Thomas Hawkett, who worked in a men's lavatory in Oxford Street, spotted a suspicious parcel left behind in a cubicle on the evening of June 24 1939.Believing it to be a bomb, he did not waste time calling the police. Instead he picked it up, dumped it in a bucket of water, and hosed it down, knowing this would render the gelignite charge redundant. He stood over it and watched as the fuse and charge floated to the surface. Police then arrived and took it off his hands.
A string of bombs went off that night in central London causing £1,000 damage and blinding a 17-year-old boy in one eye.
The documents, released by the National Archives in Kew, Surrey, also give an insight into public anger at the IRA campaign. Following the explosions angry mobs surged around the West End looking for those responsible and pinning the blame on a number of innocent parties.One German student, who had run from the scene to alert the press, found himself at the mercy of an angry crowd until a policeman came to his aid.
Hawkett, whose age is not recorded, was later awarded £5 for his "commendable and meritorious conduct".