“More than 2,000 men served in the U.S. Army’s elite bomb disposal teams during the war. Yet American UXB squads received very little media coverage owing to their secrecy and small numbers.”
WHEN PEOPLE THINK about Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians, many envision soldiers in blast suits with remote-controlled robots, tracking down IEDs like something out of the 2009 movie The Hurt Locker. However, just like most stereotypes from Hollywood war films, such impressions are misleading. EODs duties are just as complex and varied as in the branch’s beginnings in World War Two, when it bore the simple name: “bomb disposal.”
The British Royal Engineers were the true pioneers of bomb disposal. These early trailblazers first proved their mettle during the Battle of Britain, a time when London was dotted with unexploded bombs — UXBs as they were then known. These weapons were armed with a variety of delayed-action and booby-trapped anti-handling fuzes* — it required nerves of steel to disarm them. By the end of 1940, the British army had raised more than 20 bomb disposal companies. Soon, the U.S. military was sending observers to the United Kingdom to learn from these early experts in hopes of establishing an American UXB corps. By 1942, British bomb technicians were training stateside bomb squads – many of which would soon be working overseas with both the army and the navy.
[* NOTE: Ordnance professionals spell fuze with a ‘z’ to differentiate between mechanical and chemical detonators.]
Read the Remainder at Military History Now