Southport Past (OTS News) Memoirs of a Real Life Bomb Disposal Expert Captain Henry Beckingham from Southport

Memoirs of a Real Life Bomb Disposal Expert from Southport

Captain Henry Beckingham TD.RE  was eighty five years-old (in 2004). He lived in Birkdale and wrote a book for the “German Occupation Museum” about the part he played in the British Army 1940-45 during this time he was the officer in command of clearing the minefields on the island of Guernsey. In the war life expectancy of a bomb disposal expert was a mere eight weeks. This was entirely due to the nature of their work.   Pictured above is Captain Henry Beckingham in the British Army.

This is Captain Beckingham’s second book about his time during the war; the first is titled “Living with Danger” in which he gives an insight to the memories of a bomb disposal officer. The book has sold thousands of copies and is still in great demand throughout the world.   Pictured is Henry in January 2004.

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Pictured below (middle) is Captain H.W. Beckingham TD. RE behind the perimeter fence of a minefield in June 1945 with Hauptman Kais (mines officer to 1st Pioneer Battalion 319 Infantry Division) together with Ober Gefreiter Adt who acted as the interpreter.

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In Henry Beckingham’s latest memoirs he tells the true story of how he worked with German POW’s, and using original landmine plans, from Germany to clear Guernsey of all its landmines.

The man responsible for laying the mines remained on the island after liberation and worked under the supervision of members of the bomb disposal team. In April 1946 after the demolition of a number of bunkers and mines Albin Bellauf was sent back to POW camp 189, the camp in Dunham Massey Park Altringham, Cheshire.   Pictured below is Albin Bellauf.

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Albin Bellauf at work in the drawing office.

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Pictured below is the obstacle area map’s of Guernsey.

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Pictured below are the underwater obstacles in Vazon Bay with “Tellermine” attached.

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Pictured are the anti-tank obstacles and Tetrahedra on the beaches with Tellermine’s attached.


Pictured in Fermain Bay are underwater obstacles.

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Pictured is the perimeter wire around a minefield.

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Pictured are German POW’s clearing “Schu Mines” around air-field perimeter.

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Pictured are igniters being removed from “Schu Mines”

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Map of Guernsey showing obstacle areas.

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A brief account of the Alderney: Evacuation and Occupation 1940-45.

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Around 1,400 people lived in Alderney in 1940. Once France fell to the Germans, given the choice between evacuating and remaining, almost the entire population elected to leave after a mass meeting at Les Butes.

They were taken to Weymouth, England on Sunday, June 23. At the Alderney Museum there is a ‘census’ of the population at this time. Sorted by index cards, the list gives a great deal of information, both about the individuals and their immediate families and other relations, births of children (three on the ships during the journey to Weymouth) and deaths, while the arrangements were being made, and details of the occupations, maiden names of wives and widows and the properties lived in, plus the contents of these houses when the hurried evacuation commenced.

Once the Germans arrived on July 2, the handful that stayed were moved to Guernsey and Alderney was fortified. Slave labour was used to build this stronghold, administered by the infamous Organisation Todt, many died. Once the Occupation was over, the Island had to be made safe again. Sadly lives were lost during this operation too. At the Alderney War Memorial there is a plaque on the left hand side wall: Sapper George Onions, Royal Engineers, who gave his life on minefield clearing operations on Alderney 21st June 1945.

On December 2 1945, the first party of Islanders came home, the remainder followed in stages, as Alderney could once again support them.

Henry sadly passed away on Friday 28th February 2014 aged 93.


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