Bexhill bomb disposal expert was unsung hero

Students at Bexhill College were able to learn the incredible story of a local wartime bomb disposal hero in the week leading up to Armistice.

Wednesday, 14th November 2018, 12:59 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th November 2018, 1:06 pm
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Bomb Disposal Hero 2 SUS-181113-130231001

The college received a visit from local author Pat Strickson who spoke about her debut book ‘Time Stood Still in a Muddy Hole’

The book tells the story of the courageous war time work of Captain John Hannaford, one of the last WWII bomb disposal officers, and for many years a Bexhill resident.

SEE ALSO: Man jailed after taking a knife into Conquest Hospital John died on November 24 2015, aged 98.

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Pat spent the morning speaking passionately to students and staff about the Captain’s story, which she discovered whilst admiring a picture of the De La Warr Pavilion that John Hannaford had painted.

Pat travelled all over the UK and the world to get material for the book. Now that it has been published, her quest is to try to get recognition for the bomb disposal officers and men and their bravery as they did not receive medals for their role in keeping civilians safe in the UK.

These men were believed lucky if they lived past two weeks after signing up.

Pat has created a petition for them to be recognised and is working closely with the Flex Fund charity; for every book she sells, 10% of will be donated, along with any proceeds from her knitted poppies.

Pat kindly donated a copy of her book to Bexhill College’s Learning Resources Centre (LRC).

LRC Manger Andrew Warne said: “The library team would like to thank Pat Strickson for her kind donation of her book.

“It is always fascinating to find out the hidden history of ‘ordinary’ people. I’m sure that the students at the College will be interested in the story of Captain John Hannaford and the dangerous work of bomb disposal during WWII.

“It is important to remember these local people’s extraordinary stories of as they pass out of living memory. Winston Churchill once said ‘Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it’. I hope that the bomb disposal officers do get the recognition they deserve for their courage and selfless actions.”

“Time Stood Still in a Muddy Hole” is published by Brown Dogs books and is available at Waterstones’ Hastings and Eastbourne stores at and Bexhill Museum, Egerton Road, price £9.99. It is also available from Amazon and on Kindle as an e-book.

In his last interview John Hannaford told former Bexhill Observer Deputy Editor John Dowling: “I’m the only man left standing now. I’ve had a wonderful life and I have a wonderful wife. I’m just a lucky man.”

John Dowling said: “He campaigned vigorously for the bomb disposal service to be accorded the place in history it so richly deserved.”