Who ‘disarmed’ the Boer War bomb in the tower?

In his column in the St Helena Independent, Julian Cairns-Wicks recalled the saga of the unexploded bomb that was discovered in the old round tower on Ladder Hill. But what happened to it? Here’s the down-to-earth answer, as told to the Friends of St Helena by former governor ANDREW GURR.  

The unexploded bomb – now there’s a good story.

We learned about it as the RMS St Helena was a day out of Ascension, and I was also told there was a bomb expert on Ascension who could put it right. So after a lot of haggling, we turned the ship round and we went back to Ascension.

We then had haggling with goodness knows how many people in the UK as to whether this lady could get on the ship, and at midnight, after we had been negotiating all evening, she got on board and we took her back to St Helena.

And the story has a wonderful end, because she said it was an air-burst cluster bomb from the Boer War and she couldn’t dismantle it because she didn’t know how to, but she suggested we roped off the area and didn’t go near it, and sooner or later somebody might come.

So she went back.

I rang up the Ministry of Defence and said, could someone come and take it away? They said, “It’s not our bomb.”

I said, “Of course it’s your bomb: you fought in the Boer War, didn’t you? It’s a British bomb. Come and take it away.”

And they wouldn’t.

Only last year (2011), I noticed the area wasn’t roped off. I said, “What’s happened to that?”

I was told: “Oh, a fireman picked it up, went down the Ladder, and threw it in the sea.”

St Helena Online asks: who was the no-nonsense fireman who carried the 110-year-old on the long walk down Jacob’s Ladder, thus saving taxpayers a bill for a couple of thousand pounds or more? If you know, click on the “Contact” tab at the top of this website or tell Mike at the St Helena Independent. 

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