The royal ex-Army captain marked the 75th anniversary of the bomb disposal units in the British army

By Simon Perry
Updated October 22, 2015 12:35 PM
Credit: John Stillwell/Getty

Prince Harry was back on ceremonial duty and showing his compassion for the families of former servicemen and women at a special commemoration Thursday.

His blue suit decorated in medals from his 10 years of service in the armed forces (including two tours of Afghanistan), Harry crouched to talk to wounded veterans and met with those who had lost relatives.

The prince, 31, who rose to the rank of captain in the Army, was at the service at the magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral in London that marked the 75th anniversary of the bomb disposal unit (Explosive Ordinance Disposal, or EOD) in the British Army.

Two days ago, he quietly took part in a round-Britain trek made by six former armed forces members with Walking With The Wounded. But at St. Paul’s it was a different, formal recognition of sacrifice.

After the service he met the family of Corporal Jamie Kirkpatrick, a bomb disposal expert who was shot dead at the age of 32 in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province in June 2010. Kirkpatrick, a Royal Engineer from Llanelli, Wales, was fondly remembered during the service.

His father, Ian, spoke of their grief. “We recall many family celebrations and events that would, under normal circumstances, be a source of happiness, but which are now inevitably a source of sadness too,” he said.

Mr. Kirkpatrick told the 1,500-strong congregation, “Public empathy in general is comforting, but inevitably will diminish over time, save for brief episodes of remembrance each November. We remain reliant on each other, plus close family and friends for support.”

And crouching down, Harry chatted to two ex-“sappers” in wheelchairs. Clive Smith, 30, and Jack Cummings, 27, who each lost their legs in bomb explosions in Afghanistan, both knew the royal from his work with injured veterans.

Mr. Smith from Walsall, West Midlands, hopes to compete in cycling events at Harry’s Invictus Games for wounded veterans in Florida next spring after coming fourth in two events in the inaugural games in London last year. “We were just chatting about my rehabilitation,” he said.

“It was quite emotional,” he said of the service. “It brought back memories from times I’d rather forget but it was a very good service.”

In his address, the Reverand Dr, David Coulter, chaplain-general to Her Majesty’s Land Forces, said it was inevitable that bomb disposal experts would be needed in future.

“The ticking clock will go on ticking and the well-honed skills of hand and eye will be required,” he said.

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