Royal Marines show off deadly Afghan booby trap bombs

The Royal Marines Museum in Eastney was converted into a base in Afghanistan for the day so members of the public could get to see the military in action. William Redwood (11) from Barnham searches for ordnance with AB Michael Sandbrook. [01243552367] Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (121971-8)

The Royal Marines Museum in Eastney was converted into a base in Afghanistan for the day so members of the public could get to see the military in action. William Redwood (11) from Barnham searches for ordnance with AB Michael Sandbrook. [01243552367] Picture: Ian Hargreaves (121971-8)

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ANOTHER time and in another place the red moped might have been rather funky.

But this machine was designed to kill its rider and British troops.

It was ridden by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan and might have achieved its lethal aim if the rider had put enough fuel in the tank.

He spluttered to a halt before he could plunge headlong and explode among a detachment of Royal Marines.

It was one chilling example of dozens of deadly improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on display in the grounds of the Royal Marines Museum, Eastney, Portsmouth, yesterday.

Alongside the remains of the deadly bike were a sobering collection of home-made IEDs collected in the field by the commandos in Afghanistan last year.

There was an innocent-looking Coca-Cola can wired and packed with explosives and used as a hand grenade; a wall clock adapted to wreak havoc when the two hands moved to a designated time, and a Nokia mobile phone designed to be triggered by a call from anywhere in the world.

Despite torrential rain it was these booby traps which attracted hundreds of curious visitors throughout the day to the Destination Afghanistan exhibition.

Dozens of marines spent the day happily explaining in their matter-of-fact way how they faced death or mutilation every day while touring the country and taking on the Taliban and their al-Qaeda allies.

For Donald Pettigrew, 41, of Tokar Street, Eastney, it was the IEDs which he found most compelling of all the exhibits.

He said: ‘I found the IEDs frightening. So many of them are just everyday things which look so innocent. But they’re responsible for causing mayhem.’

The museum’s grounds were converted into a Royal Marines’ base for the day to give the public an inkling of what life is like for them in Afghanistan.

It also unveiled its new and permanent assault course – a big attraction for children, along with paintballing and a climbing wall.

Museum director Robert Bruce said: ‘It’s vitally important that among the 345 years history of the Royal Marines that we display here, we show people how the corps works today.

‘It makes it all so much more relevant.’

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