Pocklington Probus Club members enjoy explosive talk as they return to face-to-face meetings

Members of the Pocklington Probus Club were able to assemble at the Yorkway Motel and hold their first face-to-face meeting since March 2019.

Monday, 16th August 2021, 11:37 am
Andrew Smith (speaker introducer), speaker Steve Wilks and Ian Ryder (Pocklington Probus Club chairman).

At this reunion, members were privileged to hear a sobering talk by local resident Steve Wilks QGM on the modus operandi of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) during the Northern Ireland ‘troubles’.

Steve had personal experience of working on bomb disposal (for which he received Queens Gallantry Medal) but chose to keep his talk predominantly factual rather dwell on personal reminiscences.

Steve explained initially that between 1969 and 2007 there were at any one time 28,000 soldiers on the ground in Northern Ireland, amounting to over 300,000 in all being involved during the conflict.

Steve went on to explain the workings of Improvised Explosive Devices (IODs) and their increased sophistication over 35 years as bomb makers became more experienced.

These were countered by the formation of the 321 EOD Unit and the creation of various devices, known as Disrupters, that were used to identify suspect items, which ranged from dustbins and handbags to booby-trapped cars. The initially very crude Disrupters were known as ‘wheelbarrows’, being little more than car-battery operated mobile carts with probing cameras, but with increased electronic development these became much more robust and effective.

However, these Disruptors did not eliminate the need for close human intervention, known as ‘taking the long walk’. This highly dangerous work on the part of the operators in the 321 EOD Unit led to 18 deaths.

After Steve’s excellent talk, members were able to socialise in the Yorkway bar – an activity unachievable on Zoom.