A DE&S employee who approached a partially detonated bomb left by terrorist on board the London Underground to gather crucial evidence has been awarded the Queen’s Commendation for bravery.
As reported in January’s edition of Desider, Lieutenant Colonel Craig Palmer was travelling to work on September 15 in 2017 when a bomb, planted by Ahmed Hassan, partially exploded on board the tube near Parson’s Green underground station.
While commuters and schoolchildren understandably fled the area, the soldier within Craig, who was just metres from the blast, demanded he faced the danger head-on.
“I heard a single scream, then louder screams before a stampede of people came running past me in the carriage,” Craig, a Senior Requirements Manager with Artillery Systems at DE&S, told Desider.
“I hoped it was not a terrorist act but when I went back into the eerily empty carriage I could see – in the debris – an object that was emitting grey smoke and I could smell the explosive.
In just minutes Craig, who has served in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan, had gathered vital evidence including the fact the bomb had been in a Lidl bag which had burnt away shortly after photographs he took but helped police identify the suspect on CCTV boarding the train.
“I told them I was a serving officer in the British Army, explained what had happened, the nature of the bomb and that there was a bomber on the run that they needed to catch,” Craig, a father-of-three, said.
This cast iron information allowed police to get on the front foot and Hassan being arrested the following morning as he tried to flee the country. He was jailed in March 2018 for a minimum of 34 years after being found guilty of attempted murder.
His homemade bomb resulted in 50 people suffering injuries either from the fireball sweeping through the carriage and burning their skin, hair and clothing, or from them suffering crush injuries as people desperately tried to escape the scene.
“That arrest was a relief and his imprisonment was vindication for what I had done. It was justice for the British people and I had helped make that happen,” Craig said.
The citation for his bravery award said that this photographic evidence enabled police to declare a major incident and rapidly begin investigating the attack.
He told Desider after the award: “The award came as a huge surprise and it was difficult to get my head around it but now the news has sunk in I feel immensely proud and very humbled.
“The headlines says hero but I don’t feel like a hero – I just feel proud to have done my duty but I believe any soldier in the British Army would have acted the same way.”