Alan Smith: making bombs
Alan Smith describes childhood bomb making in the 1950s.
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You could easily make explosives from what you could buy in a chemist’s shop.
Did you make explosives?
Yeah, I did actually [laughs].
What did you make?
Well I tried gunpowder and then I made I think – the best explosive was potassium chlorate and aluminium powder, it’s a wonder I didn’t damage myself actually. But … if talking to most of the fellows here they all did the same thing, it was what you did in those days, at my age, I don’t know about younger people. You needed a tube which you could make by wrapping newspaper around a broomstick with glue every so often so you’d end up with quite a rigid tube which you could then – might – I don’t know whether we actually corked the bottom but you'd have – the bottom would be filled somehow, it was stopped off. And then you could pour the powder – the explosive as it were in and then put a little sort of tamping thing at the top, you could make a – a fuse easily from a piece of paper and saltpeter if you dried that it’ll glow and it won’t – it’s not like a fuse you see on television where it’s hissing along but it just glows and then gradually it will get into the mixture and it would go off.
Where did you detonate these tubes?
Usually in the back garden ‘cause the house we moved to after the war was large enough to have a small tennis court in it, so there was plenty of space to set these things off. And it’s only when I [laughs] – I remember you know, what I did succeed with the potassium chlorite and aluminium powder explosion and that did go off with a big bang actually.
What was your parents’ view of this sort of activity?
Well I think they said, ‘Oh that’s just Alan doing something or other-’ [both laugh].
- Interviewee: Alan Smith
- Duration: 00:02:03
- Copyright: British Library Board
- Interviewer: Paul Merchant
- Date of interview: 12/16/2011
- Shelfmark: C1379/65
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