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Degaussing Ships in Falmouth Docks.

by cornwallcsv

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Contributed by 
cornwallcsv
People in story: 
Peter Gilson
Location of story: 
Falmouth Cornwall
Article ID: 
A8709483
Contributed on: 
21 January 2006

CWS 180804D 16:42:52 — 16:16:31

This story has been added by CSV volunteer Linda Clark on behalf of the author Peter Gilson. His story was given to the Trebah Video Archive, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2004. The Trebah Garden Trust understand the site’s terms and conditions.

War settled down and after a few months it was referred to as ‘the phoney war’ because nothing was happening, except in Falmouth, where there was plenty going on. The Germans were very underhand people, they invented things like the magnetic mines and didn’t tell us about them. We wondered why lots of our ships were being sunk without hitting anything and our Intelligence experts worked out it was probably something magnetic. In one bombing raid around the Thames estuary a German pilot was either in the wrong place or on the wrong tide because when the tide went out at Shoeburyness one of these things was found high and dry. Within 24 hours the engineer experts worked out what it was and devised something to counteract it. I don’t really understand the details of this but a process of degaussing ships began which involved encircling every metal ship with a live metal cable which in turn would de activate the magnet in the mine, enabling the ship to sail over it. Ships were virtually queuing up in Falmouth to be degaussed and this was the buzz word at the time as the Docks were working 24 hours to degausse all the ships wanting to be done.
War settled down and after a few months it was referred to as ‘the phoney war’ because nothing was happening, except in Falmouth, where there was plenty going on. The Germans were very underhand people, they invented things like the magnetic mines and didn’t tell us about them. We wondered why lots of our ships were being sunk without hitting anything and our Intelligence experts worked out it was probably something magnetic. In one bombing raid around the Thames estuary a German pilot was either in the wrong place or on the wrong tide because when the tide went out at Shoeburyness one of these things was found high and dry. Within 24 hours the engineer experts worked out what it was and devised something to counteract it. I don’t really understand the details of this but a process of degaussing ships began which involved encircling every metal ship with a live metal cable which in turn would de activate the magnet in the mine, enabling the ship to sail over it. Ships were virtually queuing up in Falmouth to be degaussed and this was the buzz word at the time as the Docks were working 24 hours to degausse all the ships wanting to be done.

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