45 it was utilised by 6210 Bomb Disposal Flight to help in the clearance of minefields in NW Europe.–

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6229 BD Flt with 2000lb British bomb recovered from Antwerp Fort and demolished at Leopoldsburg August 1945.

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Above - July 1941 RAF and RE worked on bombs at the crash site of a Ju88 at Staithes.

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Above - 6223 BD Flt

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2 BDS RAF – May 1942

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KIM is a magnetic clock-stopper.

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BD staff car Holland 1944

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Ford utility Staff car - Holland 1944.

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The above photo was taken on Isle of Sheppey in Nov 1941, when the RAF helped the Navy work on an unexploded parachute mine. They found 4 wheel drive Bedford 3 ton lorries were the most suitable means of transport. They initially had to carry rubble to build a roadway. Numerous trips were made carry equipment etc, the total mileage of all the vehicles involved was 857 miles!

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A number of RAD BD personnel were killed when an explosion occurred while they were unloading a lorry of ordnance at Welscap bomb dump in October 1945.

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They were buried at Tilberg, Holland.

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Germany June 1945

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Some post-war in no particular order -

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Apparently one of these Cuthbertsons got well and truly bogged down at Orfordness and had to be winched out by 71 MU. They got a surprise as it was up to its windows in water and looked like a normal Land Rover until they started pulling it out!

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Above taken 1964ish - 6204 BD Flt - Nuthampstead bomb store.

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1971.

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Cyprus 1974.

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little mishap - March 1982 - Theddlethorpe.

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Larnaca Range, Cyprus - 1985.

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Hopefully something for everyone in that little lot!

Will post some Royal Engineers photos later.

 

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Some Royal Engineers -

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1935 Morris (?)

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Folkestone 1941

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UK Sept 1943.

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Following few are from training film released in 1942.-

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Above - 177 BD Platoon Dorking March 1945

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Above -18 BD Coy – Oct 1943

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Token gesture 'BDS' on headlamp blackout -

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Above - August 1941

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1983

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Photos of Royal Navy bomb disposal vehicles from WW2 are a bit elusive. Probably this is due to the fact the Navy's BD responsibilities in the UK was for their own properties, so Dockyards, where a vehicle or lifting equipment could no doubt be found as and when necessary. The other ordnance worked on was UXBs lodged in ships, or in coastal areas, and for nautical weapons such as German parachute mines or our own depth charges at Coastal Command aircraft crash sites, etc.

Generally a staff car would take the BD officer to the site and the Royal Engineers would provide a vehicle for any heavy work needed. On the continent Port Clearance Naval Parties would have their own transportation, but not much in the way of photos about.

Anyway here are a couple of RN BD vehicle photos 106.jpg.57e4f6b1fd33ab90bdf5470434d99daa.jpg-

Just look at that dangerous thing! - I mean the trip hazard broom waiting for a Tom & Jerry moment.

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Above - Brighton, England. Informal portrait of three members of the Enemy Mining Section (EMS) of HMS Vernon standing at the rear of their work van. The three had just taken part in the retrieval, rendering safe, and removal of a German anti-shipping moored mine.

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Lieutenant Commander Leonard (Leon) Verdi Goldsworthy GC DSC GM, RANVR an Australian member of the Rendering Mines Safe (RMS) Section 

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Ordnance recovered in Malta. One can only imagine how light the steering felt driving with this thing hanging off the back!

Couple of more modern shots -

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Far East Clearance Diving Team

 

 

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Various US forces BD vehicles -114.thumb.JPG.a4ee2f393c44557c34d53c5d54fb32b4.JPG115.thumb.JPG.b82ef266d2decd832e98c0cd1d2fd6a5.JPG116.thumb.JPG.523c34ab28b82c3e8522aab24751764c.JPG116b.jpg.87d7f4f64d0af71935335c4a510ae7c1.jpg116a.thumb.png.f3beca66d16d423c3694a75fe6c35483.png117.thumb.JPG.06ceacb9dd9177844049687b379f7be6.JPG

Above -USAAF vehicle from Stanstead helping RAF BD at Hallingsbury, August 1944.

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M.E.I.U.s are Mobile Explosives Investigation Units.

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Above -Australia 1945 – US Navy MEIU 1

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3 hours ago, rog8811 said:

A fantastic set of photo's, thanks for posting them. Would I be right in thinking that all the small stuff in the foreground of this photo are butterfly bombs?

 

Yes- horrible things. Close to where I live some BD guys were killed in the war while clearing butterfly bombs. An officer came in the next day to finish the job and borrowed an armoured vehicle from a training area nearby (Headley Heath in Surrey). He sat in this while undertaking controlled explosions, but one of the bombs was either blown into the armoured vehicle where it then went off, or a piece of shrapnel came through the viewing slit (sources vary in detail). He was instantly killed despite the precautions taken. Yeah - brave men indeed.

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A selection of miscellaneous bomb disposal vehicles -

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Distinctive Maltese camouflage.

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Dutch.

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Belgian.

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RAAF BD New Guinea 1942.

 

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German.

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Ministry of Supply with civilian driver Fred Hards.

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This lorry was used in support of Bomb Disposal experiments by the Earl of Suffolk who was employed by the Ministry of Supply's scientific arm.

Didn't end well. The Earl, his driver Fred, and his secretary, Eileen Morden, along with a number of Royal Engineers, were killed on Erith Marshes when a bomb they were working on exploded.

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Men of the 9th Australian Div Engineers making mine rollers out of concrete filled oil drums in Egypt. 1942.

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Australian EOD Vietnam - Base at Cua Viet 1970

And lastly a bouncing bomb, also known as an Austin/Morris.

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