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Special WW2 George Cross medals reunited at St Paul’s in presence of HRH Prince Harry

A service to commemorate the 75th anniversary of bomb disposal was attended by HRH Prince Harry at St Paul’s Cathedral today.

Two George Crosses awarded to soldiers who removed an unexploded WW2 bomb from St Paul’s were reunited for the first time. They were laid on the altar during the service with the Royal Engineers Association Standard.

Jools M Holland, Honorary Colonel to 101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) said:

‘St Paul’s Cathedral is where we can begin our history of bomb disposal.’

An unexploded bomb was heard to fall near the front of the Cathedral on 12 July 1940. Lieutenant Bob Davies, of the Royal Engineers, with six Sappers, jumped into the bomb crater to race against time to deal with the bomb. They worked against the clock during a gas blast, fumes from carbon monoxide, and bombs from more air raids.

Sapper Wylie found the huge bomb, which was taken by truck for detonation by Lieutenant Davies in the Hackney Marshes.  He received the very first of the newly-inaugurated George Crosses; Sapper Wylie received the second.

The first George Cross is in the possession of the Imperial War Museum and St Paul’s Cathedral holds the second.

The full story can be read in the order of service for the Service of Commemoration on the 75th Anniversary of Bomb Disposal (BD 75.)

Bomb-Disposal-Anniversary-Service---22-October-2015.pdf

This lists all the music from the service, full readings and examples of teamwork and bravery by members of the British Armed Forces involved in Explosive Ordnance Disposal.

The Dean of St Paul’s, the Very Reverend David Ison, said:

‘While we recall past acts of heroism in the Second World War, Northern Ireland, and Afghanistan, and in service in this country and around the world, we remember too the great dangers in which we remain as a result of our unhappy divisions, and we pray for those who continue to protect our safe passage through life both here and abroad.’

Collections were made for BD 75 charities: Blesma, the Royal Engineers Association (Benevolence Funds) and Walking with the Wounded.