Anzac Day 2020: Quiet reflection for retired Blackheath bomb disposal expert

Anzac Day will be different this year, but Tony Jacques is determined it will not pass without commemoration.

The Blackheath man will likely pay his respects by pausing in his driveway at 6am, and then raising the Australian flag and reciting The Ode at the Blackheath War Memorial. He'll also have a Zoom chat with his mates.

A member of the Blackheath and Mt Victoria RSL sub-branch, Mr Jacques has always marked Anzac Day, and the military connection is almost part of his DNA.

Mr Jacques was part of the British Army and Artillery, before moving to Australia with his family in 1980, and retraining in bomb disposal.

He quickly rose through the ranks, moving to second in charge at the Australian Bomb Data Centre, working with state and federal police in Australia and countries around the world. The centre maintains records of all bomb-related incidents in the country.

There was many a high profile case Mr Jacques worked on.

He was awarded an Australian Service Medal for defusing a bomb outside the Lucas Heights nuclear plant in 1983 at a time when anti-nuclear sentiment was high.

He was also called to the scene of several bomb explosions in the "family court bombings" - a series of shootings and bombings in Sydney from 1980 to 1985.

Leonard Warwick, is accused of murdering four people and injuring 13 others, in an alleged campaign to win custody of his daughter. In a case before the courts, Warwick now waits for a NSW Supreme Court judge to determine his fate.

"We would mainly be involved to defuse bombs and make the area safe," Mr Jacques said.

"After an explosion we would try and make sure there was nothing else there. Sometimes an explosion can partially occur, so you're identifying what had happened where you can and doing forensics and finding things."

Little clues like a piece of wire, a small circuit board or a battery, can provide the bomb disposal team with valuable information on the bomb.

They would wear heavy suits that protected their bodies from head to toe, and looked like something a diver might wear plunging the depths of the ocean.

But the suits would only offer protection in the event of a very small explosion, or if the bomb technician was quite some distance away when the explosion occurred.

"You never knew what you were going against," Mr Jacques said.

"It was all a game of chess in a way."

It's a job many might think would require nerves of steel.

"Yes and no," the 68-year-old said. "You do the best you can with the best of the training you have."

Mr Jacques has not experienced post traumatic stress disorder, but he knows "other people doing exactly the same job, have." "I chose to be there," he said.

He's part of the Australian Improvised Explosive Device Disposal Operations group pushing for war-like work to be recognised and compensation provided, at least with the provision of a pension.

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