Car Bombs and Barrack Busters by Dan Harvey


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Cover of Car Bombs and Barrack BustersCar Bombs and Barrack Busters tells for the first time the remarkable story of a unique group of elite solders who continually risked life and limb to disarm explosive devices planted by paramilitaries on the south side of the Irish Border.

The Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit of the Irish Army was established as part of the Ordnance Corps in 1969 following the spillover of the Troubles in Northern Ireland into the Republic. Members of the Corps had dealt with unexploded bombs and sea mines from the Second World War and earlier, but now even more highly trained officers were needed to deal with the growing campaign of terror that threatened the security of the State.

Suspect bombs were made safe by using robots and remote-controlled explosions, but often it also required officers to don a ‘bomb suit’ and take ‘The Long Walk’ to engage manually with a device that had the potential to kill or at least maim. Each situation was unique, and EOD officers had to be constantly vigilant. The bomb-making capabilities of the paramilitaries, especially the Provisional IRA, became more sophisticated and ingenious as the Troubles progressed, and there was always the fear that a newly discovered bomb might contain a ‘booby trap’ not met before. These developments had to be countered by up-skilling and regularly retraining EOD personnel. It was an arms race in which falling behind could result in death or injury.

The book provides a fascinating account of the history of the Ordnance Corps, including its operation overseas in peace-keeping missions, and explains clearly for lay readers all the technical aspects of bomb-disposal. Much of the story is told by those directly involved. They recount their experiences without any sense of self-importance or recognition of their own bravery; they are too grounded for that and often, with a good dose of black humour, are self-deprecating about their achievements and honest about their mistakes.

The author: Lieutenant Colonel Dan Harvey, now retired, has served on military operations at home and abroad for more than 35 years. He is the author of Soldiering Against Subversion: The Irish Defence Forces and Internal Security During the Troubles, 1969-1998 (2018), Into Action: Irish Peacekeepers Under Fire, 1960-2014 (2017), A Bloody Day: The Irish at Waterloo and A Bloody Night: The Irish at Rorke’s Drift (both reissued 2017), and Soldiers of the Short Grass: A History of the Curragh Camp (2016).

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Weight 0.520 kg


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