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Thread: Land Mine in Garston Gas Works.

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    jimmy jimmy's Avatar
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    Default Land Mine in Garston Gas Works.

    From the Garston Historical Society Archives
    LAND MINE IN GARSTON GAS WORKS

    The Bombers Visit
    The night of the bomber’s visit to Garston produced a display of cool courage in the face of extreme danger that will forever remain a highlight in British Gas Industry history.
    At about 3 am on the morning of 29th November 1940, the pressureman on duty at Garston reported that No 1 holder was descending rapidly. This 4.000.000 cubic feed holder was, at the time, about half full; the pressureman took immediate action by shutting off the holder from service and notifying the responsible officials of the fact. Members of the duty breakdown squad were brought to the works. All gas lights and fittings were shut off at isolating points as a safety measure. With the object of rendering the holder less dangerous in the quickest time the manholes were released.

    The Bomb
    At this time of course, the type of mine or bomb in the holder-magnetic, acoustic, delayed action or just plain “dud”, was not known; the only indication of its nature being obtained when, in pitch darkness crawling across the crown of the holder, employees making for the centre manhole felt a piece of fabric protruding from the sheeting. At 7.30am fitters, electricians, plumbers and others where at work disconnecting electrically driven blowers from other plants and rigging them in position on the holder and preparing the fire pump to draw water from the holder tank. These tasks where carried out by willing volunteers.

    Garston Heroes
    As the exact location of the mine was not known, risks had to be taken. Firstly, the fans were started up and nothing happened, then the motor pump and still nothing blew up. The men who had assembled the gear were withdrawn, except one to watch the running of the job. Three of these attendants worked in relays around the clock. The pumping power being low, the Liverpool Fire Brigade arrived and put a pump to work, the water was taken down 5’ 6” to uncover part of the “dumping”, a brick faced island inside the holder. This achieved and the air inside the holder being considered fit to breathe and not explosive, means of access were considered. Efforts to see the “culprit” through the manholes with the aid of portable searchlights were unsuccessful and it was decided to cut a hole in the crown from which a ladder could be landed on the mud covered “dumpling” to enable naval personnel to enter the holder and defuse the mine. By means of ox-acetylene cutting gear a hole about 6’ square was cut.

    Lieutenant Newgass
    Fans and pumps were stopped and the job was handed over to Lieutenant Newgass of the bomb disposal unit. Donning oxygen apparatus, Lieutenant Newgass entered the holder, he lashed the parachute ring of the mine to the top of the pillar against which it was leaning and passed a lashing round the nose. Unfortunately the fuse was facing the pillar so a special hoisting lug was affixed and the mine was turned round with a “tommy bar”, a great physical effort for one man wearing oxygen apparatus for the first time. The fuse, the magnetic primer, and the clocks were removed, the keep ring of the fuse being extremely stiff. Newgass then left the holder and reported that although the detonator was still in, the mine could be considered safe.

    The Mine is Removed
    Garston employers then entered the holder and uncoupled the lashing. The mine, which in size and appearance resembled a tug boat funnel, was pulled over on it’s side, dragged across the “dumpling” to a position under the hole on the crown and lifted out by block and tackle. It was placed on a lorry and taken away.

    Praise For Heroism
    No praise can be to high for the courage, coolness and ability displayed by all concerned in this “incident”, nor should those who maintained production on the works be overlooked. It is certain that had the mine be detonated, the whole of Garston Works, with much neighbouring property, would have been completely wrecked. The precautions taken included the evacuation of 6 thousand people from their homes in the vicinity.

    George Cross
    Lieutenant Newgass was awarded the George Cross.


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    Rewards
    Miss Connie Elliot of St Mary’s Road, Garston, a local newsagent and tobacconist made a public collection for the mine disposal squad, resulting, I believe, in gold cigarette cases, possible lighters, being presented on behalf of the grateful people of Garston.

    Addendum
    Before Lieutenant Newgass arrived 60,000 local people were evacuated from their homes, the situation was further complicated due to another landmine near Duncombe Road School.

    Awards
    For their courage, coolness and ability, the following award were made:
    George Medal: to G. N. Kermode (foreman fitter) and E Saxon (oxy-coal gas burner).
    M.B.E: to W. Morris (works manager).
    B.E.M:. to A. G Kemp (fitter) and A. McRea (plumber).
    Commendations for Brave Conduct: to H. Mason (store-keeper and first aid attendant), F. Wilson (compressor attendant) and G. Savage (fitter’s labourer).
    Lieutenant Newgass RNVR was awarded the George Cross.

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    Senior Member ChrisGeorge's Avatar
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    Hi Jimmy

    A very interesting article. Thanks for sharing it with us!

    Chris
    Christopher T. George
    Editor, Ripperologist
    Editor, Loch Raven Review
    http://christophertgeorge.blogspot.com/
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    jimmy jimmy's Avatar
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    Thanks ChrisGeorge, I found it to be rather interesting too, there is a plaque in St.Michaels Parish Church in recognition of Lieutentant Newgass who defused the bomb in the gas holder.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmy View Post
    Lieutentant Newgass
    Newgass, what an appropriate name . I too have heard this story since I was a kid. Thanks for the info
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    Too old to suffer sweetpatooti's Avatar
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    Yes - there is a plaque in the church for Lt Newgass - in the side chapel - lots of other plaques too - come in with your camera Kev and take some piccies.

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    Talking about the gasworks, my grandad used to tell a story about guarding German POWs in Malta/North Africa.
    Anyway he gets talking to a group of them and they are asking each other where they where from - Grandad says a small village outside Liverpool you wouldnt know it, Garston and one of the Germans said "Ah the place with the gasworks, I worked on the design of them...!"

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