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Staff Sergeant Thomas Alexander Munford


Incident details. On the 21st February 1941, 8 Bomb Disposal Company were working on a bomb in Castle Street, Swansea. When partially uncovered it was found to be fitted with a Type 50, anti disturbance fuse. A bomb could be made safe by either dealing with the fuse or removing the explosive filling. This was done by steam sterilisation. The filling plate was removed or a hole cut into the side, then a jet of steam was inserted, this would melt the cast explosive inside. Here follows the report from Major J.B. James who was Officer in Charge of 8 Bomb Disposal Company of this incident. Sterilisation commenced at 13.30 hours, by Headquarters sterilization staff, Staff Sergeant Munford in charge. At 16.25 the steam was turned off, S/Sgt Munford informed Lieutenant W.D. Rees O.C 103 Bomb Disposal Section that the explosive filling had been steamed out to below fuze chambers level. He recommended bring the bomb out of the hole and finishing the steaming in the back street. Lt Rees realized a second or lower fuze had still to be exposed. Which could be a No 17 Clockwork delay fuze? He was informed by S/Sgt Munford that they had checked using a stethoscope and there was no sound of ticking. Therefore it was decided to lift the bomb clear of the hole. A clamp was attached to the filling end of the bomb, and a rope attached between it and a lorry. Instructions were given for everybody to take cover. When this was done the order to pull was given. Sergeant Finney countered this order as he saw that the rope was slipping, he secured the rope on the lorry. Major James once again gave the order to commence pulling. He was watching the bomb when it exploded. He felt the blast and got under the lorry as debris was falling. When he came out he saw a body on the ground on the far side of the lorry, when he checked he found five others. He believes they came out of cover when the rope slipped and due to where he was standing he did not see them. Staff Sergeant T. Munford, Lance Sergeant T. Henderson, Corporals J. Holder, J. Salisbury, Lance Corporal J. Johnstone, Sapper W. Craig and Driver R. Simpson were killed in the blast. S/Sgt Munford was due to go to London to receive his commission, he was only on site as he had relieved a comrade. Sapper Harry Vallance recalls, that his section was meant to be on this task, however as they had been bust the other section volunteered. Sapper Vallance and section were working on another bomb at the prison, when the other one exploded; they rushed to the scene but could do nothing, except identify their comrades. Lt Rees and Sgt Finney both suffered shock and punctured ear drums and were hospitalised for a considerable period

Personal Details

  • 1861541 Staff Sergeant
  • Thomas Alexander Munford
  • 8 Bomb Disposal Company
  • Royal Engineers
Son of Mr and Mrs J.A. Munford: Husband of Gladys Edith Munford. Died on the 21st February 1941. Aged 33. Buried at Efford Cemetery, Plymouth. Roman Catholic Section. C. Grave 10351.


  1. Trula Knowles nee Munford

    I have explicit memories of my mum receiving the telegram of my father’s death. A neighbour was with her and mum , probably knowing the contents of the telegram, asked the neighbour to open it and read it. My mum screamed when the contents were read out revealing that my father had died aged 33. I was nearly 5 years of age, my sister, Anita was two years old. My mother worked her whole life to provide my sister and I with everything we needed. She was the perfect mum and passed away in2007.

  2. Trula Knowles nee Munford

    I am the daughter of Staff Sergeant Thomas Munford. At the time of my father’s death I can recall my mother, Gladys Munford, screaming with grief and distress as the contents of a telegram informing her of my father’s death were read to her, by a neighbour. (My mother guessed what the contents of the telegram would be and asked a close friend, who happened to be with her, to read the contents). I was 5 years old, my sister, Anita was 2 years of age. My mother proved to be a wonderful mum. At times her working day started at 6.30 am. She worked at Bulford Garrison school in Bond Street, Bulford. At the start f the day mum shovelled five buckets of coke into a huge boiler that gave the school its central heating. She returned home to get breakfast for us before school. At 9am until noon she worked in the local greengrocers shop, Bollens by name. Then helped with school dinners at the school which was next to Bollens. returned to the shop during the afternoon, and then back to the school at 5pm to clean the school single handed, and finally shovelled buckets of coke into the boiler, shutting it down until early the next morning. She was only 5 ft tall but boy, did she have strength of character. As children we never wanted for anything. She sewed our dresses and knitted our cardigans etc, in fact we were called ‘little princesses’ by our neighbours. My father would have been proud of her. My father was due to get his commission as an officer the week after he died. Mum would have received more widows pension if this had been the case but as it was she received a much much smaller pension. We children have always been proud of her and loved her very much.


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