A-Z

Bereavement due to traumatic death

Killed by a bomb

In 2005 52 people died in the London bombings, but such deaths are very rare in the UK. However, in other countries bomb explosions in war or terrorist attacks cause many deaths.

Rachel’s son, Dave, served in the Parachute Regiment (Paras) before he joined a security company. In 2006 while working in Iraq he was killed by a bomb.

 

Rachel had a terrible day when she learnt that her son David had been killed in Iraq. He had been...

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Rachel had a terrible day when she learnt that her son David had been killed in Iraq. He had been...

Age at interview: 47
Sex: Female
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Well the date was the 30th October 2006, and my son, David, he used to be in the Para’s, he was in 1 PARA, and he left 1 PARA after serving 8 years in 1 PARA, and joined a company, a security company based up in London, an American based company. And he decided to do a year’s contract with this company to basically earn a lot more money than he was earning in the army. And he used to get a buzz from obviously jumping out of planes, and he’d been in Iraq and Sierra Leone, and Kosovo, so he had a lot of experience, anyway he went along and joined this company. And enjoyed it, he would spend 8 weeks out, 8 weeks home, 8 weeks out, 8 weeks home, and the last time he went out was September 2006, and to be fair he was umming and ahhing about going out back out here because obviously the situation out there was becoming a lot, lot more dangerous. But in the end he, he, he went and we spoke to him several times when we could and he was actually enjoying it quite nicely out there.
 
Was this a security company?
 
It was a security company, on this, and each time he went it was different sort of tour they had to do, and on this one they were basically, he was escorting, well to rebuild their country so he was looking after the convoys, that were going from a to b, to rebuild their country out in Iraq, to rebuild it all. And that’s what he was doing.
 
And on this particular time when he went, we went on holiday and when, when we were on holiday, it was in Portugal, this particular week, I felt very uncomfortable to be fair, before I went, and very uncomfortable when I was out there. And I managed to get hold of Dave on the Friday, and he was having a whale of a time and said that he had decided he was going to come back out in January, and that he’d booked a holiday for his girlfriend for New Year to take her to Las Vegas, and did I mind etc. And obviously I didn’t. And he was really happy. He was having a barbecue and he was looking forward to coming home in November.
 
And that was on the Friday I spoke to him, and then we flew back on the Sunday, and then on the Monday which was October the 30th, I went to work as usual, our first day back at term, and when I went back to work in the afternoon my husband’s car was at school, and for some unknown reason, and I thought, “That’s a bit strange, his car being here,” and then the headmaster at that time came out and said, “Oh I need to talk to you Rachel, in the office,” and I felt something strange, but I couldn’t quite my finger on it.
 
And I went into the office, the Headmaster’s and there was my husband and he didn’t really have to say anything because I knew what was going to be said. And then, looking, well then I think I just lost the plot to be fair, there was a lot of screaming and shouting, and pushing the Headmaster, and hiding under the desk like a little schoolgirl really, but I didn’t really know what to do. Anyway I was brought home, and then the sheer panic come in because obviously then I knew I needed to see my daughter, and obviously his girlfriend. 
Rosemary’s son, James, was killed in the 7th July bomb explosion in London in 2005. He was on an underground train at the time and he was not identified for about a week.
 

Rosemary recalled the very difficult time she had after the London bombing, when people were...

Rosemary recalled the very difficult time she had after the London bombing, when people were...

Age at interview: 65
Sex: Female
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Well what happened was that my son James, who actually was on the way to a presentation event that morning at I think Lincoln’s Inn Fields, and was actually on a tube that he wouldn’t normally have been on because he lived in Islington, and was on the tube that was blown up at Russell Square basically and well it was a bomb on the 7 July and I think…. I think probably one of the things that was strange about it, I can remember very clearly, I was on the way to Excel in East London to an exhibition about careers and I was sitting at Stratford Station and I remember there were lots of messages about power outages and things and it was a very strange feeling because nobody really knew what was going on and I think it wasn’t, I didn’t realise, I went to the exhibition and I didn’t realise until lunchtime that there had been any problem at all.
 
