Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1940, Captain Michael Flood Blaney, the Corps of Royal Engineers, was killed when a bomb he was defusing exploded in Manor Park, Essex. Nine other people died in the explosion – Lieutenant Richard James, Driver John Lauchlan, Sapper Joseph Maycock, Sapper Edward McLaren, Lance Corporal Douglas Mills, Driver John Pickering, Staff Sergeant Charles Roberts, Sapper Stanley White, and Metropolitan Police Inspector Henry Lane.
The son of a civil engineer and town surveyor from Donegal, he studied at University College Dublin and also qualified as a civil engineer. In his career he had dismantled several bombs successfully, working alone. On the day of his death he had been called to remove the fuse from the bomb which had fallen several days earlier. The bomb being cumbersome, he had attempted to steady it as it was pulled clear – it was twelve feet below ground and as it was moved it was discovered to have been fitted with a delayed action clockwork fuse, which would cause it to explode once moved or tapped.
Captain Blaney was posthumously awarded the George Cross, the citation for which read: “The King has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the George Cross, for most conspicuous gallantry in carrying out hazardous work in a very brave manner.” He was buried in St. Mary’s Old Chapel Roman Catholic Cemetery in Newry on Christmas Day, 1940.
Michael, known as Max, from Newry in County Down, was 30 years old.