Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

75 years of Cambridgeshire's bomb disposal squadron

Officers from 5131 Squadron in training. Credit: ITV News Anglia

At this time of heightened security, Cambridgeshire's RAF bomb disposal team know only constant training will keep them ready for what comes next.

Based at RAF Wittering, technicians from 5131 Squadron are regularly deployed all over the country to diffuse suspicious devices. Much of their work involves wartime weapons like mines, mortars and hand grenades unearthed during archaeological digs. But they are often called to deal with deliberately planted improvised explosive devices.

  • Click below to watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Matthew Hudson
Much of the squadron's work involved wartime weapons. Credit: ITV Anglia News

The squadron's history dates back to World War Two and its technicians have won a total of 43 bravery awards.

We have a real blend of people on the squadron between those who are new, coming in with fresh ideas and different perspectives but also people who've been doing this job for a long, long time and we work very closely with other agencies like our sister services in the army, the police and other civil authorities in doing this job.

– Wing Commander Craig Watson, 5131 Bomb Disposal Squadron
Robots are used where possible to keep officers safe Credit: ITV News Anglia

The squadron hasn't lost an officer on active duty for more than 30 years. Today robots are used where possible to keep them safe. No two jobs are the same. Preparation for every one is painstaking. And dealing with a major incident can mean taking the decision to evacuate hundreds, even thousands of people.

A lot of people ask me why I do the job, it sounds extremely dangerous. My Answer is that the training is so professional and at such a high level that I have total confidence in it.

– Flying Officer Ian D'Arcy, 5131 Bomb Disposal Squadron
Officer during a training exercise Credit: ITV News Anglia

Most legacy munitions which are unearthed are dealt with the old fashioned way - an officer getting up close and personal with a bomb.

And there are still dozens of incidents every year along beaches and in fields, woods and gardens so the squadron never knows when the phone will ring next.