The story of the Troubles is a tale fraught with terror and devastation, for a very long period of time the IRA cast a vast shadow over the city of London. However, for the citizens of the British Capital there were shining beacons of optimism that could inspire hope for the future. Countless men and women fought tirelessly to keep the public safe, and showed immense bravery and defiance on a daily basis.
One such hero was the Lancashire born Kenneth Howarth, who lost his life on the 26th of October 1981 as he courageously attempted to diffuse a booby-trapped improvised explosive device planted by the Provisional Irish Republican Army
Kenneth had been a seasoned veteran, having served within the Royal Army Ordinance Corps for twenty-three years as an Ammunition Technician. In 1973 he had retired from the army, choosing instead to serve within the London Metropolitan Police service as an explosives officer.
Police had received a warning that a bomb had been planted on Oxford Street a mere 30 minutes before it was scheduled to explode. Despite only having a small window in which to operate, Kenneth didn’t hesitate and got on with the task at hand. The device was discovered within a basement toilet of a Wimpy fast-food restaurant on Oxford Street, Kenneth was tragically killed by the bomb as he attempted to disarm it.
Kenneth’s act of courage did not go unnoticed, in 1983 he was posthumously awarded the George Medal, an award given to non-combatants who show immense gallantry and conduct ‘acts of great bravery’. A plaque was unveiled to the public in 2018 at the site where Kenneth lost his life and now serves as a permanent reminder of this fallen heroes deeds.