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Duration: 1 hour

Three former bomb disposal officers who served at the height of the Northern Ireland conflict, return for the first time in 30 years
to revisit the defining moments of their careers, and the moments when they almost lost their lives.

Last on

Tue 4 Sep 2012 01:30 BBC Four

  • “You can feel your pulse quickening..."

    “You can feel your pulse quickening..."

    "...You can feel your palms sweating. As you walk you know there’s nothing going to save you if that device functions.” Retired member of 321 EOD Squadron.

    They are regarded by many as the men who wrote the ‘rule book’ on bomb disposal and whose ingenuity, techniques and methods continue to save lives around the world today, 40 years later.

    They were ordinary soldiers serving in 1970s Northern Ireland – a laboratory for bomb making - who became specialists in their discipline through a deadly game of cat and mouse between bomb-maker and bomb-defuser.

    In a new one-hour BBC One Northern Ireland documentary, Bomb Squad Men: The Long Walk, on Thursday, April 05 at 10.35pm, three retired members of 321 EOD Squadron set foot back in Northern Ireland for the first time in 30 years.

    In what is an untold story, they give their unique insight into their own personal experiences of bomb disposal alongside archive reports and photography from the period. In the programme, made by independent production company Tern TV, they talk, for the first time, about their experiences and their mind-sets as they put their lives on the line to save the lives of others – just by doing their job.

    In a ‘profession’ that had little or no training available for new recruits, the three men who served in Northern Ireland during the early ‘70s reflect on the colleagues they lost, as the bomb-makers began to employ more and more sophisticated techniques. As the devices became more complicated, 321 Squadron developed counter-measures to combat the threat.

    The three men reveal how a fierce technological battle developed between bomb maker and the bomb disposal squad. Each new device was met with a new counter measure. In the early years the ‘tools’ of the trade were tin snips while in later years the threat of remote controlled devices called for more sophisticated techniques to disarm the bomb.

    The documentary gives viewers a rare insight into how these men dealt with physically disarming deadly devices knowing that their unseen enemy was continually seeking ways to make their job more hazardous. They knew that the chances were that nothing could save them if the bomb went off. They also knew that some of the devices were intended for the attention of the bomb disposal expert and no one else.

    Executive Producer Brendan Hughes of Tern TV said:

    “Bombs were a part of daily life for many people in Northern Ireland during the darkest days of the Troubles. In this film the men who defused the bombs tell their own story about incidents they attended. We found that this is a totally unknown story and we wanted to let these men tell it in their own words. I have never heard soldiers speak so freely about their time here. It’s fascinating to hear them talk about handling these deadly devices as their ‘job’ and how they dealt with that.”

Credits

Producer
Brendan J Byrne
Director
Brendan J Byrne
Executive Producer
Brendan Hughes
Executive Producer
Justin Binding

Broadcasts

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