The Long Walk

Twice awarded the George Medal for bravery, as well as an MBE for Gallantry, Peter Gurney, the former head of the Metropolitan Police Explosives Squad, was defusing bombs when international terror groups like Black September first began to use IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) as their weapon of choice.

As one of the world's top bomb disposal officers, he was in the front line as the IRA campaign spread to the mainland. He defused hundreds of bombs and saved many lives and he describes "the long walk", the journey, always made alone, by a bomb disposal officer towards the suspect device.

In "It's My Story: The Long Walk", BBC Northern Ireland's Political Editor, Mark Devenport, tracks Peter Gurney's career over forty years, as he and his colleagues played a deadly game of catch up with the bomb makers and their increasingly sophisticated devices.

Police officers, including the former head of the Anti Terrorist Squad, remember the IRA bombing campaigns in England, including the booby-trapped Wimpy Bar bomb in 1981 in London's Oxford Street. This killed instantly Peter Gurney's close friend and colleague, Ken Howarth, but after finding his body, Mr Gurney had to check for secondary devices and then go on to defuse a similar device in another building.

There are never-before-heard tapes, recorded in real time by Mr Gurney into a tiny micro-cassette strapped to his spine (the part of a person's body most likely to protect the recordings should his "luck" run out). These dramatic tapes, reveal Mr Gurney, cautious about booby-traps, discovering an IRA arms cache of guns, explosives and booby-trap devices hidden in a forest.

And 21 years after the IRA's audacious attempt to murder the Prime Minister and his cabinet, Peter Gurney returns to Number 10 Downing Street, where, in one of the last major jobs of his career, he defused one of the mortar bombs fired through the hole in the roof of a transit van, parked in Whitehall.

Producer: Fiona Hill.

Release date:

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Mon 26 Mar 2012 20:00

Related topics