From the Niagara Falls Evening Review, May 2, 2006.
JENNINGS, Geoffrey - Passed away at Greater Niagara General Hospital on April 30, 2006 at the age of 79.
Beloved husband of Liesl. Dearly loved father of David (and wife Cathy) and Peter (and wife Jane).
Sadly missed by grandchildren, Terri-Anne Bale (and Blake) and Stephanie Sutherland (and Scott) and great-grandchildren, Rebecka, Grady, and Davy. Survived by brothers, Harry and John of Bedford, England.
Geoff was born in Bedford, England in 1926 and immigrated to Canada in 1957. He has lived in Niagara Falls since 1960 and owned Lundy's Lane Sunoco for 13 years. He was a member of Stamford Kiwanis for 40 years, a past president, and recognized as Kiwanian of the Year in 2001. He was an active radio amateur (VE3GEJ) and a member of the Niagara Peninsula Amateur Radio Club. From 1944 to 1948 he was a Royal Engineer, responsible for bomb disposal in Britain. He was an active opponent of the use of land mines.
At his request, his body will be donated to McMaster University.
The family wishes to thank the nurses and doctors of third floor at Niagara General for their kindness and care.
In memory of Mr. Jennings, donations to the Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation (Hip Hip Hooray Niagara) or the Greater Niagara General Hospital would be appreciated by the family.
Contact the family
VE3GEJ Estate Sale
Geoff’s ham radio equipment is for sale.
Click here for full details.
I feel I can speak with some authority, having been engaged in the disposal of unexploded bombs and the clearing of mines on the beaches around England for over three years from 1944 to 1948.
King George VI invited me, with many others, to help with the Second World War, as a soldier. Starting in September 1944, I underwent a short training period and then was posted to The Royal Engineers training base at Fulwood Barracks, Ripon, Yorkshire. After more training, we were selected for different branches of the Corps. They claimed that I had volunteered for Bomb Disposal. I was asked in front of 200 men if I had any objections. They issued me with a red, yellow and blue bomb insignia to sew on my sleeve and I was picked up with some other recruits in a personnel carrier with red mudguards (fenders if you are in the Americas).
Around the South and East coasts of England in the first years of the war thousands of anti-tank/anti-personnel mines were laid. They were known as "B type C" mines, capable of destroying a tank yet delicate enough to be exploded by anyone weighing more than sixty pounds. High seas and strong winds had moved, buried, and even turned them over. Some were as deep as six feet under the sand. Some had exploded and, in sympathy, others had exploded too. "Sympathetic detonation" made it hard to locate them.
"Hundreds of troops are dying on the beaches", wrote one newspaper in 1946. They were not exaggerating. I witnessed 6 mistakes. They were not accidents! Eleven people died as a result. An accident happens when nobody does anything wrong. In each case someone made a mistake. Our choice was to leave the mine marked with a cone to be detonated later or to attempt to disarm it. The wrong decision could be a fatal mistake. Possibly the metal detector was not tested before searching and didn't signal the presence of the mine and they just walked onto it. We had strict routines to follow.
German prisoners of war stayed in England after the war ended and were used by the Royal Engineers to clear the beaches of anti-invasion devices such as barbed wire and concrete blocks, etc. One, a very likeable German Soldier, drove a bren gun carrier and used it to pull wire barricades down after the mines had been cleared and it should have been safe to do so. Sadly the engineers who laid the mines to a set plan, decided to put an extra mine under the wire. This mistake was made by an over zealous engineer who thought he would be catching an invader.
It exploded, killing the friendly POW. We buried him with full military honors in the cemetery at Hursley near Winchester. Perhaps the only enemy personnel to be killed by these useless mines that were never needed and would not have delayed an invader for more than a few minutes.
My reason for writing this is to point out that the cost in tragedy of mine laying and clearing is much higher than the effect of delay that might be expected in the case of an invasion. Hundreds of allied military personnel, civilian men, women, children, and family pets are dead, killed on minefields in England. The last case I heard of, was a horse and rider, on a cliff side path, long after the war had ended.
Land mines respect neither age, sex, rank or even which side you are on.
Ex Corporal, Royal Engineers, Bomb Disposal Squadrons 22, 16 and 10.
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