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From Blitz to the Troubles, heroism of Army bomb disposal units remembered

By David Wilcock

Prince Harry has paid tribute to the bomb disposal experts who saved lives in Northern Ireland as the Troubles raged.

The prince yesterday met families of members of explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) units killed in action at a service at St Paul's Cathedral in London marking the 75th anniversary of the squads.

The congregation of 1,500 service personnel and families were played recordings of BBC news headlines about bombings, including that of Lord Louis Mountbatten, the Queen's cousin and great-uncle of the Prince of Wales, who was assassinated by the IRA in the Republic in 1979.

The prince, who did two tours in Afghanistan with the Army, also crouched down to chat and share jokes with two sappers who lost their legs in the conflict.

The service paid tribute to those who served as bomb disposal experts over the decades, here and abroad, from those who worked on Luftwaffe bombs in the Blitz to those who served in Northern Ireland and more recent conflicts like Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

It included poignant addresses from Ian Kirkpatrick, whose son Corporal Jamie Kirkpatrick was killed in Afghanistan, and from the musician and television presenter Jools Holland, who is honorary colonel of Cpl Kirkpatrick's unit, 101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment, as well as serving personnel.

In a poignant address, Mr Kirkpatrick told the congregation: "It is extremely difficult to put into words what Jamie's loss has meant to us, his family and his many friends.

"We continue to reflect on all the ongoing events that he is now not around to witness and therefore seem somehow incomplete."

Harry spoke to Cpl Kirkpatrick's family, including his young daughter Polly, at the end of the service.

The prince also spoke to former servicemen badly injured while serving in the forces.

Belfast Telegraph


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