27 June 1502

Ever since gunpowder was invented, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have been used and adapted by different groups as a cheap, versatile and effective weapon.

1605 – London

2 July 1605

Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators created an explosive device using 36 barrels of gunpowder. They placed it under the Houses of Parliament in an attempt to assassinate King James I.

1867 – London

2 July 1867

On 13 December 1867 Michael Barrett detonated 548lb (248kg) of gunpowder in an attempt to free a Fenian (Irish Republican) prisoner from Clerkenwell Prison, London. Twelve people were killed, and 90 injured.

1881-85 – United Kingdom

2 July 1881

Between 1881 and 1885 the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) undertook a bombing campaign across the United Kingdom. They attacked infrastructure as well as government, military and police targets in support of their campaign for a free Irish Republic.

1939-40 – United Kingdom

2 February 1939

The Sabotage Campaign, or S Plan, was an Irish Republican Army (IRA) campaign of bombing against the civil, economic, and military infrastructure of the United Kingdom. The IRA hoped to delay the nation’s military preparations for war.

1939-45 – Europe

2 July 1939

During the Second World War IEDs were employed by many organisations, including Soviet partisans, the French Resistance and the British Special Operations Executive (SOE). Both command-detonated and time-delay fuse IEDs were used to derail trains and sabotage enemy industry.

1948-60 – Malaya

2 July 1948

The Malayan Emergency was a guerrilla war fought between Commonwealth armed forces and the Malayan National Liberation Army (MNLA), part of the Malayan Communist Party. The MNLA attacked rubber plantations and destroyed transportation and infrastructure with IEDs.

1956-74 – Cyprus

2 July 1956

Over the four-year period from 1956-60, British Army Ammunition Technical Officers (ATOs) in Cyprus investigated 4,330 explosions and a further 4,700 explosive devices were neutralised.

1963-67 – Aden

2 July 1963

Aden was an important British air and naval base. Following the invasion of Egypt in 1956 by Britain, France and Israel, there was an upsurge in Arab nationalism.

1969-2007 – Northern Ireland

28 June 1969

The British Government ordered the deployment of troops to Northern Ireland in August 1969. This was to counter the disorder surrounding civil rights protests and an increase in sectarian violence.

1970 – Northern Ireland

28 June 1970

The British Army developed specialist search teams from the Corps of Royal Engineers to find weapons and explosive caches.

1970 – Northern Ireland

28 June 1970

The Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) developed the improvised ‘nail mine’ consisting of a box containing 20 six-inch nails, commercial explosive, and a clothes peg firing switch.

1971 – Northern Ireland

28 June 1971

No 321 Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Company, Royal Army Ordnance Corps (now part of 11 EOD Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps) was first deployed to Northern Ireland to tackle terrorist devices.

1972 – Northern Ireland

28 June 1972

The first remote control vehicles enabled EOD teams to render devices safe from a distance using on-board cameras.

1972 – United Kingdom

28 June 1972

1972 witnessed the introduction of the car bomb. 1,400 devices were placed in one year.

1972 – Northern Ireland

28 December 1972

In March 1972 EOD operators were themselves targeted in incidents described as ‘come-ons’, where a second device functioned after security forces had arrived. Two operators were killed in the same incident.

1973 – Northern Ireland

27 June 1973

Experts from the Royal Corps of Signals developed Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) to jam radio signals and prevent initiation of radio-controlled devices.

1973 – Northern Ireland

28 June 1973

Search dogs were used to track the scent of explosive devices.

1974 – Northern Ireland

27 June 1974

The protective bomb suit was introduced.

1974 – Northern Ireland

28 December 1974

On 10 March 1974 a device placed in an abandoned car and intended to kill a British Army foot patrol exploded in Forkhill, County Armagh, killing two civilians.

1974 – England

30 December 1974

On 27 November 1974, in the first mainland ‘come-on’ incident, two devices functioned outside the National Army Museum, London.

1975 – Northern Ireland

28 June 1975

On 17 July 1975 a device concealed in a milk churn was initiated by remote control near Forkhill, County Armagh, killing four soldiers.

1979 – Northern Ireland

28 June 1979

On 27 August 1979 the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) used a radio-controlled device to kill six soldiers in Warrenpoint, County Down.

1981 – England

28 June 1981

On 10 October 1981 the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) placed a device containing six-inch nails inside a parked van outside Chelsea Barracks, London.

1984 – England

28 June 1984

On 12 October 1984 the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) placed a device in a hotel in Brighton to target the Conservative Party Conference.

1990 – Northern Ireland

2 July 1990

The HD7 Hoodlum Personal Role Detector was introduced in 1990 and used to locate metal IED components. The example shown above is a later design.

1991 – Northern Ireland

28 June 1991

The Projected Recoilless Improvised Grenade (PRIG) was developed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) for use against Army and Royal Ulster Constabulary vehicles.

1992 – Northern Ireland

28 June 1992

In December 1992 the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) fired ten ‘barrack buster’ improvised mortars at a security force base in Ballygawley, with a combined weight of over 700kg of homemade explosive.

1992 – Northern Ireland

28 June 1992

Passive infrared switches, like those used to turn on lights automatically, were employed to detonate devices automatically.