- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Ted Power
- Location of story:
- English Channel
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 20 May 2004
Ted Power has written a book — waiting to be published at the moment — about his experiences during the war as an ARP driver, his time aboard the HMS Balta and HMS Rosevean. Here are some of the moving first hand tales he offered to Steve Murphy to be reproduced for this project.
On one occasion when Rosevean was appointed Tail End Charlie following at some distance behind, to lay Dan buoys to mark the cleared channel, and to sink or explode any floater mine or pick up survivors should any of the Sweepers contact a mine and be sunk.
Sighting my rifle from a position by the forrard mooring bitts, peering over the side to judge the movement, there, right under my nose, was a mine slowly drifting by, bobbing this way and that at the mercy of the waves!. An unseen sluggish mine had suddenly surfaced right under our bow and our bow wave had pushed it just far enough away to prevent it striking the ship. Not more than eight or nine feet away, rocking and slowly spinning, bobbing up and down, its wallowing movement bringing it always that little bit closer!.
Without raising the alarm by shouting, I moved a bit sharpish to a point immediately below the bridge where the officer overseeing the shoot was stationed.
‘Close floater sir’ I said nodding toward the mine. Without a word he was away in a trice up the ladder behind him to the bridge to warn the Captain. Just then a rating that’d been shooting alongside the officer saw the mine and opened his mouth to shout a warning, at the same time grabbing for a boat hook to fend it off.
‘STAND FAST YOU FLAMING IDIOT!’ I breathed urgently into his ear, taking the boat hook from him. ‘Catch one of the horns with that and its goodbye to the lot of us!’
Comically, as I took the boat hook, he cast another quick look at the mine and scampered across the twenty odd feet of deck to the other side of the ship!
He too was new to minesweeping, only twenty years old and not long out of training ship. Come to think of it, I was only twenty two going on twenty three at the time.
Skipper dealt with it as cool as you like, manoeuvring the ship to bring the stern slowly around upstream from the mine which then bobbed away aft clear of the
ship. When it was well clear it was fired by the twin 0.5 gun aft, with a fearsome blast and up shoot of water. Lots of nice large, stunned edible fish for supper!
© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.