In fact how I realised was I had lots of messages on my mobile phone, people asking if I was alright because I wasn’t in the office, and I knew that James was actually doing this presentation that day and it was quite important to him because he’d come back from Prague the previous day so that he could do it. And I didn’t, but I didn’t know that … we just didn’t know where he was and I didn’t get any answers from my mobile phone messages and I spent a lot of the afternoon, obviously, and the evening trying to find out where he was. And I have to say I did realise very quickly that something had happened to him, you know, I think even though you are told by people, you know, the help line and so forth was very unhelpful, and I got a lot of stuff about how many people had actually, how many calls they’d had but I just knew that something had happened to him because he, he was supposed to be coming round to supper that evening, and he didn’t come, obviously, and I just couldn’t get hold of him so I mean I, I was fairly sure, fairly quickly that something had happened to him I’m afraid, and I think that’s probably one of the most difficult things to deal with because I did realise, it’s not just hindsight, I really did realise fairly quickly, and other people didn’t, and of course there was all this days of, you know, hope and his friends going around looking in hospitals and all the rest of it, which is quite difficult to deal with because, you know, I knew there wasn’t any point in it and I mean really deep down I knew there wasn’t any point in it.
 
And I think that that was one of the most difficult things about the whole thing because you just, I mean I was very close to him, I mean people say that in these circumstances don’t they but I was and I just knew that, that something had happened to him. And I suppose that was the worst part of it really, particularly at first, because it was kind of frustrating, which I know you couldn’t really, I couldn’t say to his sister or his friends that, you know, I knew that because it sounded rather defeatist but I just did know it so.
We talked to a few people who were bereaved through the terrorist bomb explosions which occurred in Bali on 12 October 2002. Twenty eight of the 202 people who died were British. They had all been in Bali on a rugby tour. Susanna's brother Dan was killed instantly, but was not identified until three weeks later.
 

Susanna knew that her brother Dan was in Bali. When she heard about the bombing she ‘oscillated...

Susanna knew that her brother Dan was in Bali. When she heard about the bombing she ‘oscillated...

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My brother was killed in the Bali bombings of 12th October 2002. He was killed five weeks after getting married, and he was in Bali on a rugby tour with a lot of his friends. He was killed alongside at least twelve of his friends, and of his Singapore stag party, at least half the thirty men who were at the party were also killed from a lot of different parts of South East Asia, ex-pats, British ex-pats from South East Asia. They all gathered in Bali as I say for this rugby weekend. My brother and his set of friends who had come from Hong Kong had just gone to a meal and they were walking, they were the first table to get their bill, the other, the other table of friends, their bill was late and they were, my brother’s party were walking up to the Sari nightclub and had just gone in. My brother asked his new wife if she wanted a drink and she and a couple of friends went off to the dance floor, and the boys of the group went to the bar, and then the bombs went off.
 
My brother was killed at 31, he was a brilliant sportsman, he’s still the fastest runner I’ve ever met, he was a Cambridge educated lawyer, and barrister, was a lawyer in Hong Kong, and was a man at the top of his game, at the top of his career, had just got married and had a very successful and fulfilled life to look forward to, and he was looking forward to fatherhood, and everything, everything was going right for him, but he was killed. And I remember, we, my partner and I were ironically staying at the Taj in Bombay when we turned on our mobile phones and there were, the phones erupted with millions of text messages, and because we were on the same timeline as Bali, and Bali, the Bali bombings went off at 11.30, we’d already gone to bed by the time it happened.
 
And that was when we fell through the trap door, because life was completely normal up to the point which we turned on our mobile phones. And the messages were, “phone home, phone home. There’s been a bombing. And in Bali and Dan, Dan’s missing.”
 
So we phoned home, and there was no news, somebody had passed a mobile phone to my badly injured sister in law, while she was waiting to be taken to the hospital and she had within maybe an hour of the bomb going off, and she was and was terribly badly burnt and somebody had kindly put her out, and people were dying around her, and she was able to phone her parents and say that something, there’d been a terrible explosion, she couldn’t find my brother, she couldn’t find any of the other friends that were with her, and that she was injured and that, that was it, essentially she was taken to the hospital in Bali and evacuated out to Australia, but to cut a long story short, my brother was missing, presumed dead until it was confirmed he was one of the bodies in the morgue, nearly three weeks later.
 
And …….and you have these huge physical reactions, I kept having to go to the bathroom, as kind of just waves of physical shock hit you, and we kept phoning back to my parents to see if there was any news, but there was no news, and we had to, and of course, every second that passes with no news is almost certainly going to be; make, I mean the outcome will be worse. And you oscillate between hope and despair of course.
Matthew’s brother Timothy was also killed in Bali. He also died instantly. He was missing for about two weeks before he was identified. Matthew and his parents went to Bali to look for Timothy. His employer, a bank based in Singapore, also mobilised a team of rescuers because several of their employees had been directly involved in the explosions.
 

