An unwelcome call out

Eric Howard was Station Security Officer at Athlit and after a rather drunken party in late 1946 he was woken up and told a bomb had been thrown from a passing truck:

"I didn't realize until I started running just how much I was 'under the influence'; we had consumed a fair amount and my progress was certainly not in a straight line. I passed the prison sentries crouching down behind their sandbags and suddenly there it was. I came to a halt some twenty yards away and I was suddenly stone cold sober. In the poor light of the perimeter illumination, lying on the edge of the tarmac road was a metal container measuring approximately 21ins x 15ins x 10ins. I looked around in desperation for someone who could give me some indication of the circumstances, but despite shouts I was on my own. To be honest, I needed the sound of another English voice.

I placed the gun, ammo and rope on the roadside and with the help of a torch of weak illumination I inspected the object. It was made of steel and resembled an ammunition box, it had no obvious identification marks and the lid remained in position held by two metal clips; it was all very odd.

Then salvation: from the direction of Tel Aviv came the sound of a fast moving vehicle, probably military as there were restrictions on civilian vehicle movement at night. I managed to stop the vehicle, a Para jeep containing four soldiers, and explained that I had a suspect bomb in the road; could they help by giving me some light from their headlamps. With the speed of light the vehicle was in reverse and on its way back towards Tel Aviv, leaving me open-mouthed and rather disillusioned about 'Les braves Paras'. My only solution, arrived at later, was that the four blokes were on a joy ride, and wanted no involvement.

My problem was still on the road. I took a chance and in the dark I placed it in an upright position, checked for exterior wires, unclipped the lid and opened it gently, checking for further wires and hoping there was no pressure switch. Nothing went bang. Now for the contents, which turned out to be twenty-seven East European hand grenades in 3 x 9 pack containers. Dry-mouthed and sweating slightly from the problem of extracting the three containers from the box in the dark, I sat on the roadside and waited, thanking God for my deliverance, in alcoholic remorse. We later ascertained that the box had fallen or been thrown from a small-pick up truck when it took the bend in the road. The four occupants slowed down the truck then accelerated despite calls to stop; the answer was obvious: they were terrorists and what a chance they were taking carrying that stuff with restrictions in force on civilian vehicles after dark."

Source: My Trinity, Eric Howard

NB. This event resulted in no award for Eric Howard as, presumably, it was considered a perfectly normal occurrence.