Peter McAndrew (aka 'Pygmy') is the radio section leader at the Mooloolaba Coast Guard. Photo: Brett Wortman / Sunshine Coast Daily
Peter McAndrew (aka 'Pygmy') is the radio section leader at the Mooloolaba Coast Guard. Photo: Brett Wortman / Sunshine Coast Daily Brett Wortman

Terror in London plays on the mind

PETER McAndrew sat in his London office just metres away from an unexploded bomb a fortnight after narrowly avoiding the terrorist attack on London's public transport system.

The Mountain Creek resident's experience during the 2005 London bombings was as lucky as it was chilling.

"I didn't realise how close I was," he said.

"It didn't hit home until a few weeks later. When you are sitting near a bomb that's just a foot away from your building and two weeks earlier you were only 100 metres up the tunnel from where a bomb could have gone off - and I just keep saying 'thank God' - it really hits home."

Mr McAndrew's first lucky escape came on the morning of July 7 when bombers targeting underground trains and a double-decker bus killed 56 people and injured more than 700.

He was on the train in front of the one carrying the bomber who blew up a bus at London's Tavistock Square later that morning.

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"The train had been stationary at Kings Cross and he'd given up," he said.

"He didn't want to sit on the train. He didn't want to be in the train at the station.

"He wanted to be somewhere else, obviously, to do his deed. He got off the train and went back upstairs and caught a bus ... at Kings Cross and then went up to Tavistock Square, where he detonated."

Mr McAndrew was in a train 100m up the tunnel, far enough away to survive the explosion but too close for comfort.

His next encounter came two weeks later when he was metres away from a live bomb that was part of a little-known failed attack on London.

On July 21, 2005, there were four separate attempted attacks on London's public transport system. All failed because of faulty detonators.

Witnesses reported small-scale explosions from backpacks and tests showed there was not enough hydrogen peroxide in the devices to spark an explosion.

Mr McAndrew, then head of training for a London transport company, was working at the Golders Green depot when a train carrying a bomb was brought in.

"My training cabin did not have a PA system - they didn't hook us up," he said.

"They evacuated the depot and when they were doing a head count ... and someone noticed the training department wasn't there.

"All the telephone networks were shut down. The gap between my cabin and the train carrying the bomb was about one foot. They packed the bastard of a train one foot away from my porter cabin. The end of that day I was not a very happy camper."

Mr McAndrew has relocated to Mountain Creek, where he volunteers for the Mooloolaba Coast Guard, but the memories of those close calls stick with him.

"I feel a lot better here, put it that way," he said.

"There are no tall buildings that could fall on me. I don't have to go into any tall buildings that could be a focal point. I don't want to be around tall buildings, I have to say.

"Getting on trains? I still like train travel but I try to switch that off because if I think about it, it bothers me.

"You just have to move on, I think, and just take all precautions you can. Look out for things."