Exactly 69 years ago, to the moment as you are reading this article, Allied forces were blasting their way through the beaches of Normandy (France), in what has historically come to be known as the D-Day (June 6, 1944)—the day when World War-II started tilting in favour of the Allies. And what helped them significantly in this historical endeavour was a seemingly ordinary-looking long metal tubes with Trinitrotoluene (TNT) explosives, which could blast away anti-personnel mines and enemy bunkers without posing any risk to the soldier using this. This defensive weapon was the Bangalore Torpedo—so called, because it was devised here in Bangalore by a British Army officer Captain McClintock of the Madras Sappers and Miners (Madras Engineering Group or MEG) in 1912.
The 15-metre-long jointed torpedo was invented primarily as means to explode booby traps and blast away barricades that had been left over by the Boer War and Russo-Japanese War. But it found its way not just into World War-I, but came of immense help to the Allied troops to establish beachheads on the tricky beaches of Normandy in the days and weeks following June 6, 1944, when the Nazis were caught unawares by one of the most aggressive and well-planned invasions with a huge element of surprise.
MEG officials said the weapon was used not only to blast anti-personnel and anti-tank mines, but was innovatively used to blast away hill-based enemy bunkers on the beaches of Normandy from where they sniped on the Allied soldiers with deadly effect.
Using the Bangalore Torpedo ensured the safety of the personnel using it even as it ensured effectively neutralising enemy position allowing safe passage for the Allied troops to advance safely to capture the heights on the hills of the beaches of Normandy, and then advance into the French hinterland.
The MEG officials said the Bangalore Torpedo is a weapon in which a TNT explosive charge is placed within one or several connected tubes and the explosive exploded using a long fuse for delayed effect to ensure the user soldier’s safety. It is mainly used by combat engineers to clear obstacles and enemy positions without coming under enemy fire. The weapon is also colloquially referred to as a ‘Bangalore mine’, ‘bangers’ or simply ‘Bangalore’.
“It is a matter of great pride for us [at MEG] that the Bangalore Torpedo was invented here.
The Bangalore Torpedo is still being used by Indian Army and many others world over,” Brigadier MN Devaya, commandant of Madras Engineer Group and Centre, told dna, adding that the weapon still had its relevance in modern warfare.
“The fact that it is still being used by the armies and that there has been no better replacement speaks volumes about the capability of the weapon,” he said.
Bangalore Torpedoes are even today being manufactured by Mondial Defence Systems of Poole, in UK, for the UK and US armed forces, while Indian Army continues manufacturing its own in Bangalore.