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Prince Harry attends service and meets families of bomb disposal experts killed in action

Prince Harry attended a service at St Paul’s Cathedral on Thursday to mark the 75th anniversary of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) across the British Armed Forces.

Officially formed in October 1940, the initial Royal Engineers bomb disposal unit performed a significant role over the course of the World War Two, dealing with tens of thousands of unexploded bombs in the UK and abroad.

Since then, bomb disposal has grown from the Royal Engineers to function across the British Armed Forces including conflicts in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, to name a few.

The Lord Mayor of London Alan Yarrow and his wife Jilly with Prince Harry at St Paul's Cathedral.

The Lord Mayor of London Alan Yarrow and his wife Jilly with Prince Harry at St Paul’s Cathedral.

To honour its 75th anniversary, the service at St Paul’s Cathedral focussed on the part of EOD throughout the Second World War, as well as throughout the conflicts in Northern Ireland and Afghanistan. Serving and retired EOD members addressed those gathered sharing various accounts of battles and the role the EOD played.

Harry, who served in the British Army in Afghanistan, squatted down to talk and share jokes with EOD two engineers who lost their legs in the conflict. The service was a moving tribute those who served as bomb disposal experts both here and abroad.

A moment that was close to home for Prince Harry was part of the presentation included BBC news headlines and mention Lord Mountbatten. Mountbatten, The Duke of Edinburgh’s uncle, was killed by the IRA bomb in 1979.

Included in the service were addresses from Ian Kirkpatrick, whose son Corporal Jamie Kirkpatrick was killed in Afghanistan, and from musician and television presenter Jools Holland. Holland is honorary colonel of Cpl Kirkpatrick’s unit, 101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment.

In his address, Mr Kirkpatrick told those gathered: “We recall many family celebrations and events that would, under normal circumstances, be a source of happiness, but which are now inevitably a source of sadness too.

Harry spoke to his Kirkpatrick family, including his young daughter Polly, at the conclusion of the service.

The Prince also spoke to former servicemen severely injured whilst serving in the forces, including Sappers Clive Smith and Jack Cummings. Both men lost their legs on a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Mr Smith talked with Harry about the Invictus Games for injured servicemen, having taken part last year in the hand cycling events.

“He is always very approachable and interested in what you have to say,” Smith stated.

Photo Credit: Owen Cooban © MOD Crown Copyright 2015

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