Former Thetford grammar teacher who became decorated naval bomb disposal expert dies aged 102
- Credit: Archant
A former Norfolk teacher who was decorated twice for bravery in dealing with unexploded bombs has died aged 102.
It was in June 1940 that Eric Worsley had to leave his role as science master at Thetford Grammar School to join the war effort.
Aged 26 at the time, he was recruited into the Navy as a bomb disposal officer and saw action within months.
But it was the events of October 19, 1940, which led to Mr Worsley eventually receiving the George Medal.
That day, a Focke-Wulf Fw 190 dropped a 250kg bomb near to the Royal navy training establishment, HMS Collingwood.
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Partially buried in an open space between two buildings, it had failed to explode and Mr Worsley was called in to defuse it.
In a memoir, he wrote: 'The tail fin was just visible above ground. The fuses were not visible. German clockwork fuses had a time delay that could be between about an hour and up to 96 hours.
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'It wasn't an option to attach a rope to the tail fin and yank the bomb out of the ground so that the fuses would be exposed, because the Germans had a nice combination of clockwork fuses and an anti-disturbance fuse.'
Around 4,000 trainees had been sheltering from the bomb as Mr Worsley got to work.
'Was there a sound of ticking, or was it my imagination?,' He wrote. 'I doubled across to the nearest shelter, hoping to find a doctor with a stethoscope. I was lucky. The stethoscope made the tick like that of an alarm clock. It was 1530. More earth had to be removed to allow the fuse to be withdrawn.'
By 5pm, he wrote that he knew what to do, but he was feeling 'sick to the stomach' and his feet were like lead.
Despite the pressure, he managed to unscrew the primer and the bomb was made safe.
He was awarded the George Medal for gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty.
In the following years, he helped defuse numerous other bombs which were dropped around Portsmouth.
He was eventually made an MBE for bomb disposal gallantry during the Second World War.
Mr Worsley was born in Nantwich on April 9, 1914 and educated at Winsford Verdin Grammar School.
After the war he lectured in physics at Hull University. He died on December 30, 2016.