You can contact me at rogercdavies(atsquiggle)  If you have a comment and the system won't let you post it, ping me using the @ for (atsquiggle)

This blog has evolved into a review of historical and modern explosive devices, and responses to them. Links are drawn between historical activity and similar activity in the world today. Mostly I focus on what are now called IEDs but I have a loose personal definition of that and wilingly stray into discussions of more traditional munitions, the science and technology behind them, tactical employment and EOD responses. Sometimes it's just about interesting people in one form or another. Comment is welcome and encouraged but I do monitor it and reserve the right to delete inappropriate stuff. Guest posts are always welcome. Avoid any stuff that makes the enemy's job easier for them.

A note on moral perspectives. Throughout this blog there are descriptions of all sorts of people using IEDs, explosives, or suffering the consequences. Some of the people using IEDs are thought of as heroes by some and terrorists by others. One person's good guy fighting for a cause is another person's evil demon.  It's complicated, and history adds another series of filters too. All of us too live in a narrative made up around however we were brought up, what we were taught and what we learned along the way, rightly or wrongly. So if you sense moral ambivalence, one way or the other, well, I'm guilty and I'm not perfect.  By and large though, I have unapologetic sympathy for those dealing with the devices, whether they be soldiers, cops, or whatever, even those who are part of Nazi or other nasty regimes. That's the cool thing about EOD techs - we don't really care who the enemy is.

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Martini-Henry and other IED initiation systems

My friend Ian Mills  has studied the South African origins of the Martini-Henry triggered IEDs, (discussed in the two earlier posts below) and written about it in the British Army Review. I’ll try and get permission to copy his article here, but that may not be possible.  The Boer IED team were led by a former British boy-soldier turned deserter, Captain Jack Hindon, but Ian describes the IED design as liekly being the work of one Carl Cremer, a fellow Boer.  Interestingly while on a posting to South Africa, Ian had the opportunity to conduct some trials on the Martini-Henry trigger system (real Martini-Henry, real trains!) and found it worked just fine.  He also found reference to the Hindon gang using “copper wire” as a pull switch command mechanism

In looking at this I have found reference (albeit unclear and vague) of pressure initiated IEDs used in the US Civil war to attacks trains on railroads.   IED use in the US civil war was very extensive and I have blogged about it before a little, here. I keep finding extensive Civil War references to electrical initiated IEDs, victim operated or target operated devices, (often friction pull switches) and the like for both land and water based IEDs (called torpedoes in the vernacular of the time.).   There's a lot on intersting development in waterproofing under-water IEDs.  I have just found a good description of a “horological torpedo” or timed IED used successfully by Confederate forces.  As an example see the image below of electrically in initiated command wire IEDs from 1862, recovered by Union forces in Kentucky.

I’d be grateful if any of my US colleagues who might be able to help to write about US Civil War IEDs (you know who you are!) and post as guest blogs.  There’s a lot of open source information out there but you guys can probably dig a little further.  There are interesting connections to be made….

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