Unexploded bomb squads

In Churchill’s Memoirs of The Second World War, he tells the story of the unexploded bomb squads, or U.X.B squads.

During the bombardment of England, the Nazis dropped large numbers of delayed-action bombs. These bombs weren’t meant to explode on contact, but to land and serve as a kind of mine — to cause uncertainty and paralyse action. The bombs had to be dug up and exploded, or defused.

That’s where the U.X.B. squads came in. They were volunteers in the various cities, towns and districts who took this dangerous job upon themselves. Churchill said, “Some survived…Others ran twenty, thirty, or even forty courses before they met their fate.”

He tells of one team that consisted of “the Earl of Suffolk, his lady private secretary, and his rather aged chauffeur. They called themselves ‘the Holy Trinity.’” They tackled 34 bombs effectively, “with urbane and smiling efficiency,” Churchill wrote. But the 35th took their lives.

Sometimes doing the right thing is costly.

Reference: Winston S. Churchill, Memoirs of The Second World War, abridgement (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1959), pp. 373-374

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