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101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment
(Explosive Ordnance Disposal)
Regimental Association

Lieutenent George Carroll

Died 23rd May 2012

George Carroll, died aged 94, was a bomb disposal officer in Malta during the height of the siege in 1941 and 1942.

George Daniel Carroll, the son of a quay master in North Shields, was born on April 22 1918. He won scholarships to Tynemouth High School and King’s College, University of Durham, where he graduated in Electrical Engineering in 1939. A leading college sportsman and amateur actor, he was studying for a further degree in Mechanical Engineering when he volunteered for the Army in November 1939.

He joined the Corps of Royal Engineers and, in October 1940, was posted to London as a bomb disposal officer at the height of the Blitz. For the first three weeks, he received no formal training.

His posting to Malta in April 1941 put him in charge of a section of 20 men responsible for Army bomb disposal for the whole of the islands of Malta and Gozo with the exception of RAF airfields and Royal Navy dockyards. At the site of a UXB, he had absolute authority over all civilians and over officers, however senior in rank.

In January 1942, in response to escalating Luftwaffe bombing, another officer joined him. During March and April, the tonnage of bombs dropped on the island was double the total for the worst year of the London Blitz. Between them, the two men dealt with 600 UXB reports and with their sections neutralised 500 unexploded bombs in under four months.

On one occasion, having climbed up to a point where a bomb was perched precariously on a roof, he was scraping carefully through some rubble to find the fuse when suddenly the bomb fell. “I died,” he said afterwards. “I was expecting it to explode and it didn’t. It bounced across the road and hit the ground again. I died again. And then it rolled across the ground and with each roll it could go off – and it didn’t. I was very lucky that day.”

Following surgery for a perforated ulcer which had almost killed him, Carroll returned to bomb disposal duties in London, serving for another 15 months before his health deteriorated again. In February 1944, he was retired on the grounds of ill health.

He then became a professional actor, achieving success in repertory and on the London stage. He appeared in the musical Pacific 1860 by Noël Coward.

Carroll subsequently became a science teacher in Farnham and, in 1957, was appointed head of department at a pioneering secondary modern school in Kent. He retired in 1981, but remained active as an amateur actor, golfer, radio football commentator and charity volunteer. He suffered flashbacks and nightmares and was diagnosed in 2009 with post-traumatic stress disorder.