- Goldsworthy, Lieutenant Commander L V GC DSC GM RANVR
- History - general
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- January 1972 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
However, it was not a long wait. The divers were soon employed salvaging bric-a-brac, placing moorings for pontoon roads and assisting in the surveys for the location of the famous Mulberries.
Another task allotted to the flotilla was the examination of the waterline of the blockships used to provide a harbour for the landing craft. The author, in the course of this examination, discovered that one scuttling charge on the old cargo ship SS Bosworth had failed to explode. On surfacing to report the find, he received another violent hammer blow to his body. Ruttle, a compatriot from Perth, had also discovered an unexploded charge and detonated it, unaware that another diver was in the vicinity.
An urgent call to Lion Sur Mer resulted in the finding of the first bomb mine. These were mines which, in addition to the usual light sensitive booby trip, had a device intended to destroy the mine under certain circumstances. The usual practice of cutting the wires and their protective tubing was certain suicide, so the ‘top hat’ mechanism chamber and booster tube were removed intact for later stripping.
The explosive charge was destroyed in situ with a gelignite pack, taken from the body of a dead frogman commando, of whom there were plenty floating nearby.
Minelaying was accelerated by the enemy at this time. HMS Repulse was completely mined on one occasion. One exploded under the stern and others were seen to fall near her anchor buoy. Tugs were brought in to hold her still until a conference with FOBAA decided she should be backed out on a certain state of the tide.
The Vernon team were to recover the mines and anchor later, but sweepers swept the mines. The anchor and chain supposedly laid out neatly on the seabed were never found.
The End of the Road Esmeralda’s overnight berth was in the abandoned Gooseberry, close under the port side of the Old French battleship, Corbet. Here she survived the gut wrenching, ear destroying ‘whoomps’ of the monitor Lord Roberts bombarding Caen, the nocturnal two man torpedo attacks and the occasional explosive motor boat attacks. The latter were directed against Corbet but her great armoured sides proved too good for modern weapons.
Another task undertaken at this time was the rendering safe of the ‘baby’ section of a ‘mother and baby torpedo’ located on the beach to the west of Caen Canal entrance. The lethal baby was in an area being cleared by Canadian Army Engineers. Sunken tanks, lading craft and personnel carriers, gliders and many bodies were caught in the rocks and anti-invasion props of what had been Sword Beach.
The author arrived on the job without tools but eventually disarmed the little monster with a screwdriver borrowed from a jeep. The mechanism was a perfect facsimile of a British influence mine.
Off Arromanches, another new discovery was made by Esmeralda. Searches made after splash reports had failed to turn up any mines and it was not until some time later an unusual spherical object was recovered. It was a pressure vessel from a V2 or Buzz Bomb.
Cherbourg was the next assignment. The last of the forts covering the Grand Road had just fallen. P Parties were surveying the inner and outer harbours, the boat train terminal, the extensive locks and basins and the fitting out docks.
The task proved formidable. Bridges and lock gates were crumbled masses of steel, whole ships lay on their sides, effectively blocking entrances and exits. In the machine shops, lathes, drills, rollers and benders were run together in great masses of still hot metal.
Barges loaded with mines were sunk alongside wharves. Trucks full of every type of ordnance lay crushed under the fallen roof of the Boat Train Station. Train engines were toppled into the water.
In the Nandonet Tunnels were strings of railway trucks carefully labelled with the International Red Cross sign and loaded with mines, torpedoes and every form of frightfulness.
This was the background to the finding of another of Hitler’s Victory Weapons – the fearsome Katey Mine. A weapon so simple in appearance – a metal rod tripod supporting a single ‘hertz Horn’ mounted over a concrete block containing ten kilos of explosive. A snag line pulled a lever which broke the horn’s acid vial.