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Quick Decision by Naval Captain that Saved Many Lives

by West Sussex Library Service

Contributed by 
West Sussex Library Service
People in story: 
Lt. Cdr Mugford RNR
Location of story: 
Normandy Beaches
Background to story: 
Royal Navy
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
27 January 2005

Written on behalf of Mr G Riches by Horsham Library.

It was July 1944, just after the Normandy beach landings.

I was a Signalman onboard HMS Gorgan (fleet minesweeper). Our role was to sweep the area around Cherbourg for mines during the day, and then anchor off the Normandy beaches outside the boom, which had been positioned off the beachhead.

On this particular night, we were anchored as usual in a line of minesweepers, when the minesweeper two ahead of us on the port side suddenly exploded and sank. During the ensuing chaos and only five or ten minutes later, the minesweeper ahead of us also exploded and sank.

At this point, our Captain, Lt.Cdr. Mugford RNR said "Bugger this - slip anchor, slow ahead both engines.

By giving this command, the screws at the back of the ship rotated, causing the diver to surface and try to swim away. Our lights found him, he was fired on by the guns and killed.

This order saved our ship from a limpet mine, which caused the destruction of the other two minesweepers.

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D-Day+ 1944 Category
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