Matthew describes being in Bali with his parents. He went to look for his brother in the hospital...

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Matthew describes being in Bali with his parents. He went to look for his brother in the hospital...

Age at interview: 48
Sex: Male
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Right, well my brother was a solicitor working in Singapore, and he went to Bali as part of the Singapore Cricket Club Rugby team, and was killed in the Bali bombing.
 
He was 15 months older than I am, so he would be now 49. And he was on his own with his team mates in Bali, having left his fiancée, a Thai girl, behind in Singapore. I had spent three weeks with my brother a few weeks before he died, in Singapore with my family and we got to know his fiancée very well, and so when he went missing she phoned me to say that he was missing and that there had been this incident in Bali. And could I try and contact him, which I did, and wasn’t able to of course. Then I contacted a few of his friends who I’d met in Singapore with a view to trying to get them to establish what had happened. His employer, which was a bank based in Singapore, mobilised their own team of rescuers, because a number of their employees had been involved directly or indirectly in the explosions in Bali. I arranged with the bank to take my parents out to Bali the next day, the bombing happened on the Saturday and we found out on the Sunday morning and on the Monday or Tuesday I think, we actually left England to go to Bali. The bank offered the support that was required, the Foreign Office were of very little help at that time because they didn’t know what was going on anymore than anybody else did in fact. We were telling them what was going on because of the contacts we had in Singapore, with my brother’s employers. He was missing for about two weeks, before he was identified through dental records.
 
When we got to Bali with my parents, there was just me and my Mother and Father, we checked into a hotel and I immediately went around the hospitals with one of the banks security officers, looking for my brother because at that stage we didn’t know whether he was alive or badly injured or anything. So I went round the hospital and the mortuaries and saw lots of things but not my brother.
 
We went to a couple of the main hospitals, the Indonesians were not prepared for an event of that magnitude and they had no storage facilities for bodies. They didn’t have sufficient medical resource, and also there was a point where bodies were strewn along corridors in mortuaries and hospitals, with blocks of ice in the corner.
 
How awful.
 
And within three or four days the Foreign Office and the Indonesian Coroners declared that, declared that they wouldn’t permit any visual identification because of the deterioration of the bodies.
Jocelyn’s son, Ed, was also killed in Bali by the bomb explosion. He was identified using DNA and then his body was flown back to Ireland. Jocelyn first read about the bombing in the newspaper, and had a terrible sense of foreboding, because he knew Ed was in Bali at the time.
 

Jocelyn was ‘totally stunned’ when he suspected that his son Ed had been killed in the Bali bomb...

Jocelyn was ‘totally stunned’ when he suspected that his son Ed had been killed in the Bali bomb...

Age at interview: 65
Sex: Male
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Yeah, well, the day of the, on the Sunday morning I went to get the Sunday papers, and I got the Sunday Times and I saw a sort of sideline saying big bomb in Bali, many killed. I had a terrible sense of foreboding actually because I knew he was there, and in fact he’d called me on Friday, the Friday with great sense of excitement to say that he’d finally been able to get away and was going down with the boys to play rugby in this tournament in Bali. I said to him I thought Bali was a wonderful place, and it was a, would be great, should be a good weekend, and he was a great traveler and so, it was fairly typical of him to go off at the last minute to Bali.
 
So I knew he was there. I just drove home and as I came in through the door my partner handed me the phone and said, “Ah here’s somebody from Hong Kong.” It was a friend of his, who wanted to, to speak to me and he obviously with the time zone had, was much further ahead, and he said, “Look the situation is very serious, a lot of people have been killed, the Hong Kong Football club are doing their best to find out what’s happened to their people, we have no news, news of Ed, I think the situation is quite serious”.
 
I also knew, because he was a great communicator that, you know, if there’s been any problem and he was, he was able to communicate, he would have found a way to phone me, even in the middle of the night, so, I pretty well realised that the situation was pretty desperate. But I was, I guess at that point in time I was just totally stunned, it was almost unbelievable to believe that he’d been killed, but you know as the day wore on, I sort of became more and more, to some extent resigned. It was, it was absolutely awful, I think it would be fair to say that that boy was the apple of my eye.  
 
 

Last reviewed October 2015.
Last updated October 2011

 

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