Our speaker was Barry Buttenshaw. Barry’s talk was entitled “Prince Charles, Bombs and Barry” and was about his misspent youth as a bomb disposal officer in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps and attached to the SAS in Hereford on Prince Charles Personal Protection squad in 1969.
Barry regained us with stories of how he joined the Army at an early age and volunteered for the Ordnance Corps. After weeks of rigorous training his first posting was to a huge ammunition and ordinance facility in Belgium which had a 36 kilometre fence line. His troop was notorious for thinking they had broken the wheel of an old cannon , part of a pair outside the main camp building. So surreptitiously they had it repaired only to find later from the Colonel it was broken during the Battle of Waterloo.
Barry became part of a detail who was seconded to the Prince of Wales security during the Investiture in Wales in July 1969. Threats were from the Welsh Nationalists whom he described as the “Viet Taff” He told of some amusing incidents when searching for bombs at Caernarfon Castle including the toilet arrangements for the Queen which contained a fur lined toilet seat.
On one occasion he went to an official dinner held by Welsh political dignitaries where all except the Prince of Wales and his detail, including Barry, were in lounge suits. The Prince of Wales broke the Ice in his speech by apologising that “ He and his mates unfortunately had turned up in the wrong type of clobber”
Barry concluded by illustrating the highly dangerous job of defusing IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) and Hand Grenades, many of which were handed into police stations. On one occasion he had to defuse sticks of gelignite which had liquified in a locked safe. A highly skilled and dangerous occupation.
Barry does his amusing talk to raise money for the Rotary End Polio Now campaign and so far over our years he has raised enough money to have 370,000 children inoculated against polio. When Rotary started this campaign in 1985 there were 360,000 new cases of polio every year world-wide. Last year (2017) there were just 39 and in the first part of this year (2018) in single figures. However, the World Health Organisation has said that for any country to be declared “Polio Free”, there must be three consecutive years of no new cases. It is currently in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.